I am a huge fan of reflection…. last year I was apart of a bible study that went through the book if Isaiah and while most of it was hard to understand, one thing I did take away from the study is that God wants us to remember. He wants us to look back on reflect on the ways He has been faithful in our lives because we so easily forget His good work. That being said, I write this “Christmas Letter” more for me than you. It’s good for me to think about where we started in 2019 and and where we are now, remembering what God has done for us.
This year has been a year of healing. As often is the case, I really didn’t realize how broken I was and how much I needed God to restore my soul… But now that I think back to where I was, I see how far God has taken us. At the end of 2018 Brent and I were wading through one of the toughest seasons we’ve faced together as a couple. Personally, I was battling depression and feeling pretty off-balance.
Then January came and things started to slowly heal. On our last anniversary (December 29th, 2018) Brent and I had an all-out ugly fight. After that day we prayed once again that we would do better together. In January I started counting the days between fights and once we passed a month I realized God was answering our prayers.
Our marriage is far from perfect but after making it through that tough season I now have confidence to know that we are in this together. We are committed to each other in a no-matter-what sort of way . Willing to love each other despite not always understanding one another. This has been a great gift of God’s grace to us.
Early this year I began to take my health more seriously and began to commit to new habits. My body and mind have begun to feel good again. God’s grace provided a strong tribe to lean on, something I need to feel my best.
We began the year with a week in Myrtle Beach (thanks to Brent’s parents retirement and love of vacationing). This time away was the kick-off we needed to start our year on a good note!
A place where our faith and friendship have grown has been our Chapel small group. This special group held us up and pushed us on when we felt life’s load was heavy. I’m so grateful for the ways just taking the time to be together has inspired new joy and growth in our lives. Sometimes we make friendship and spiritual growth so complicated but the reality is just the commitment to be together with our hearts looking to Jesus has amazing power.
This year we made special memories traveling to Tennessee seeing my sister and then to the beautiful Smoky Mountains with Brent’s family. We went camping with our nearest and dearest sweet friends for Isaac’s 7th birthday. We had to chance to getaway to celebrate the big 40 for one of my closest friends. AND ended this year with a Great Wolf Lodge trip and a visit from my grandparents and sister’s family for Thanksgiving. We are so thankful for the chance to make these amazing memories with our family.
Brent has continued his journey through grad school at VCU. His job at VCU has proven to be an immense blessing to our family. God graciously provided a way for Amanda to NO LONGER work weekends!! Something that has meant so much to her after several years of working part-time most every weekend and has offered a better pace for my life that I truly needed.
Isaac is in 2nd grade and we are proud of his strong mind and terderheart. Lucas started kindergarten and it’s been fun having both the boys do schoolwork together. Lucas is our rugged outdoorsy boy with a kindness that lights a room. We are so thankful for God’s protection on Lucas’ life this year. In the spring Lucas had a rare and severe episode of croup that led to a scary and dramatic ambulance ride and hospital visit. God graciously protected him and I don’t want to forget to give Him the glory for being with us through that night. Ruthie adds spunk and sweetness to our days. We are so thankful for the gifts God has given us in our children.
God led us to homeschooling and has provided each year the support that we need to grow into this role. We honestly don’t know what we are doing but I think that’s probably right where God wants us– dependent on His strength to make is through each new year.
This summer our lives turn a little bit inside out when we decided to become Foster Parents. Over the winter we felt led to pray for God to show us what our next faith step should be– not really having any clue what could come next for us. Then we attended a Foster Parent information meeting in July and left the session both feeling this was for us. My one reservation was a lack of space in our home.
God’s crazy… and well that night I came across a home close-by in a neighborhood I had felt like might be right for us. The home had my “wish list” items but given our real estate market is insane, I thought it was a long shot. Long story short, we now live in that home! We are just a few weeks away from being fully approved as Foster Parents. Our hope is to adopt but we know that adopting through foster care is a long and unpredictable road. Pray with us God ordains our steps are we enter 2020 and open our home in this new way.
I’m floored at the realization that through the course of this year God brought us from a place of brokenness to being ready, willing, and able to step out in faith as potential adoptive parents. We have a lot of fears but that’s life. Faith is about believing past fear and being obedient when past your feelings.
I encourage you to pause as the year winds down and reflect on what God has done. You’ll be surprised by the testimony of God’s grace that lie hidden in the tiny details of your life.
Much love from the Idleman’s—