20 Reasons Why 2020 Has Been My Best Year Yet

We want to say, “Good riddance!” to 2020, toss it in the dumpster and set it ablaze. We would like to turn our backs and walk into the new year of 2021.  If we do that, we will lose all the treasures hidden in darkness, all the lessons learned from challenge, all the wisdom gained in hardship, all the promises fulfilled in ways we didn’t expect.  At the beginning of 2020, God was telling us that it would be a Good and Blessed New Year, and it really has been! All His words and prophecies were true.  In fact, it has been our best year yet.

I hesitated to write this article, because I didn’t want to make any of my readers feel bad if they didn’t have a year as wonderful as mine.  But it is simply a matter of perspective.  I think that God would like all of us to concentrate on His blessings rather than the trials. If I made a list of all my heartaches, fears, doubts, and hard times in 2020, you would most certainly pity me and be glad you didn’t have my life.  Yet in every life, the blessings and the trials dwell side by side. And the trials actually turn into blessings if we let God have His way.

I used to live in a state of perpetual self-pity.  I spent a lot of time feeling sick and tired and grumpy, and every new hardship was confirmation that I was a victim.  I didn’t realize that I had taken on an orphan identity that was in opposition to God and the Bible.  It just felt like normal life, and normal life was incredibly hard!

It took years for God to renew my mind, peel back the layers, and reveal my victim perspective.  A victim mindset produces victim thoughts and victim thoughts produce victim decisions.  Victim decisions would lead me away from God’s goodness and into deeper darkness.  I didn’t need a change of circumstance, I needed a change in perspective.  I was an eagle living in the dirt, but God has taught me how to fly.

I do sometimes forget to fly.  So I proclaim over myself, “I pursued my enemies, and I did not turn back until they were destroyed (Ps 18:37)!  Fear, you have no hold on me!  Victim spirit, orphan spirit, you have no place in me!  I am wonderfully well and blessed and highly favored of the Lord.  I am his favorite daughter!  He has put a crown on my head…” and on and on until I have confessed every good scripture that I can think of.

If you are beholding the LORD, then you will go from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18).  Each year will be better than the last because you are drawing nearer to Him and He is drawing nearer to you!

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp really helped me change my thought patterns and grow the joy center of my brain. I started keeping a journal of all that I was thankful for, writing a few things each day.  At first it took some thought, but pretty soon the blessings would come to my mind faster than I could write or keep track of.  I got to one thousand and beyond with no trouble.  Now I am in the habit of falling asleep thanking God and waking up thanking God.  Some days I must force myself to do it just to push out the discouraging thoughts, but most days it flows naturally.

I decided to write down all the amazing things God had done for us in 2020.  Then Chris reminded me of additional blessings that I had forgotten about.  We talked about it as a family, and the children remembered even more.  It really was the best year yet!

You don’t even have to read my list.  The main point is for you to compile your own.  It may take days or weeks, talking to family and friends, and reviewing journals and photos, but it is worth the effort. It may just take you from the valley to the clouds and beyond.

Why 2020 has been My Best Year Yet

  1. I have been singing truth over myself every morning. I have been filled with more confidence and boldness and spent less time in discouragement and lies.
  2. I have been waiting on the Lord almost every morning and there is nothing better than hearing His voice.
  3. I have renewed strength and energy – not as tired or overwhelmed.
  4. I have taken a walk almost every morning and I have never been so immersed in the beauty of my own neighborhood in every season.
  5. I found renewed joy in homeschooling. The children got better nutrition and better spiritual discipleship since their schools closed.
  6. Two of my adult children have been home for most of the year.  They helped me without being asked and I loved their company.
  7. We spent a week in the best vacation rental we have ever had.
  8. Chris and I fulfilled our 24 year desire to return to Cape May.
  9. We were able to save money in many different ways.
  10. My daughter Ashlyn had a better-than-expected experience during and after spinal fusion surgery.
  11. No sickness in our home except colds.
  12. My boys have wanted to go to church.
  13. I was able to start making kefir and taking supplements again.
  14. After living many years with a leaky roof, we were able to get a new roof with no debt.
  15. I hiked Hawk Rock with the family.  I hadn’t done it in 27 years. It was definitely challenging but it felt easier than when I was in my teens!
  16. We finally got a membership to the State museum and used it many times.  My dad used to work at the museum, and it was there that I spent many happy childhood days.
  17. On our porch we had yellow mums for autumn and festive lights for Christmas for the first time.
  18. We grew closer to a wonderful group of friends and have never felt more thankful to be able to spend time with them.
  19.  I have never been more excited to attend church! I have watched many church leaders rise up in a new boldness. I have witnessed the Ekklesia work together like never before.
  20. I have lived through an amazing year that history will look back on as the beginning of the Second Revolutionary/Civil War, a precursor to the Third Great Awakening when America turned back to God!

The More Children I have, the More Blessed I Become

family 3

Babies are a blessing!  When they look up at you with the blue eyes they got from you and smile a dimply smile they got from their Dad, you think to yourself, “Surely there is nothing better in the entire universe than this precious little one!”

Yet babies can be a lot of work with all the crying, diapering, laundry, training, and worrying that is involved.  And toddlers!  Wow, the work just multiplies.  A huge amount of energy is spent just keeping them from death and injury as they begin to explore their world with abandon.

Young children need to learn all sorts of things such as: the alphabet, addition facts, what president is on the penny, what a president is, how to be polite, how to get rid of the monsters in their closet, and how to wipe their little butts.  This constant instruction can be frustrating and draining.

As they get older the training expands to chores, homework, and interpersonal relationships.  It becomes apparent at this point that these children have developed personality traits that are nothing like yours, and you wonder how this could have happened!  They have behavioral issues that you never expected and don’t quite know how to handle because frankly, you expected your children to be nearly perfect just like you.

Then you begin to relate to the parents who act as though their children are more of a burden than a blessing.  They make jokes about how their children drive them crazy, and how they definitely don’t want ANY MORE of those little monsters!!  They love them desperately…but they kind of dread the summer when they have to be with them day in and day out.  You understand…because sometimes you feel that way too!  Oh, for some alone time!  Oh, for peace and quite!  Oh, for some extra money to buy something for yourself!

The Bible says that children are a reward and a heritage from the Lord.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them! (Ps 127:3-5) God says that birth, pregnancy, and conception are our glory. (Hosea 9:11) Pregnancy, babies, fruitfulness, and many children were God’s blessing to his people when they were obedient to him. (Ex 23:26 and Lev 26:9)  To have a lot of children in your family is a sign of God’s favor and blessing on your life.

Let me tell you all the ways I have become more and more blessed with each child.

It is true that children are a lot of work, but all the work has taught me about how to be more organized, more efficient, and more time effective.  My time has become so precious to me, and I don’t spend it on any old thing.  I use it as wisely as I know how.  I have been so blessed by giving up stupid TV shows and filling my time with relationships, learning, reading, and drawing close to God.  I am a better and more knowledgeable person for all the hard work I have done.  Now I am able to train my children to be hard and efficient workers as well.  Some of them even enjoy an organized home and a job well done!  What a blessing!

It is true that children are so emotionally draining.  All the crying that is not comforted by my best mothering efforts could lead me to depression.  All the nightmares and fears I am called upon to calm, all the yelling and disagreements that I am required to negotiate, all the disobedience and disrespect I am expected to correct WITHOUT anger could drive me completely insane!  Instead, it highlights my weaknesses and drives me right into the arms of God.  I depend on Him for everything.  I look to Him for every answer.  I seek Him for everything my children need, because I know that I just don’t have it all within me.  I go to Him every time I fail and trust that He will cause my children to be just fine despite the fact that their mother is grossly inadequate.  I pray constantly and continually for their bodies, their souls, and their spirits.  He amazes me with His promises for them, and overwhelms me with His love for them.  Without all these children, I would never be so close to my heavenly Father who parents me perfectly.  I am so blessed to have such a close relationship with God, and I am so blessed to feel His precious grace increase every time He gives me another baby.

It is true that children cost a lot of money.   They are constantly growing and needing new everything!  Yet for every child that God gives, he gives the money and resources to go along with that child.  We have a big house because we have a lot of children.  We did not get the big house first and then decide that we could have more children.  We have resources constantly flowing to us because we had a lot of children.  We didn’t wait for the resources and extra money in the bank before we decide to have more children.

I have bought very few children’s clothes in the past 16 years.  Clothes just come to us through friends and relatives.  Nice Clothes!  Beautiful clothes!  Barely or never worn clothes!  I have bins and bins and bins of clothes in the attic just waiting for a child to grow out of their current wardrobe!  We have had people give us a refrigerator and another person gave us a huge chest freezer for free!  Then we have other friends who get us amazing prices on boxes and boxes of food to fill all of the refrigerators and freezers!

If one of our children needs something, we pray together for God to bring it to us…and He does.  It is so fun to witness the unusual and unexpected ways that He does it. When the time comes for bigger needs such a cars and college educations, I know that the miracles will be there.

I have heard many amazing testimonies from missionaries who go out on the mission field with very little resources.  They simply have a raw faith that they are doing God’s work and God will provide…and He does.  God loves my children just as much as he loves the heathen people in the jungles of the Amazon.  I can expect miracles in my own life just as the missionary does.  What an exciting life I get to live, a life of faith and miracles!  What a blessed life I have!

As I have more children, my workload actually lessens and my life becomes easier.  Why?  Children go from being liabilities to being assets.  They can work!  They can do chores and do laundry and cook and clean and take care of babies, and if you train them right, they can run the entire household without you even being there.  Oh, the glory of seeing a clean kitchen and knowing that you didn’t have to wash a single dish!  Oh, the wonder of a date night with your husband as the older children put the younger children to bed.  Oh, the beauty of returning home from a lovely evening out to find peace and order without handing out money to a babysitter.

Being pregnant is so much easier with lots of children and teenagers around.  I don’t have to hurt my back doing housework.  I don’t have to bend down to get anything with all those eager, little hands.  And everyone wants to hold the baby and learn how to change his diapers.  Blessings abound!

What could be better than fun and adventurous family times?  To experience new and different things together is awesome.  To go on trips and vacations with so many playmates around is loads of fun.  At home on a normal day, there is no lack of conversation!  The cooing and babbling of the baby keeps us delighted.  The hilarious comments of the younger children keep us laughing.  The constant questions of the curious ones keep us alert.  The unexpected and imaginative thoughts of all the children keep us in wonder and awe!  The adult conversations with the teenagers keep us company and enrich our lives.  The love exchanged between us all is what we live for.  And what a lovely, blessed life it is!

I can only guess at all the blessings that will be mine when each child becomes a mature, responsible adult.  How lovely it will be when I witness them becoming who God created them to be, when they are displaying their unique gifts and callings.  And when they become parents with children of their own, all those grandchildren will be one adorable blessing after another!

I can only imagine what it will be like someday when I stand before God and He pulls back the veil.  I will be able to see clearly the impact that my children had on the world and on eternity.  What inconceivable blessings will be mine, forever and forever!

family 4

When people see me out with all of my children, they seem a little shocked that there are so many of them.  When friends and strangers alike learn that I have eight children and one on the way, their reactions are all very similar.  At first they seem very surprised and confused (Like they are asking themselves, “Do people really have 9 children these days?”)  Then they give me a look that says, “You are absolutely crazy, you know that don’t you!”  But they usually don’t make that comment out loud.  What they do say, almost universally across the board is, “Wow, you have your hands full!” and “God bless you!”  I have been blessed more times that I can count!  Every time I meet someone new, they say to me,

God bless you!”

I know that words have power.  With words like those being spoken over me every time I go out, I feel like the most blessed woman in the world!

 

Birth Story: Part 5 – Cooper, “The Barrel Maker” What does that Even Mean?

chris 8

My sixth pregnancy progressed like all the others.  Yet, something was different.  This was our first child who would be born to us in Pennsylvania, the land of our inheritance.  Miraculous events surrounded this child as God gave us a house worth two times what we could afford, a house we just adored.  I wrote about these amazing events in a previous article, “My Adventurous Husband with the Crazy, Impossible Dreams Might Just be Right!” 

I thought that this baby was a boy, although I didn’t know for sure.  Chris picked out his first name, “Cooper.”  Our oldest son came up with the name “Yale” for the middle name.  Put the two names together and you get a name that means, “Barrel Maker from the Hill.”  That sounded like a silly name to me.  I love selecting strong, amazing, and prophetic names to inspire me through the long, tiresome months of pregnancy.  “Barrel Maker from the Hill” did nothing for me.

“What does that even mean?” I asked God.

“I’m so glad you asked,” God answered.  “You are now in the land of your inheritance.  That means that you will be receiving lots of blessings, resources, influence, and gifts of the Holy Spirit – more than you can imagine.  You are going to need lots and lots of vessels (barrels) to hold all of the blessings I have for you.  This child will have an important role in containing and stewarding those blessings.  “From the Hill” is from Life Center, your church, which is on a hill.  The freedom and love that is represented at Life Center is this child’s birthright.  You and Chris have had to battle and fight your way into that freedom.  This child will live in it right from the start.”

Wow!  That was a powerful name after all!

Cooper’s labor was very similar to Chai’s.  My water broke the night before.  Contractions started slowly in the morning.  We took a tour of our new house (which we had not yet moved into) to try and speed things up.  By the time we were returning to our rental home, my contractions were quite intense.  I took my place in the warm birthing pool.  The contractions were much more painful than with Chai, yet I was able to thank God and praise Him for them.  I had never done that before!

Also, I began to speak to the baby.  Our church had introduced us to a class called, “Blessing Babies in the Womb.”  We hadn’t been able to take the class, but we were beginning to understand that babies have spirits that are alive and active just like adults.  Their spirits perceive words, emotions, and circumstances happening around them.  Their spirits and bodies submit and work during labor, similar to how a woman’s spirit and body have to submit to the pain and work to bring the baby forth.  In fact, mom and baby need to work together in harmony.

So I began doing something I had never done during labor.  I began talking to the baby.  After a contraction I would say, “Good job, Baby!  That was great!  Keep coming down.  Get into the right position.  Don’t be afraid.  This is going to be wonderful!  I can’t wait to see you!  You are doing great!  I love you!”

Cooper was born right around lunch time with his little hand up on his head.  The midwife said that this normally slows a baby’s entrance into the world, but it didn’t seem to delay Cooper at all!  I was so pleased with my little Barrel Maker, and my life was overflowing with blessings!