Dear Family & Friends, December 2010
Well, 2010! This has been a year of staying the course. If I had to put a slogan on it, I would have to say God told our family to “Be intentional, and just run.” In all that we have done this year, we have sought the Lord to make sure we are where He wants us to be, constantly having a listening spirit, waiting for the next move He was going to make in our lives, but things pretty much stayed the same. No major changes, just some major training in discipline, consistency, and keeping on keeping on.
Joey is still in graduate school with graduation peering at us from this time next year! I’m so proud of the opportunities he’s balanced in his life this year: our family, his store, Rotary Club, putting forth his best effort in every school class, taking on the vice-presidency of the Atlanta Marketing Board for Chick-fil-A operators. He has truly accomplished so much, yet I don’t feel we sacrificed at all because of how involved he intentionally stayed at home. Through it all, he has remained painfully humble, and will hate that I wrote all of this to you, but he is an incredible man of God and man of integrity, and I am blessed to be his wife.
So much blessing also comes with hardships, and I would be remiss in making you feel like this year has been easy, particularly for me in my spiritual walk. I have never done well when life levels out. I tend to hold fast to God in the highs and the lows, but the plateaus often leave me struggling with myself in living in my own strength. It’s ok. I’m still learning, and I’m ok with that. I think Joey is too. I’m just thankful the Lord never gives up on us.
Never give up. Stay the course. Keep on keeping on. Just run. These are the mottos that have branded every aspect of my life this past year. November 1st of 2009, I began running for the very first time in my life. The journey this exercise has taken me on from 5K, to 10K, to Sprint Triathlon, to currently training for a Half Marathon has blown my mind. Literally every step of the mileage run, God has taught me about HIS strength, HIS will, and HIS plan for my life. I could go on. (Read it all for yourself at our blog…just click on the label ‘I Run’ to see it all.) I’ve felt these life lessons echoed in the daily grind of parenting, of mothering, of being a child of God. I still have so much left to learn, but I’m grateful that God has put this very physical example in my life. It has made these lessons so much clearer.
I also was blessed this year to partner with a dear friend of mine and begin working VERY part time from home as her office administrator for her photography business, Sugar Snap Photography. I have enjoyed every moment of this opportunity, and the value it adds to my days and my life. I feel like all the administrative and organizational gifts God has given me are actually being put to good use to help someone else other than myself, and the fulfillment that brings is a deep blessing in my life. (If you’re looking for a good photographer, check out Sugar Snap Photography / http://www.sugarsnapatl.com/ / email@example.com.)
As if running and “working” from home hasn’t given me enough to ponder and reflect and add to my life, God has gifted us with two beautiful children, and I can’t be grateful enough for them! Savannah turned three this year—Hard to believe! She is the picture of life and passion and joy in its purest form. She is my little mama, my little helper, my little boundary pusher, my little drama queen. As high as life can get her, she can fall as equally low in the bat of an eye. But I see this, and it’s my pleasure these days to talk to her often about talking to Jesus about how she feels. Teaching her now to go to Him with her fears and worries, cares and burdens. Already at three she has such a large capacity to love and be hurt, to be a leader or a follower. She is my heart joy, my day song. I pray for wisdom every day not to mess her up too badly=) Ha! Isn’t that every parent’s hope?
And then there’s Weston, my little lover son=) Oh, how he loves his Mama! He has had quite a year of overcoming sicknesses, and teeth really put him into a tizzy, but through it all nothing can quite compare to his winning smile. Unfortunately, as amazing as his smile might be, his scream is equally obnoxious. We have endured a year of screaming as a form of communication, but just recently, he has finally started to associate specific sounds/words with actual items. It’s a dictionary we are still learning to decode, but more understanding on our part means less screaming on his part, so we are eager and hopeful that 2011 will involve many more smiles and giggles and much less screaming. All that to say, he is our little boy, and I wouldn’t trade a piece of his personality for all the quiet moments in the world=) His studious, steady nature combined with careful willingness to take risks is an interesting combination. I foresee many hard knocks in his future, but I’m pretty sure he will always know they were coming. I can only pray that he continues to pick himself up and smile and laugh through the whole ordeal like he does now.
So…we have a boundary pusher and a calculated risk-taker in the house. Life is only going to get more interesting! But I’m excited about the positive sides of these character traits and how God will be able to use these children to further His kingdom. Please pray for Joey and me as we continue to be intentional in training these little hearts and minds for the Lord. Our deepest prayer is that we be good stewards with all that He has entrusted us, especially our children—His children. Pray that we continue to stay the course and finish strong with the end of Joey’s schooling in sight. Pray that God moves in our hearts and lives to help us be more effective in sharing our many blessings with the hurting world around us.
This year we ran. We trained. We pulled together as one unit and stayed the course. But it meant being a little more introspective, being what may have seemed a little selfish to others as we pulled out of many service opportunities to put our family first. With Weston finally walking as of December 1st, we are coming out of that first baby-year stage and about to enter a new more mobile stage of life. I’m praying this means jumping back into service opportunities wherever God leads. Next year, my heart is to serve. To teach my kids how to live out their relationship with Christ with willing hearts and available hands. Don’t know what that will look like right now, but stay tuned, I’m sure my blog will keep you updated=)
This year, I leave you with God’s Word of encouragement in your lives. In light of this year’s lessons, these verses are only fitting. May God allow you to read and ponder them with fresh eyes and fertile heart for your own life:
23I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. 24Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
I Corinthians 9
May God bless you and your families this Christmas season with the hope of a New Year, with the remembrance of all the good He has done in your lives, and with an anticipating joy of all He has yet to accomplish.
Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas,
Joey, Jennifer, Savannah & Weston Durham