The Difference a Year Can Make

2018 was a rough year for the Feast of Tabernacles.

Our daughter, Primrose, was only 4 weeks old and we drove 8 hours (a 5 hour trip in theory—ha!) to keep the Feast in New Braunfels, Texas.

The day before we left, I got sick, and my doctor put me on antibiotics—consequently giving my poor newborn stomach pains for the entire 8 days.

She cried. I cried. My loving husband comforted us both. My mom was there, and so were Jeremy’s parents. His dad got sick and couldn’t even hold his first grandchild until nearly the end of our stay.

This precious little baby cried in pain and slept only a few hours at a time. She was tired. We were tired. She gazed at the faces of those who loved her so dearly. She’d grin from time to time. She was barely over 6 pounds and couldn’t yet focus her eyes.

I went to church twice that Feast.

* * *

Today our family is attending the Feast of Tabernacles in Orange Beach, Alabama.

As Jeremy and I sit during the service, our toddler plays with her cousins.

Primrose now laughs, plays games, and says words like “Mama,” “Dada,” and “nacks” (her version of “snacks,” which, let’s be honest, is nearly as important as Mama and Dada). She runs everywhere and climbs on nearly everything. She loves exploring the world around her by picking up and inspecting nearly everything, from sand on the beach to dirt in the garden. She studies people’s faces and reactions before she ever goes to them. She’s hesitant to try new things, but once she has observed from afar she’ll jump right in.

She gives kisses and hugs. She gives high fives and is working on giving “nucks.”

Sometimes I look at Primrose now and I think about that tiny little baby I held in my arms at the Feast last year. I think about how uncomfortable she was and how I couldn’t do anything to help her.

And then I look at this amazing little person now. A little girl with emotions and preferences. A little person who can be silly. A little person who waves at strangers and gives big grins because she knows they’re going to smile back at her.

Primrose has grown so much, and it’s so obvious to see that within a year’s time. Looking at her makes me realize that I have to look at myself, too. Motherhood has changed me for sure, but have I grown in obvious leaps and bounds like my daughter has?

Have I become a better person this past year? Since the last Feast I attended, have I learned more? Has my character grown? Am I more kind now than I was last year? Am I more gentle? Am I more patient? Am I more discerning? Have I grown in the Spirit that God has given me?

In a year’s time Prim has learned endurance and persistence—trying over and over again until she masters whatever she’s working on, whether that’s walking, talking, climbing, or any other skill in her ever-expanding repertoire.

What have I mastered this past year? Did I keep trying and pushing until I got it? Or did I just give in and give up?

It didn’t matter if she fell on her face or got frustrated when she couldn’t get my attention. She kept at it until she could run into my arms and squeal my name as I chased her down the hall of our home.

In reflecting on the past year of my daughter’s life I have to ask myself, what have I been doing when I fall on my face? What am I doing when I get frustrated? Am I reacting in a way that reflects God’s character? Better yet, am I acting instead of reacting?

This year’s Feast of Tabernacles has just begun and yet I’m finding myself filled with many moments of self-reflection. These questions aren’t all easy to answer. In fact, they’re not necessarily easy to even ask myself. I can so easily see what my daughter has learned and mastered—and I can celebrate that with and for her. But I am learning more and more that to become the person I want to be, I have to be able to look at myself and ask these prodding questions—whether I like the answers or not.

Until who knows,

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