Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ. I want to take this time to write this post because I believe that it's very timely to share about the times in my life last year when I saw and felt God's loving and powerful presence in my life.
My husband and I did our yearly exercise/tradition of listing our blessings for the year on January 1 before we had a time of worship with our kids. They were so many! We had a long list and that list only included usually the big or highly noticeable things that happened last year as well as those that happened recently. Don't worry, I will not list all of them here. I've been pondering on what I consider my biggest blessings in the past year since the last few days of 2014 and I have decided to choose the Top 12 Biggest Blessings that I will share here in my blog.
Here they are:
1. The gift of Faith to keep on keeping on even when there were big trials and obstacles in my path - I consider this my biggest blessing in the past year. I noticed that 2014 was a year of big impact blessings for me. But behind those big blessings were also big challenges. I cannot thank God enough for sustaining me in faith to keep on putting one more foot in front of the other so I can continue in this walk of faith. I praise and thank God that He granted me the gift of Faith to not give up and to keep on hoping in Him. I'm so glad I did; for God did not disappoint me. I consider 2014 a year of breakthroughs for me because of the things I experienced for the first time this year. I know that putting my faith in God activated all the other graces that I needed to make my God-sized dreams come true last year and that it paved the way for the many blessings that came my way. I pray that this 2015, God would help me grow even more in faith so I would be able to witness and experience more of His miracles in my life.
2. The gift of life and being an instrument of God in giving life to another child of God - There are many women who die giving birth. I thank God that He did not let this happen to me when I gave birth recently. I thank God that I lived to see my third child, that I was able to spend Christmas with my family last year, I was able to witness my eldest son sing in the midnight Mass with a choir, and I was able to welcome the New Year with my family. Also, I thank God for planting new life in my womb, allowing me to carry my child to full term, letting my child live (some babies are born as stillbirths or some live only for a few minutes, hours or days), and allowing me to continuously give him life through my breastmilk. We sometimes take our lives or the life of others for granted. We forget that every moment of our lives is a gift from God and that we don't know when that gift would be taken back by the Giver.
3. Being able to spend a lot of time with my children, spending quality time with them and witnessing their milestones and achievements - These to me are God's precious gifts. Not every parent is given these gifts. I am truly blessed to have spent plenty of time with my two older kids last year. I praise and thank God that God provided for our family through my husband's job; thus, I was still not required to work outside the home. I praise and thank God for the grace also to be an intentional parent to my kids, for inspiring me through the blogs and other parents I have met online and offline and for the example of my own mom to be involved in her children's lives. I feel privileged to have witnessed their many firsts and milestones throughout the year that I was able to take photos or videos of or wrote about in this blog. I also thank God for the many bonding moments I was not able to capture in photos or videos but I was able to ponder and keep in my heart. I will forever treasure these wonderful times together with my kids. Calling them to mind gives me a warm and good feeling knowing that I have filled or at the very least contributed happy memories to my kids' childhood.
4. Being able to homeschool my children even while having a difficult pregnancy - I had a difficult time during the first two trimesters of my pregnancy for all our three children. I am the type who would vomit all day and all night (sometimes, even just before going to bed). This made me feel so drained of energy. There were also times when I felt depressed already while experiencing this. I lost my appetite and I was just in bed most of the time. I was weak physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. But praise and thanks be to God who is truly amazing because His power was made manifest in my weakness and eventually I got over my depression and I felt better in the months that followed. God helped me to stand on my feet again (figuratively and literally) and enabled me to homeschool my kids even before I felt really much better. I was amazed as well with the amount of material that my sons and I were able to cover and finish, especially with my eldest son. I thought I could no longer continue homeschooling them given my condition but God proved once more that if we ask Him to be our strength, He will surely answer our prayer. That's what He did to me! He inspired, encouraged and enabled me to do what I thought was impossible! I even think that last year was one of our most productive years in our homeschool if not the most productive so far. This is a miracle indeed!
5. Being able to achieve my God-sized dreams of holding a book launch with book signing for the print book version of BREASTFEEDING: A Journey Worth Taking, another book signing event for it, converting it into an e-book and becoming an Amazon Bestselling Author through this book - I have written various blog posts about these blessings and fulfilled God-sized dreams already. You may read these in detail here, here, and here. I am in awe of God for making these dreams come true all in one year! What makes this even more amazing is that the conversion of my print book into e-book and the virtual launch of the e-book happened while I was still pregnant. I'm thankful that God made these possible with the help of event partners and sponsors, my virtual assistants, bloggers and many new people in my network.
6. Finding an institution that administered a comprehensive testing on giftedness for our eldest son - I'm so thankful that we were able to discover that Headway School for Giftedness does this and that God provided for us the means to pay for that test. The test result was a big help for us in understanding our son more, knowing his grade levels (levels because we discovered that he was in 3 levels as of the test date), and in customizing a curriculum for his pace and interests. Moreover, we're grateful to find a school that has a homeschool program for the gifted that we can consider in case we decide not to make our own curriculums anymore.
7. Having a birth experience that I prayed for - I had an unmedicated birth (as planned) in a Lamaze room, my birth plan wishes were fulfilled, and my husband was available to bring me to the hospital when I started to have bloody show on my undies and he was my birth coach again during my delivery. Also, my husband was able to cut our son's umbilical cord just like in my past deliveries. We also had photos and videos of our sons birth. On top of that, we were able to pay for my hospital bills.
8. Finding two maids who are still with us until now that more than a month has passed since my delivery - It seems that God arranged for our maids to find us just in time for my third pregnancy. We hired them just before the first month of my pregnancy. Since most of the maids we hired come and go after a short time, I'm very grateful to God that we were able to convince them to stay with us at least until the end of my maternity leave.
9. Organizing my 2nd son's 3rd birthday before giving birth - This was really important to me because he will be an older brother shortly after his birthday. I praise and thank God that He gave me enough inspiration and strength to do all the necessary preparations and arrangements to make this party happen and to make it a happy and memorable one for my son. You can read in detail how I prepared for my son's construction-themed birthday party while I was heavily-pregnant in one of my previous posts here .
10. Idea for online program and being able to work on it while pregnant - I initially wanted to finish and launch this program last year but I got pregnant and it was a difficult one during the first two trimesters so my plan didn't push through. But I'm grateful still because I was able to finish half of what is needed for my materials before I gave birth. Through this online program, God gives me hope to achieve one of my life goals this year.
11. New e-book ideas - One of the first new book ideas I had was planted in my mind and heart by God in the first quarter of 2014. Then, I had another book idea around the third quarter of 2014. I wanted to finish writing these e-books last year but God had other plans for me. I'm still grateful because I have already written the outlines for these book ideas and I started writing some of the chapters of the books. More importantly, God taught me humility and surrender once more to His Will through this God-sized dreams of mine that needed to be postponed for later.
12. Learning many new things on blogging, managing a website and an online business, internet marketing, branding, entrepreneurship and publishing an e-book through Amazon - I'm very grateful that I had a lot of opportunities to learn. I was not able to attend a lot of seminars, workshops and conferences during the year but I was able to attend a few. From these, I gained a ton of new knowledge which spurred me to research and find other means to learn new skills. As usual, the universe conspired to send me the materials that I needed to learn. I thank God both for my successes and my failed attempts in executing what I learned. I'm grateful to find online mentors and articles that were very relevant and useful to my business.
As you might have noticed, the blessings I enumerated above are more than 12. I bundled some of my blessings because I wanted so much to include them in this list. hahaha I received so many big blessings, it's so hard to choose only 12!
Anyway, let me end this post by sharing with you my insights after my husband and I listed our blessings and after much thought on what my biggest blessings are 2014.
"I had big challenges last year but I had a Bigger God who helped me overcome those challenges, which paved the way for me to receive Big Blessings."
"God has been faithful to me even when I had not been faithful to Him."
"Faith and Courage open many doors."
How about you? Have you paused, pondered and savored your blessings in the past year? What were your biggest blessings? What are your insights? I would love to read other people's blessings in the comments section!