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The last few days have been a dream. They have been fun and filled with love. I count the joy in it all, and my heart feels too full to contain it. It leads me to contrast, and it creates new gratitude in me for the difference.

One year ago our third child was born. We were still living in a different state so we were far from most everyone we know and love. We had two dear friends visit us in the hospital, and we were so appreciative of them but that was hard. When our first two kids were born, there was no end to the celebration train of people who came to show us their love. We expected this last birth to be different, but we didn’t expect it to sting and for the pain to linger.

It was just another reminder of the fact that we hadn’t really found our place, and that we were pretty alone. We got FaceTime calls and texts and other congratulations, but nothing felt like it did to have so many loving people crammed in our hospital room.

Within a few days and weeks we had family flying up to celebrate with us, and I will always be thankful for that. Those moments helped my heart.

Yesterday was different. Almost one year later to the day, our home was filled with friends and family celebrating our baby’s first birthday.

The contrast struck me, and I was overwhelmed to see my kids playing with friends who they deeply love who love them back. I was overwhelmed to see my family be there to help in every way they could. It was so great to have my sister get here Friday to hang out and help all weekend. I was overwhelmed that I could laugh and joke with two of my best friends. We haven’t all been together in about four years.

Yesterday was the reminder that though our season away was difficult, God used that to build new foundations in us, new opportunities that would come down the line for Rob, and a beautiful life in a place that feels like home for reasons bigger than geography.

Geography was a hard thing, but I know why those steps had to be taken. When I see where they served as stepping stones for Rob, I get a clear picture of what God was doing in them.

Toward the end of the party, two of my best friends surprised me with a beautiful wreath to warm my home and celebrate my birthday. I’m not very good at remembering I have one now that my baby boy’s is the next day. They wanted to celebrate me, and in that, they showed me how much they love me. They were so sweet, and it is beautiful. I forgot what that was like to some degree.

The theme of the party was Joshua’s 1st Rodeo as a bonus “Welcome to Texas!” I didn’t realize it would be one of my first big welcome back home moments too, and for that I will forever be grateful.