And even though this year has had its share of hardships, it isn't all that hard to come up with a list of things that we are thankful for:
- A full-term pregnancy: We have managed to cook baby DJ to full-term. There have been plenty of times when that seemed virtually impossible, but beaucoup prayers and lots of bedrest seem to have done the trick. We are really looking forward to Dec 9, when - Lord willing - we can finally hold our son in our arms.
- A full year of marriage (16 months in 2 days): Our first full year of marriage. We were married at the beginning of this year and will be married at the end of this year. And guess what: we haven't spend a night apart and STILL like each other...
- Idea in-progress for having only 1 house: After much prayer and counsel we've decided to pursue a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. Even though it was certainly not our first choice (or even 2rd or 3rd), it is a huge relief to finally know the road to 1 house payment is finally clear.
- A new US Permanent Resident: This year the DHS finally came to its senses and let Niels stay in the US... Nah, the DHS has always been fairly helpful and quick and that alone is cause for giving thanks. After all, it is a government agency and when they are actually helpful, that is cause for praise.
- Our mid-pregnancy cruise: In August we went north, way north to Alaska for a much anticipated, relaxing and amazing week away from it all. Best of all, it was the one week that Jen felt good during the whole pregnancy.
- Lots of trips to GR: Grand Rapids was the destination of choice for a number of weekend trips to help with selling the condo, visiting friends and loading up on some Dutch goodies.
- Arizona: One year ago we were in sunny Arizona (we are writing this with snow on the ground here, sorry Mom!) where Niels met Gramma for the first time and got to take a beautiful trip through Arizona to the Grand Canyon and back. Niels was also introduced to Mom's famous chicken and wild rice... and is looking forward to more in the weeks to come.
- Gin 13: One more thing we picked-up in Arizona is the card game Gin 13. It has helped us through many hospital waits and fun times at the dinner table too... Just need to get Jen to win a bit more... We play in Dutch most of the time and Jen is getting to be quite the expert at counting (at least from 1 to 10....)
- Debt reduction: In the tough economic times we are facing we feel very thankful that we've been able to pay off all debt, short of 1 car and the house. That includes those dreadful credit cards...
- Bailey: despite a scare earlier in the year, she is still with us and healthy again. She is getting increasingly antsy about some upcoming change she can't quite figure out yet...
- Visitors: This year we've not been able to travel as much, so we were grateful to have a number of family-members and friends coming to Ohio to see us. There were: Dutch Mom and Dad, American Dad (twice!), our godson CJ and Jen's sister Liz and our good friend Gary from Canada.
- NFL Sunday Ticket: One of the bigger splurges of this year, but it made bedrest infinitely more tolerable given Jen's major addiction to the game of football. Go Vikes!
So, all-in-all, with the hard pregnancy, 2 houses, paystub mishaps, 2 miscarriages and 1 breast cancer scare, we look back on these last 12 months with much fondness and gratefulness to God for the way he sustained us and are eagerly looking ahead to next year which will be A LOT different with the arrival of baby DJ in 12 days!!