It truly has been a very sweet year, with every day except 18 of them including Anna Stephens and I think that is much of the reason this year has been so very special. Our baby girl has brought so much joy and wonder and fun to our lives. We knew we would love her, but having her in our lives is so much better than we could have ever expected…it is sometimes hard to remember life without her. I’m sure it has certainly helped that she’s pretty much an angel. AS has been the sweetest, most easy going baby who loves to sleep and man, are we thankful! Of course, it’s easy to remember the good moments and we try to forget the hard ones. There were definitely some hard moments this year – baby related and non baby related, but overall, we rejoice in the simple blessings of this year – just watching Anna Stephens grow, Luke and I growing in our relationship and as parents, and all of us being transformed in our new family dynamic.
The Lord has provided for us in so many ways this year. Literally from the very start – the love, encouragement, prayer, meals, and gifts we received from family and friends was overwhelming. We were SO taken care of, which I know made a huge impact on us transitioning to parenthood rather smoothly. Luke was able to be home with us so much more in the beginning than we ever thought, due to some job circumstances we wouldn’t have asked for, but God is always seeing the bigger picture! I was able to spend the first 7 months of Anna Stephens’ life working from home and I never would have thought that possible either!! The Lord protected my mind from postpartum depression, which I was very worried about and he gave me so much confidence as a new mom, that could only come from Him. I praise Him for it!!!
This year, we had a whole lot of doctor visits, which is quite unusual for us. Number 1 – With a newborn, you go to the doctor all the time – for well visits and inevitably for some sick visits too. Number 2 – we met our family deductible with my delivery and then AS’ NICU stay, so we decided – there is no better time to get all of the things taken care of, ha! Truly, we do not take the gift of medical insurance for granted. Luke saw a cardiologist and a sleep specialist. I got an ingrown toenail removed. We both went to the dermatologist. I started going to the chiropractor after I had Anna Stephens and it was truly life changing. I didn’t realize how much tension I had been holding from stress, but also just from carrying a baby. Anna Stephens got adjusted several times too.
We have seen the Lord move in mighty ways through our church, Old Town Church, this year and we got to celebrate our one year anniversary of launching in our new location at the PIX Theatre on Oakland Ave. This has been an answered prayer in so many ways. Luke loves serving in students alongside our best friends, The Bolands, and I have continued to enjoy leading worship and am constantly growing and being challenged by the Lord as I lead alongside my dear friends, Cathy and Chris.
I am filled with gratitude for the relationships the Lord has given us both. He has lavished us with some pretty amazing friendships and He uses them to sharpen us, challenge us, and bring us joy. Ultimately, I am so grateful for Luke. He has been my rock throughout all the changes of the past year and there is no one I would rather tackle parenthood with. Our days aren’t perfect – we are both really tired most evenings and some days are pretty mundane, but we’re in it together. He is my best friend and apart from God himself, I am most myself, most safe, most seen – when I am with him. I don’t take this gift lightly.
JANUARY: We started the year with excitement as we wondered when our baby would come and if baby Ham was a boy or girl. 19 days later, we welcomed our baby girl, Anna Stephens Hamilton into the world!
FEBRUARY: February was filled with getting used to our new life with Anna Stephens. We were so blessed with many meals provided and so much help from our parents, especially. I turned 28 and we celebrated my birthday and our 5th anniversary with a quick one night getaway to Whispering Willows (Anna Stephens 1st overnight with Andi and Coop)…then had friends over on my birthday night for appetizers and Crumbl cookies.
MARCH: March was a really sweet month, because I was feeling so much better physically, we were finding our rhythm with AS and I was still off work, so I was really able to soak up my maternity leave and just enjoy AS.
APRIL: Lindsey and Travis got engaged! Anna Stephens’ 1st Easter! Luke turned 29. I returned to work (from home!)
MAY: My mom and I took AS to Seneca to meet my Papa! My 1st Mother’s Day! We coordinated the Smathers Wedding at the Belle Crane Inn.
JUNE: Luke’s 1st Father’s Day! We bought a car (VW Tiguan) and sold the 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee after owning her for 11 years. I was a bridesmaid in Lauren’s wedding, while Luke was in DC for Clay’s bachelor party. Luke played in a disc golf tournament in Columbia with friends from church. I went to Virginia at the end of the month for Riley’s bachelorette party.
JULY: We enjoyed my parent’s new pool for the 1st time on July 4th! At the end of the month, we road tripped to Huntsville, AL and stopped on our first night in ATL to see the Nesters!
AUGUST: Clay and Riley got married on August 1st in Huntsville, AL. Anna Stephens started WCCS with Mrs. Shelby and Mrs. Paige every day from 8-2:30! Luke’s classes for his pharmacy residency in community pharmacy started.
SEPTEMBER: After labor day, I started going back into the office on Tuesday and Thursdays, while AS was in school and then either Luke or Shelley watched AS in the afternoons.
OCTOBER: Seth + Lauren’s Gender Reveal in Seneca (we’re getting a nephew!) Anna Stephens’ First Halloween (We were the 3 little pigs and Willow the big bad wolf!)
NOVEMBER: Anna Stephens’ first Thanksgiving, first trip to Penland Christmas Tree Farm, her first ear infection, her first bad fall and X -ray 🙁 My in-grown toe nail removal (lol). Decorating for Christmas!
DECEMBER: Anna Stephens’ first Christmas season! Lindsey’s Bridal Shower.
BEST OF 2021:
Best song or album:
-I feel like I didn’t listen to a whole lot of a new music this year, because usually in the car, I’m on Marco Polo or listening to what I will be singing on Sunday
-Songs: Range Rover (Ben Rector), Redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb (People & Songs), You Know (Bethany Bernard)
-Cain – Christmas Album
-Family Discipleship Podcast
Best follow on Instagram:
-I like to follow all these ladies because what they offer on motherhood in light of the gospel. I also really loved Hannah Brencher’s advent series and her take on mental health.
Best life hack:
-Splendishes meal pick up
-Panera drink subscription
-I said this last year, but still at the top is Target pick up (and grocery pick up, in general)
Best home improvement:
Best little luxury enjoyed:
-Walks thru Target with unsweet tea or starbucks
-Sitting in my car by myself (if you know you know, LOL)
Best TV show or movie:
-I am terrible at remembering movies, but I do remember watching “In The Heights” with Amanda this past summer and loving it!
-Luke and I love TV and together, we watched … The Chosen season 2, The Friends reunion (we literally got HBO max only to watch the reunion and it was amazing), Manifest, Ted Lasso, 9/11 series on Hulu, and The Mighty Ducks reboot on Disney+
-Shows I watched by myself: Virgin River, Heartland, Firefly Lane, This is Us, and I re-watched Gilmore Girls a year in the life in December and I think I might make that a thing every year…
-“Talking as Fast as I can” by Lauren Graham. My mom bought me this book as part of my Mother’s Day gift and I loved reading it. It was such a fun read and especially enjoyable if you love Gilmore Girls and Parenthood.
-I have much bigger goals for reading next year! I’ve started a few books this year that I haven’t been able to finish and just truly did not have the time or find much enjoyment in reading this year.
-We honestly didn’t travel too much this year, due to me using up most of my vacation time with my maternity leave and my family did not do a vacation, since we were all travelling for Clay’s wedding … so besides a few day trips to Clemson and our trip to Atlanta/Alabama, we were pretty much home bodies 🙂
Best family memory
-The ultimate memory is when Luke announced to me, “It’s Anna Stephens” during my C-section!
-My favorite family memories from this year were the small, simple moments with our little family…like going for a spontaneous dinner out, going to swing at Cherry Park or Miracle Park, and at the top of my list… witnessing Anna Stephens’ first belly laugh, all together, and caused by Willow was the BEST!!
Best purchase or gift:
-Air pods! – I put this off for sooo long! But I got them last Christmas and then Luke got them shortly after AS was born and we both love them so much. The noise cancellation is a game changer.
Best kid purchase:
-Fischer Price Nativity for AS – She LOVES it!!!!
Best mama moment
-For this year, nothing could top the moment I met my baby girl!
Best kiddo milestone
-It’s impossible to choose just one in the first year, because everything is so cute and changes so fast! Some of my favorites, of course, have been … her smile! her laughter! her first roll! her first crawl! Her first wave! Her first word! Her clapping her hands! Her pulling up to stand and trying to walk!
Best faith grower:
-The theme continues … the #1 thing that has grown my faith this year has been becoming a mother. It has opened up this whole new part of me that did not exist before and it requires a deeper surrender and trust of the Lord than I’ve ever known. It blows my mind to know God loves Anna Stephens more than I ever could. And it brings me so much peace and a better understanding of the Lord, through my own love of Anna Stephens, to know how deeply and unconditionally He loves me.