Not only have we just ended a year, we are ending four years in this place. In less than two weeks, we will move on to the next chapter.
The past four years have been a very full four years. When I pause to reflect, the first memories that leap to mind are the difficult ones. We have endured much in these four years.
Tourette Syndrome’s loud, annoying interference into more little bodies in our home. Giant roaches. And lizards. Learning to live in an apartment community. The death of a beloved grandmother. Minor surgery for a little one. Research into learning differences. Tests and evaluations and professional opinions. Battles with teachers and school administrators. Feeling disliked and unwelcome.
Stretching every dollar. Sacrificing. Searching for bargains. The near-death of a husband. Frightening diagnosis. Hospital stays. More battles with teachers and school administrators. Advocating for the children. The weighty burden of knowing each dollar we have is someone’s sacrificial gift and wanting to spend each one wisely.
An unconscious husband with a heart rate over 240. Another hospital stay. The shocks that keep him alive. The longest, worst day ever when we didn’t know if our goodbyes were the last this side of Heaven. Frightened children. Trips to Boston to make the heart better. Medicines whose side effects affect us all. Six months of chauffeuring a husband everywhere. Mice. A child angry with God.
More advocating for the children in school. EEGs and MRIs and searching for answers for the child who can’t focus and seems to have forgotten how to read. More dollar-stretching. More sacrificing.
The very scary day I was bled on. And six months of testing and waiting just to be sure. Medicines, helpful to the husband’s heart, but causing blood sugars to soar and plummet. Hard decisions. A job search. Months of waiting.
These have been four years of opening our hands. Releasing our plans, our expectations, our security. These have been four years of humbling our hearts. Admitting our needs, our failures, our shortcomings, our inabilities.
Though it’s easy for my mind to get stuck on the hard stuff, the painful prying open of my hands, these four years have also given us sweet memories.
Bright orange sunsets on the lake. Giant lemons from the tree. Friends just down the hall or across the street. Hours at the pool, splashing and laughing and learning to swim.
Warm winter days playing basketball or riding bikes. Ice cream field trips with classmates. The friends from Bible Study Fellowship who helped us grow. Babysitting and warm meals from friends who showed up when they were most needed. Hospital visits and prayers whispered by the Body.
Watching God provide for needs when we had reached the end of ourselves. Someone’s extra food dropped off when our cabinets were bare, cast-off clothes in just the right sizes, even much-desired roller skates at just the right moment.
Days at the beach, playing in the sand, soaking in the sun’s rays. Free Panera pastries late on a Monday night. Manatee-watching. Jokes about paranoia over brain-eating amoeba.
A year of building confidence back into the son who had lost his. Teaching, loving, sowing into him and watching him sprout and bloom.
Holding hands, crying tears, and praying together for Daddy. Repeating back to God all the things we know to be true of Him. Knowing our prayers were more for our own selves than for Him.
Opportunities to hold and hug and love unconditionally. Showing a love that endures in spite of failing grades or loss of self-control. A love that is larger than bat-screeching, tongue-clicking, opera-singing tics.
Discovering a favorite bookstore in Boston. Good conversations with a chaplain-in-training, a janitor, a med student, and nurses. Easters and Christmases and New Years Eves with friends. Making new memories.
These have been four years of finding blessings smack-dab in the middle of the mess. These have been four years of You meant it for evil, but God intended it for good. Four years of watching something good blossom in the pile of pain and poverty and pride and the prognosis of death.
These past four years, my heart has been plowed up. I am ready for the planting of this near year, this new phase of life.