I don’t mean to sound ungrateful – but honestly, 2016 was a hard year. For the first time in 23 years, I didn’t send out Christmas cards or write an annual family letter. I just didn’t have much to say … but I will process it now by saying some of it here – just to document life and to also reflect God’s continued provision because despite my whining, it is always there!
A happier event of 2016, my son graduated high school successfully and started his freshmen year of college with scholarships that almost paid for his entire first year … and my teen daughter turned a corner emotionally and spiritually this summer with the help of lots of counseling and prayers, and she began her Junior year of high school more confident of her place in Jesus Christ than ever … and my now-7 year old made it through the summer and the beginning of 1st grade fairly unscathed even though I felt so much like an absent mother. My husband and I still love each other … and our family still lives under one roof harmoniously (most of the time!).
But 2016 was hard. School was hard for the older kids – not so much academically, but socially, they just never quite felt the belonging they knew at the previous school they had attended “all their lives”. My daughter is now finally feeling accepted there, but much of that is just that she has learned to accept herself (not in a psychological-mumbo-jumbo kind of way, but in a I AM A LOVED AND ACCEPTED CHILD OF GOD way). My son had a harder road as he had to work his way through the last 2 years of high school, which was the only way he was going to be able to buy a car and pay for books and college expenses due to our inability to help him financially. He had a lot more responsibility on his shoulders than most of the kids in his class. Not that it is less honorable or character-building to be able to play sports or have your parents pay for your schooling, but it hasn’t been our lot.
Financially it was a hard year. We lost 2 vehicles … our old Saturn Vue that Andrew drove at first died in March, and my trusty Chug-A-Bug van gave up the ghost and its head gaskets shortly before Christmas. The logistics of “only” 2 cars for 5 people going in 10 directions isn’t an easy one to schedule!! And then we own this supposed “rental property,” our previous home, that does not provide income when the renters move out, which they did in October; God hasn’t sent us any buyers or renters since despite prayers to that end. Loss and loss and more loss….
My dad had prostate cancer treatments for the second time this past summer, and my brother lost 10% of a kidney due to a cancerous tumor this Fall. Yes, we are thankful they are both considered “cancer free” right now, but it was hard being far away from them while they went through serious treatments and surgery. It was hard not being there with my mom through this.
Personally, while I am thankful to not have any “major” health issues, I have developed, starting in September/October – for the first time in my life – some weird allergies. Most every morning – many times starting around 4 a.m. – my nose clogs up and then runs simultaneously. I randomly break out in these lateral rashes – sort of under the skin – on my arms and on my neck and chin plus hives on my torso and thighs. Claritan and Benadryl are my best friends … and a wonderful side effect of that is it cures my insomnia! Plus I am now pre-hypertensive and have hypothyroidism again … no doubt it is all stress related. My mind says, “I am trusting Jesus,” but my body says, “you are in over your head, lady!!”.
A big part of that is that in May and June, my wonderful, flexible, most favorite job was down-sized, which was a huge blow. Irrationally, I decided to find a new job, and thought that my “open door” was a full-time job at a regional hospital. While the office work itself was fine, being confined by office hours after the freedom I had at my previous job, felt smothering. And not only that, but being at work by 8 a.m. after trying to get 2 non-morning girls up and ready for school was not always an easy task!! Every morning is hard. And not being able to take care of family errands during office hours was hard, too. And lastly, sadly, I did not handle moving to a more secular, corporate world very gracefully; my judgmental tendencies toward my non-Christian co-workers was pretty ugly, looking back.
Dan’s work wasn’t easy in 2016 either. His department is extremely short-staffed, and the wheels of a government agency move extremely slowly. Politics play a big part in the whole human resources process as well … and sometimes we question if a “retirement” is worth all of this?! We have survived financially thanks to him being able to work many, many overtime hours … often times overnight shifts sitting with a volatile patient or mindlessly watching cameras on a psych ward. But God provides for us through hard work, it seems. We have always said we don’t want hand-outs … and lately, we sure haven’t been offered any!
And then there is our “church” situation … we still haven’t found a place to call a “church family” since leaving our previous church this past summer. We’ve visited 9 or 10 churches (one in particular for many months) – and there is no lack of churches in our denomination here!! … And while the Gospel is preached and God is worshiped at each church we’ve been to, we haven’t felt that sense of THIS is where we belong …
I have always said in the last 4 or 5 years that God has provided for us with DAILY Bread. Any time we had any windfall, it was almost always followed by some crisis that took up all our resources again. I’m not really complaining … I’m just stating the facts that we aren’t getting ahead very quickly. We sure didn’t move to Arkansas to “get rich”! We don’t work secular jobs because we want to move up corporate ladders … We’d just like to provide for our family and be able to be generous givers to others. So far, Dave Ramsey®’s plan hasn’t worked out so well for us … but maybe in another 5 years we can reap some benefits … Thankfully, my husband keeps an eternal perspective, so it doesn’t weigh as heavily on him!
So,that’s 2016. Not that there hasn’t been many joys and blessings in between … because there has been! Family and friends have been there for us when we needed them!! We’ve seen many a need taken care of, and we are all still alive, safe, and together!
As far as life on this earth goes … we are hoping 2017 will be our year! As far as eternity goes, we know that life on this earth is just a vapor, and a far greater joy awaits. The joys God provides us on this earth, it seems, are often not material but personal, spiritual or relational. And I continue to believe God is working for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
Tomorrow I will share more about what God has done already in 2017 …