Today is December 29, there are just a few days left in the year. As I lay in my bed while the rest of the house sleeps I think of the Christmas village still in my dining room, and the undecorated tree on my patio that needs to be burned or chipped. I think of cleaning my home of 2017 and preparing for the next year to come. This year has been one for the books. It has been a tough year for my family, but in a lot of ways it has been a great year too. This year has been a year of illness, death, changes, diagnoses, fear, faithfulness. God has used this year to show me many weaknesses in my life and He has grown me into a better, stronger, more teary eyed woman. If I had to pick one word for 2017 it would be “trust”.
This year started out with my Grandfather battling cancer, my husband’s Granny dying, and talks of career changes. All three of those things required trusting in the Lord. All of these required immediate trust in the Lord. My husband and I both started the year out with plans to change jobs. Don was a CO at a State prison, a job he loved (yea, I don’t get it either), but he believed the Lord was leading him to a job at our local police department. Meaning he would leave the walls of the prison to go out on the streets, where just a month earlier two officers were killed. Fear. Deep fear. And trust. Serious trust that the Lord would protect him. I would leave my first teaching job in a self contained EBD classroom and I had no idea where God would lead me from there.
As the year went on Don was hired at the APD and we said goodbye to the prison, a job that came at just the right time our first year of marriage. He left the prison and left our home and went to Police academy, leaving me at home with our 1 year old twins. Trust. He came home and went to work as a bonified Police man, bullet proof vest and all. Trust, trust, trust.
I began interviewing for teaching jobs and picked out the one I wanted, a job co-teaching 1st grade in the county where I live. Perfect. The interview went great and then the waiting began. In the meantime I interviewed elsewhere but I thought I knew what was best for me. I started getting phone calls for jobs in other counties. I did not want to commute but I felt as though I shouldn’t say no. I went for an interview at an Elementary school for a 5th grade co-teaching job. That was not my plan (10/11 year olds?! I couldn’t do that) but I just felt at peace during the interview. I prayed on my way home. I really wanted the job in my county, teaching little kids, that was “me” it made the most “sense”. God told me to say yes to my first phone call. Just say yes. I just knew my first phone call would be the job I thought I wanted. It wasn’t, it was the Elementary school. I said yes. I was scared that I wouldn’t be good enough to teach “big” kids. Co-teaching was new and different. I wouldn’t be in total control of my classroom anymore. I had to drive 45 minutes and the babies had to eventually find a new daycare in that same town. I was scared; I trusted. I am still trusting. The Lord has taught me an awful lot through this job. News flash! I am NOT good enough and I am NOT supposed to be in control all the time. I think that may be the point. He is good enough, and when I drive home in tears He is there and He gets me up the next morning and makes me try again. Oh man have I grown since August, and oh man do I have A LOT of growing left to do here. I am so thankful for this job and the people that come with it. I am thankful that God has his own plans that are greater than mine.
Y’all, I almost forgot to talk about my mini van! If you don’t know us (but I’m not sure why you would read all this rambling if you don’t) we have twins. And contrary to what everyone assumes about having boy/girl twins, we are not “done” (gasp!). The Lord put on our hearts before we were even married to become foster parents, so I knew our family would be growing more. I also drove a little sedan and we were cramped! This may seem silly to y’all but I just felt like I needed a minivan, so I prayed. I prayed and prayed and prayed that God would provide us with a car big enough for the family he desires for us to have. Then, one day our dear, sweet, precious, God sent friends GAVE us their van. GAVE it to us y’all. Free. A gift. GAVE IT TO US. It’s been about 6 months and I still haven’t gotten over it. Don says I can’t thank them every time I see them though because then they may stop talking to me. But man, I am SO thankful. I just expected God to lead us to a minivan we could afford for the same payment we were already paying on our car. But boy did He show up and show out! I love that van. We (well I) call her Martha and she has been and will continue to be such a blessing to our family.
The year continued and my PawPaw beat cancer!! Don and I continued to adjust to our new jobs and the ways that changed our lives. I found a wonderful in-home daycare for the babies a few miles from my school. Smooth sailing. Then one night my mom calls me and says my Nandaddy (my great grandfather) is sick. He’s in the ICU and it doesn’t look good. Y’all. Trust. Long story short, he got better, came home, then had a heart attack and went back, unresponsive. On September 20 I drove to Columbus to see him one last time and tell him goodbye. On September 21, he went to be with Jesus. He was ready, but man did that hurt. It still hurts to go to their house and visit MawMaw and see his chair empty. It hurts to not hear him tell the same stories and ask the same silly questions. I am so thankful that God let him live long enough for the twins to meet him. He was such a special man but I know where he is and I know he’s home. Shortly after he passed, his brother, and my mother’s Aunt Sandra also passed. I know all three of them are together in glory.
I promise I am not writing a novel here.
The biggest event of of 2017 that taught me, that is still teaching me trust, was when my Sandy Claire was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. If you know us you might know that when the twins were born SC’s newborn screening came back showing that she had a gene mutation for CF. We were told that there was only one and that meant she most likely didn’t have the disease but that she had to get her tested anyway. That began two years of unsuccessful sweat testing. The girl just would not sweat. She’s far too lady like for that. We did multiple sweat testing and some more gene testing. Well to make a long story short and not bore you with all the medical details. She was eventually sweated and was diagnosed with CF. The Doctors are optimistic that she will have a pretty mild form of the disease (praises) and that is great news. But just let me share a little. When I sat in front of our pediatrician at their two year well check and he explained all the medical mumbo jumbo to me I just waited for him to say it. I finally asked, “So, does this mean that she DOES has CF?”. His answer shattered me. “Absolutely.” Yes. Yes. Cystic Fibrosis. No. No way, not my baby, not my sweet girl. I cried for probably a solid week or two. Or maybe I’m still crying. We have been to CHOA twice since then, once for her first pulmonologist appointment, where the diagnoses was confirmed, and the second time for more testing. The Dr still says everything looks good. We are blessed. I am learning, boy am I learning, to trust God. I never felt fear before the way I did when that doctor said “absolutely”. Fear just rushed in on me, I was filled with “what if’s” and thoughts of what this could mean for my girl. I went home and googled and joined Facebook support groups. I promptly stopped googling and left the support groups. I have pushed all of the “what if’s” away and I just live a life now of “but God”. Only God understands why my girl has this disease, and I know, I know He will carry us through, he will never leave us, and he has a purpose for this even if I never understand it.
God has used this year to grow me, and teach me, and I know that 2018 will not be any different. My word for 2018 starting out is “bravery”. I will be brave at the doctor’s appointments, in my day to day life at work. I will be brave when I kiss my police officer goodbye, I will be brave in whatever God hands me this year, I am already being brave by posting this blog (a big leap for me). I will not let fear hold me back or stop me this year.
Psalm 27:1. Whom shall I fear?