I've been reflecting on 2014 a lot, especially as it is coming to an end. I honestly can't recall too many tougher years than this one. 2005-2006 definitely comes to mind, as that was the first year Sean and I were married and he also deployed for 7 months, including a two month stint in Iraq. That was a really tough year. I was left in the strange land of California (I'm a Southern gal) and couldn't have made it without the help of my Marine wife friends!
It's hard to not start crying just thinking about this year. Yes, there have been good times. The top of my list of great blessings is the birth of our first daughter, Hailey Elizabeth, on February 25th. We had a healthy pregnancy and a healthy labor and delivery and a healthy little baby girl. We were overjoyed and still are. She is so sweet and we just love her so.
We also have each other. I thank God for allowing me to spend all these special days with my husband and our four small children. I love them. I cherish them. I probably squeeze them a little tighter each day. Mostly because of the things we have weathered through this year. We have food, shelter, clothing, and our health. We truly are blessed. We have a wonderful family, sweet friends, our church, and a beautiful area of the country to enjoy day in and day out. We have the freedom that the US of A provides; very few countries have what America has.
That being said, I know great trials and great hardships this year. In January, we attended Sean's grandma's funeral. Unfortunately, I didn't get to know her very well and probably learned the most at her memorial service. I wished I would have gotten to know her better. I know she was a special woman.
A "For Sale" sign was stuck into our front yard in January, as well. The owners of this house wanted to sell it, however, they were going to allow us to finish out our lease (end of June). After that, they agreed upon a month to month lease while they searched for a buyer. In all honesty, it was a little stressful and almost always a little of an inconvenience to show the house to potential buyers. I know I didn't have the best attitude about it. But even with my ungratefulness, the Lord blessed us with the owners deciding to take down the "For Sale" sign for now and letting us extend our lease until December 2015. This was an answer to a specific prayer! I had asked God to let us stay here until Sean graduated and he graduates December 2015! Let me say, we only wanted to be here if the Lord wanted us to be here and we did not want the owners to struggle with not being able to sell the house.
In May, my family suffered the loss of my uncle. It was a complete surprise and a reminder that everyday with my loved ones is special and a gift from God because we do not know how long our lives are on this earth.
About a month later, my grandma passed and words cannot even describe how much I miss her. It is still new. It is still heartbreaking. It is an open wound that has not yet healed. My father and my uncles lost their brother and their mother in the same month. I lost my uncle and my grandma. My last surviving grandparent. It is one of those times in life when you just feel like things aren't fair. I didn't understand and I asked God why. Why did He allow this to happen? I thought we had many more years with my grandma. I miss her. And usually it comes out of nowhere. Some random memory or some thing about her will pop into my head, usually followed by a smile and a good cry. I usually cry in the car all alone driving to and from work. I think of her and just miss her. I can't even begin to understand how my Dad and my uncles feel. Broken, I know. She was truly the center of our family. She was our everything. It's just not the same without her. And missing her makes me miss granddad. It's tough.
We also had a season of sickness. It was for most of the summer. We rarely made it to church and we rarely got out to do anything. The kids had multiple ear infections (all four of them) and I had a sinus infection. It sounds wimpy, but they hurt! And it seemed to last forever. This season of sickness ended with surgeries. Andrew was first. Just a little over a month shy of his 2nd birthday, our little guy had to get tubes put in his ears. He had suffered through 8 ear infections in one year and had hearing loss and not much in the way of speech. I was so nervous. Overly nervous. It was scary. But it ended great! The surgery went well and he hears now and he talks now! It's such a blessing and a joy to see him learning and growing and watching his little personality develop.
But surgeries weren't over. Shortly after Andrew's surgery, I happened to notice that our three-year-old Hunter had one enlarged tonsil. I thought nothing of it at first, but a couple of weeks later, it hadn't changed at all. So off to the doctor we went. Again. This time the surgery really scared me. All of a sudden Andrew's surgery seemed so easy. Our little Hunter had to get his tonsils taken out and he had to get tubes placed in his ears. And since only one tonsil was enlarged, they would need to send it off to make sure it wasn't something else. The "C" word frightens me. And so I was a mess. Praise the Lord, Hunter's surgery was also a success and he is doing very well. He had about a week's recovery camped out in our room and he got to eat lots of ice cream. And what's beautiful is all he really remembers is the yummy treats he got to eat. And his tonsil test results came back just fine.
Now, at this point we thought maybe we could get back on that mountaintop and out of the valley we'd been in, but God had other plans.
In October, we had to put our beloved dog, Allie, to sleep. She was our first baby! We got her just a week or so after we married and had her for 10 years. Our house is just not quite the same without her. We are still grieving over her loss, as well. She pretty suddenly got really sick and there probably wasn't much we could do to help her. We did gain three cats over the summer and got to enjoy having kittens around (two of which we kept, along with mama Lily cat), but it's still just not the same without Allie girl.
We also found out on October 25th that we were expecting baby #5! We were elated. Two weeks later, however, at the first ultrasound we were faced with the fact that all I had was an empty sac. I was 6 weeks along at this point and so we had to wait two more weeks to know for sure if there was a baby or not. I prayed, and prayed, and prayed. I felt so much hope and a lot of faith, but we were deeply disappointed to find out it was still just an empty sac. I guess I still didn't like that answer and felt like one more ultrasound at 10 weeks would give me the concrete answer I needed. Still an empty sac. I had a blighted ovum, where a fertilized egg implanted in my uterus, but never developed after that. It was rough. We were very saddened and are still mourning the loss of this precious little baby. It was also rough because I still felt pregnant. I was more nauseous and tired and sick than any of my other pregnancies. We tried twice to schedule a D&C, but both times God closed the door. We prayed and prayed and just felt like God wanted us to miscarry naturally. So, I carried till 12 weeks along before I started to miscarry. All was going well until December 19th when I started hemorrhaging at work and drove myself to the ER gushing blood. This is still so new and I just posted about this whole experience so I won't go into much detail - http://alittlepeaceinourheaven.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-ending.html. In the end, I received 4 pints of blood and was rushed to the OR to get a D&C. I spent the night in the hospital and was released the next morning. All of Christmas week, I have been recovering. I have mostly gained my strength back and I feel much better. I think right now it is still the emotional aspect that I haven't quite recovered from. It was traumatic and scary and I know I was probably very close to losing my life.
The same day I rushed myself to the hospital, our Expedition decided to start giving us problems. So for now it is parked and undriveable until mid January when we will have the money to fix it. This means we just have the Honda, which is fine, but we don't all fit in the Honda. That is in a way a blessing to have a dilemma of not being able to fit all of my precious family in one car. It is also a burden. At least I thought. That means no church. No all of us going to swim lessons. No all of us going anywhere together. Why did God want to split us up and more often than not just keep us homebound? But as He always does, He knows best. And we are taking this opportunity to home church and hopefully teach our children the correct way to behave in church.
Church has been tough for me this year. I've built up envy, jealousy, and bitterness towards others and I've had unmet unrealistic expectations about our church in general and about its members. I've wanted to leave. I've had anxiety going. I've left discouraged and despaired. I've left angry, frustrated, and with no patience because of our children acting up during service. I need to get my heart right. And you know of course now that we can't go, I miss going!
Through all these trials and tough times, God has taken care of us. Andrew and Hunter are doing great. I am also doing well. God saved me and protected me from what could have been a very different Christmas for my family.
I have also learned a lot this year. I have grown closer to God. I just want to know what He wants me to glean from all of this. That's my main focus. I think I am seeing what He is trying to show me, but I'm not positive. I just don't want to miss anything. I have been very mad at God, too. I have screamed and yelled and cried out to Him. I have felt like walking away from my faith. I have tried to convince myself that I am better off without Him. But He has my heart and so I can't walk away from Him and I certainly know that life without Him is nothing. It is hopeless. I don't understand everything from this year. Probably I'm not supposed to.
I would love to say that I hope, hope, hope that God gives us an abundance of mountaintop living in 2015, but that may just not be the plan. Just because 2014 was extremely difficult doesn't mean I've earned my way into an easy year filled with blessings. I do know I want God's best. So for 2015 I want my life to simply be lived for God.
I hope that all of you have a God filled 2015. Love you.