…I never saw it coming…

Time for gut-check honesty, full disclosure…. This year has, without any doubt, been the hardest, darkest, most painful year of my life.  It can entirely be summed up in 5 little words, I never saw it coming… To be all-the-way honest with you, I have just been waiting for this year to come to an end so I could say, “F-you 2017”, shoot it a big, fat bird and kiss this year goodbye. (YES…I can be THAT person…)

As all that yuckiness was rolling around in my heart, I began to hear the Still and Gentle Voice of the One I love, as He started whispering to me, “That is NOT My girl.” And conviction hit me square between the eyes. So, I took another look at my year; this time through a lens of gratitude…THANKFULNESS…

Things I am thankful for as 2017 comes to a close:

1) January 2017 was completely and tee-totally uneventful.

2) My girl is not in the grave…She is alive and healthy and whole AND more educated than this time last year. You see, she is a Type 1 diabetic. This time last year, though she already HAD diabetes, she had not yet been diagnosed. We couldn’t figure out why our once-energetic, playful girl, who LOVED being outside, only wanted to lie on the couch and never do anything with her brother and her sister. In February, we found out why when the doctors caught diabetes before it took her.

3) I am thankful for modern medicine. I’m thankful for blood work and urinalyses. Without these two things and without an astute doctor (who is also a Type 1 diabetic), we may not have discovered her condition until she was much, much worse off than she was.

4) I am thankful for insulin & test strips & meters & glucagon. (And I’m even more grateful that we’ve never had to use the glucagon–hopefully we never will have to use it! *Glucagon is used to raise the blood sugar, by stopping the effects of the insulin, if a diabetic’s blood sugar drops so low that it causes them to pass out. Blood sugar that low can QUICKLY lead to a coma or even death…*)

5) I am thankful for really good health insurance and to the company for whom Brandon works for providing it .

6) I am thankful that, when the hospital bills started rolling in, we had the money to pay them outright. I didn’t have to beg for extensions or payment plans.

Which brings me to:

7) I’m thankful that Brandon is good with money. I’m thankful that he is a saver and not a spender. He knows how to spend money on the important, FUN things (like vacations) and not on the superfluous, unnecessary things. I am not so disciplined with money and he has taught me a lot about being a good steward of our finances.

8) I am thankful for Brandon and his GREAT career with Brasfield & Gorrie, that, due to Brandon’s excellent work ethic, good attitude and willingness to learn, he has excelled in. I am thankful that my husband is a smart man and a hard-worker. (He never gives himself enough credit…so I will!)

9) I am thankful that, in almost 14 years of marriage, I have NEVER had to speak to a bill collector on the phone or worry about a tow truck coming to take my car because we failed to pay the note.

Moving on to this summer…:

10) I am thankful for marriage vows and second chances.

11) I’m thankful for good counselors, who love Jesus and long to see others walk in complete freedom and fulfillment. (Thank you, Katherine. I would not have been able to make it through these last 6 months without your so-wise, so-filled-with-love counsel. Thank you, Jeff & Jenn. My marriage would be failed without you two having come alongside Brandon and me to help us through the darkest season we’ve ever encountered.)

12) Seasons…. I’m thankful that seasons are just that–SEASONS. Nothing is here to stay FOREVER–it is ALL temporary in the light of Eternity. Everything, e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g, even the life-long things (like diabetes) are temporary. (Pastor Tony taught me that. He speaks my “language”.)

Now, onto overall:

13) I’m thankful for God and His Ways, that are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8). I’m thankful that He knows what and who should stay in my life or leave it. I’m thankful that, while His ways may be unconventional and/or painful, at least they have been clear-cut.

14) I will be eternally thankful that God never turns His back on me or walks away, even when I turn away from Him and try to run in the opposite direction. I’m thankful that He stays constant through the crying and the questioning. I’m thankful that my acting like a wounded, wild animal doesn’t scare Him off and I’m thankful that He gives others the fortitude and strength to stand beside me while I am wailing and gnashing my teeth. He truly is a Good, GOOD Father.

15) I’m thankful for the friends {Sisters really} that God has given me. They hold my arms up when I can’t praise Him anymore. They hold my nose to the grindstone and make me do the Hard Things to get better. They will never let me be bitter. They let me pitch my fit and then they say, “Ya done?” (SARAH!!) I am 100% free to be ME with them and they LOVE me with their whole hearts, in spite of “Me”. I’ve never had relationships like these and I will be FOREVER thankful for these girls: Mama Jo, Joanna, Sarah, Toni, Katherine, Becki, Wanda, you all make my life richer, healthier and so much better!

16) I’m thankful that we spent Christmas as a FAMILY and that my marriage wasn’t in the process of ending in a bitter divorce. Brandon said it best, “I’m thankful that I’m not somewhere else, living in deep regret.

17) I’m thankful that God loves me enough to require the Hard Things of me. He loves me enough to not let me stay “stuck” for the rest of my life. He loves me enough to send the “hornet ahead of me to drive out my enemies before me” (Exodus 23:28), even if the enemies are INSIDE of me–in the way of broken patterns and unhealthy habits and devastating thought processes. And, while His ways and methods may be painful, I’m thankful that Sorrow and Suffering are EXCELLENT Teachers. Isaiah 30: 20 says, “Although the LORD gives you the bread of adversity (Sorrow) and the water of affliction (Suffering), your Teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.” And “see them” I have. And, God willing, I will allow them to continue their work in me. Sorrow and Suffering are sanctifying me. With God’s help, they are making me holy.

God’s Word tells me, in 1 Corinthians 3:19, that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight”. In my own …”wisdom”… I would NEVER have chosen the paths God has chosen for me to walk in 2017. But, at the end of this year, I can honestly say that I am thankful that God’s Wisdom is so much greater than mine. In my broken “wisdom”, I would have been “happy” to stay “stuck” because it was all I had ever known…stuck-ness… Now, with Sorrow and Suffering as my Guides, I am moving into uncharted territory–others HAVE gone before me–this territory is uncharted TO ME. For me, it is new ground. It is scary ground. There ARE giants here and I WANT to tuck tail and RUN for my life. But I won’t… For my own good, for the good of my husband and for the good of my marriage, for my children, I WILL do the Hard, Scary, Painful Things to be whole and healthy and HOLY.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May you go into 2018 with the ability and wherewithal {these things can only be given to you by God} to be able to do YOUR Hard Things. It is not easy…but it is SO WORTH IT!

After all the hard and painful things of this year, I can still sing, “Praise Will Be My Song” by Bryan & Katie Torwalt. Here it is; I hope you can find voice enough to sing it along with me and heart enough to believe it…

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