I'll come back to that in a bit.
2011 was one of those years. If I had to guess, I'd most likely say it was probably one of the hardest years of my life. It actually began on Dec. 28th, 2010 when my thoughts were on what date we would've chosen to have #3. Most likely the 28th. But alas, my thoughts were divided as Mark was having surgery on his hand that morning. I didn't have a lot of time to think about it, which in hindsight may have been a blessing.
The new year started off with a bang. On the 3rd, Mark's grandma fell and broke her hip. We left to go down there for her surgery on the 4th. Amidst going back and forth to the hospital, the 5th came and went. The fifth -- our sweet #3's due date. I had my moments, particulary while home alone at my parents' house, just playing the piano, crying out to God for peace. And you know what, He granted it to me.
On the night of the 14th I started having severe stomach pains. Thinking it was gas (ick, I know, right!?), I kept taking gas pills to no avail. I was up all night vomiting, taking hot baths to try to get rid of the pain (also to no avail). When morning came around, I had narrowed it down to an ovarian cyst or appendicitis. I spent the majority of the day at the doctor's office and ER having tests ran.... all the while being irritated it was taking so long because I needed to be at home cooking and cleaning because we were supposed to be having my best friend and her family over for dinner. Little did I know I would be making the call for her to come get my kids as I was prepped for emergency surgery to remove my partially ruptured appendix.
Our parents took the kids home with them while I recovered. Upon my visit to the surgeon to have my staples removed, I was told that during the surgery he noticed something with my right ovary didn't look right and that I should follow up with my OB/GYN. I'll be honest with you. I'm a worrier. Telling me stuff like that will nearly always send my worry gene into overdrive. I made the appt. with my OB/GYN and the ultrasound actually revealed that all was well with my right ovary, but that my left one had a ping pong ball sized cyst on it. He thought that since I have PCOS this might be normal, but wanted to wait another month and see what it did.
We left on the 25th to go pick up the kids. Anna was with my parents, Eli with Mark's parents. We stopped by and got Anna and then headed to Damascus so we could see Eli too. While passing through Greenbrier I recall saying that we should stop and see my Grandpa. I dismissed the thought and said I'd drop by the next morning on our way back to my parents' house.... a decision I would regret by morning when I got the call that my mom had found him dead. I had now just lost my last grandparent, and with him, the regret of not having stopped to see him the night before.
After two visitations and 2 funerals, we returned home hoping things would settle down. They did not. On Monday morning, the 31st we got the news that our good friends; baby had died, full term, just 4 days before his schedule induction. I'll tell you, I absolutely lost it when we found out. Standing in front of the dryer folding clothes, bawling hysterically lost it. I can't imagine such a tragedy. His funeral was one of the sweetest I've ever been to, but also one of the hardest.
Alas, January was rough. Thankfully, February, March, and April went by without much excitement (other than a potential real estate investment that the seller backed out on). May brought on some new challenges in the form of kidney stones. That as well as losing 3 of the shut-ins we visit each month. June brought the news of the death of Mark's uncle, July the news of our friends who lost their full term baby losing another baby to miscarriage, and August the death of his cousin. In December we learned that my dad had an inoperable brain fluid leak and just two days before Christmas we got the news that one of our friend's dad had committed suicide. And we got to finish out the year with another surgery - Mark had his nose worked on last week... and I passed out. ;) Mixed in with the big stuff was of course all the nitty gritty of every day life - being a wife, a mom, and the ups and downs that often go with those.
While 2011 was certainly one for the books, throughout it all there were so many blessings tucked inside of each trial and difficulty. Which brings me back to this:
"You can't start a new chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the previous chapters."
Sometimes I really need to get this through my head. I like to dwell. To hang out for a period of time. To hash things over and over. It's my way of processing and dealing with stuff. But I find it no coincidence that God instructs us multiple times not to worry or be anxious about anything combined with versus above looking forward, striving for what's ahead.... How can we look forward if we're still dwelling on the past?
I've had this post in mind since about July, but didn't know how it would all come together. Today made it come full circle in my mind.
I was exercising as part of my goal to be healthier. How the icecream I ate tonight figures in to that, I'm not sure. Ahem. I digress... As I was saying, I was on the elliptical working up a sweat when it hit me. Today is January 6th. That probably means nothing to most of you. But to me it meant I forgot that yesterday was #3's due date. It was evidence that life has in fact moved on. That with each passing day, my mind is focused less and less on the why's and more and more on the grace that pulled me through it.
That realization has come at a price. Guilt. When I realized that I had forgotten yesterday, I lost it. Sobbing, blurry-eyed, snotty lost it. And yet I continued exercising because I was overtly aware that Satan had devised this scenario with me in mind. He had full intentions of using the past to affect my present and future. And I refused to allow it. Why? Because I know the dwelling, hanging out, and hashing have to stop.
Yes, this past year has been rough. The year before wasn't too peachy either. But I can't start a new chapter in life if I won't quit re-reading all the chapters in life that weren't so peachy.
I'm starting a new chapter and I must say, I'm excited to see what the Author has in store.
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