Originally published in the Miami News-Record on January 4, 2015
I guess I shall just go ahead and do what everyone else does this time of year: reflect.
We began 2014 by finishing the remodeling of our new home. We adjusted to having a well and sulfur water (and my husband swears we didn’t get near as many tick bites this past summer because of it). I learned that living 45 minutes away from my mom and sister is harder than I ever dreamed possible. (But having a mother-in-law and sister-in-law who live less than a mile from you comes in handy when you need a can of diced tomatoes or some parmesan.) I got shingles less than a month after moving and spent most of the year trying to find a medication to help with the subsequent nerve pain – and discovered that sometimes the medication is worse than the problem you originally started with. But I survived.
Paul and I resigned from our youth ministry positions not long after the first of the year. There were many tears over that and some spiritual bruises and scratches. We licked our wounds and prayed a lot. Someday God may call us back into active ministry and if He does, that’s okay. But if He doesn’t….well, we’re okay with that, too. But in the midst of it all, God saw us through…and we survived.
Our oldest daughter graduated from high school a yearly early and got her first job. Our son got his driver’s permit. Our youngest daughter became a teenager. There were a few heartaches, attitudes, and tears, but such is life with teenagers. We all survived.
My dad was diagnosed with cancer. But now he’s cancer free and only had to sacrifice 1/5 of a kidney to get that way. All glory to God, he survived.
My sister married my brother-in-law and I gained an instant niece. Then nine months later, I gained a new nephew. The whole living-45-minutes-away thing got even harder, but I learned how to make the most of the time I do get with them and savor it even more. I will survive not having immediate access to squishy baby cheeks, although I think the kid goes home thankful for the break from all my kisses.
I built my first garden and learned how to can. I now have approximately 45,062 jars of apple pie filling to prove it. (I also may exaggerate a bit.) I was asked to teach a class at our homeschool co-op and discovered that I love it way more than I imagined I would. I learned that sometimes friendships are only there for a season and that sometimes neighbors are just neighbors and you don’t have to be best friends with everyone you meet. I learned that it’s okay to ask for help sometimes even if it’s hard to do so. I was reminded that the prayers of a dear friend are precious.
I have learned that life doesn’t always turn out the way you had it all planned out in your mind. Some years of your life are going to be absolutely amazing. Some won’t. Sometimes your kids are well-behaved and polite and other times they tell their Kindergarten teacher that Daddy farts a lot.
Sometimes life is hysterical. Sometimes it’s like a bad Lifetime movie – the kind you don’t want to watch, but you can’t stop and before you know it, you’ve gone through a half a box of tissues and your husband is ready to have you committed. Happy, sad, up, down, hills, valleys, sunlight, rain…it’s all just life. Dreams of white picket fences and perpetually clean, two-story houses turn into lived-in modular homes on 32 acres on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere.
It may not be what you had in mind when you said “I do” at the tender age of 19, but with some prayer and the ability to adapt, you realize that it’s going to turn out okay…..and you survive.