Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Difficult Year - A Joyful Heart

2012 has been a crazy year for me and my family. Things have been so full-speed that I felt completely out of control at times and overwhelmed.

We have had so many ER visits, sicknessess, and doctor visits that for the first time in my life I am now the proud owner of medical bills. We have had stitches, broken bones, allergic reactions, and lots and lots of albuterol.

I have missed all but one of my parents, siblings and friends birthdays. Even my husband has yet to actually receive his gift, and while I actually managed to get him a card, he opened it a month after the fact.

I was hospitalized for postpartum depression over the Labor Day weekend spending 4 days away from my children. If that wasn't bad enough, I caused us to miss the last vacation to Torch Lake with my in-laws before my father-in-law passed.

My last remaining grandparent, my grandmother, passed as well as my very young father-in-law.

This year has definitely been the hardest of my life. This past week has been the most difficult.

Yet, I am sitting here, past my bedtime, with a joyful, thankful heart.

I am not listing my woes fishing for sympathies, a pat-on-the-back, or encouragement. I want to look back on these times and remember.

Jesus has been good to me this year.

As is often the case, difficulties in life are the ways God brings us all the more closer to Him. I have never felt more alive in Christ, more able to hear His voice, more clearly seen His awesome hand than now. I have been drawn so tightly into the arms of Jesus that sometimes I feel like my heart is going to burst from that embrace. I have prayed for and heard the answer for God to change my heart, change my thought pattern, let HIM be seen through me.

Our God is an awesome God. Did you know that? My eyes have been opened.

I have been reading the daily thankful posts on Facebook for the month of November and I have been compiling a mental list of my own. I was excited to be able to share them when a meeting I had scheduled included a chance to share my top ten for the year. I ended up having to miss that  meeting (not the first I've missed this year!). I thought instead I would jot them down here. 

1. I am thankful for those medical bills - they tell me that my husband has a job and that I do indeed have health insurance when so many others have none at all.

2. I am thankful for postpartum depression - it has allowed me to relate to so many other women dealing with the same issues. It has allowed me to be open with my situation which has begun dialogue that many are afraid to talk about. It has answered the question of if we should have more children and lifted a heavy weight off of my shoulders.

3. I am thankful for a weekend in the psych ward -I started relationships with others that I would not have outside of the hospital. I learned that people I would have judged before are in no way different than myself.

4. I am thankful for sickness - it has caused me not to take for granted each and every healthy day we have had.

5. I am thankful for cancer - it has opened my husband's eyes to the enormous importance of early detection. And yes, a prostate exam is actually pretty easy. Tell the men in your life to get them!

6. I am thankful for death - it has healed strained relationships, brought family closer together, and opened up avenues to say "I love you" to people it was difficult to say it to before.

7. I am thankful for only 1 income - it has taught me how to be a good steward of what God has so graciously given us. Having to stick to a strict budget has made us so much more responsible than before. It has also allowed me to realize that we are not of this world and made me look closely at what our culture tells us is important, and what actually IS important.

8. I am thankful for hardships - it has allowed me to accept and even ASK for help. Letting God use others to answer my prayers and let it bless them in the process.

9. I am thankful for marital trials - our trials have made it possible to help others in the encountering the same issues. At the time they seemed insurmountable, but we have been amazed to see God using them now.

10. I am thankful for the most difficult year of my life - God has placed people in my life that he knew I needed now. He has spoken though these people, offered comfort, wisdom, and friendships. He has opened avenues for me to encourage others in their walk with Christ. It has humbled me, brought me to my knees to beg God to change my heart and thought process (and He is working daily in those areas!), and allowed me to be totally dependent on the strength of Jesus. It has taught me the power of prayer on my own, with my children, and with my husband. It has made me a better wife, mother, daughter, and friend.

There is still a month left of this turbulent year, and God only knows what the future years holds. Yet my heart has never been more filled with joy. 

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