Phew. I know. I'm exhausted just thinking about it too.
Oh, but wait. 2014 was more jam-packed and eventful than that. Here's the abbreviated version:
In 2014 we moved into our new house, bought a new car, found out in January that my department at work was going to be dissolved at the end of the school year, Brandon lost his job in the middle of February, Brandon was hospitalized and diagnosed with Chron's Disease in March, the week before I lost my job I accepted a position at a new company, we searched for a church, found a church, and fell in love with a church. Brandon got a job driving a forklift (hated every moment but bless his heart, worked 2nd shift every night anyways), we both turned 30, our sons turned 4 and 1, and Brandon got a job with a dental lab and almost a month in had another intestinal blockage, was hospitalized and had surgery to remove 18 inches of his small bowel. He was out of work for weeks, and he was hired part-time bi-vocationally with Restoration Church.
This post could be so long. Seriously. I have so much to say about the year and am so emotional about the year coming to a close. Over the last few weeks, yes, I've thought about Christmas and the busyness of the holidays, but over and over, I've thought most about how the craziest year of our lives is coming to a close. My throat gets thick with emotion when I think about what we've been through. I think about the ugly cries I've cried, the screams the inside of my poor car has endured, and the knots in my stomach I've tried to banish.
There are moments in this year I'll never forget. Like the day I met Brandon for lunch and sat in the warm sun by the window, only to cry a puddle onto my chicken salad sandwich and shake from cold and fear when he told me he'd lost his job. Have you ever had the world crash into itself because it came to such an abrupt halt? Like a pickup truck putting on the brakes too late and slamming into the back of an SUV? That's what our world did during lunch that day. February 17th. Most people don't know the whole story, and probably never will, and that's ok. I think its probably supposed to stay that way. Just be sympathetic and understand that our perfectly-in-order-world came crashing to a stop, and veered on a drastically different path that day, not by choice, but by divine intervention.
Even though that moment was clearly the most wrecking moment of our year - and possibly our lives - we wouldn't change a thing. You see, after that moment - the one where I couldn't bring myself to eat tear-soaked chicken salad - we were pushed down a different path and we would have never ended up here - this place where we're so grateful and humble - if we hadn't lived that one moment. It was the catalyst to the rest of our lives.
That moment bleeds into the next big one... the one where I begged Brandon to just make it down the stairs and into the car, because if I could get him in the car, I could get him to the hospital, but I knew I wouldn't be able to carry him, so he had to walk. The moment where I listened through the bathroom door to my husband vomit until there was nothing left, anxious and trembling, barely able to hold the phone up and talk to my mother-in-law. The moment when, stomach clenched and hands sweaty, the doctor revealed that my husband - my strong and able husband - would be admitted to the hospital for an intestinal blockage and a Crohn's diagnosis. That moment where I literally felt like it was an out of body experience, walking behind my husband's stretcher as he was wheeled to his inpatient hospital room.
Those moments gave our boys 5 months with their daddy at home during the day, just when we needed childcare. God is so good, isn't He?! His timing is perfect and His stories are perfect-fitting puzzle pieces. Just when our world had turned upside down, God gave our precious boys what they needed most in the world - time with their daddy. We cherish this part of 2014. What a blessing.
Then there was the moment late in May when my anxiety was rising, my hair was falling out, and my stomach was sinking. I knew my job was ending at the end of May and I had applied and interviewed for so many jobs, and none of them seemed to work out for one reason or another... there was that moment, exactly 9 days before I was to be without a job, when I was offered a job at an amazing company... just 5 minutes down the road. The day before our family left to go on a vacation that we had planned and paid for before all the chaos in our year happened. The day before I surely would have lost my mind with worry. The day before my trust wavered. The day before I doubted our story. God's timing is perfect. Oh what beautiful timing. I was able to enjoy our vacation... thank you Lord, for you are good!
There was a moment in August, when, incredulously, my husband looked at me with trepidation and asked me to take him back to the hospital. Exhausted from vomiting and anguish, crippled with fear because we had no insurance, and pale with worry, my poor sweet husband got into the car, and we made an eerily similar trek to the hospital as we had done just 5 months before. That moment bled into the next, when I got a phone call at work that Brandon was being transferred to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. Oh my dear good Lord, why?! Because he was to have major abdominal surgery, by the best GI surgeon in the state, that's why. With no insurance, remember... Oh, Lord, how does this piece fit in the puzzle?! Because we just don't see it!
One of my favorite moments of the year was another phone call moment. Put your seat belt on folks, because this moment will blow you away! I got a phone call from Brandon at work, telling me that a large portion of the bill will most likely be removed.
I had wracked my brain thinking of ways to make money, think of things to cut out, how to cut back, and God decided to take a large portion of the bills away.
We still owe a lot of money (co-pays, deductibles, co-insurances, and credit card bills from paying out of pocket expenses all summer for Brandon's care and medications), but praise be to God, it's not $100 grand like it was!!!
**Update from the original post: I want to add that we covet your continued prayers over this situation. Please join with us as we trust the Lord in taking care of our finances because we know that this is His handiwork and we believe He wants to take care of the bills. We will continue to update as the Lord provides and I will add back the most amazing part of this story once things are finalized.
God's timing is perfect.
See, we would have never come to trust Him as we've done over the past year if we hadn't lived these moments. We would not have grown closer together and experienced true desperation, fear, and joy as a couple if the story were any different. We would not be the people we are today - stronger, more humble, more gracious - if we had lived easier, more simple moments. Our faith would not have been tested and grown if our 2014 had been different than it was.
James 1:2-4 says this: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Its hard to think about me jumping for joy when my husband was undergoing major surgery, or when we get medical bills in the mail EVERY DAY, but I know this: we're not the same people we were. And Romans 5:3 says Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
It was definitely a character building year.
I cried, and I prayed, and I begged God for help. I also experienced the most supernatural calm I can't begin to explain. We had an army of friends - near and far - lifting us up in prayer, and we are so grateful for each and every one of you. While we rejoice at the close of 2014, our eyes are turned expectantly to 2015 and we are taking what we learned this past year and with the best of intentions, are trying to launch our best selves forward into our new world.
We know that the best year of our lives is ahead of us. So long, 2014, we're getting off your roller coaster and embracing 2015 with open arms.
Happy New Year, friends. Oh I'm so happy its a new year!