As we are on the cusp of a holiday that is so often about giving thanks in the midst of the hard, I have thought more and more about God's faithful provision and direction. Even though this year has been brutal, He has proved faithful. So many times it truly is in the looking back that we can most clearly see His hand stretched across our lives when it felt like we were stumbling along in the darkness.
1) 2018 dawned and we were cautiously optimistic about the direction our year would take. However, it did not take long for a situation to arise that tested our optimism. My daughter's puppy had been sick for a while and seemed to be getting sicker and losing weight to the point that he looked neglected and abused. I kept praying for this puppy to make it, to thrive. After the service dog failure, it felt like too much to be going through this. It culminated in a Sunday emergency vet trip, an emergency surgery, and a month of eating peanut butter and jelly and ramen noodles to pay for those...but through that, we found an AMAZING vet office and people we could trust with our pets.
2) Just a little over a month later my other daughter's beloved 8yo rabbit was discovered to have a tumor and needed surgery. The vet office that we had found through Arendale's emergency surgery, specifically the vet who did his surgery, her specialty is exotic pets. She would be able to do Stuart's surgery. The only downfall was that surgery would need to be a few days before my eldest's 16th birthday. This bunny is so much more than a pet to her, what an awful way to celebrate your 16th birthday, right?!?! But we prayed over this little guy and sent him into surgery. The surgery itself was successful, we were relieved and brought him home. Then the night before she turned 16., he went downhill. We thought for sure we were losing the little guy. I prayed, I asked everyone I knew to pray, my kids and my husband prayed. I stayed up most of the night syringing water into his mouth and praying like crazy. God was merciful and he pulled through. Ended up that it was such an amazing testament to God's goodness, I am glad this happened right at her 16th birthday, it's like a mile marker in her life she can look back to and say 'WOW - look what God did!'
In all of this we thought for sure that the worst was over, that better days were on the horizon.
3) Then we caught a cold. Which landed us in the ER twice in one night with one of my children. Then our 14yo dog somehow hurt his leg. Which landed us back at the vet repeatedly over the next few weeks, with me wondering if we were going to have to put him down. At this point, it felt like TOO much. What was God doing here? Why were things so hard? Then we got sick again. And again. And yet again. At this point our pharmacy was seeing us every single day, the UTC was on a first name basis with us, and I am thinking that I want to stick my head in a vat of chocolate. But each step, looking back, everyone EVERY single person we came into contact with was compassionate and kind, encouraging and so helpful. Well everyone except for our Primary Care Doctor, which led us to look for someone else...anyone else. It took a few rough first visits to meet different doctors until we found a doctor that we LOVE! I am SO excited about this new primary care doctor. We have to drive about an hour to see her, but it is worth it. Again in what seemed like a crazy 'why is this happening on top of everything else' moment, God brought us to someone SO much better and with all of the medical issues that we have, we needed a good, solid, trustworthy PCP.
4) After we somewhat recover from the craziness of the first six months of 2018 we traveled to get some testing completed for another one of my children. We discover that she is severely/profoundly dyslexic. Together she and I are going to have to go through a very rigorous tutoring program (she as the student, and me as the tutor being trained how to help her). We were supposed to be there a week, but by Wednesday I start to get a really sore throat and it hurts when I cough. I kid you not, we get sick AGAIN. And then again and again and again. We are back at the UTC (we had not found the new dr yet) and pharmacy and in bed until the end of July.
5) This craziness sets off all of the chronic underlying issues for my kids. Issues such as autism, severe OCD, anxiety and panic attacks, cortical dysplasia epilepsy, learning challenges and processing issues, dyslexia, migraines, tics, vertigo that mysteriously lasts for six to seven months at a time, sensory issues, meltdowns, mood disorders secondary to the epilepsy, and one of my children is intermittently wheelchair bound, some days able to walk and run and play, while on other days mostly confined to her chair. My children have seen more doctors, specialists, and therapists and gone through more testing this year than I can keep straight. Most of our appointments are at least an hour away - one way. Some as far as two hours away - one way. So as we are trying to do school, live life, take care of the pets that bring us so much joy...we are traveling to doctor appointments. Trying new therapies and medicines and ideas. All of which has been SO hard for most of my children because they do not do well with interrupted schedules and trying new things and meeting new people and needles and medicine and textures and taste...it.has.been.SO.hard. I am so very tired. But God. I started 2018 indifferent it seemed to my walk. I had lost my direction, my drive. I have drifted through 2018 questioning God's goodness, fighting His plan, complaining about His direction...But God. He has been so faithful. Looking back - we have gotten to and from the appointments safely. We have had gas money and co-pay money - we are paying out of pocket for some of our appointments because insurance will not cover and we have had enough at just the right moment. For example...
6) We had a yearly appointment at our home this past week. This organization has been very difficult to work with. Just this year, they kept scheduling appointments on days when I told them we were unavailable, I explained to them over and over and over about how crazy our schedule is with doctor appointments - how chronic the medical issues are right now etc; to no avail. To make a long story short we had an appointment scheduled by the manager herself for this past Tuesday afternoon. I cleared our schedule, we made sure our house was clean and ready and we waited. And waited. And waited. I did not make dinner, still waiting for them to show up. Finally, I called and the manager is supposed to call me 'right back' - so I wait some more. My husband runs to get food for us (which my dinner was a hamburger and when he got home - there was NO meat on my bun. Seriously.) The manager never called back, which leads to me trying to contact her and the corporate office, trying to scramble to get them here when we would be home (this appointment has to be done by the end of November and next week is a short week due to Thanksgiving). This all culminated in me deciding to no longer go with this company for their services, which frees up quite a bit of money - which will cover paying out of pocket for two doctor appointments on the same day for two of my kids next month. In the mess, God was providing something we were going to need. I had no idea we were going to need that appointment in December, I found out about it the afternoon of the 14th - the day after the person failed to show up at our house.
In all of this, I praise God. His faithfulness...it is mindblowing. If I could take one lesson from this season it would be this: I need to grab a hold of Him and not let go because no matter what it looks like, no matter what it feels like - God has a plan and it is for our good. And if I could just learn to rest in His presence each moment, He will most likely give me the gift of being able to look back and see His hand all over what felt impossible at the moment. But even if He doesn't He has given me Himself which is more than enough. He is more than enough.