Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Life Lately {Goodbye 2014!}

I was talking with a friend the other day about how we go through experiences that are confusing and painful and we don't understand WHY. Time passes and things change and sometimes there's a big OH!! A lightbulb moment of clarity as to why the first things had to happen so you could deal with the now. We decided, as painful as it is at the time to wonder and be confused, it's great to not know some things ahead of time.

Washing windows for Grandma

Ok, that was really wordy and I'm not sure it makes sense.

Let me try again. 2014 was one of those years that I'm glad I didn't know about when it started.

Enjoying Trees & Trains in Salem, MO.

If you had sat me down last January and told me the two biggest things that would happen during the year, I wouldn't have believed you and I wouldn't have liked you very much.

So since I try to see God working in everything in my life, I am glad He doesn't tell us everything up front. Aren't you? We're just asked to trust. One day at a time. And when the days are overwhelming, break it down into hours or tasks. Or breaths.

It's the little things that make me cry. Like Grandpa teaching my son about constellations, chores that used to be his now being done by Grandma, seeing his shoes waiting by the door. Saying goodbye is hard.

I want to run through this year, just to get it all in one place. For me. For posterity.

Last January I expanded my day care to four fairly regular children. Plus my three. It was nuts! Let me just admit that now, and while we needed and appreciated the money, Mommy was crazy. I was lonely, frustrated, unhealthy and zero fun. There were time--I think they're on record here on the blog or at least on Instagram--when I had all seven children at once. At that time, my oldest was 6, so I had seven under 7.

Loving on Grandma

Spring came and a couple clients dropped out and the rest could be outside sometimes, but I was still crazy busy, just feeling like I was fighting all the time. With me, with my kids, with my perspective, with finding balance.

Our last communion with Grandpa.

Meanwhile we were still missionary candidates with no donations. My husband worked for hours on his presentations and we went nowhere. We know we were the slowest grossing missionary team, if you can call it that. We worked hard, called hard, talked hard, presented hard for a year and still had less than 10% of our budget! Most missionary couples are able to raise at least 70% in that amount of time.

The boys made a fort with their older cousins today. Tonight they're trying to sleep in it. Ha!

We really struggled with our decision but we finally withdrew as candidates in July. It made us cry. We felt so discouraged, so let down, so disappointed we wouldn't be going to live in the British Isles! We were so bummed out that we had had to quit! We wondered what we did wrong, what we could have done differently, why did it seem that God opened that door only to shut it a year later?

It's almost embarrassing. I mean, I don't know if that's how people see us, but I'm embarrassed by it. We're the couple who couldn't be missionaries. We're the failed missionaries. We're the people who wanted to go but no one had enough faith in us to back our mission...

I'm embarrassed about our kind supporters. The 9% who gave and now have nothing. They believed in us and we couldn't do it. We failed them.

Story time with Uncle Glenn

But the weight was off our shoulders! The stress was out of our lives. We have been doing much better as a family without that constant pressure of fundraising.

That's a good thing, because July was the month that the other shoe dropped: Gary's dad was diagnosed with cancer.

At my father-in-law's memorial. Sad sad day.

It was sudden and awful and terrible and if you've been around at all you know we said goodbye to him less than three weeks ago.

Cancer. It's so mean! Six months ago, Jon was a healthy, vibrant, active man, a pillar in his church and the patriarch of the family. He battled cancer with everything he had. Five rounds of chemo, plus juicing, essential oils, and other remedies. And lost.

Putting up the tree before unpacking our suitcases. #priorities

We know we'll see him again. But it doesn't make it better.

In the background, our little family has been doing really well, honestly. I feel that right now we're interacting and helping each other thrive better than we have done for years! We're friends, we like to hang out, our kids are fun, Gary and I have a really great relationship.

Our tree is a little bottom heavy!

In August, Gary started school to finish a degree he was working on about 15 years ago. We conveniently live less than half a mile from Union College. He's finished his first semester and should graduated in May with a degree in Theology. He will be able to pastor a church after that, and we're hopeful of getting hired in the next few months.

I feel that 2014 has a been a good year in some ways. It's taught us to be content with less. We don't need a bunch of money to go out and have fun. We much rather stay home and cook something, though eating out sometimes is nice. Homeschool is working for us, and our cut-back day care schedule make it much more feasible. We eat well, very healthful for the most part.

Peppermint hot chocolate and a Christmas movie!

We like living in Lincoln. Well, winter stinks, but it is what it is. Lincoln is small enough to be friendly and seem safe and big enough to have all the stores you want within an easy drive. We have a Children's Museum and the zoo in Omaha is awesome! We have lots of friends at our church who have kids that are friends with our kids. We love the parks, bike paths, local lake, and our own backyard.

Christmas Eve

So there you go, 2014. You weren't the best year and I'm ready to move on. Thanks for the lessons, thanks for the moments of realization that this normal, messy, boring life is precious and special and beautiful, just the way it is!

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