I started thinking back on all the things I want to remember from this past year and I came up with a mixed bag of happiness and pain. 2017, you were HARD, but you were also wonderful; both the good and bad are worth remembering. 2017 was a hard year for our nation in general (maybe it was hard for you too), but I’m taking a different perspective and focusing on a more personal note. I don’t want to throw out 2017 completely and allow it to be swallowed up in the mess.
2017 was the year we sold our dearly loved, vintage camper and bought two more fixer upper trailers! We camped in Mackinaw City and biked around the island with 4 kids and a baby. I became an adoptive mother to a precious baby boy and a temporary mom to a sweet, 10 year old girl. There wasn’t a day that went by this Summer where we didn’t have a house full of friends or neighborhood kids. If you asked us how many kids we had, we’d legitimately tell you that we had lost track! There were always a few, coming and going. It was loud and it was messy, but it was pure happiness at it’s best.
We drove a van full of kids to Summer camp and directed VBS at our church. We swam in the ocean and frolicked down the streets of Chicago, Detroit and New York. We hiked up sand dunes and walked the Brooklyn Bridge. We laughed and danced in the kitchen, we ate LOTS of ice cream and pretended to be mermaids on more than one occasion.
And then, there was the stress of funding an adoption. There was the anxiety of being turned down by potential birth mothers and uncertainty when we were finally chosen. There was fear for the health of our future adoptive baby.
There were fights to break up and a 10 year old’s friendship drama to deal with. There were needs all around us that we couldn’t meet. There were painful memories to face and relationships that needed healing.
There was a week spent in the hospital NICU, surrounded by tiny, shivering babies who were crying out in pain, with no mothers to comfort them. We watched as our own tiny baby, clenched his fists and trembled. We drove home with a fragile human, who didn’t quite belong to us, but was entrusted to our care. I woke up with him, every 30 minutes through the night and held him him during the day for the first 3 months of his life, before he started to relax and gain weight. After that, the months of sleepless nights have stretched on in what feels like a hopeless eternity.
In 2017, I gained almost 30 pounds and started my day with an ugly cry more often than I can count.
There were mornings I didn’t have the energy to get out of bed and just prayed for the end of the day to come soon. One Sunday morning, as I stood up to sing during worship band practice, I experienced my first ever, emotional and physical breakdown. I couldn’t breath, my throat tightened up and I sank to the ground in an exhausted, broken mess of emotion. I snuck out the back door and slept the rest of the day.
2017, you were HARD. But I don’t want to forget a second of it.
Things I want to remember…
- Friends that sat and held Asher so Jay and I could both sleep when we were utterly exhausted
- Family around the world that prayed for Asher’s early release from the hospital and healing for his birth mom
- Family and friends that brought us meals or stocked our freezer when we were in over our heads
- The notes of encouragement that came along with financial gifts to fund our adoption
- Camping in Mackinaw City with a view of the Mackinaw Bridge
- Sunny afternoons spent on the ocean
- Climbing the sand dunes on Lake MI while wearing Asher in a baby carrier
- The Christmas trees in Detroit and New York
- Walking the Brooklyn Bridge in the bitter cold just for the view and a photograph
- Getting the call from our caseworker, while we were camping, telling us we were chosen by a birth mom
- Meeting Asher’s birth mom for the first time
- The nurse that cried with me in the NICU, as she talked about the hundreds of babies she had cared for that were born addicted to narcotics
- The feeling of madness that sets in when you’re sleep deprived
- Holding Asher in the NICU and feeding him through his feeding tube
- Teaching Asher to eat from a bottle
- Olivia’s tiny voice as she sings “When Christmas Comes to Town”
- How helpful and grown up Natalie became this year
- Taylor sharing his testimony at his baptism
- The way all three kids have loved on their baby brother
- Taking Asher out when he was so tiny and the comments we would get: “He looks just like you!” “You can tell he’s your son!” “He is SO tiny!” “He’s the cutest baby I’ve ever seen!”
- The strength that God provides in tough situations
- The hope I have in God’s Word
- The comfort He gives us in painful times, that we are able to share with a hurting world
There are lots of things I want to remember about 2017, but most importantly are the ways that God was the strength of my heart for every second of it.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.