The year 2015 has been a crazy one already! And it’s so hard to believe that it’s almost half way over. Our family has experienced extreme loss and taken a some hits the past few months. Manny Pacquiao, we feel your pain. I’ll do my best to catch you up.
Scene 1: We started the new year in January coming off a weekend set of church services, followed by Christmas mid-week church services, followed by another weekend set of church services with my job. In addition to nonstop holiday work season, we had three family Christmas events. And coming back from the holidays in our hometown, we experienced the first full week of living in our new home! That was exhausting to say the least.
Scene 2: Our new home was wonderful, except for the plumbing issues, which you may have previously read about. Long story short, we had to replace the sewer line in our front yard within the first month of living here. Not a cheap or easy task. Then our washer kept flooding the garage, over and over again. After that, on Easter weekend my car decided it wanted to give out. We had to have the clutch replaced. Followed by my husband’s Jeep playing along and not wanting to start, leading to a day long tune-up. It seemed that everything we owned thought this was the year to cause problems. Without the help from my parents, we would have been down two cars and out thousands of dollars. Repairs were made and we moved along.
Scene 3: Only two months into the year, having faced this much stress already, we asked our small group to pray that we have a very slow, normal first week of March. The slow and normal lasted two days. Chris and I were woken up around 2am due to a power flash. Apparently a drunk driver ran into the electric pole on our block.
Chris’ mom and dad with us at our wedding
Before going back to sleep, Chris checked his phone to find a message saying his mom was sent to the ER. We drove two hours to meet his family at the hospital. A few hours later, she was sent to OU Medical Center in the city where she spent several days in ICU. Our second day at the hospital with family, Chris caught the flu. His mom passed away that week on March 5. Which also happened to be my birthday. We went back to our hometown to prepare for the funeral the next week, and I ended up going to the ER and also being diagnosed with the flu. A week and a half later, I went back to work.
Scene 4: A lot of March was a blur. We struggled through grief of such a big loss. I tried to juggle an intense work schedule with comforting my husband, who didn’t have his mom anymore. Chris and I also helped the family clean out his mom and dad’s house and sort through her belongings. Niether of us got much rest.
Scene 5: In April, I lost my job. I’m still not really sure how to explain what happened, or if I’ll ever be ready to talk about it. When Chris’ mom passed away, that opened our eyes to see just how demanding and unhealthy of a work environment I was in. Over the past year, I’d worked myself so hard that I had neglected family (among other things), which Chris and I had decided would always be our first ministry. Through grief, stress and frustration, I tried to talk to my boss about making a shift in the organization, but was given no choice but to move on. It was ugly and messy. It was unfair and I was told not to talk about it. It makes me physically sick to think about it, above all because it was a church, and I still to this day have nightmares about it. I wish I were joking.
Scene 6: Remember when we adopted a kitty for our new home? Well, that didn’t last long either. We quickly learned, after having him a few weeks, that Mr. Django was an escape artist. He attempted for two solid weeks to get outside at all costs. On occasion he slipped out, and we’d scoop him up and bring him back in before he could climb the fence. Finally he succeeded to run away, only to return beat up, bleeding and with one eye missing. We honestly didn’t think he was going to make it.
Chris took him to our hometown so we could give him a proper burial. Kitty was left with family because we just couldn’t handle to deal with another loss. We got a call later that evening saying that Django was just fine, he was running around like a crazy cat and wouldn’t shut up. Now more than ever, I truly believe cats really do have 9 lives. Today, he’s at the barn chasing mice and being as loud as he wants. Chris and I have decided we just aren’t cat people (sadly). We had the same issues with KiKi. At this point, we are happy to stick with our strengths: pugs.
I told you this year was rough! But, I won’t leave you on a bad note. Through it all, God has been so faithful to us. We’ve seen miracles happen, our needs have been met and he has provided, in ways beyond what we’ve imagined. You’d think after all we’ve been through, especially being hurt by the church, that our faith would be shaken.
But, it’s been quite the opposite. We are looking for a new church family to join…one where we find authentic community, where our voices can be heard, where we can use our gifts to change our community and the world, where we are taught the Bible and encouraged to grow in our knowledge and faith, where God is glorified. Yet we know God is moving in our family, as we’ve seen the evidence, and we will not walk away from that. God has confirmed through many people and events that we are right where he wants us.
At the beginning of the year, I never would have guessed this is where I would be. There has been so much loss and so much pain, but on the other side of that has been joy.
Scene 7: I started a new job this month. It’s beautiful. I’m using the gifts God has given me in writing and communications to make a difference in my community. For the first time all year, I’ve had significant time off and we have been able to rest. Chris and I have been able to attend family gatherings, support our nephew at the Autism Piece Walk (where I met Batman!), and take a mini-vacation late-birthday-celebration for me. We’ve had deep conversations about faith and church and what that looks like for us and other millenials. We’ve written and photographed and planted trees in our yard and played with our pugs and sat on our porch. Life has slowed down.
For the first time all year, I feel like I’m breathing again. I’m enjoying each day, the simple moments. I feel valued and accomplished in my work. I have time to pour into relationships and participate in the community where I live. We are dreaming again. And at the end of this year, one of those dreams is finally coming true for me. I’ll share more on that later.