Thinking back over 2013, brings many emotions. This time last year, Selah was still in the "rehab" in Jacksonville and we were coming home on the weekends to redo our house and get it ready for Selah to be moved it. It was a very stressful time in our lives. She wasn't doing good, we couldn't get nursing set up for her, we were so tired of being away from home (be it ever so humble, there's no place like home) and we had other considerations like our church and Jon's job at the prison, and the kids' schooling!
It took until the end of January and many phone calls to get Selah transferred home, finally on Jan 28th we came home.....then she was in & out of the hospital from that point on with trach infections. Until she was started on the Tobramycin at the end of April. She also had foot surgery and was in casts for a month during that time.
From April on she has been home, we've done everything we could to have therapy for her on almost a daily basis. Then from June-August we had the BIG nursing/Blue Cross fight.... at the same time she started her first HBOT treatments. It's been a busy year learning all the things that we need to do and have in place for our girl to live at home with us.
Sam has had a year of change that he has dealt with and he has learned a lot of things this year too. He stopped using a high chair and sits with us at the table. He started using the potty some. He has grown up in many ways. It's hard to believe he will soon be 10 years old!
Shad is such a "go with the flow" person that he just transitioned from the Ronald McDonald House, to the hotel, back to home....with no problems. He loves being back at school and with his friends. With just half of the school year behind him, Shad is almost through with all his 4th grade work and soon will be starting on 5th grade work!
Steve turned 18 years old, got his driver's license and is almost done with his schoolwork for 12th grade! He's taken back up jogging and plans on doing more triathlons. It's amazing to see your child become an adult!
Jon just got his 15 year pin for working for the Department of Corrections (lol I think they are behind a year or so!) He loves his job there and is so satisfied. Our church is growing by leaps and bounds! After all these years (the first Sunday in January is his EIGHTH year of being here as pastor) we've sown a lot of blood, sweat and tears....what a blessing to see fruit coming forth! It's exciting & humbling to see how God has grown our congregation. Everyone has a sweet spirit, they all have a unity, it's really something to see. Our church is so different than it was at the start of 2013. Back then, we'd been gone for almost 6 months, we didn't know how we would "do our life" once we got back home. We had a few people leave our church and THEN....it was like a floodgate opened up and God brought new families in with the same vision that we have. Not many from other churches, some just moved to the area, some just started back attending church...it's been crazy to watch God do it. It was our efforts, no big new "plan" to make something happen, and I can assure you it wasn't our faith or deep prayers, we were just hanging on dealing with our own personal life BUT God.... I LOVE that! Everyone has "plans, vision statements, new programs, various things to MAKE church growth happen but I am so thankful that God "added to the church". We can't even claim credit! I'm excited to see what is ahead!
So although 2013 was a year filled with challenges, God was faithful to us. I close with this story I borrowed from my friend David.....
In September 1939, Great Britain allied with France and several other alarmed countries in declaring war on Hitler's Germany, which had invaded Poland in its intended march toward global domination. By the end of the year, anxieties throughout England remained on high alert; everyone was fearful of bombing and invasion.
When King George V...I sat down before two large microphones to make his Christmas Day speech to the nation, he was dressed in his official uniform as Admiral of the Fleet. With so many parts of the world facing an uncertain future, his goal was to reassure the people that their nation was prepared and able and their cause right and just.
"A new year is at hand," the king said. "We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace, how thankful we shall all be. If it brings us continued struggle, we shall remain undaunted."
Then, turning to some lines of poetry his wife had recently shared with him, he concluded his speech with these words, which are a fitting close to our year together. They offer a word of encouragement that--we hope--will settle your hearts amid the troubles of our own era in history. These lines are from "The Gate of the Year," a poem written in 1908 by Minnie Louise Haskins:
I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
"Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown."
And he replied, "Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.