Tuesday, December 18, 2012

celebrating, despite many hardships

Throwing a Hobbit Holiday Celebration on the 15th, the day after the massacre at an elementary school in Conneticut, and just 2 weeks since my dear friend, Gretchen, committed suicide, didn't seem right at first. What right did I have to be celebrating when so many were mourning? Wasn't my heart broken and horrified, just like everyone else in the world who learned that 20 young children were murdered, as well as the adults who tried to defend them?

I thought about canceling the party, but things were already in motion: my sister and nephew were on their way from Atlanta to celebrate with us --I had not seen them in over a year. Guests were making food, dressing up, and when I prayed, I was aware that Father had been helping me to prepare for this celebration with friends and family, and I was not about to turn away a gift from Him.

The party was not as big as we thought it would be since five couples with kids who were going to come, suddenly had to stay home because their kids got sick. There's a nasty bug going around, and I pray they all recover quickly.

The guests who were able to make it blessed us with their company, and we hope we were a blessing to them in return. There was conversation, food, costumes (hooray), children, games... and love.
Jeremy and I both agreed that we love our friends and family very much, and are so very, very thankful for them.

This year has been difficult --not that any year during our 18 years of marriage has been easy-- but this year was extra hard for many reasons, mainly my health, which altered me greatly. This year I have seen many doctors, tried more medications than I can count --one which had devastating effects on me-- I had 4 MRI's and 2 unsuccessful nerve blocks through my lower spine. I fell deeper and deeper into hopelessness and despair, a crisis of faith, and decided on a date to end it all if nothing improved. Then, a few days after my 39th birthday (ugh, not even going to go there) I had Myobloc (a medicine like Botox) injected right into the damn, bothersome area... 3 weeks later, things did improve! Oh, I still suffer with symptoms and probably always will, but a few steps out of the dark hole toward the light can mean the difference between keeping a date with your end, or not.

This has also been a year of church-lessness for us. Every sunday I continue to miss our defunct church, Tommy's Interactive. Our 5 years there were vital to our spiritual life. Even on some of my worst days of suffering, I would get up and take the 30 minute drive to Tommy's. Now, we live in Columbia, and I will not get up and make an effort go to church --any church-- within a 15 mile radius, because they cannot hold a candle to what Tommy's was. We tried one church for a couple of months, but after realizing there was little-to-no community, we stopped --and no one missed us, because no one even knew we had been there!

This year, on the day before Easter, we had to put to sleep my sweet Sarah-girl. My heart was wrenched, and I couldn't sleep in my bed for a month, because for 13 years she had slept with her head on a pillow beside mine.

Then, my friend Gretchen, with the same condition I have, just took her life.

With all this personal suffering and heartache (there are many more things that I have left out) I have to acknowledge that this year there have also been blessings, even in my darkest hours, that have come directly from God, our Father, reminding me, I am here. Heather, I am here in your suffering with you.

The blessings from God have come in the form of His presence during prayer, and in the form of my husband and son, the two dearest people in my life.

They have come from my Mom, whose love and support is always available, my sister, Ginny aka Seester, who is always a source of joy and laughter, my friends, their fellowship and prayers, a birthday dinner they threw for me, being invited to a weekly bible study, and a wonderful friend who gave me a book sent directly from God to speak words of truth to my heart.

The last days of October and going into November, Jeremy, Jonah, Jonah's best friend Chris, and I, went on 6 day vacation to Asheville, NC. God blessed that trip in so many ways, and I treasure those moments in my heart.

There are many more blessings from this year too: our new puppy Hannah, living this year in our new home --and NOT in a trailor in Pelion!-- friendships that have grown closer, being led to a wonderful, female Christian therapist, and the miracle of finding Dr. Redmond, a strong Christian doctor, who prayed with me before the Myobloc injections.

For weeks before the party, I kept praying that God would bless our friends at the party, that they would experience joy, feel loved and uplifted while celebrating His holy birth, wonderful friendships, as well as the incredible works of Tolkien, whose books reflect the Christian faith.

So, despite all the bad, the good that God has blessed us with is worth celebrating, for He has been faithful to us, He has loved us, lead us, and kept us through much grieving and suffering, and He continues to do so. For that, for HIM, I am grateful.

I continue to pray for all those who are experiencing the grief of losing their children --a pain I have not experienced, and fear with all my heart-- that in their hurt, anger and despair, Father will hold them, and grieve with them, and be. Just be. Let them know He is there.