Reflections on 2013
// From the Archives //
As I come closer to the end of 2013, I can't help but let out a sigh of relief.
This was a year of wonderful highs and extremely low lows for me. It is always important to take a step back every once in a while and examine your life, and so these are my reflections for 2013.
The year started off with joy as Beav and I found out in January we were pregnant with our first baby! It was a little bit of a whirlwind, full of excitement but scared to death about a new stage of life. I know I personally did not trust God and let Him take the reigns. I rolled up my sleeves, and started taking things into my own hands. I forgot that my baby was a gift from God, not a possession of mine. God broke my heart as I remembered Him in this moment, and I began to read the story of Hannah and Samuel in 1 Samuel 1. I laid aside my need for control, and I gave my little baby over to God. I had to remember that this was HIS creation, not mine. That was the week of my birthday. A couple weeks later, on a routine doctor visit, I found out at 10 weeks that my baby's heart had stopped beating.
The next month or two, I felt as though I was rapidly spiraling into a deep, dark depression. I did not want any friendship interaction. I barely could handle family interaction. Everything reminded me of that sweet little baby. All I could see was darkness, dispair. I felt many different things, so much anger at God, fear I would never have children, confusion about why, numbness because I couldn't bear the pain, bitterness, etc. You name it. I felt it. I became very isolated from everyone, pulling farther and farther into myself. It was the darkest, lowest time of my entire life. I could barely talk with God, much less anything else having to do with Him. I had no energy to pray, to read my Bible, to worship. I had nothing left. I felt like I had died with my baby. It was amazing, though, how He never once left my side. He waited. He gave me strength when I had none. He lifted me up when I could not stand. God brought glimmers of hope through the hundreds (literally) of people who gave us words of comfort.
I graduated with my Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in May. This program took me 3 years to finish because of how long it was, and I was so thankful God brought me through my last semester in one piece. He brought hope by providing for me a great full-time counseling position at a counseling center where I have been able to see many women, children, teens, families, and couples see hope where there was none, too.
He opened up an amazing door of ministry to become the new leader of the women's ministry at our church. My heart beats to minister to women, and God knew this would begin an amazing journey of living out part of the calling I have receieved.
In the midst of all of this, right when I could see pieces of light in my deep darkness, my body was not adjusting well after I had the surgery to remove the baby on March 8, 2013 (D & C). I had to go back on birth control for 3 months to regulate my body again. This was extremely difficult for me. This meant I had to wait unti we could start trying again longer than I wanted to, but God knew what I needed. He knew I needed more time to heal. He knew I needed more time to grieve. He allowed me to have it in this season.
Before I started counseling full-time, I worked part-time at an early learning center taking care of babies... yeh, not my favorite thing to be doing in my grief. One day at work, I started feeling some strange tingling up my arm that would not go away. My brother-in-law, who is a doctor, recommended I leave work immediately to get this checked out. This began an entirely new process of fear and anxiety for me. To shorten this and leave out unnecessary details, I was being tested for autoimmune diseases. They were concerned that I may have Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, the disease that ended up killing my grandmother when she was 44. All I could think was that this was my death sentence. (a little dramatic, yes, but a real fear nonetheless)
I went back into my darkness. Beav and I, along with some friends and family, began praying fervently for my body. We believed that God could give me a good report, but we still trusted that He was sovereign even if the news was not so good. After tons of blood work and tests, my doctor said my blood work showed that I COULD develop this disease, but that my numbers were not high enough to give the diagnosis. I could breathe again.
A glimmer of light. Hope in the darkness.
Through this, I began taking an immunosuppressant to help with my symptoms, but I got sick a lot instead. Go figure :) The month of June was a difficult time for me, constantly sick and down. God remained through it all, giving me an overwhelming sense of peace that everything was ok.
But things started looking up. I started my new job, and that gave me a chance to bring others comfort as God brought me comfort (2 Cor. 1). I started my leadership position over the women's ministry, which gave me an opportunity to do what I love. Beav and I were able to start trying to have another baby. We went on our annual vacation and had a blast. God was turning my mourning into dancing.
In September, we found out we were pregant with baby #2. I remember seeing the test and crying tears of joy. One of my biggest fears was not being able to have kids. I had such trouble trusting that God is still good if I was able to carry a child full-term or not. Seeing that test reminded me again that God is in the buisness of providing hope to those who have none. I still have so many friends that are struggling to conceive, and I pray everyday that God somehow give them an opportunity to be parents, even if they need to adopt. God did allow me this chance again. This pregancy has been going smoothly, and I have had to make some minor adjustments to prevent future miscarriage, but God really is taking care of our little baby girl, Tatum Lane. He is taking care of mama, too :) I am going to be 20 weeks pregnant on day one of 2014, half-way there!
I have learned that God remains through it all.
When times are terrible and when times are wonderful. He remains. He is still good. If we wouldn't be pregnant again, I would still look at God, and say, "You are still good."
Why? because I know that He is. James encouraged me to count it all joy when I face trials of many kinds (James 1:2-4). Paul wanted to know Christ in all ways, especially in suffering (Phil. 3: 7-11). What did I learn this year?
I have learned that God is the center, not me. God's will is going to be done, not mine. God is in control, not me. God is always good, not me. God deserves all glory and honor, not me. God knows best, not me. It is God's image I am being conformed to, not MINE.
Sometimes God does choose to lead us out into the wilderness place (as the Spirit did with Jesus in Matthew 4). Sometimes He chooses to lead us into the promised land.
Wherever he leads, we must remember, He is always good. Our lives may not look like we thought they would. Maybe we did receive the diagnosis, experience a loss. Maybe we are still single or our finances seem to never get in order. Maybe we never land the dream job. I could go on and on. You know what we do have, though, an abundant life in Christ because of His death on the cross. This abundant life may not be what you expected, but isn't that the beautiful thing about God?
He always does the unexpected.
He is not predictable! I am not quite sure I would worship Him if He was. He is creative and all-knowing. He knows us and what we need, and I promise you, He will be what you need. He will give you what you need. If that comes in the not-so-desirable package of suffering, then, maybe you needed something in the midst of that :)