Reflections on 2017

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us).  - Matthew 1:23

When a year draws to a close, our nature is often to reflect on all that has happened during the year...not just the events that have taken place, but how we have changed and grown. We should be able to look back on where we were this time last year and see a difference.  We’re not who we should be yet, we’re not who we could be, but by the grace of God, we should be able to say we’re not who we were.  We should be growing more and more aware of ‘God with us’ with every year that passes. 

So many wonderfully kind people have sent me wishes for a better New Year in the last week or so - for a healthier and happier 2018, and it's usually attached to some comment about how 2017 has been such a challenging year for me. I want you all to know that I don’t see it that way at all. 2017 has been a beautiful year for me - 2017 was the year God chose to rescue me. 

This was the year He revealed my cancer to the doctors at the earliest stage possible, all so that I could get the treatment that would save my life. He literally saved my life this year.  There are a few close to me who wrestle with the fact that "God gave me cancer" this year, but I know the truth - this was the year He chose to save my life. It was the year that He brought an incredibly beautiful medical staff into my life that would forever touch me.  He gave them the wisdom to find the cancer, then lovingly and compassionately treat me with exceptional care. It was the year that He would humble me and force me to lie down in green pastures, physically handicapping me to such an extent that I had no choice but to allow others help me....then He showed me the beauty of what it truly means to live in community, to be on the receiving end of that community.  He taught me how to allow people to encourage and support me, He showed me how much I need the community He created for me. It was the year He revealed to me how beautiful the people in my life truly are, and how He is at work all the time.  He blessed me over and over with encouraging notes, texts, and cards, with gifts and meals, with kind acts of service to me and my family.  It truly has been overwhelming.  2017 was the year God showed me how incredibly noisy my life was. He quieted me and took away all the pressures and distractions of my day-to-day life, then He taught me how to find the peace He offers as I learned to truly “be still” with Him. 

Yes, it's true that 2017 brought record visits and extended stays in the hospital for me and my family (8 of us had hospital visits or extended stays), and more surgical procedures than most families will record in a decade (7 surgeries total in the immediate family - I seriously feel like I should write an apology letter to BCBS), it was also a year of the most unbelievable blessings in my family.  2017 was the year my adorable, sweet grandson was brought into this world, and it was the year my beautiful and lively granddaughter became a toddler. It’s difficult to put into words the blessings that grandchildren bring into your life until you experience it, to see the generations of love that exist in your family as your children love on their's truly remarkable. 2017 was the year that THREE, yes THREE, out of our four children became engaged to their loves, and one of our children was even married. There is something that truly blesses my life as a parent to see our children choose to say yes to a life of committed love - my hope is that our children grew up seeing a marriage that modeled love, grace, and forgiveness.  By His mercy, 2017 was the year I celebrated 25 incredible years of marriage to the love of my life - I have been so blessed to live in one of those beautiful enduring relationships, full of grace and forgiveness, with God at work in it all the time. 2017 was also the year my husband was gifted 3 months of unemployment that began the same week I left work.  He was able to be at my side through the worst of my treatment, with zero impact on our financial situation because of the unbelievable blessings He bestowed on us during those three months.  I don't even understand how He did it.  As if that wasn't enough, God gifted him a better job that begins the exact same day I return to work.  Are you kidding me?  2017 has been a year of blessings the likes of which I have never seen.  

Most importantly, God revealed to me how He has been with me in a whole new way this year. His presence has been tangible to me every single step of this diagnosis and treatment. God is with us, my friends. Never doubt He is here, living inside of us, just waiting to reveal His glory. He comes to bring us comfort, and strength, and peace. If you can’t feel His presence, perhaps your life is too noisy as mine was. Be still with Him and you will find all that I have found. It doesn’t happen when you’re still with Him just once, but when you’re still over and over, day after day. He will reveal His glory, you just need to choose to listen. 

Incredibly humbled and beautifully blessed - that is how I will describe 2017 in years to come.  I look forward to all the ways He will reveal Himself in 2018. Happy New Year, my friends!

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

Many of you know I have been trying to raise money to replace the uncomfortable caregiver's chairs in the infusion center at Illinois Cancer Specialists.  It is important to me that our caregivers are able to sit comfortably for hours while we receive our chemo treatments ~ we need our caregivers to be at their best so they can care for us at our worst.  Please consider donating ~ every little bit helps!  Here is the link:


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