2014 started with health issues for me. After living with pain for many months, in some ways years, my body just decided to shut down and not function properly. Walking became the hardest thing I did everyday. (Of course, I'd rather to hurt walking than breathing! LOL!) After some physical therapy and a lot of stretching/exercising I can say that my foot feels much, much better, but now the other foot has developed an inflamed nerve right in the ball area which means that it spends most nights on ice to numb the pain. Now, another issue has cropped up. It's probably a leftover from a serious car accident I was involved in over spring break of 1999. Unfortunately it is almost debilitating if I have to stand up for any length of time, even if it's just for a half an hour, so playing the piano for church, shopping for groceries, and yes, even standing at the shooting range is incredibly painful. I'm still deciding who to call. I seem to have to see the orthopedist at least once a year. I like the guy but I really don't like having some issue that requires his attention on a yearly basis. I could go back to my physical therapist or go see a chiropractor. I have to decide something soon because I really don't want to be a hip replacement candidate before I turn 60.
February of 2014 was an interesting month. My son's birthday is one none of us, especially my husband, will ever forget. We celebrated his special day with Chinese take out. Believe me those words have new meaning to me now because it took our entire family OUT! At 5pm, we were sitting around the table, laughing and eating and by 1am, all but me and the two little guys were fighting over whose turn it was to hang over the porcelain. It did hit me about a day and a half after it hit them, but not as bad. I either have an iron stomach or I just didn't eat that much of whatever was bad. It worked out though because by the time I got sick some of the first ones to go down were starting to feel a little better. Of course the health department told us that we had caught a virus because we didn't meet the criteria for classifying it as food poisioning. But as I explained to the health official, "I couldn't fit 9 people, two car seats and a toilet in my van in order to drive everyone to the hospital for stool samples." If that was a virus, someone should have contacted the CDC because it spread faster than Ebola and Bubonic Plague! He didn't see the humor in that statement, for some reason. My poor husband, even after 10 months is still not over it. As a result of the food poisioning, he has developed an intolerance to yeast or yeast derivitives thus changing the way we eat and way I cook. Having to change the way you shop, cook and eat after 33 years of marriage is not as easy as one might think. I'm still learning how to cook without poisioning my husband. Occaisionally I slip up and he ends up sick again.
The next season was more my husbands as well. The season of the tooth. My husband has had a fake front tooth for as long as I've known him. It's a tooth attached to a plate. Well, because of the food poisioning and having to watch carefully what he eats, he got sick and vomited out his tooth. He didn't realize it until he was walking out of the church bathroom on his way to pulpit to preach. He came to me and said with a tone I have never heard before "it's gone! My tooth is gone!" So I lived with a toothless man with a lisp for several weeks until his new tooth was finished, which he promptly lost about 2 weeks after he got it and so we waited another couple of weeks for another new one which our insurance refused to pay for. Fortunately flushing hundreds of dollars worth of dental equipment was a short season in our lives. He has managed to hang on to his dental work since then. Although it didn't directly affect me, I did end up walking barefoot through a local business man's yard looking for a tooth. I'm sure the neighbors were very curious. They might have though it was some new type of lawn treatment! :-)
The biggie for me was peri-menopause. My husband had almost convinced me that I was just going to stay eternally young because at age 54, nothing seemed to be changing. While most women my age were already in menopause, I was just plugging along like I always had. I can now say that I have a new appreciation for hormones and what they can do to a person. I've never been one to allow my hormones to be an excuse for my moods. I still don't. But it is true that they can be powerful influences. I have learned through this year to realize that although hormones make their presence known in the form of hot flashes (or internal explosions of solar proportions as I've come to call them), sleepless nights, intense anxiety for no apparent reason, and breaking out in tears or song at inappropriate times, God has given us authority over them and they must come into line with His will. Many a day, it was a constant struggle, but it now gets easier and easier. My hot flashes have disappeared altogether. I have learned that the Lord does keep one in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him, even in the middle of the night when you wake up with a million crazy thoughts flying through your mind that try to keep you awake until dawn. In fact, I don't even open my eyes anymore. I just immediately discipline my mind to fix itself on Christ and soon I'm right back to sleep.
It was my first full year of working full time for someone other than my husband or myself since 1989. After getting over the culture shock (I really did live in a bubble for awhile) and getting my schedule slowly to a halfway normal one, I think I am settled in. I would prefer not to work. My desire has never been to work outside of my home, but circumstances have demanded that I do, so for now, if I have to work, the Lord has provided me with a nice place to do it. I've learned a ton about myself through working and I think I've grown as a person because of it. The comfort in it all is knowing that God provided this season for me because it is going to work His purposes in my life and for that I am very thankful.
My responsibilities at church have changed. I've come to the conclusion that the role of a small church Pastor's wife is to do what others refuse to do or can't do even if she isn't gifted, called or equipped for it. I have been amazed at how much grace has been available for me in this. I guess it just comes with the territory. I don't know one Pastor's wife who doesn't feel this way from time to time...well, maybe I know one but she is certainly the exception. The fact that my physical ailments are compounded by what I'm doing doesn't help my attitude at all but I just chalk it all up to God stretching me and killing off a little more of my flesh.
I lost my best friend this year. Our golden retriever passed away. The responsibility of making the decision and attending her passing fell on me. I am surprised at how long and how hard I have missed her. The thing I loved about her was that she just loved me everyday, no matter what kind of day I was having, even on days when I was unlovely. I also lost my sons, in a sense, this year as well. My oldest son moved out on his own and has a girlfriend. Any mother knows exactly what I'm feeling about all of that-no explanation needed. The other son is gone so much, I'm almost surprised when he's here. I know that boys are not generally as attached to family as girls, but I don't like it. They just don't seem to undestand that they are still my babies and I'm finding it hard to understand that they aren't still my babies. I miss them sitting on my lap, reading to them, soothing their hurts and fears, and laughing with them. I mostly miss the hugs!
I wouldn't describe this year as the most stellar year I've ever had. It certainly was not. At times, it was just painstakingly hard. Changes just kept coming fast and hard. I'm not used to that. But hard years and bad years are not the same thing. In many ways the year was hard, but at all times, God was good! I take comfort in knowing that God is involved in all of it, the good and the bad, the hard and the hurtful, the frustrating and the joyful parts. If I have learned anything through the past year, I have learned more of God faithfulness and power so I think that means I had a pretty good year! That is one season that never has to change!