Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Thoughts on 2010: Freedom, Peace and a Restored Soul

Well, well, well...look who's back with a blog post. Again, I totally mean to update more frequently but somehow time just slips away. 2011 will be the year, I can just feel it. Happy 2011 everyone! Right now Ella has pneumonia and an ear infection so Happy 2011 to the Carders right? She's on the mend though and I'm very thankful because the past several days she has been so miserable. It's just so sad to see her like that. Keep her in your prayers!

Another year gone by, wow. I'm amazed that another year is over and we are beginning a new one. I feel like we just did that like a month ago. But, obviously we didn't and as I think back about this last year and look back at my calendar and all that has transpired I am in awe at what the Lord has done. I love to look at my calendars from years past and see what we were doing on certain days. I found one from when I was in college not too long ago by the way. College! What in the world? Why did I keep it, I don't know. So funny though. I wrote down all of my appointments, tests, projects etc. but I can still remember at the beginning of several semesters forgetting to get my class schedule to know where I was even going for the first day of classes. I was organized apparently but had no idea where I was going. Yes, this was college and not high school like you would expect. Genius.

Anyway, I was looking through my planner from this last year and was just amazed at where we are today just one year later. So, here we go with Amy's Thoughts on 2010. My thoughts on 2009 last year came with no pictures, were very honest and was probably a bit hard to read. You know me, I don't sugarcoat well so we'll see how this one goes. This year was muuuuccchhh better than last year so here we go with 2010. Last year at this time we were newly emerging out of the black tunnel we had been in since Ella was born. Things were slowly starting to ease up, Ella was making slow but good progress with feedings and things were just in general a little more manageable. Our weeks were still filled almost everyday with doctor's appointments and therapy appointments for Ella. Many days we even had 3 sometimes 4 appointments for one day. Whew! It made me tired just to look at my calendar filled everyday with all of her appointments. There wasn't alot of other things besides that in my planner for several months. But as the months went on I could see how her therapies began to decrease in frequency as she was making progress and more "normal" things began to be added to my weeks.

My feelings coming out of 2009 and beginning 2010 were that of thankfulness. I continue to feel extremely thankful but I also feel that this past year for me personally was a year of freedom, peace and a restoring of my soul. I thank all of you who have prayed for our family because I believe that the peace and healing we have been given was also something many of you have prayed for us for a long time. So, thank you for committing our family to prayer, we truly felt it this past year. This time last year things were better for us and we were actually seeing that there was light at the end of the tunnel and it was getting brighter. But, with all that being said, for me I feel that amidst my thankfulness there was a heart still broken that needed healing. I was still a bit overwhelmed, confused at the year we had just survived, I had a lot of questions I wanted answers to and honestly I was just a bit ticked off at times. Not that any of that should surprise you. I mean, I think we all remember my backyard plate throwing habit I had to release my anger don't we? I'm proud to say that I have not broken any plates in well over a year so that should tell you something. :)

Anyway, I was still hurting that all of this with Ella had happened, I wanted answers as to what went wrong in my pregnancy, when it happened, how it happened. When I happened to be out and about I would get annoyed when I would see "happy-mall-outing-family-with-their-three-healthy-kids" all having a great time together at the mall when for me to leave the house for an extended period of time I had to train and pay someone to come in and take care of Ella. Why did they seemingly have it so easy when things were anything but easy for our family? The world was going on but our world had been turned upside-down and I was still trying to make sense of it all. While everyone else seemed to be doing "normal" things I was beginning to be able to do more with the girls but for the most part my days and weeks consisted of taking Ella to the doctor and to therapies everyday and trying to get her to eat and to walk. All things that I definitely took for granted with Eva but not with Ella. She had to fight for everything and it just made me mad that things were so hard for her while "happy-mall-outing-family-with-their-three-healthy-kids" seemed to just be coasting through having a blast in life. Wow! Can you believe my inner commentary? How judgemental was I?? Let's just blame it on the grieving process so you don't think I'm a complete jerk and lunatic. :)

I remember at our appointment with our geneticist around this time last year I was asking a lot of questions. I wanted her to give me logical and specific reasons as to how these problems happened with Ella. I wanted to know how, when, why, at what point in gestation did this occur. Did I do something wrong, did I eat something weird, were we living in some strange area of town being affected by certain environmental factors that were causing birth defects. I know, call me crazy. She had been trying to tell me all along but I kept asking questions and she finally just looked at me kindly, yet firmly and said, "It just happened." You would think that would've given me some comfort and would've been what I wanted to hear but it wasn't. I still wanted to know what went wrong and why. I wanted to know the big picture and how God was going to redeem all of this. What did it mean for our family? How does it affect having more children? Are we going to even have more children? What were we supposed to do with this and the way it has changed our family? It was consuming me and I really struggled with it all. As last year went on I feel like God just gently and continuously revealed Himself to me and his purposes for me right now. Not for next year, or ten years from now, just for right now, for today.

I mentioned earlier that this past year for me is characterized by three things: freedom, peace and a restored soul. These are three huge gifts He has given me this year and I am immensely thankful and amazed. As I spent time with Him I realized I had a lot of fears which surprised me. I had never thought of myself as a very fearful person (except for my fear of spiders which I still haven't worked through and don't want to) but what was coming out was all rooted in fear. Obviously working through alot of these things is still ongoing but I believe by seeking Him first He will give you a new path if you choose to follow Him. He has certainly shown that to me this last year and as I began to let go of some things I was holding onto such as why all of this happened with Ella, trusting Him to take care of her, answering my questions about the future, etc. I began to feel the chains break away and experience His freedom like I never had before. I'm not going to lie and say that it was easy and came without walking through some pain because it didn't. There were lots of tears on my part, some wrestling with God and a re-breaking of my heart that had to happen for me to come to understand the way God feels about me and how much he loves not only me but all of us. But, I can say that it has been life-changing for me and I feel like a new person, a whole person and one who is more confident in God's love for me and who I am in Him. A HUGE burden was lifted off my heart and I no longer felt like God needed to explain himself to poor, little Amy Carder in order for me to trust Him completely. Unbelievable aren't I?? Sheesh, so high maintenance. Do you see what Rick has to deal with? Pray for him. :) I am choosing to trust God because I believe that He is God, He is real, He is truth, and without Him I am nothing. And, if anyone could understand my pain and disappointment in this life it would be him. He gave up His Son for me so that one day I can live forever with Him and that is truly a gift that I cannot wrap my brain around.

So, I still don't have answers to all of these above mentioned questions but that's okay. I'm not bound and burdened by feeling like I have to figure it all out like I was. What happened, happened and it does not define me, instead it has refined me. And through this refining process God has given me peace in the purposes he has for me today and has restored my soul along the way constantly reassuring me of His love and His plan for me. Not his plan for "happy-mall-outing-family-with-their-three-healthy-kids", not his plan for my neighbor, not his plan for my friends and relatives, but his plan for ME. It doesn't matter what they are all doing, what matters is am I following God and obeying him. That's what He wants from me and if I'm doing that then He can use me to further His kingdom and bring Him the glory He deserves. That's what I'm trying to do and what I have to remind myself of when I want to jump ahead of God and go with my plans instead of His.

I have always loved Psalm 23 and it's a passage I memorized as a little girl. In the past several years I feel that this passage has come to life for me and has comforted me and encouraged me in many different ways. There were many nights when I was pregnant with Ella and after she was born when I couldn't sleep because I was scared to death about what we were facing so I would quote this scripture over and over and over to myself until I finally fell asleep. And this past year the Word of God came to life as he restored my soul when I finally released everything to him, fully trusting Him with everything, even with my children and committed myself to him. Through that surrender the gift he gave me was a renewed spirit and a peace that can only come from him. I love the way Kay Warren puts it in her book Say Yes to God: A Call to Courageous Surrender which I highly recommend by the way. She states that "following Jesus is to offer to him all that you think you are, all that you really are, all that you think you are not, and all that you really are not-to be used in the way he chooses." I love that. I don't have it all figured it out and there are many days when I find myself on the path of fear instead of the path of freedom but I'm getting there. God is so loving, patient and kind and he has definitely outdone himself with the blessings he has given our family this year. I am humbled and at a loss for words for all that he's given to me.

So, with that, I will close this long post for the two of you that are left reading by this point with a sort-of blog post benediction: May this year be the year that you seek more of the Lord in your life, more of his voice in your ear and all that he has for you. May he cause you to release all that you are, all that you are not, all of your fears, anger, unforgiveness, hurt and pain and anything that is binding you from the freedom that he freely offers so that he may use you in the way he chooses. In turn, may he give you a renewed heart and soul that has been healed and soothed with his everlasting peace. Blessings in 2011!