2013: A Year of Unexpected Gifts and Blessings in Disguise


Gift #1—Keeping Hope Through Disappointment

2013 was a trying year.  In May, I began to feel as if the mono, that I had been dealing with for 2 1/2 years, was finally subsiding.  For the first time, I felt well. I was so happy and relieved, that when I started feeling badly 2 weeks later,  I was just thankful for the window of respite.  This time around though, the illness was different. There were similarities (fever, headaches, and fatigue), but this one was scarier because it involved my heart and intense pain at unexpected times.

In August, I was assigned a heart monitor.   Let me just take a moment to describe to you what it’s like to wear a heart monitor.  First, there are two parts to the heart monitor.  There is the one part that is worn on a lanyard and hangs where most women would have issues with cleavage and is attached to five wires.  The five wires are clipped to the diodes (these sticky little circles on the body) in five specific areas.  The other part is an ancient looking cellphone that must be worn close to the monitor.   At the end of the month though, I was sorely disappointed and frustrated to learn that the heart monitor only worked part of two separate days in that entire month.  Every “episode” that I tried to record, didn’t go through.  After it was over, the red, itching, and raw circles on my skin from the diodes took two months to heal. There was no way I was doing that again.  The ordeal was…unfortunate.

Next up was an infectious disease specialist who sent me for chest x-rays, CT scans, and a cornucopia of blood work.  After months of testing and nothing showing up, he ended by saying, “We’ve done everything to find the source of the fever, but I have a feeling that you may be the 1% of that people that have an extremely rare form of an infection in the heart.  Knowing your history,” he said with a laugh, “you might be someone that is featured in the medical journals.  However, the only way to know that for sure is to do a somewhat risky procedure that I don’t want to do unless your fever is higher and stays that way.”

So, it’s the next year and I am back to where I started.  Only this time, I have the nifty catch-all label of “Fever of Unknown Origin.”  I am currently feeling much better in many ways. I still run a fever most days, have headaches, and am tired but less often, and overall, I don’t hurt as much nor as often.

I know this was a long way to say that through all of this, I’ve learned that it’s okay to just let other people help you carry your burden.  I’ve always been such a fiercely independent person that it is very hard for me to even ask for prayer from others.  My family, church family, and friends have done this for me and I am so extremely grateful.

  I’ve also learned that sometimes, it’s okay to trudge when you can’t run.  I mean this both literally and figuratively.  Sometimes when I ran, I felt okay as long as I ran slowly enough.  Other times, I would barely be running and feel as if I was dying.  Now that I’m feeling mostly better, I’ve been able to run faster and feel better than I have in nearly 3 years.  I don’t know why this is, but I am so thankful for it.

Gift #2—Becoming a mother without the title (again…sort of)

After making the promise as a teenager to care for my siblings if needed (see previous post), it finally happened.  My youngest brother came to live with us.  He was having trouble at home and at school, and Ethan and I both knew that God wanted us to have Nicolas come and live with us.  We became his legal guardians in September.

Since he’s come to live with us, I’ve come to know what a special young man he is with so much potential, but with so many old bad habits and heartaches that are difficult for him to face. (I know that I’m biased because I think that all of my siblings are the most wonderful people in the world, but trust me, they are).  At times, like the last 3 weeks, I’m reminded of how human we both are and why I need to be in constant prayer.  I’ve come to learn just how difficult trying to teach a 15 year old how his actions affect others is, when he has been in survivor mode his whole life and self-protection is all he knows.  It’s very much like adopting a 15 year old orphan.

And yet, there are those random moments when he opens up and I can see how beautiful a heart he has.  He is creative, has a great sense of humor, is kind to people who are having a hard time.  During Advent, he was my secret buddy and helped out with all kinds of chores because he knows that one of my love languages is service.  These are the moments that I try to remember when, in months like this one, he’s letting out years of hurt and frustration on those closest.

I’m so thankful to have him here in our lives.  I’ve learned so many things about myself, Nick, and how Ethan and I work as a team.   Life is pretty different now, but I’m glad.  I look forward to what 2014 will bring.