Today marks three weeks since we left Akron Children's Hospital after treatment for Gabe's leg. It has been a long and stress-filled three weeks, but it has also been a three weeks that I have learned even more about being a mother and a wife. A three weeks that has put my priorities back where they belong, and has shown me how important it is to spend time at home. I believe through every experience, God reveals to us more of His will for our lives. In short- I have learned a lot.
I have heard this quite a few times, and from many different people over the course of these three weeks.. "Crystal, I don't know how you are doing this..", "Crystal, I bet you are ready to throw this year out the window", or "I hope you can figure out what God is trying to teach you with all of this..". Now, don't get me wrong, all of these comments are completely valid and appropriate given our circumstances. What I can say is, after some thought, I do know how I'm doing it. We have an army of people praying for us (thank you!), and we rely on the promises God has given us that He will not leave us or put more on us than we are able to handle. This year has been, well, interesting. But instead of loathe our misfortunes, I have decided to celebrate our experiences. The truth of it is, while we did have some very unfortunate circumstances come our way, we also had some amazing things happen to us, and received some awesome blessings. Gabe made it through his first year of pre-school (and started his second!) and is learning so much. We were able to take an amazing vacation and we woke up one morning at the ocean and saw the beauty of the mountains that same evening. We saw dolphins and manatees in their natural habitat. Gabe and Jeremy created a great memory when they flew Gabe's kite on the beach. I got to take my first trip alone and experience the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. I met some awesome people (especially those at my "table"), and had a great time keeping Mike in check ;) and convincing him to get Gooey Butter Cake room service! I sang the Doxology a'capella with hundreds of other people and learned how to open my heart even more to the presence of God. Jeremy and I celebrated five years of marriage, and celebrated by doing something on my bucket list- Hillsong! We planted a garden and things actually grew! We canned jam and pickles, and picked blueberries off of a bush. We rode in the summer with the windows down and the radio up, praising God and lifting our voice to bring glory to Him. We put up a pool in our yard and Gabe SO enjoyed it! We are looking forward to a Christmas that Gabe will truly understand what is going on, and is excited for "presents, trees, and snow!" (his own words!).
So, while I do sometimes wish a few things this year would have turned out differently, I wouldn't want to change these awesome blessings at all. Life isn't always easy, but it is always blessed. Even in the difficulty and the hardship, the pain and the grief, the anxiety and the stress, there is always something so much better and brighter than the tough circumstance. Something that God gives us to hang on to until things calm down and the ground feels more stable. Something that allows us to see Him, and focus on Him instead of on our circumstance. So, for this year, for all years, I choose Him. I choose to let Him lead me instead of let my circumstance lead me.
These last few weeks, I have spent more time at home than I have probably since Gabe was a newborn. If you know me, you know that I am always on the go. It is a part of my life that just kind of ended up being that way. We are always going somewhere or to visit someone. God has used this experience with Gabe to show me how important it is to spend time at home. I have cooked every day, which honestly, has been a joy. I have tried new recipes (thank you Pinterest!), caught up on homework, clipped coupons, and snuggled a LOT with Gabe. That aspect of his recovery really has been such a life lesson, and a true blessing. Of course, there have been some very, very difficult- heart wrenching aspects of it all as well. But again, God has shown to me the importance of something that was truly lacking in our life, and that home really is where the heart is.