We had just spent three and a half hours on icy snow covered roads, listening to whining children, four of them to be exact, arguing with discontent in the back seat. I personally, had had enough and was bursting to receive the freedom awaiting me, as my car pulled into the driveway. We were home.
We had left Christmas morning, after eagerly anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus and enjoying an unwrapping madhouse. We corralled the kids and embarked to see my dad and brother who live a few hours north.
After enjoying a few days with family, it didn’t take long to realize that children rapidly become exhausted from traveling, putting them off schedule. In addition, road trips seem to plant wild seeds in them making them appear like undomesticated animals to others. It was time to head home.
So happy to be home, I unlocked the door, walked into the kitchen and my ears were alerted to a loud, hissing, splashing sound coming from the next room. Yep. It was water spewing from a pipe, squirting up on the wall, and had created what appeared to have been a kiddie wading pool in our breakfast room. Ahhhh no!! (Yeah, I may have screamed just a little bit.)
This led me to wonder, why….WHY?! Why do these things always happen to me? It seems when I get one situation under control, another one is lurking in the corner waiting to pounce on me again.
I’m praying that 2017 will be the best year yet. I have to admit, I’m not sad to see 2016 go, as it hasn’t been my favorite.
2016 was a year of enormous loss, which had a big impact on my heart. Three wonderful men, two father figures since childhood and my beloved grandfather were called home.
It was tough. The grief was heavy and loyal. It forced me to ponder this life a little more seriously, and connect with what matters. Life events, death, disasters, tragedy, even blessings and gifts occur every day, yet if we pay attention, they can be a catalyst to reveal what is most important.
And then my story of turmoil continued as just a month before it was the broken car, and during summer it was the damaged septic-unleashing sewage back into our basement, and now the flood of the year in our house. Oh I’m sure there’s been a lot more, but these are the most prominent in my mind.
It all demanded time and money we didn’t have, leaving us struggling to find hope again. It seemed we could never get ahead.
Insurance companies, water restoration guys, sewer repair bills, mechanic bills, it just kept piling on.
But why do we doubt? Why do we suffer? Our patience has been tested, our faith and emotions were checked. I surely could have wallowed in self-pity for countless hours, however, that wasn’t going to be a viable solution.
1 Peter 4:1- So, since Christ suffered in the flesh for us, for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose, patiently to suffer rather than to fail to please God.
But then I reassured myself, remembering we always have hope. God suffered for US. His love is immeasurable. God has never failed us. He has always taken care of us and shown His presence in difficult times.
When I prayed for help with the sewer, it came. When I prayed for a resolution to my vehicle problems, it came. When I prayed for that work at home job, he opened the door and offered it.
And now, ruined floor, broken pipes and water damage throughout-He was there. Living 100 miles from nowhere, the water restoration guys just happened to be in our tiny little town and were able to respond immediately, minimizing the damage.
As I worked in the basement, wearing my muck boots treading through inches of water, I found some devastation in the corner of the cellar. Dripping water had flooded our storage room, saturating multiple boxes that hadn’t been unpacked since our move two years ago.
My eyes looked in fright as panic set in, remembering that Lydia’s belongings were in there. This was all we had left of her…boxes of her clothes I had yet to go through, boxes of her artwork, photo albums of her every move, her shoes, her last bedspread, etc. Yet, in this moment I failed to remember our cherished memories.
I came across her hand and foot tree that she made in 2007 when she was four, her green handprints were now smeared and water had wedged itself under the glass frame, completely distorting this once precious treasure. Lifting a soggy photo of Lydia and her brother, I crumbled to the ground and let the meltdown consume me. My emotions took over and I was broken. Again.
After the weepy storm had subsided, I realized I had been clinging to all of these “things”, certainly precious things, but they remained in boxes that I hadn’t seen them in years… And that wasn’t right.
I opened another dripping wet box, and pulled out the most beautiful gift.
Tears instantly occupied my eyes, rolling down my cold cheeks. Overcome with emotion, I was made aware had this monstrosity not happened, I mostly likely wouldn’t have seen these. The strip of photos Lydia and I took in a photo both at the State fair all those years ago. Aww yes!! I remember it like it was yesterday. Priceless. And they weren’t ruined! Yes, it was time to open those boxes, de-clutter, restart my life and regain control. What a blessing waiting in the midst of this horrible mess.
Grief had caused me over the past eight to save everything, afraid of losing those memories . Afraid to let go, I had acquired so much that it was overwhelming.
Clutter, possessions, some useless and others obviously irreplaceable, had been weighing me down. An extra burden and load I didn’t need.
I constantly have to be aware of His presence and understand that my trivial problems, are just that, little compared to the struggles so many others are facing. Really-how could I even justify being so upset over a broken pipe? In the grand scheme of things, I really don’t have anything to complain about. We all get so complacent and accustomed to a certain way of life, that when it is destroyed or disrupted, we automatically believe we deserve so much more and life as we know it, has ended. I’m so thankful for a much needed reality check.
Losing Lydia brought me to years of trials with friends, family, in my marriage, and in parenting as well. Looking back over the past eight years since the accident, I can now see that every tangled mess, every shattered part, and every moment of grace and mercy, were pieces of a puzzle that fit together to form an exquisite masterpiece. He has picked up every piece and carefully placed each one with the next, restoring life and joy into this broken body, giving hope and healing to me and my family. It is among the dark places of grief, pain, and sorrow that I found that God is nearest to us.
So, as I welcome 2017, I invite you to join me as I embark on a journey to simplify life while being acutely cognizant of God’s presence in my life, taking notice of life’s gifts bestowed upon us and making a life pleasing to Him.