From Rachel's birthday on, there were so many heartbreaks and so much to do with so little time, not to mention, no snow, that it was hard to feel festive.
We don't usually do much for New Years. We usually have Chinese food in... and pass out on the couch early. Earlier than any other night for me because I eat a lot and sit down, neither of which I do often - and certainly never at the same time. We don't have cable so we don't wait for any big ball to drop. And I don't usually get into the new years 'resolutions' much because they don't usually mean much. After working at the YMCA and see how busy the gym is in January and how it's right back to empty come March, I realized that a resolution on New Years doesn't hold a lot of weight most of the time. A conviction from God is completely different and can come any time throughout the year - and then you have the Spirit to help you in it and it's not based on 'will power' or whatever. anyways...
New Years Eve is our anniversary of when we became a couple... that night in 2001, at a little church way up north is Littleton, NH, we danced and we laughed. Just a few months later, I was expecting our first child.
Des got a wii game, "Just Dance" for Christmas and as soon as she turned it on, I was so into it, I couldn't even walk by without asking her to sign me on as a player... I used to DANCE... like, all the time. I LOVED to dance and was actually good at it. I spent hours upon hours as a young adult dancing. I danced at clubs, I danced in my living room, I danced in parking lots. And I'm not kidding. I didn't have dance lessons or anything, I mean I just couldn't resist the chance to dance.
This is why when I was in Rachel's ultrasound before we knew what was wrong and she was moving all over the place, I said through tears of joy, "She likes to dance, just like her mama!"
Those words became a famous line in my letter that went out to our family, friends and church family when I told them that she was not expected to live. And hence, she became my 'tiny dancer'.
I've been talking about how I have 'danced in the rain' for the last 4 1/2 years... but I'm pretty sure all that trying to keep dancing in my heart - to make beauty out of my pain - has taken all my energy, because I don't dance much any more. Heck, I don't even play music as much as I used to because my head *always* hurts.
So far, a couple times that I have danced with Des in the game, I have had my blood pressure drop so much that I got sick and couldn't continue. :( If I could resist the music - and the challenge of the game rating your ability to keep up with the dance moves - I would have deemed it unsafe and stopped trying... but there is something about a good beat that I can't walk past. The second I heard "Grove is in the heart" playing, my body starting moving and I danced. And it feels awesome to dance.
This year for New Years Eve, we went out with my family for dinner. It was a lot of fun. I really want to spend more time with them. They are awesome people. We brought the kids back some gluten free pizza and soda and then Matt, Des & I rang in the new year as we just barely finished the movie Elf, which we had not seen before. We spent a lot of time laughing - and laughing feels so good.
I woke up this morning to the sound of my husband singing in the kitchen and the pidder patter of lots of little feet and was overwhelmed by the goodness of God.
Our Pastor had asked us on Sunday to email him with one praise from 2014 and one goal in 2015.
As we thought about it, we said that the biggest praise we have from 2014 is that Jay (my niece who had a stroke at age 9) was with us. At the end of 2013, we didn't know if she would live. in 2014, we watched her learn how to live life with half of her body paralyzed - and she has done so with such a good attitude it would put anyone to shame with the things they complain about.
I've been thinking a lot about how hard 2014 was on my health and praying that 2015 will bring a break through of divine healing. But as I thought about this, I thought about what would make me happy, regardless of if I get that physical healing or not - and what comes to mind is that I want to dance and laugh more. Hear me when I say, this is *not* a new years resolution. This is something that God has placed on my heart. I don't want to spend my life - or for my kids to remember their childhood (especially if I die young) as up tight people who take everything too seriously and don't laugh.
Have you ever been around someone who laughs a lot? Is it not so refreshing? The Bible says that laughter is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22). Matt & I used to laugh constantly. I mean, we used to walk from his house to the store on the next block BACKWARDS holding hands because we thought it was funny. It might not sound funny, but try walking in public backwards, I'm telling you, you WILL laugh. And so will others!
I used to be really funny - and I know this sounds dumb, but bear with me... I get this gene from my family - it's called a dry sense of humor and used a the wrong time can seriously make you looked like a jerk - and given my past, some of the thoughts in my head I really should not let come out - so I've tamed it... but most people who know me closely have experienced it... I just am way more serious than I ever was before... and I don't like it.
I have learned in the last month watching my family walk through the death of my Papa and the scares of what's going on with my grandpa that these people are about the funniest people I've ever met. They are always laughing. My Papa was seriously cracking jokes that made everyone laugh until he could not speak anymore. And I guess I grew up not realizing that not all people were that funny. I actually know many people who couldn't be that funny if they set out to be and it just comes naturally to my family.
So anyway - this year, I am going to dance and laugh more. Not just until March, but from now on. For me and my health - for my kids and their memories - for my marriage and it's perseverance. Because God has put it on my heart, I know he will help me make these both part of our home and I know we will all be blessed by it. He put 'The Grove in my Heart' for a reason.... I'm not going to fear my physical limitations, I am going to do what I can and love it while I do. Because, as this year has made clear, I might not always be able to do what I can today. Today is a gift - every single aspect of it. Good and bad, hard and easy, planned or not what I hoped for... it's all in his hands and ALL exactly what is best for me.
Matt said his hope for this next year is that we will live each day like it is the day that Jesus is returning... we're supposed to do that. We're supposed to live in hopeful expectation that he can and will return any moment. And when you live like that, it's hard to worry - or fear - or fret... it's hard to not be joyful and hopeful and feel like dancing - and laughing. And here it is, lest any of us forget - HE IS COMING BACK for us.
This song came on Pandora shortly after we talked about these things - and I made this stanza my prayer....
"Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks yours
Everything I am for Your kingdom's cause
As I walk from earth into eternity"
Listen to this song... I was trying to figure out which video to pick on You tube. I wanted one with lyrics, but I played this one and I loved how it showed people worshipping. I looked at the date it was posted... August 4, 2010. What a 'coincidence'.... a reminder to worship on the hard days... because even in the hard, HE IS WORTHY of all honor and praise.
Lord, I thank you for every part of 2014, the good and the hard - and I thank you that you have carried us through so much this year. I pray that 2015 is brighter, but no matter what comes Lord, this is the cry of my heart... that You would continue to work on our hearts, making us more like Jesus every day, that you would open our eyes to the needs of people around us and show us where we can serve you by serving others...being love and light to a dark and dying world... that our hearts would BREAK over anything that breaks Yours, that we will continue to strive to be in the world, but not of the world, that You will help us remember that this life - as believers in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for us - is but a walk through earth, into eternity. And through it all Lord, help us to dance, laugh and remember You are returning.... and it could be today!
May you all have a year blessed with good health, great memories, and the ability to see everything as from God above... to thank Him for the good and praise Him through the hard. I love you all and am so thankful for each person who takes time to read my words... this helps me continue on with mine & Rachel's legacies and that is an amazing gift you give me each time you visit thegiftofrachelslife.blogspot.com. When I came up with that address to start this blog, I had no idea what a true gift her life would be... but you caring and loving us, reading about my journey, is part of what has made this place a gift to me. Thank you for coming along on this bumpy ride with me and seeing her value and worth and her great purpose with me. Thank you for being a blessing to my heart so often. You have carried my burdens with me time and time again, and I will be forever grateful for that.