Looking back at 2016, my initial thought was, “Phew. We survived.” However, that by no means does the year justice. Yes, we certainly had our struggles, as Ray continued to recover and we – as a family – attempted to adapt to a “new normal” that is actually ever-changing and anything but “normal.”
Here’s what I can say for 2016:
The kids are still alive
Actually, they’re more than alive. In the past year, I’ve seen them mature far more than children their age should have to. They’ve dealt with and adjusted to having a dad who is so very different than he used to be. They’ve courageously accepted the fact that they can’t have some of the luxuries that other children their age enjoy. They’ve taken responsibility for their baby brother, even as they’ve also taken on more chores. The older ones, especially, have recognized that mom is just one person, and developed a desire and willingness to help out of love and generosity.
They know that they are loved, and we have grown closer as a result of our difficulties. Most importantly, I believe that, as a whole, this whole experience has helped them to develop a deeper faith and trust in God.
My home is not a candidate for condemnation by the state board of health
I wouldn’t suggest eating off the floors, but, actually, thanks to requiring more from the kids, my house is in many ways cleaner than it would have been two years ago. If you stop by unexpectedly, will you find toys on the floor, laundry on the sofa, and dishes in the sink? Almost certainly. But I’m happy to report that you won’t find mice nestled in that laundry, or roaches under that dish-filled sink. The sheets are (relatively) clean, the kids are generally able to find clean clothes to wear, and any food you find on the counter is free from mold or bugs.
I didn’t lose 20 pounds
Moving that one forward to 2017. (Insert laughing till you cry emoji)
I’ve been incredibly challenged
They do say, “Be careful what you pray for.” I prayed for patience, and rather than miraculously granting me patience, God gave me a situation which would try my patience in every way. All I can say in this regard is, I sure am glad that December 31, 2016 marked a symbolic ending, and not a real one. If it had been the end of my opportunity to grow in patience, I would have to mark it down as a failure. Fortunately, there’s a brand new year ahead, and I will continue to meet this challenge head-on, continuing to pray for the grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the help of Our Blessed Mother.
Professionally, God hit it out of the park for me
Even as I was confronted with so many struggles on the home front, God was quietly working behind the scenes to bless me with professional success. A Single Bead became a best seller, went to a second printing, and has received excellent reviews. I heard from numerous people that reading it led them or their loved one to a greater devotion to Our Lady and the Rosary. I was blessed to speak to classrooms filled with young adults who immensely enjoyed my book and had lots of wonderful questions. I officially hit the professional speaker circuit, with several successful engagements that met with rave reviews and achieved every speaker’s goal -listeners laughed, cried, and were inspired in faith.
I can take little credit for this, other than to say that I followed the call. Three years ago, I felt God ask me to write a novel. So I wrote it. Yes, there’s been some serious hard work and determination involved, but without the grace of God, and the gifts with which He has blessed me, none of this would have happened. I did the work, not knowing that God would use it months and even years later to bless me (and my family) at a time when we would most need something to celebrate.
My takeaway from 2016
God always keeps his promises.