I think I'd call 2014 the best and worst year of my life. It started out so well! We were new in Groom, TX. We knew it was exactly where God wanted us! We'd already met some wonderful people and we were excited about our future. All of our kids were here for New Year's...checking out our new digs. What a great start!
Bill, a sweet man in our church, was in a terrible car wreck in February and was immediately in surgery and put in a halo. He has been in hospitals, rehabs and long-term care since it happened. He was in kidney failure this week but seems to be doing better now. He's fought hard!
We found out in March that a friend in our church probably had cancer. The church was shaken, but the deacons decided to shave their heads in his honor and to stand beside him. We even had kids wanting to shave their heads for Curtis. Curtis began his fight with cancer...but God also used his illness to begin restoration in our church. It's amazing how God can take something bad and use it for good! Curtis is doing so well!! We praise God for hearing and answering our prayers.
The hardest thing about 2014 was finding out in April that my brother, Bob, had extensive cancer. What we didn't know at the time was that he'd had it for 12 years. He hid it from us for years and when it got bad enough, he just quit coming around. My sister-in-law finally told me what was going on. We were devastated. Of course, we began a campaign to try to get him to the doctor, but he refused. The amazing thing was, God began restoring our relationships through emails. The thing I want you to know about Bob is that he was such an easy-going guy...so laid back! He saw humor in everything. And over the course of the next few months, he did just that--focused on the funny things and downplayed his illness. Amazingly, Bob allowed us to bring a doctor to see him about two weeks before he died. A doctor who has gone with us to China many times...and a sweet friend...made the trip to look at Bob. His ministry to us that night was a gift from God. And we had no idea just how much his report would help us in the days to come. Bob lost his battle with cancer December 17...one day after my 59th birthday. He was my hero. I'm so thankful God restored our relationship through those emails. What a gift!
In May, my friend, Faye Ybarra, found out she had 2 blood diseases which were working against one another. And she entered her battle for her life. In June, she began going to the cancer center and the hospital every single day for platelets and blood. She was amazing to watch. Her smile never left her face. She worshiped God through it all. She was in and out of the hospitals in Amarillo and Dallas for months. Her 2 blood diseases also turned into leukemia. I was with her the week she died and she was singing a praise song to God and raising her hand in worship when she was barely able to do so. I loved her.
My sister, Sandra, was in a car wreck in July. Her neck was hurt, so they took her to the hospital to have it X-rayed. When they did, they found her neck wasn't injured, but discovered she had an abnormal thyroid. Within a few weeks and after a biopsy, it was determined she had thyroid cancer. They had to wait to do surgery because of the radiation exposure from her X-ray after the wreck. She had a wonderful surgeon in Dallas who performed a successful surgery. She had to be isolated for two days for radiation treatment and she found out the devastating news that our brother died right before she was isolated. I can't even imagine what she endured for those two days. My heart was broken for her. She just found out tonight, after they'd done a body scan, that there is no metastasis! Praise God! I believe she is healed.
Also through the year, we had a grandson who had a staph infection, a granddaughter who had a tonsillectomy, our daughter's family was only a couple of miles from the Ebola scare, that same family was in a car wreck, and a grandson who went to the ER because he was limping. We endured a drought--with a spring and summer full of terrible dirt storms. It felt symbolic somehow.
But we also had the opportunity to speak at a marriage retreat, I spoke at a women's retreat, we went to youth & kids camp, we both spoke at a M.O.P.S. meeting, I started a blog for pastor's wives, and I helped at disaster relief after a fire in Fritch.
We had a son and his family move from Borger to Tyler. And then we had a son and his family move from Dalhart to Tulsa.
To sum up 2014...it was a year of very hard trials. I stressed, grieved, begged for God's mercy and was exhausted and on overload most of the year. But it was also a year of great ministry. Our new church ministered to me, friends from Borger ministered to me. My family ministered to one another. And we began seeing healing. We've seen physical healing, restoration of relationships, and the healing of a church. In 2014, I learned...God is enough. And that I will praise Him no matter what.