Monday, December 31, 2012

Year End Reflections

Dec. 31, 2012
So, today ends another year.  It is a year I will look back on with very mixed emotions.  There are definitely two halves to this year with the dividing line being 5:30 pm on June 8th. 
2012 began with the anticipation of Brooke’s arrival.  We had completed most of the paperwork and were hoping to get a travel approval before the Chinese government shut down for Chinese New Year but we missed it by just a few days.  Every day counts in this long drawn out process and some count more than others.  Thankfully we can trust the loving hand of our heavenly ather to have details worked out that are never too early and never too late.  Our travel approval arrived and we were able to plan our trip to finally bring Brooke home.  Wow, it seems like yesterday and at the same time, it seems like a lifetime ago.  We boarded a plane for China on February 29th.  After a brief stop in Beijing, we finally arrived in Shanghai.  In a room at an orphanage, Brooke walked into our lives.  Although we planned for her arrival, we could never have imagined what an incredible gift from God she would be in our lives. 
We were as ready for her arrival as any new parents can be.  We had completed several days of intense training on the needs of older adopted children, we had read books, we had talked with other parents… All of these resources were great, but frankly, Brooke is one of those rare exceptions to older child adoption.  She bonded with us quickly, adapted to her new life in our family and in general has made this whole process seem incredibly simple.   
Those first couple of months flew by.  Brooke learned English rapidly, loved her school, loved our dogs, made friends both at church and school…life as a family of three was just starting to settle into a new normal until -----
June 8th at about 5:30pm
I had just gotten home from work and the phone rang.  It was our family doctor.  Almost immediately my heart broke.  The MRI Dennis had earlier in the day showed a mass in his brain.  Every speck of normal was shattered.  We were being told to head to the ER of a large hospital in our area.  They would be expecting us.  Pack a bag and head there as soon as possible.  I remember calling a friend to see if we could drop Brooke off for the night.  I had to tell her three times that Dennis had something in his brain before she could grasp what I was saying.  I think we all felt that way.  I’m still thankful for these wonderful friends who helped us through that night and helped Brooke be ok too.  Since you all know the “rest of the story”, we were plunged into the world of cancer that night.  Brain surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and trial drug programs became our new normal.  We went from the joy of a new child to the fear, stress, anxiety of a very serious health situation with one phone call.
Our “normal” had shifted and will never be the same again.  We no longer take time for granted.  Each and every day is precious.  We don’t put off for tomorrow anything that we can possibly do today.  We cherish the big and small things that make life precious.  We grab a camera to record a moment far more frequently.  We live far more conscious of just how quickly life can change. 
We have grown this year.  Not just from a family of two to a family of three, but in far more important ways.  I’ve seen Dennis grow as his intense desire he had before his illness to live out his faith in day-to-day, has taken deeper meaning and focus.  God has been teaching me to wait on Him and trust Him.  We have seen God at work in our lives through the hands of those around us who have helped us in too many ways to even count. We have watched Brooke gasp that Jesus loves her and has always been watching over her even before she ever heard His name.  Overall, we can say, “God is faithful.”  He is faithful in the joyful and good times and He is faithful in the hard times. 
2012 was not what we expected.  Our plans would have looked much different but even though it has at times been extremely painful it has been good.  What is ahead for us in 2013 is yet to be seen but we know we can trust in the One who knows the future.    

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