Tuesday, December 22, 2015

An Honest Christmas Letter

Dear friends and family,

Merry Christmas!

Well it's been another year and we've been stretched, challenged, and blessed. We hope you've experienced a year with challenges and blessings also!

During the winter we enjoyed Netflix. The weather did a number on Jenna's Lupus and afternoon rest times became mandatory. Sunny and Jenna bonded over Gilmore Girls and yes they made it through the whole series. Many tears were shed during the finale and we were concerned about what we would do without Lorelai and Rory. Elliott spent his time in his "office" watching videos about playing video games and mimicking their crying. Jim worked.

The torrential rains held us hostage for most of the spring and we know how much water our basement can hold. Maybe an indoor swimming pool is on our future. In April Sunny and Jenna went on a mission trip to Atlanta. We had hoped to go to Haiti but doctors banned us from leaving the country. It was AMAZING! It was like we were normal even though Jenna was covered in sun protection and Sunny's blood sugar dropped  low on a walking day. We were actually prepared..snacks were packed. The emotional part of our trip hit us the hardest. The smiles and the gratitude shown through the eyes of those in need broke us and blessed us. We are that needy family. We can't count how many meals have been prepared or how many times our kids were dropped off to be cared for so we could stay with a child or Jenna in the hospital. We are that family who can offer smiles and gratitude through their eyes. We were blessed to feel it from the other side. And it was AMAZING!

Then summer was normal. Well...normal for us. There were moments when we looked like that Dr. Phil family. You know, the one with the out of control teen...parents have lost control. We all think that...But in reality mom was gone for a week and that teen could not deal. Jim and Jenna took a mandatory weekend with friends. This is how we survive a Type 1 Diabetic teen and an Aspergers teen. This year our trip was cut short. Ending with a sick kid. But we can break camp in twenty minutes AND  the infection was called caught before the blood sugar spiked AND no hospital stay! Our summer ended with our annual  Acts 2:42 camping trip. Although we moved away 10 years ago it's always like it's been only days. It was a weekend of great fellowship, food, and prayer. And we didn't even have to set a new record to break camp!

Over the summer we made the decision to stop homeschooling. (Jenna needed a job. Medical bills hadn't paid themselves and she was hitting remission.)  We have been blessed with the special needs program at the schools both kids had an IEP set up. We've had to tweak them a bit but we'd say this semester was a success. Grades are excellent and we only had to change one class due to melt downs. Sunny made the show choir and Elliott begged to play football. We hadn't let him play since his Ehlers-Danlos diagnosis. Football seemed a little too risky. But he LOVES football. So we saw a specialist, we expected them to say, FOOTBALL, ARE YOU CRAZY!? But instead said if his EKG showed no heart issues and he wants to, let him. Yes, he might get hurt, but will it improve the quality of his life? Thanks doctor! So we said yes to football. When he came off the field that smile on his face made it worth the risk. 

As fall comes to an end we realize we've been stretched, challenged, and blessed. It's been a year since we've moved and as there are blessings there are challenges we didn't consider. Making friends and finding a support system is hard. We have found a great church but have struggled to get connected. Sunny enjoys the youth group and is beginning to connect with friends. We let her go on the youth mission trip without us, 8 hours away. Elliott has decided he doesn't need friends just his therapist. We're working on that.  Moving close to family has put us in a place to help Grandpa. Jim has weekly grocery trips with him and although it's hard to watch his mind and body go it's the gratitude in the eyes that make it worth the pain. 
We had our hearts broken through another failed attempt to adopt through foster care and as the pain is still fresh we don't see the blessings yet. Sunny's A1c is below double digits, not in the good range yet, but it's progress. Elliott is Elliott and we've seen a lot more smiles. Jenna's been off low dose chemotherapy for 6 months now and she's worksite part time substituting in the cafeteria. Jim works A LOT, more then we'd like. Yeah, medical bills don't pay themselves, and we're pretty sure no one's getting cured in the next year. 

So maybe this year we've been stretched a little more than we like but we're counting our blessings more often. In the coming year we hope you remember to count the blessings. It's the blessings that really count anyways!

Jim, Jenna, Sunny, and Elliott