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As I lay my head on my pillow Christmas night, I thought of the wonderful Christmas Day we had just had.  2012 brought us a white Christmas, which we hadn’t had in a few years.  It was so lovely looking out at the snow covered yard and watching the fluttery snow flakes falling off and on throughout the day.  We watched “Elf” for the final time this season and laughed just as hard as ever at the funny antics in this movie.  We ended the evening reading a narrative story of the birth of Jesus, written in the first person, that really brought details out that are easy to skim over: how difficult the journey would have actually been for Mary, just days from giving birth, the experience of giving birth as a young girl in a cave, surrounded by animals, your mother and sisters far away, no one there with experience to assist in the birth of your first born.  It was poignant, touching, emotional and such a blessing to be reminded once again of the greatest gift of all, the gift of Jesus our Savior sent down to earth as a baby child.  IMAG2945-2-1

The comfort of knowing His love & grace.  The Holy Spirit sent to us in His stead.   The assurance of eternity spent with our Heavenly Father.

These are the gifts that matter most.  And as I look back at the past year, I rest in the comfort of knowing these gifts personally.  2012 was not the easiest of years.  Yet His gifts were many.  His gifts carried me through. carried my children through.  I wish I could look back at 2012 and ignore the pain, yet without the pain, there would not have been the gifts.

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2012 was the first full year that both of my precious girls battled chronic illness: Dysautonomia in the form of POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycarda Syndrome).  Megan, who became sick at 5, was not diagnosed until 9 and spent many years in bed or using a wheel chair, had her best year ever.  2012 is the year she said to me, “mama, I didn’t remember what it felt like to NOT feel sick until now.” 2012 is also the year my sweet 15 year old ballerina girl, Katie, spent pretty much the entire year in bed or on the couch.  The year she has felt the full effects of this illness, POTS.

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I never knew that as a mother, my life would be defined in many ways, by chronic illness.  When my twin daughters were born 8 weeks early, tiny, but healthy, I thought we had pulled the “lucky ticket.”  We work hard to embrace the new normal with strength, optimism and lots of flexibility.  But mostly, we are drawn to Him.  Drawn to Him in ways we never imagined.  Given the gift of His strength in ways we never imagined.  Katie, Megan & I all discuss the many ways God has used us and grown us in the face of adversity.  We have learned to take each and every day and hold tight to the small blessings: Megan being able to stand while she sings in choir, jumping rope for the first time since she was a little girl, playing Capture the Flag, swimming,running a 3 legged race (and winning).   The small blessings we treasure: Katie being able to get up and go to church after being in bed the entire week, finally get her migraines under control, the trail ride she took that lead to the realization that she loves horse back riding and sweet Katie being able to participate as an adult at the party in the Nutcracker ballet, so she wouldn’t miss her 11th year.  She wasn’t dancing en pointe to “Waltz of the Flowers” or as a “Snowflake,” but the small role she had, meant the world to her…to us.

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Then there are my sweet boys.  They have grown up knowing that life changes on a dime around here.  One minute we are planning a 2 week road trip, the next it is cancelled and yet they have been given the strength at 7 and 9 to just take it with a grain of salt and move forward.  My boys, taking turns with the needs of Katie’s dog, bringing Katie drinks, snacks, her medicine bag…whatever she needs, without giving it a second thought.  They have a strength of character, at such a young age, because this is all they have known…their entire lives.

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No, we are not perfect in dealing with chronic illness, but we do feel blessed to have walked this path with God always by our side or holding us up every step of the way.  So, yes, it was a difficult year, but through His grace we are blessed abundantly and have received treasured gifts we wouldn’t have otherwise known.  Would i choose this path for my girls, my children?  No, I think not.  But I am so grateful, so very grateful that they know the One who gave it all, so that they could know His presence in their lives.  That they know what it means to cling to Him, when there is nothing else.  I feel honored that I have been given the chance to show them how to walk through adversity with my faith and love for God made stronger.  Am I hopeful that 2013 will be a year of better health?  Definitely!  If it isn’t am I confident He will get us through and we will come out stronger?  You bet!  Choose Him when things are rolling along smoothly, but more importantly choose Him when things are most difficult.  I cannot imagine any other way♥

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Click on the link below to read more blogs by the “Review Crew” as we all take a moment to “Look Back.”