2022 was one for the books… while having many “highs,” we also MANY “lows.” At the beginning of each year, I pray over my word for the year, and this year the Lord led me repeatedly to a phrase- “stand firm.” I should have known then how foreboding it may be, but it was somehow comforting to know that in the middle of whatever trials and troubles and chaos would ensue, that the one who made me already knew and equipped me for what was coming at us this year.
As I’m beginning to write this, I’m sipping coffee this morning out of my Big Bend State Park mug and I’m reminded how exciting the end of last year was. We drove a full day out to West Texas to visit Big Bend National Park (and State Park). That week was full of adventure, exploring, excitement and wildlife. But the last day or two of our adventures, we started to not feel so great. We thought we were just fatigued from all the hiking and extreme desert heat and then subsequent cold and sleeping (roughly… with a baby in bed with us) in our camper bed. But it ended up being more than that- it was a week or two of aches, fatigue and respiratory symptoms. So it was a rough start going into the year… and unfortunately, it didn’t slow down much after that. I’m going to try to keep the “lows” short so that we can focus on the brighter moments of 2022, but here they are:
- After several ear infections towards the end of last year (including on her birthday), Eliza got a double ear infection… and then another… but that time the first round of antibiotics didn’t clear it… and then we switched to different round of antibiotics… and that didn’t kick it. Then we went to the Children’s Hospital for a heavy-duty antibiotic shot and THAT didn’t kick it. So we had to go back for a second round… and a third. After that, we made the decision to meet with an ENT and get tubes put in her little ears. It was a hard decision (and I tried desperately to avoid it- we tried chiropractic care to see if some adjustments might help, I went dairy and gluten free for a while to see if that might help… but all to no avail). When we finally went in for her surgery, it was scary, but even then, only a few weeks after her last ear infection had finally cleared, the surgeon said there was already fluid building up again. I’m so glad we did it though, because I hadn’t realized how “not-herself” she had been until she was finally pain-free again! Ways we saw God’s sustaining hand through this- good doctors, a sweet friend who gave us her son’s appointment time, which allowed us to get her tubes an entire month sooner, and so many friends who came alongside us and encouraged us and prayed for us throughout the whole ordeal.
- Getting put in FB jail repeatedly over ridiculous things *like posting my long-haired boy clearly in his swimsuit* (partial nudity) or *him eating a cupcake at a birthday party* (like, what???)- stuff that I couldn’t contest or argue. It shouldn’t have made me so angry, but it felt so unjust and that there was no way to rectify the situation or argue my innocence was incredibly frustrating to me. Those were the times that they at least told me why I was unable to post or like/comment for 14 days. There was another time that I just straight up was blocked and I had NO clue why. My FB is purely pictures I post of my kids and family that I post for my own record and for family and friends that live far away. It’s not overly ANYTHING else that should have gotten me put repeatedly in FB jail. And the worst part is that your “sentence” gets longer with each “offense,” which when they’re bogus like mine were (or completely unexplained at best) is maddening at best and infuriating at worst. The blessing in this- forced time away from social media.
- Our fridge went out and we weren’t able to get a technician out for three days (so it was a mad scramble to try to save our food)
- We had fleas… TWICE.
- Stomach bugs, stomach bugs and more stomach bugs in addition to other various sicknesses throughout the year.
- Our outside freezer went out in the middle of the summer (oh, and we discovered it the day before we were leaving for Minnesota) and it was a TOTAL loss. I’m talking our high-quality grass-fed beef, tons of meat, frozen fruit and vegetables, meals I had prepared and frozen, bags and blocks of cheese… EVERYTHING (most of which I bought on sale and before everything tripled in price). I cried. It felt like everything that we had diligently stored was stripped away. Thankfully Trent cleaned it all out and threw everything away so that I could finish packing and we could still get on the road as planned.
- We got rear-ended in the Wal Mart parking lot by a teenager. He took full responsibility then, so we didn’t anticipate any issues, but then he decided that his damage wasn’t worth repairing so he didn’t file it with his insurance, so when we filed it, he denied responsibility and something that should have been a quick fix ended up taking almost three months and turned into quite the drama with us having to hunt down a witness, trying to get the security footage from Wal Mart (they’ll only release it to the police), we went to the police… their hands were tied. They couldn’t do much without an accident report, but even if we would’ve called the police, they would have only filed an incident report. We had the license plate of a witness but later learned that insurance companies are not allowed to legally look up the owner… and neither were we. We ended up posting a picture of the witness’ car and going to our Facebook community page asking if anyone knew the owner to this car and thankfully there was a lady who directed us to the witness and we were FINALLY able to get it resolved.
- We had to do some pretty significant car repairs ($$$)
- Both boys needed significant dental work ($$$)
- A coyote got half of our flock of chickens and ALL of our neighbor’s chickens. It was scary. It was unsettling. It was devastating to our neighbors (and us, but at least some of our chickens survived). The kids had gone outside together in the morning because we were heading to BSF. Not 3 minutes down the road, Trent called to tell me of the carnage that he found. As we were talking on the phone, he looked over the neighbor’s fence and saw the coyote still there with one of our chickens in his mouth. As he tried to grab the bb gun and call the neighbors, the coyote got away. But as we were processing everything later, we realized that the coyote had been out (most likely in our yard) AS our children went out and they played for a few minutes in our alley way while the coyote was maybe 30 feet away. So, despite the sadness over losing our chickens, we saw God’s protection over our children!
- Jedidiah ended up fracturing his arm. This is our first break. He fell off the playground during leader’s meeting at BSF. We ended up taking him to the ER where they took an x-ray of his elbow (which is where his presenting pain was) and it came back clean. But as we were leaving, he says to me, “it’s weird though, mom, I can’t lift it.” (from his shoulder) My mom instincts told me that there was something more going on, but we let it go a few days. Then we were at soccer practice and all the other moms were like… no that’s not normal, his arm is just dangling there… (which is what I had been saying, but not being a medical professional, I just trusted the system). Anyways, we saw God work in this situation because one of the other soccer moms is a radiologist and she literally texted her friend who is an orthopedic surgeon and asked her if she could get him in to be seen. She set up an appointment for the next morning and sure enough, his right arm was fractured just below the shoulder. I am SO thankful that she set us up because the first ER doc we saw said that if his pain doesn’t subside in 4-6 weeks that we should come back for a second x-ray. Can you imagine the poor boy in pain for that long because they made a mistake?!? Ugh! I am so grateful that the Lord provided for us in that way and that Jedidiah was able to get the help he needed!
- Ridiculous dramas to get through to house closings… like stuff you wouldn’t even believe. Stuff you literally just have to shake your head and laugh at because otherwise it would make you go mad.
- A pretty serious encounter with fire ants. Eliza-0, ants- 27.
- Missing the birth of a friend’s baby. It is really a gift to be invited into such an intimate space and my dream job is birth photography… which of course I have no experience with. This sweet friend was going to let me do photos for her (but I’m thankful she had another photographer there!!!) but somehow Eliza turned off all of my imessages and I missed the whole thing. I was SO disappointed! But things always happen for a reason and it happened so fast, I may not have made it anyways!
- Levi had an array of crazy things happen to him. His night leg cramps got really bad this year. Like 3-4 nights a week he would wake up in pain, crying and asking us to rub his legs for hours during the middle of the night. We tried 10 weeks of chiropractic care in the hopes that maybe something was just out of alignment, we tried creams, magnesium, homeopathic medicine, supplementing different vitamins in his diet… all sorts of things and we still haven’t really figured out what will help it. But thankfully, they have lessened in frequency a bit and we are *kind of* sleeping again. He also had a fever and broke out in a weird, whole-body rash at one point (not related at all to the leg pains). We took him in and the doctor said it was just an immune response (there was a big, long name associated with it), but it took a good week or so to heal. And then he got his first black eye… falling into the corner of a table. OUCH.
- As many of you know, the real estate market took a hard swing from one extreme to the other. It went from a hundred people bidding on a single property to not a single showing in weeks. It went from people paying 50,000 cash over asking price to nobody even willing to pay the asking price. To say that our family business was affected would be an understatement. Everything that we thought we had lined up began to fall through. Our investors stopped flipping. People decided now was not a good time to move. People couldn’t AFFORD to move. At the same time, inflation reared its ugly head and we had some unexpected expenses and all of a sudden, we found ourselves in a tight spot. Although he’s still doing real estate, Trent started picking up odd jobs- he started quoting again for spray foam, but that wasn’t consistent enough, so he applied for a subbing job within our local district. It should have been a quick hire. He had fingerprints on file already and finished up the necessary trainings relatively quickly… and yet we waited… and waited… and waited. While we thought he’d be working, we all of a sudden were scrambling even more because no money was coming in. And we continued to wait. FINALLY, over a month later, he was official. In the meantime, he’d been applying for all sorts of jobs and the week he was finally cleared to start subbing, he was officially hired at Angi’s to sell advertising for them. So he basically subbed for one week and then started this other job. Was it SUPER frustrating?!? YES!!! But are we super thankful?!? YES!!! This job is far superior to what we would have had subbing. He really likes it, he works in an encouraging environment, he works from home, he gets to eat lunch with us every day and pop in for both morning and afternoon breaks, the money is good and there is room from growth, and he has seen great success so far! He was even named “Rookie of the Month” his first month and tied with another lady for the most sales EVER out of the “bullpen.” Proud wifey here! But also, in the midst of a lot of financial uncertainty, we saw the Lord provide in such incredible ways. He provided relief from my in-laws, he provided groceries from a neighbor, meat for our freezer from a friend who needed to clear out space for some deer, grocery gift cards, a monetary gift from a friend, waived fees for conferences and retreats, leftovers sent home, a random woman at the store paying for our groceries… He has literally provided for our every need and built our faith through it all.
- Oh, and even though this wouldn’t qualify as a BAD thing, it certainly wasn’t an EASY thing- Eliza decided at 20 months to potty train herself, so in the midst of everything starting back up in the fall, we potty trained. PSA- a car potty is a LIFE SAVER!!! Totally worth the extra few bucks we spent to not have to pull over and unbuckle all 3 kids to go into a *hopefully clean* gas station potty. That being said, I think we’ve literally pulled over everywhere between our home and New Braunfels like 100 times. Potty training is EXHAUSTING!!! But reaping the rewards now is totally worth it! Thanks for being ready even when I wasn’t, baby girl!
That probably seems like an extensive list, but I’m sure there was even more than that. It seemed like one hit after another, after another… all year long. “Stand firm,” He said. Praise God for that encouragement!
But then there were the great things! Some of our highlights were:
- Hosting my sister and her family for Spring Break! We had such a nice time together, the weather was perfect and the kids had so much fun together!
- Camping at Neal’s Resort out on the Frio River to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
- Spring and Fall soccer with my long-time friend, coach Abby (even though the fall season got cut short due to Jedi’s fractured arm)
- Hosting my mom in June when she came down so that she, Eliza and I could be extras in the Chosen’s “Feeding of the 5,000.” It had originally been scheduled for March (which in Texas would have been far superior) but ended up being more like the feeding of the FRIED thousand in the intense summer heat. If you haven’t checked out this series, it is free to stream. They have their own app- just search for “The Chosen.” Come and see!!! (I think we’ll be in episode 8 of season 3, which should be coming out soon! You have a 3 in 5,000 chance of seeing us.)
- Being there for the birth of my best friend’s baby! What a gift that was! Welcome baby Eden!
- Our annual trip to Minnesota. Since we have started driving (flights and rental cars are WAAAAAY too expensive), we’ve made really fun trips of it. We’ve been able to visit friends along the way and this time was no exception! We got to go to Catherine’s baby shower on the way up, then visit Zack and Katie- good friends from China. We had a great two weeks up there- we went to outdoor concerts, had epic water gun fights, visited lots of friends (Katie, Becky, Brittany, Cassie, Mando), got to be at my nephew’s first birthday party (and plan it), went to my sister’s family cabin, spent a week at Breezy Point with my family, had bonfires, went to movies, went to parks, hiked, and spent lots of quality time with family!
- A quick day-visit to my favorite Minnesota town, Duluth. Lake Superior is my happy place!
- We got to go to SO many fun places using our South Central Texas Pogo Pass (shamelessly plugging this and putting my affiliate link here). We had purchased these on Groupon on the recommendation of another good friend, and we had ZERO regrets! We got to go to the San Antonio Zoo, the Witte Museum, Rush Fun Park, Pump it Up, Pioneer Farms, Mt, Playmore, mini golfing, laser tagging, Austin Parks and Pizza, the Cameron Park zoo, the Thinkery, the San Antonio Aquarium, Wonder World Park, and the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum. We have been long-time advocates of giving our children experiences, not things, and this is the culmination of that! We got to go on so many different adventures and try many new things. We loved it! We’re thankful that my parents bought us another pass for this coming year!
- Seeing many out-of-town friends when they came to visit- Michelle, and then Shelly and baby Dottie, my sweet friends from BSF; Katie, my college roommate; Amber and Stevie, good friends from our old church; my boo, Traci Sue- MN friend and fellow teacher; and AJ, one of our sweet friends from China.
- Some other fun things we did were going to the Randolph Air Force Base Air show, the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, the Pearl Market, the San Antonio Museum of Art (where we saw the Tony Parker “Heroes and Villains” exhibit), the Silos at Magnolia Market, the horse races at Retama Park, the Alamo, the Riverwalk, snow-fest, and the Snake Farm. We also attempted roller skating at a rink for the first time!
- Getting “snowed in” while visiting my best friend just north of Dallas in McKinney. Thankfully Trent had the boys and Eliza and I enjoyed the short bout of snow with my bestie! This wasn’t Eliza’s first snow, but since the first snow she experienced was when she was like 2 months old, I don’t think she remembered it so much.
- Attending many nights of “Hymns and Hops” at local breweries. I just love hymns!
- Getting to see my Wisconsin cousin Sarah when she came to Austin. She and her brother are my closest-in-age cousins. It was so fun to see her and meet up!
- I got to attend a women’s brunch at our old church. It was called Dazzle and it was a nice morning with some good friends! We each got a framed Bible verse and of course, mine went along with the theme of hardships and standing firm against the evil one. It comes from 2 Thessalonians 3:3 and it says, “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and keep you safe from the Evil One.” I am very thankful for the reminders throughout the year to be strong and rely on the Lord for strength and endurance!
- Animal encounters of many kinds- we got to pet a lemur and an albino boa constrictor at the Snake Farm, several farm animals at our local ag-barn and at our friend’s farm, trying to feed deer at Nana and Popo’s house, farm field trips, going to petting zoos, riding horses and then the kids got to pet a hedgehog, a Flemish Giant and an armadillo at a friend’s birthday party along with several different kinds of snakes.
- We got to celebrate YHWH’s feast days! I think that this was our first year actually doing all seven (plus Hanukkah, which isn’t one of the feast days, but is still very significant both historically and in future prophecy). Each year we grow a little more in our understanding of each of them and have been so blessed by their significance to us as believers in Jesus the Messiah!
- Kayaking, lots of hiking and outdoor exploration! We always get a Texas State Parks pass and enjoy exploring what our state has to offer! We’ve also ventured into some geocaching and the boys have really enjoyed that.
- My best friend finally got her green card after THREE years of patient endurance! We prayed VERY hard over this and Praise God for answered prayers! Also so glad that we could be together when she finally received it in the mail!
- I got to attend a local women’s conference called the “You Are” conference. It was a sweet weekend with some good friends and a nice break from the daily grind!
- Being able to spend this Thanksgiving with family!!! And then being able to spend a beautiful “Friendsgiving” with our best friends!
- My father-in-law is retiring after 45 years of service with the San Antonio State Hospital. They threw him quite the retirement party and we are so excited for him to be able to slow down and enjoy life!
- We threw three pretty epic birthday parties for our three kiddos- a farm party for Levi, Pokemon for Jedi and a tea party for Eliza!
- Tons of swimming, tubing, splash pads, river time and fun with friends in the heat of the summer! We also took a trip to Corpus Christi and visited our favorite spot just past there- Padre Island National Seashore.
Other notable things that happened in 2022
- Jedi lost 6 teeth this year! We enjoyed his adorable, completely vacant front 4 teeth for a few months before his adult teeth started growing in.
- We switched churches (after almost 10 years) and are now attending Fellowship Bible Church. The kids attended their VBS this summer and really enjoyed it and we have several close friends who had started going there. I did a book study with some of the ladies this summer and then the kids started attending AWANA there. Since they were already doing AWANA on Wednesday night, Trent and I joined an evening Bible Study called Interface. We’ve really enjoyed it so far and I also particularly enjoyed their women’s retreat back in October!
- Our favorite local coffee place, Emily’s, shut its doors for good this December. We have SO many memories there over the years and it is the end of an era for our family. We are so thankful for all of the memories that we were able to make there! So many daily walks ended at their playground and we became good friends with the owners. Wishing them luck in their next endeavor!
- Trent was an official YMCA sponsor this year. We are definitely proud to be able to sponsor such a great community outreach!
- I actually ended up back in the classroom for about 6 weeks teaching Spanish while a teacher at New Braunfels Christian Academy was out for maternity leave. While I really enjoyed the kiddos, it reminded me that my current call in life is to be home, teaching and ministering to my OWN kiddos.
- We joined a nature-focused homeschool group called Wild + Free. We love the weekly outings and have been able to make some new friends!
- I am operating in a different role at BSF this year- I am now the Assistant Children’s Supervisor for the School Program there. Jedi is in the school program, while the other two are still in the preschool program. We’re loving this year’s study of “The Divided Kingdom.”
- We said “goodbye” to our favorite backyard tree. After last year’s freeze, it never fully recovered and we finally made the decision to just cut it down.
Whew! That was a LOT! But what a year it has been. We’ve seen God’s faithfulness through it all and we are so grateful for everything he has given us! Praying for a better year ahead! Happy 2023!