2011 will most certainly not be a year I desire to capture in a scrapbook! No… last year will be remembered as a year I endured and survived one crisis after the next. Between financial strains, my daughter’s health issues, my crazy journey to having and healing from emergency spinal cord surgery and our continuing battle with infertility… I could not have made through the year without the love and guidance of my Abba Father! And even when I didn’t understand why I having to fight through so many battles… I found peace in knowing that God has a plan and purpose for me. I clung to the knowledge that in end… all would be okay!

2011 was a long, hard year that started off with a bang. I’m talking about those awful loud booms during a fireworks show that are extremely painful to the ears, so startling and take your eyes off the beauty of the spectacular views above you in the night sky. I never liked those sudden booms… not as a child and certainly not as an adult. I’ve come to realize that those distractions are courtesy of the enemy who wants us to take our eyes and ears off God!

I started the year emersed in coping with Averey’s tenth sinus infection. I discovered I was pregnant shortly after when I saw that coveted pink line on a home pregnancy test. February started with such optimism and excitement, but quickly took a downward turn when I started spotting. This felt all too familiar to me, and I knew deep down that this was the beginning of us suffering the loss of our eighth child. The night the spotting intensified, our daughter, who was only 15 months old and fighting a battle with chronic sinus problems, had just been admitted to Cook’s Childrens Hospital diagnosed with a deadly pharyngeal abscess. Spending the night watching your baby hooked up to IV’s, praying to God that she will be okay and not have to face emergency surgery is bad enough without carrying the emotional burden of a miscarriage. But there I was… praying God was with me and pleading to Jesus to protect the only child I had… knowing in secret I was losing our unborn child. I wrestled with whether I should tell my husband the bad news and worry him more than he was all ready. In those dark hours that I was stuck at Cook’s with nothing but the clothes on my back. I couldn’t see much past the current circumstances, but when we returned home with our ill daughter knowing she was going to make a full recovery… I began to reflect back upon the events that led us to Cook’s ER in the first place.

I remember waking up one day and feeling the sudden urge to get Averey to a specialist. Averey was battling with illness after illness and I was becoming desparate to get her some real help. A little whisper said to take her to an allergist. So the next time we visited Averey’s pediatrician, I demanded a referral. When we met with the allergist, she immediately requested that Averey have some blood drawn for tests and have x-rays taken of her sinuses and throat. It would mean a trip to the big Cook’s in Fort Worth. I started thinking about my schedule and when I could get her there and suddenly another whisper. It was a direct command this time to wait a week to go have those tests. I remember standing at the reception desk, and the scheduling nurse looking at me like I was nuts when I said I wanted to wait until a week from Monday to go. But she complied.

When that specific Monday arrived Averey woke up with fever. Frustrated and concerned, I rushed her to her pediatrician to see what was going on. As I could have guessed… it was another sinus infection and swollen tonsils. She wrote out a script for antibiotics and counseled us to go ahead to Cook’s for the allergist’s tests. We went straight there. Waiting for the tests I began to think about my poor child and how hard it is to watch them be sick so much. What an emotional toll this takes on everyone involved.

By the time we got home… it was 2:30 in the afternoon. I remember it was odd that Scott had come home early that day, and I sat at the dining room table watching him play with Averey wishing she was well. I don’t think I was home an hour when the phone rang. Averey’s allergist was on the line explaining to me that the Cook’s chief radiologist got in touch with her to let her know Averey appeared to have a deadly abscess in her throat. I was blown away as she explained how serious this could be. I was rendered speechless. We were instructed to get our daughter back to Cook’s ER immediately where a team was waiting for us to have a CT scan and possible surgery. We left immediately… not even pausing to grab a coat!

We arrived at Cook’s ER, and it was a packed house. It was a sea of coughing, sick children, and I thought we were in for a long, dreadful wait. But when we checked in, we were informed that they were waiting on us and would call us back soon. Within a half hour, we were back in the queue to have Averey’s scan. After all the hustle and bustle, the doctor’s informed us that yes there was an abscess, but it was so newly formed that they felt like antibiotics and steroids would take care of it without surgery. We were told that this was truly a miracle because most of the time, kids show up in the emergency room struggling to breath and often die before these are found! Nurses commented to us how we were truly lucky.

I never felt like it was luck. It was completely and totally God! He was protecting our little girl! If we had to go through this experience, He made it so that she would not be in grave danger. He made it to where this emergency that could have ended her life, would just be a hiccup in her year. Recalling this experience brings to mind Proverbs 1:33 which says “whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” I listened to His whisper. I obeyed His word. And He delivered on the promise to keep Averey safe! Amen! And even though I was suffering through another miscarriage, I felt truly grateful and couldn’t help but be relieved and thankful.

I don’t know why my daughter was so sick. I don’t know why I had to endure another miscarriage. And in all honesty, the why’s of life just don’t matter! What I do know is God was not responsible for either of those things. What I know is that my God is for me! And knowing that my year would get much, much worse with more trials and things in life that are just not fair… Abba Father showed me through Averey’s medical scare that He is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble just as they sing in Psalm 46:1.

It’s now a year later, and to quickly sum up what I learned in 2011, I’d say it would be to always listen and trust God’s whispers. And second, to get into the word of God. It’s nice to know you’ve always got a safe place to turn when you are going through tough times.