This wasn’t the New Year’s Eve I had planned.
When I thought about the start of another year, and the days leading up to it, a visit to our family from The Most Dreadful Stomach Flu Ever just wasn’t on my agenda.
We had things to do. Projects to accomplish. My husband had specifically taken vacation days during this time with the hopes to tackle them.
But at 6:15 a.m. the day after Christmas, my alarm clock jolting me awake was a sudden urge to run to the bathroom and stay there for quite some time. Oh, the sickness.
On top of the nausea and stomach cramps, a strange, pressing, hot pain started creeping into my chest, rising under my ribs, filling the space in a consuming way. The pain grew so bad that by the afternoon, I couldn’t take it any longer. I couldn’t escape it no matter how I tried. It got harder to breathe. Something seemed really wrong. I told David we need to go to the hospital. I felt like I was going out of my mind from the pain.
At the ER, the medical team found my heart was beating far too quickly, and I was dehydrated. After some IV fluids, along with nausea and pain meds, my heart rate started to come down and the worst was over.
I spent the next couple days recovering in bed, sapped of energy and my intestines still in torment, though the meds kept everything in check. By Friday though, the bug had spread to my youngest daughter and then David, who also got a fever and back pain to go with it. This was not your average stomach flu. This was the Grand-daddy of All Stomach Flus. (It also dropped in on many other Scally family members, making love and joy not the only things we shared on Christmas.)
I have to admit, besides feeling sick and in pain, I was frustrated as the days dragged on, and disappointed–and truthfully, a little bit angry–when we had to cancel our annual New Year’s Eve plans. This was not how this week was supposed to go.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. I mean, this wasn’t how this year was supposed to go. As was the case for many people I know (some with far more significant reasons), for us, 2016 left a lot to be desired. I was ready to ring in 2017, with its unmarred calendar and a starry-eyed optimism that this was going to be The Year that we take on our list of goals with gusto and get things done. This year couldn’t possibly be as lousy as the last.
Yet here we are, ringing it in with Gatorade and chicken soup, the four of us quarantined by ourselves within these four walls.
Wah. Wah. Wah.
Then, that still, small voice whispers powerfully in my head, “When are you going to realize that your plans may not be MY plans.”
This seems to be the lesson of my life that I struggle so desperately to grasp.
I mean, let’s take a look at my list of what I hope to accomplish in 2017. It tends to be full of temporary things. Organize the office. Finish the basement. Clean out the garage. Decorate the great room. Pick up more work. Write more. Read more. Travel.
But what if His plan for this year has nothing to do with my well-meaning checklist? What if it is, in 2017, to simply grow closer to Him, however that may be achieved? To be a godlier wife. To be a more Christlike mom. A more humble servant and a more proficient sharer of the Gospel.
Why is it so easy to get so short-sighted?
(I’m blaming the nausea. Kidding! Sort of.)
A few days ago, a post on Facebook caught my eye, about how to remember the blessings of the new year by writing down something you enjoyed or were grateful for on a slip of paper and put it in a jar at the end of each day. And then next New Year’s Eve, open the jar and be overcome by the joys experienced.
It’s a great idea I realized I don’t need to wait till tomorrow to start. As I look back on 2016, though kind of blah at first glance, it’s actually filled with ways My Lord met us in the darkness, took care of our needs, and continued leading us by His light.
With nearly nine months of health challenges for myself, we have never worried about paying one single medical bill. And that’s saying something, considering we lost nearly all my income due to not being able to work during those struggles, and MRIs, CT scans, ER visits, blood tests, and specialists aren’t cheap.
Though currently dirty, unorganized, and unfinished, we live in our dream home.
Though we get on each other’s nerves at times, I am married to my dream man.
And though they have added more gray to my head than I would’ve ever imagined I would have at 33, I am privileged to parent the daughters of my dreams.
Still, there’s more:
We have been honored to find new ways to serve at our church.
We are surrounded by family and friends, who have held us together with prayers and sustained us with support.
And one of the most notable as 2016 closes out for sure: since August, for whatever reason, I have not woke with daily, debilitating headaches.
I take that “whatever” back. He is the reason.
Suddenly, 2016 is not seeming so bad. Instead, I am feeling so blessed.
He has met our every need. And He knew exactly what we needed and when we needed it to draw us closer to Him. I can say this with confidence even if my health hadn’t improved or if my year had been marked by even harder, more painful circumstances, because I know from His Word (and He has proven it repeatedly) that He is for me.
Bring on 2017. Count down the clocks and drop that ball. As long as my main goal this year is to pursue Him, nothing can go wrong.
And that’s truly something to celebrate.
“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (Jeremiah 29:10-11 from The Message)