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John & Jennifer: 2014 Edition

Christmas marks the beginning of the end.  After such a season of anticipation and joy, now it’s time to reflect on the past year while preparing for a new year on its way.  Last Christmas, we had just barely met niece Olive, we were waiting to meet nephew Jesse, were on the cusp of letting the world know that niece Ella was on her way, had just visited China, and were praying for a victorious year.  I think if you had told me what this year would hold, I probably would’ve shriveled into a little ball of fear and trembling and hoped to skip 2014’s misadventures.

 

Just as these photos of John & I (another lesson in self-portraiture, btw) are a contrast of darkness and light, of sunshine and shadows, 2014 was a juxtaposition of victory through defeat as we faced obstacles and struggled for hope and longed for resolution when so much seemed crumbling around us.  Sickness, pain, hurting, loss. A parent with cancer.  The high-risk pregnancy of a sister. Friends walking through miscarriage after miscarriage. A broken tailbone while trying to find joy in this new country (ice skating seemed like a fun idea…at the time). A helpful but overwhelming depression diagnosis and then the subsequent journey into anti-depressants and the hope for eventual healing.  An appendix ruptured and the infection wouldn’t go away.

Battle after battle.
Pain after pain.
Struggle after struggle.

Nothing felt victorious.  We felt defeated, crushed, afflicted, burdened, overwhelmed.

The year felt like an utter flop.

We rescued kittens. We went to Maui. We survived a three surgeries. We explored Agassiz’s Tulip Festival. We trekked through the Okanagan. We spent Thanksgiving in Arizona. We celebrated family. We tried to find moments to enjoy, but it felt so hard.

We clung to Christ, grasped at the promises of Scripture, and wished for brighter days.  Gasping for air, we tried to keep our heads up and longed for the day when we could see the tapestry God was weaving from all these scattered threads.

I call to you when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

(Psalm 61:2)

And then, in God’s perfect timing, the sunshine broke through and vibrantly revealed all His beautiful handiwork.   When I was couched with a broken tailbone, God was forcing me to rest in Him and not try to fill my time with superfluous attempts at feeling happy again.   When God gave me a doctor who read between the lines and heard what I didn’t have words to say, I was deep enough in the pit of despair that I was ready to hear those miserable words and rejoice in them: “You are dealing with extreme depression, but anti-depressants will help.”  When I was in the hospital for six weeks, I got to see John love me no matter how miserable I was and no matter how loudly I yelled in the middle of my pain; by the time I was well, God had restored my health and our troubled relationship.

When we set out to take these photos, I had envisioned an entirely different set of images in my mind.  The vision didn’t fully play out the way I wanted it to. The scenario wasn’t quite what I wanted.

But wasn’t that the theme of this whole year?

And guess what? Even though it’s not what I wanted, it’s more perfect than I could’ve ever  imagined.

Wait, WHAT?

Yes.

Even though 2014 wasn’t what I dreamed it would be, even though it was far more defeat than I would’ve wanted, it was more perfect in the end than I ever could’ve imagined or hoped for.

 

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us,
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages.

(Ephesians 3:20, 21)

And so, we celebrate.  We celebrate the victories.  We rejoice through the defeats.  We revel in God’s faithfulness.  We find strength in the triumphs.

  • Fishing – John fished from riverbanks, docks, and boats and brought home enough salmon to spark a new hobby: smoking. In his (very large, in my opinion) smoker, he has crafted tasty treats from salmon, moose, deer, beef. Who knows what 2015 will bring. 😉
  • Photographing – I have loved feeling my creative drive return after two years of a slight rut photographically and we enjoyed working together to create some of the sets for my renewed vision.
  • Dancing – We began ballroom dance class and can now hold our own (when necessary) with waltz, swing, and rumba. We plan on jumping back into class with the new year and look forward to the fun over at Dancing for Dessert.
  • Bonding – Nothing is more bonding than hospitals. When my appendix ruptured on July 15, I never dreamt how challenging and rewarding the next six weeks would be for our relationship. I loved seeing John’s sacrificial, tender care as he nursed me back to health with the help of nurses, doctors, friends, and parents.

 

Thanks, friends, for loving us, caring for us, praying with us, and putting up with us.  Here’s to 2015 in all it’s gory glory and challenging victories.

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