Ok, so I had a lot of trials in 2008.Â Now I'd like to talk about all the good things that happened in 2008.
First of all, at the beginning of 2008 we were in the middle of building a new home...our dream home.Â Not that the home is everything we've dreamed about, but it's a wonderful home that meets all our needs, and some of our wants!Â With my sprained knee, and being tired from my pregnancy, we all learned to pitch in where needed, and to share the work.Â The kids who were able helped to paint, pack, clean, and move since I could do little of any of it.
When we introduced our new line of products, the Eco diapers and trainers, we met with great success - God richly blessed that move throughout the summer, helping us to defray many of the costs associated with our dental problems and other things.
God also blessed us with new seamstresses - and I didn't have to place one ad, as they all came to me through word of mouth.Â This enabled us to expand without increasing my workload (much).Â Also, Kenda really stepped up and went from sewing for us, to shipping for us, to managing all the shipping and some of the production as well!
We had a wonderful time at our church campout, and getting out trailer there was looking impossible (our 12 passenger van broke down over a year ago and we just haven't had the money to replace the engine), when a co-worker of Daryl's offered to loan us his truck to tow it to camp and back!Â What an unexpected blessing that was!Â I thoroughly enjoyed the break from reality that the church campout brings!
Through my bed rest, I learned to delegate more and more, and the children learned to be more self-reliant as well as more helpful with running things and helping the little ones.Â This was great preparation forÂ when I stayed at the hospital with Esther, only we didn't know it at the time!
Esther's first hospital stay was a time of blessings in many ways.Â Our friends rallied around us with meals, child care, gifts, visits, and above all, prayer.Â We could not have survived all this as well as we did without such a wonderful network of support.
Two years ago, my friend, Renee, encouraged me to start a blog, so I started one.Â I wasn't very good at blogging in general, often not posting for weeks (especially while we were building the house).Â But because I already had the blog, it was such a blessing to be able to use my blog to update everyone without making dozens of phone calls.Â Especially since I wasn't allowed to use my cell phone in the special nursery or the ICU at Childrens.Â But what started out as a way to keep everyone updated on Esther's progress and get prayer request out there, turned out to be a wonderful outlet for me as well.Â I can not tell you how much it helped me to process all that I was going through when I was able to blog about it!Â Â I can also tell that my blog has also been used by God to bless others, and for that I am also thankful - that God used me for His purposes!
The 5 weeks at home with Esther in November was a great time of being there with my family, learning to manage feeding Esther with a feeding tube and managing her medications.Â This was a huge part of Esther being able to come home just 4 days after having her open heart surgery.Â We enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving together.Â I also got to take a few rides down to Seattle for Esther's check-ups, taking one child each time and enjoying a day with that child - games of alphabet and eating out at Dick's Drive-In!
Spending December in Seattle was a time for our family to learn what's important (being together as much as possible), and how to be flexible (spending Christmas away from home makes keeping traditions difficult at best) and I know in the future we will really appreciate being home for Christmas!
Christmas at the Ronald McDonald House was full of new things - lots of wonderful gifts, Santa's visit, shopping in Seattle, meeting kids with cancer (for some this might have been their last Christmas) and kids with huge medical struggles.Â We also learnedÂ that having a child with Down Syndrome and a heart defect seemed like a piece of cake compared to some of the heart wrenching things we were seeing famillies dealing with there.
My time in Seattle was also one of building relationships.Â With my brother, Mark, and my other brother, Tom.Â With my friends who have gone before and spend time with their children in the hospital.Â With people I didn't know before this time, but now I count in my circle of friends.Â With those I have never met, but through our mutual experiences have now connected through the miracle of the internet.Â With my mother as she relived her times at Children's over 50 years ago caring for my brother and sister who both spent time there. With my husband, Daryl, who grew so much through all that we were going through (I'm so thankful that this experience brought us closer together, as things like this can go either way).Â And with my daughter, Jessica, who really came through for us in all of this.
Jessica...this has been a year for her as well.Â Behind what you have read here is a dear daughter who has gone the extra mile.Â She has stepped up the plate to fill the gap that I left behind.Â Everyone who hears how many children we have always asks "how do you do it"...well as tough as it is for me to do all that I do, imagine trying to fill those shoes when you are only 18...and you are so concerned for your baby sister on top of it all.Â It wasn't easy, and she learned a lot through this, and boy is she going to be a great mother someday!Â I don't know how we could have made it through all of this if she hadn't been there to keep things together so much of the time.Â I'm so thankful to God that He blessed her with the abilities she has and that He created in her a spirit of willingness.Â Thank you Jessica!
Preparing your heart to turn over you baby to open heart surgery also blessed me with a closeness to God that I have not felt in years.God is truly close to the broken-hearted.Â During that time God surprised me with encounters with two strangers - one who told me that God was going to bless us double-fold for all that we have gone through, and another who showed up just as we were going to give Esther to the nurse who would take her into the operating room who came along side me, put her hand on my shoulder, and told me that she had been praying for Esther for over 2 months already and that Jesus would take care of her.Â God sure knows how to carry us.Â He cares for us in ways we could never imagine possible!
And lastly, even though this happened after the New Year, it was in the works before this.Â I trained a new seamstress this fall, Laura, and she's done so well, especially since I just finished training her the week before I had Esther!Â But she's been more than a seamstress - she's been such a great source of encouragement - little gifts, beautiful cards, wonderful words to lift me to Jesus.Â Visits at the hospital, and encouragement through comments on my blog too.Â But to top it all off, she called on Tuesday and said she'd like to drop off a gift for me (I couldn't imagine what it would be as she's already given us so much), but I was home so I said come on over, even though our driveway is a mess and you'll have to walk in!Â So she arrives with a beautifully wrapped, suspiciously heavy gift for me.Â I open it, and all I could do was cry.Â If you will look back to the middle of November, I commented that many people have told me I should write a book in my spare time "what a hoot" I said.Â Well, there in that box was my blog in print!Â God had put it on her heart when she read that post, and she print and bound my blog starting the day after Esther was born, and all the way to the post I had posted the evening before!Â It took 3 volumes!Â And all three volumes have the most beautiful covers - see for yourself:
I can not describe how it felt to see my own words in print like that.Â I just knew that this was straight from God and that Laura was the perfect person to do this for Him and me (can you tell the Laura is a scrap book lady?)
So there, Aunt Marilyn and others who encouraged me to write a book or to get my blog put into book form, Laura has accomplished for me what I could not have possibly done on my own!Â Thanks Laura!
2008 was a year of trials, to be sure.Â But it was also a year of expanded horizons, unforgettable moments,Â and unbelievable blessings straight from the hand of God.Â Thanks for sharing this time with me!