2013 – Mountains and Valleys

It is the first day of 2014 and 2013 is a closed book in which no changes can be made.  In thinking about this past year the idea of mountains and valleys comes to mind.

We saw wonderful things happen and we had some great trials to our faith as well. It started out well; we finished our itineration much earlier than we had thought possible and were amazed at how God brought in our cash budget and our monthly support. It was, in fact, the easiest itineration we have had thus far in relation to raising funds.

We began to slide down the mountain at an alarming rate of speed in May just three days before we were to board the plane to return to Tanzania.  Joyce had scheduled a last minute mammogram since it had been right at a year since her last one.  What should have been a simple routine procedure quickly escalated to a rapid series of tests that ended in a call from the Doctor’s office telling us that Joyce had breast cancer.

We landed soundly in the valley wondering what had happened and with our heads spinning from the fast descent from the top of the mountain.  Life seems to happen that way.  Getting to the top of the mountain can be a slow tedious affair and the slide to the valley can catch you totally unawares and happen very quickly.

The rest of 2013 revolved around Doctor’s visits, surgeries, chemotherapy treatments, sickness and spiritual battles. Joyce had a double mastectomy in June and began chemotherapy in July.  She finished her chemo in November and is getting her strength back and working through the final stages of shedding the various effects of the chemo treatments.  At this point, she is cancer free so does not need any further treatments or medicines.  She will need to have lab work done every three months for the next two years and every six months until her fifth year.

Spiritually, our family has worked through fear and doubt at various times although our faith has stayed strong for the most part.  We have continuously felt God’s presence with us and have felt His peace.  We have grown closer as a family and worked as a team. Tim, Jenn and Sarah proved to be excellent caregivers as Joyce went through chemotherapy and dealt with it’s effect on her body.  We are stronger individually and as a family unit.

We have had challenges and victories in our extended families.  We have been able to spend time with many of them and strengthened our bond with them.  Sadly, we have lost one to death and others through broken relationships.  Some are ill and we are concerned about them as we leave for our next four year term towards the end of this month.

We have visited many churches around the country and were able to get re-acquainted with old friends and make new friends who will partner with us in our work in Tanzania.

We have taken advantage of the many conveniences that are afforded to us here in America and have enjoyed them.

2013 has come and gone and we cannot make any changes.  We have made mistakes and we have, we hope, been a blessing to some people.  The one constant through the year has been our belief in the fact that God has never left us or forsaken us and that he loves us unconditionally. He has remained faithful to us.

This gives us hope and courage for the year 2014.  We know that whether we are on the mountain, in the valley or somewhere in between, God will always be with us and he will never fail us.

Have a blessed New Year.

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