Hello friends & family!
On our Christmas Cards I always include a link to my blog, and I thought it would be good to give you all a little re-cap of what 2017 has held for us.
We entered 2017 at our friend’s house in Detroit – surrounded by a wonderful community that we had come to know in Michigan. We were pursuing moving to Detroit and were excited to see all that He would have in store for the coming year. It’s funny to think back on how different my own plans for this year would have been. There are so many aspects of this year that I never ever thought would happen.
The first week of January, we made the decision to move back to Spokane, Washington. This was a pretty sudden decision in some ways, but many people told us that they weren’t very surprised because we really missed living out west & our community and had been debating for a while whether we should move.
Joe finished up his time at Southfield Christian School (where he had been a full-time sub and soccer coach) and I ended my time at The Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division. In the weeks between deciding to move and actually moving, God provided us both with jobs at The Arc of Spokane – a non-profit that supports adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
At the beginning of February, we crammed everything we could into our two cars and headed west with our pup Spokane, Kristen (sister/friend), & Sydney (friend). They helped us settle into the house that we’ve been renting. We are soooooo thankful that we had this time with them & that they chose to spend 30+ hours in the car just to help us move.
As we settled into Spokane, we were surrounded by friends in our home and joined our previous missional community through Soma Spokane (but with lots of new faces!) We loved our new jobs at The Arc. Spokane quickly felt like home again. But in other ways, our first few months that we were here were the most difficult that we’ve walked through. I was super sick. I could hardly breathe – both my nose was super stuffed & I was coughing non-stop because I could not get any answers about what was really going on with my lungs. (I’d be happy to tell anybody more about that if you’re interested). We also were feeling the weight of what our decision to move really meant. We chose to move away from our families and that was really difficult to process – especially as our church was walking through understanding our stories and our family of origin. I was a huge emotional mess and could hardly function physically. I was just dragging through the days. Honestly, there were lots of good times mixed in and our time in Spokane was really sweet – but I also felt like I had no idea how to navigate life.
A huge part of this year was seeking out medical answers. I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am for my parents, for a number of reasons, but also for fighting for my health and choosing to get me the best care possible. It has completely changed my life & I know that without them I’d probably still be struggling to get through my days right now. At the beginning of May, my mom and I spent a week and a half at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. We first met with a pulmonologist and then were referred to a ton of other specialists and got a lot of tests done. I won’t take up this whole post telling you about how insanely amazing Mayo Clinic is, but I love to tell people about it, so if you want to hear more about Mayo, please don’t hesitate to reach out! Basically at Mayo they told me I don’t just have one thing going on, but that there are a few different things impacting my health. The quick solutions that they gave me that I noticed immediate differences with in May were treating my inflamed airways (both lungs and sinuses). I still do daily breathing treatments, sinus rinses, and take medications to help with this. My surgeon at Mayo Clinic also highly recommended getting the Nuss Procedure to correct my Pectus Excavatum. (Read previous blog for more information about this procedure).
So in July I went back to Mayo Clinic to get surgery. I flew over with Joe and we met my parents, Sydney (such a great friend!), and my brother. My parents’ best friends, Glenn & Tracy Padmos, also surprised us and joined us for the week! It was amazing to have such a great support team there with me. The surgery itself went well and I did well recovering in the hospital. I was in the hospital for I think three days? Then I spent a few more days at the house my parents rented in Rochester before flying home. Except my timeline there is a bit hazy.
As far as recovery goes… I’m not sure what to say about that yet except that it really was terrible. It was by far the most pain I’ve ever experienced (and I’ve had a lot of surgeries). Weeks three & four were the worst for sure, and it didn’t help that I ran out of my good pain meds during that time (thankfully was able to get more after!) The whole recovery was bad and feels like a blur. I’m now four and a half months post-op and the pain is still here but goes up and down through different weeks. Today it happens to be really bad so it’s probably a bad day for me to reflect on recovery, but other days the pain is less noticeable.
During the worst weeks (3 & 4), my friend Sydney from Michigan (yes, the one who helped us move out here & went to my surgery because she’s a great friend!) came out to visit for two weeks. I like to think we had fun exploring Spokane, but truly she was kind of my caregiver and I am SOOOOOO thankful. I’m not sure how we would have made it through those weeks without her help.
Toward the end of her time with us, she drove out to Minnesota with me, Joe, and our friend Stacie for a wedding! We made it a fun trip and stopped at Mt. Rushmore, Badlands National Park, etc. And then… OUR BEST FRIENDS GOT MARRIED THIS YEAR. It was such a wonderful week in August celebrating Taylor & Dede getting married. They were our best friends at Moody and the fact that they got married still makes me so incredibly excited for our life together. (And we recently booked flights to go visit them in Scotland in April, because they moved there!)
I know I’m including a lot of random details about this year – part of it is for me to just look back on, but hopefully you enjoy hearing some random parts of our lives – if anybody is reading this!
Basically these past four & a half months since July have been really difficult for Joe and I as we figure out what it looks like for us to care for one another – especially when I need a ton of care. This has been difficult but ultimately really good as we learn how to function well together as husband & wife. This is another one of those things that I’m not going to expand on right now, but am happy to talk to anybody about!
Also, I’m going to randomly throw out there that in May Joe was able to visit Michigan for his cousin’s wedding and then in October I was able to visit. We’re still figuring out what living across the country looks like, but we know that we want to make Michigan visits a very regular thing! We love concentrated time with our family & friends there. We also had quite a few visitors this year – which we love!! Kristen & Syd helped move us out, plus Syd visited in August. My best friend Allie Vogel visited in March & October! Joe’s mom visited in May and then both parents came in October. My mom came to visit in June. Taylor & Dede (and family) came in May for Graduation, and Tab! Joe’s cousin Rose & her new husband Chris visited in August. We met up with our best friend Kuni in Missoula for a day – he lives in Japan and we didn’t expect to see him so that was amazing!! And then Joe’s best friend Steve visited in November! Just throwing all of those people in this blog because we LOVED spending time with you!
I’m really just rambling at this point to finish up! This year has held a lot of random pieces. My health has improved drastically, our marriage is much stronger through everything that we have walked through, we are insanely thankful for our families and their constant love & support, we have continued to learn what family looks like – speaking specifically about the family that God has provided for us here in Spokane through our church. This year looked NOTHING like I would have thought but I’m thankful for every piece of it. Because of everything that we have walked through, God has drawn us closer to Himself and I wouldn’t have it any other way. God is consistently good, even when I can’t understand what He is doing.
I just thought of another random update… Joe and I are still working at The Arc of Spokane and it’s been cool to see how God got us there and what He is doing. Neither of us imagined working with people with disabilities, but we both love it so much. Joe works in the community center & takes groups on outings around the community, as well. I have been working in the Community Inclusion program as a Support Specialist – taking ten clients out to help them get involved in the community by joining groups, volunteering, and building relationships. Just last week I became the Community Inclusion Program Manager! So I am excited to step into this new role and see all that God has in store. I also am transferring my Master of Public Administration program from The University of Michigan-Dearborn to Eastern Washington University. So there’s some more random facts about this year!
If you read all of that, I’m honestly surprised. Thanks for reading all of my ramblings. I hope to continue blogging more about specific things that God is doing in our lives, rather than just pouring out a lot of random facts about the year.
We love our people so much and this year would have looked very different without each person we know & love. And without Jesus, I truly have no idea how we would have made it through this year.
I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving & enjoy the end of 2017!