What a year this has been.
I think 2012 just might have been the craziest roller-coaster-ride of a year that our family has ever traversed upon, and really...that's saying something.
We've seen some pretty crazy years.
The year began with the knowledge that sometime, somehow, we were going to have to uproot our family of seven and move to a bigger house. Our 940-square-foot, single bathroom home was nearing the breaking point as it tried in vain to contain all the prancing little feet of our children, and yet even the thought of sorting through, packing and moving all the stuff in our lives was enough to send this ADHD girl into a pickled frenzy. I lamented the thought of the looming move, knowing in my heart of hearts that I simply was not capable of the stick-to-it-ativeness required for such a feat.
And yet, it was somehow accomplished. I fell in love with the farmhouse of my dreams, which lit a fire under my stuck-to-the-sofa backside and provided the motivation needed to start packing for real. I actually, for the first time that I remember, asked God for a material possession...and God answered my prayers and blessed our family with a beautiful new home full of history and character, reminding me of His delight in being my Father and in fulfilling some of the deepest desires of my heart. And I learned that when it really counts, I truly am capable of more than I think...even if the progress is painfully slow.
2012 also marked the first full year of homeschooling for our daughter Miss M, who has Reactive Attachment Disorder. The experience of schooling her has had so many ups and downs, I often feel like I'm in a tailspin. I've had to come to terms with some pretty big flaws in myself, and have been incredibly thankful for God's unfailing love in the midst of my failures. There have been some horrendously awful days, when I've had to cling to God and to the blessings He's given me instead of allowing myself to focus on the trials of raising Attachment Disordered kids, but there have also been bittersweet days of pondering what should have been, and beautiful, hopeful days of witnessing first-hand the miracle of healing in a broken child. Both Miss M and I are continuing to learn, trust, and thrive together...through good days and bad...as we move onward down the path of building and healing our relationship.
So there's homeschooling...and then the actual moving into our farmhouse, of course, which we did officially in May...and then on the heels of our moving week, there was our little family announcement that stirred up more than a few people as we have now been officially deemed "one of those really crazy families". Blessed, we like to call it. But that same joyful announcement resulted in months of Mama-sickness, which made the first trimester seem like an endless fog of nausea and fatigue. And our unpacking and all our big plans for a huge garden and a homemade chicken coop were put on hold as Daddy stepped in to play Mama for a while.
And then over the summer, as the rest of our family began settling into our new surroundings, it became increasingly obvious that our oldest son, Mr. J, who also has RAD, was struggling with unseen demons from his past. His behavior was back-sliding; his respect for authority was nearly non-existent. He became angry at the slightest insinuation of error on his part, and with every necessary parental correction. The rage, which he had previously held in check for months at a time, was almost always bubbling near the surface, and our family began to live in fear of when his next explosion would occur.
Looking back, it was a perfect storm for our son. We anticipated that moving would be difficult for him, as feelings of instability and unpredictability had always thrown off his sense of security and affected his behavior. What we did not factor in was, at nearly thirteen, the onset of puberty which coincided with our move. A rage-filled adolescent with raging hormones to boot. New house, new chores, the prospect of being homeschooled in the fall, new in-depth talks with Mom and Dad, preparing him for life as a teen, and a body pumped full of testosterone. He simply couldn't handle it; couldn't pretend to be "perfect" and "normal" any longer, and the rage and trauma of his first six years took over.
And so we entered what has probably been the darkest period in our family's history. Lots of uncertainty, lots of violence coming from our son, terror from our younger children, despair from Scott and me. Mr. J spent the better part of a month in a mental hospital, where he got worse instead of better. He came home unwilling to try at all and refused to go to school, trying to force me to homeschool him when everyone agreed that it just wasn't safe for the rest of the family. He was out of control, threatening in detail to kill Scott and me and our baby, and was ultimately arrested for assaulting police officers in our home.
We left no stone unturned to find help for our son, seeking out a placement in either a RAD facility or a nearby boys' home that understood the manipulation that goes along with RAD. With four younger kids and a baby on the way, the option to bring him home was simply not there, yet we were bogged down by loads of red tape wherever we turned. He remained incarcerated for more than two months, when God miraculously opened a single door for us. Mr. J was (without incident!) transported to his new therapeutic boarding school just one day before the charges against him would have given him a permanent criminal record.
2012, you have been a year full of surprises.
Of excitement, anticipation, joy, anger, faithfulness, frustration, fear and pain.
You have held great beauty.
You have held great sadness.
You've held great joy and silliness and love.
You have taught lessons of humility, and have revealed moments of clarity amid ordinary chaos.
You have given me opportunity to share in the burdens of others, and occasionally to offer wisdom I've acquired on my own Christian walk.
You have taught us about true friendship and the Body of Christ, teaching us to humbly accept love and hugs and prayers and meals and unexpected gifts and so many instances of personal sacrifice when we've had nothing of our own left to give. When we've been drowning. Our real friends and family...those who truly care about us...have held us up when there were no words of advice or comfort they could give. Our Jonathans and Aarons. We are so very blessed.
Above all, 2012, you've shown us God's goodness and His faithfulness and have given us opportunity to step out in faith. And while we've got a long way to go, you've given us ample practice at trusting God in all things; things beyond our control and more difficult than we ever could have imagined.
Yes, we'll remember you, 2012.
But instead of the year when our lives fell apart, we'll remember you as the year of miracles. A new home, a healing daughter, a new baby son growing inside me, a happy family in spite of all we've been through, a new appreciation for true friends and family, a vibrant marriage that's coming out stronger because of its trials, ever-increasing faith and reliance on God, and so many answers to prayer.
There is nothing too big for our God.
And so we start 2013 with a new prayer request. We pray for a healthy family. Our new baby son, who will be here in two weeks time, our daughter Miss M, who has so much healing yet to do, our little ones, Miss J, Mr. C, and little Mr. K, who have seen and heard so many hurtful things from their siblings in their short lives. Both my husband and myself, who have symptoms of PTSD. And please...pray for Mr. J, away at this school...that something will change in his heart, that he will begin to heal, and that he will desire to live for Christ.
We appreciate you more than you could know.
Have a blessed New Year.