October holds such sweet memories for me. Pictures, laughter, friends and family mixed together in memories that are heavy laden with satisfaction. I have years of some of the fondest fall memories imaginable. In the past, my son and I have spent the entire month planning unique family costumes and then executing their creation. Our family has, in seasons past, shopped on line for karaoke music and gathered decorations for the most wonderful party of our year. We have taken hayrides, stumbled through corn mazes, and strolled through pumpkin patches. I usually cook an amazing array of fall foods, which have included cranberry pumpkin bread, butternut squash soup, cranberry pork, pumpkin rolls, and Chai Tea. With the heat of the summer leaves, my kitchen came alive with the warmth and the smells of the season. My fall decorations were only slightly less ornate than Christmas, bringing them out signified the beginning of my holidays. For many years, most Octobers have been this way for me.
Not this year.
Besides the most obvious changes of not having my home, friends and the connections that have accompanied it, our lives took yet another twisted detour. My husband became quite ill about six weeks ago. We spent the month in and out of emergency rooms and ended up at UC Davis hospital. My husband spent 4 days with some of the best doctors in the country trying to diagnose the problem, with no results to show for it all. The stress of juggling our home schooling schedule, the needs of our pets, our lack of income, and the enduring mystery of my husband’s ailment had taken a heavy toll on my little family.
October came and went for us with little to no celebration. We drove right past all of the pumpkin patches and corn mazes. Fortunately my son and I worked on his costume very early, but there wasn't any time for me to join him this year. I don't really like to cook in my little trailer kitchen on a normal day, so with this hectic schedule we were lucky to have Pizza Lunchables and snack pack pudding. This year, there were no fall colored plates, no twinkling lights on the mantel amidst sunflowers and cattails, and no pumpkins decorating our front steps. As the green of summer faded away, so did the hopes for the rich joy we had possessed in seasons past.
But we still possessed each other. No thwarting of fall traditions can shake my thankfulness. Although we did not get a diagnosis for my husband, we were very grateful he was released from the hospital the day before Halloween so my son was able to trick or treat with his new friends. This also allowed for our school party where my son had great fun making spiders and playing games. My husband is doing better and we have now been "hospital free" for three weeks. We spent a lot of time together and my son was a trooper with the schedule changes. He was a great caregiver, kept up on his schoolwork, and really did not complain about the things he was missing. He seemed mindful of the small acts of God’s grace. I found this impressive and humbling coming from a 6 year old. October did not turn out the way I had planned. I am thankful, nonetheless, for the blessings that came our way in these circumstances.
Our family made it through on promises. Promises we found in God’s word.
I have heard your prayers and seen your tears; I will heal you. 2 Kings 20:5
Do not be afraid, stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. Exodus 14:13
We have allowed the word of God to comfort us through some very dark days. He was our strength when we had none. It was God who calmed our fears and saw through our tears. He is not finished with this yet, but we are standing with Him and anticipating what He is doing in our lives. I trust my God to be with me until it is finished. This has been a very different time for us. I have been learning to let go of many of my traditions and plans in order to live the life I am given. God has met all of my needs. This year I have let go of things I value, only to find my heart full of His Grace.