Monday, December 29, 2014

goodbye 2014!

hope you get some of this, this season!
Whew!  Adrian and I look at each other this month and agree, we are ready to put 2014 in our rear view mirror!  It has been a tremendous, a tumultuous, a trial full year for us!  Usually we can look back on a year with rose-colored glasses, but this year has troubled us in every month, on every level. 
but there's hope!
and its hard to complain when you see beauty like this!
~love notes from our Creator ~ 

When we look back at January, we remember all 7 of us suffering a respiratory illness - but in the middle of it we got to go to Taylor's beautiful wedding.  God was with us.  Jehovah Rapha ~ the God who heals (Exodus 15.26, Psalm 103.3) ~ healed us again and again ~ of the sniffles, of violent viruses, and of chronic illness.   Aaron turned 4, and is now speeding toward 5! 

In February, we celebrated Ella's 10th birthday, had the stallion gelded in the snow (Montana style!), and I smashed into a logging truck on icy roads ~ all within 4 days.  Thus began visits to the chiropractor and physical therapist to heal the damage.  Thus began the insurance company calling me to ask when I would be done with treatment - humph.  I've never been treated so badly during a claim by State Farm.  Thus began a clashing in our marriage that we had never experienced before.  But once again, God is faithful, and He works all things together for good.  I was saved from much worse injury, and the truck was replaced.

Life seemed to be settling down again and getting into a mode, when on March 7 (our unhappy 11th anniversary) we discovered 4" of water in our full, finished basement.  The fund that was to be a new barn in the summer quickly went to the restoration company, carpet layers, and a submersible pump, ensuring that we would have no moisture or mold in the future.  Soon after that, our 3 youngest children miraculously experienced chickenpox ~ I say miraculously because I had prayed that they would sometime soon, and we never knew anybody before or after that had the virus.  In fact, we tried to pass it on to 6 different families in a variety of ways, and nobody caught it from us, either!  

A few days later, Adrian blacked out while stretching, fell backward onto his head and suffered a concussion that affected his memory, vision and emotions for a time.  Our faithful God (whose love endures forever, Psalm 136) spoke to me even in that malady, changed my heart, reminded me not to be self-centered and to appreciate LIFE – even if it isn’t perfect. 

In May, we celebrated Orion’s 2nd birthday; we are so very thankful for every birthday that means God has given us the privilege of caring for these little ones a while longer!  

Also beginning in May, we expected the new foal to be due any day, and began keeping a very close watch on our pregnant mare.  We discovered a deal on craigslist and purchased a chicken coop, run and 5 Heritage Buckeye hens – already producing beautiful large eggs!  That month, we also all faced strep, a first for all of us in 20+ years.  Adrian was on the east coast when I fell ill, so the kids picked up the slack and kept themselves alive while I slept for 2 days. 

When I wasn’t sleeping, I doused myself with essential oils and emerged 3 days later.  When Adrian got home, unfortunately he was infected as well.  Unable to cope with the pain, he went to the convenient care and got some steroids + antibiotics.  Unfortunately the medicines caused him a horrible case of hives, which covered his body.  I do have photos of that, but will spare you!  One thing about illness... it sure makes you thankful to be healthyll! 

In June we celebrated Tessa’s 8th birthday and added Tika and Timmy to our menagerie ~ they are adored!  
the note that started it all!

On Tessa's birthday, the dentist told us Jaci has 4 cavities affecting 8 teeth-- a trial we've been dealing with for 6 months now.  We endured a couple weeks of flooring shopping with 5 kids, carpet layers coming and going, and no kitchen + dust from our kitchen floor being ripped up, and circle sawn pine being installed.  We love the result of it all, but “under construction” is not in my comfort zone.   We also celebrated Jaci’s 6th birthday, which officially made our kids 2-4-6-8-10 in age.

July was a much anticipated month, as Adrian’s family all gathered in Bonner.  We did day trips to bring home perch, minnows, sunfish, crawdads for our homeschool aquarium (aka kiddie pool on the deck).  We enjoyed watching the fish, and enjoyed watching the kittens wade to catch them!  

We had more severe stomach illness that month, and Tessa and Jaci were flower girls in a beautiful wedding.  On July 25 we welcomed Stormy Morning Star, and were awed by God’s creation once again: 

At the 3 on 3 basketball tournament in Polson that month, Adrian nearly lost a tooth- that got the adrenaline rushing again.  We stole away to pick a gallon of huckleberries ~ mmm, summer is not complete without ‘em!

In August and September, we hiked at Glacier National Park, and visited our neighborhood lakes.  In October we began pasturing another miniature horse, happily looking out on 4 horses each day.  Aaron also suffered a strange skin disease we’d never dealt with before.  November was filled with birthday celebrations, special company from Wisconsin, and hunting, meat cutting and packing. 

All year long, we hosted Bible Study on Friday nights, and facilitated a Parenting class the month of September.  Unfortunately signing up for ministry to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ means the devil’s crosshairs are on us, so we fought a lot of unseen battles.  We argued and cried, were distanced and perplexed; we proved that God really is holding it all together for us.  Without Him, we would be sick, divorced, and dead.  The book of Job talks a lot about the trials of human experience and why they occur (chapter 1).  Job didn’t have the book of Job to look at and see that there was an unseen battle surging.  Since we are privy to this matter, we can watch and pray and be wise.  We can stop asking, “Why?” and walk by faith.  It is when we cannot see, cannot reason, and are miserable that we best prove our faith by lifting our hands in praise to the living God (1 Tim 2.8).

In 2014, We were again blessed to host loads of company and explore our new area.  

2014 also marked the first even numbered year in 10 years that we didn't add a human baby to our family ~ instead we added a bunch of animals!  We now enjoy the antics and pecking order of 2 dogs, 2 cats, 4 horses, and 7 chickens in the back pasture.  

Ella and Tessa are enrolled in a local homeschool choir, meeting weekly with area peers.  They performed a stunning concert this month, and will begin preparing for a spring concert when they return in January!  It is exciting to watch them experience the thrill of being a part of something bigger than themselves.  

This month, we have endured another round of flu and fevers ~ I am telling you, our family has NEVER been so sick in a calendar year!  Again and again, the LORD heals all our diseases (Psalm 103.3)  Just when I was reviewing this year and writing about it ~ thinking that is *enough* to face, Adrian called home last week to tell me that he had been rear ended.  The impact sent the contents of his truck flying, caused the CD player to pop out of its place, and knocked the topper off balance.  As the other driver was uninsured, we are waiting to hear what the outcome will be.  God’s great mercy again spared Adrian from injury.  

Even Christmas this year was “half and half”.  There was so much exuberance and elation for all of us as the kids decoded their treasure hunts, found wrapped gifts, and thrilled over garage sale and thrift store finds.  There were also moments of sobbing over the frustration, the discouragement, the heaping emotion that builds when your life collides with other people and there's strife, unmet expectations, and sin.  We watched our old dawg quickly degenerate and deteriorate until she died.  Burying 14 ½ years, even if it’s a dog, is no small thing.  

We have trained and bribed and threatened and rewarded and changed diet and taken breaks {for 3 years}, and Aaron is still not toilet trained.  All this struggle under our own roof and in our own hearts ~ is not to mention the tragedy we’ve watched our friends walk through: the cancer diagnoses, the sudden deaths and Jesus void hearts ~ these we pray about daily; the decay, the insanity, the dreadful world news.  Trial, tragedy, tiring tribulation…

…but ponder this:

You would never just sit down to dine on a cup of flour. You aren't even tempted to shove a teaspoon of salt in your mouth.  You wouldn't eat a raw egg or 1/2 cup of oil.  Anyone who has tasted baking soda and vanilla extract know they are putrid on their own.  Ok, so maybe you would eat a spoonful of sugar (mmm, especially brown sugar), but not typically on its own.

...but when you stir all these ingredients together, you imagine a very sweet treat!  Once well blended, you are prompted to plunge the mixture in the fiery hot oven, because you know how it will make the house smell, and you know how happy the cake eaters will be!

That's how life is to us: we don't like the conflict, the bitterness, the pain of the fire.  They don't taste good, and they aren't comfortable.  But for those of us with faith in the living God, we stand believing that "ALL THINGS (yes, all things) are working together for the good of those who love God, the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8.28).

Those of us who base our lives on what the compassionate Father's Word says know that this life is all about HIS purpose-- not mine.  This is not our eternal home; we're just pilgrims passing through.  The story of our life becomes history, but all along it is HISstory.

So we give thanks daily, monthly and now again annually for his remarkable grace toward us.  We are brimming with gratitude that while we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5.6), once for all time (Romans 6.10).  We deserved death but instead we got a gift (Romans 6.23) because God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  (2 Cor 5.21)

We are convinced that there is no righteousness, other than the righteousness that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Our response to trials, our perseverance, our faith in an invisible God-- all these originate from HIM (Romans 7.18).

To the only wise God our Savior be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.  Amen. (Jude :25) !


  1. Deep, deep words .... thanks for sharing! Your family is precious!

    Job's words refresh our hearts, "When Tested and tried, I'm satisfied I shall come forth as gold." We cannot always appreciate the trials, but we do appreciate the peace, the growth, and the faith that comes as a result.

    Perhaps, a new member will join you in an off year! God does work wonders!

    Maybe you Dolands can get to work on your Uncle Phil and a few of his buddies and get them married off in 2015? ��. I have s nearing suspicion 2015 may be a year of babies, and weddings!

    May we all have a song in our hearts as we embrace each day, remembering this is the day the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice! We can rejoice because God has our back.

    Our thoughts too go to those stricken in illness, cancer diagnosis, etc., it is a reminder to love others and to embrace them in their difficulties, show them love. I have found that sometimes another's tragedy isn't really about them, it's about God using them to show me that grace, peace, long-suffering, patience, self-control are necessities and if others can have them in their lives, I must also have them in my life ... The wonderful! Amazing, fruits of the spirit!

    Cheers to an amazing 2015! May each of you experience a wonderful year of blessings!


    1. Thank you for your blessing, I am sure we will because Emmanuel walks with us! I do want to come forth as gold... it is just the fire that doesn't feel so great! God has our back ~ that is so true!! Blessings to you as well!

  2. I don't think commenting on one little photo is quite doing your all-encompassing post justice...but I just have to say that huckleberry picture should be a poster for SOMETHING its so good! :) wonder if a poster in my suitcase would work? Hmm... Thanks for all your effort to re-live this past year for our benefit on the blog!

    1. i think you are the most faithful reader and commenter ~ love to know you're "out there"! Love ya!

  3. I love this post Anna! So raw, honest, and real! It's so encouraging to see that all of our disappointments and struggles don't add up to the beauty and love that God shows us through them! And such cute kiddos...we need to get together soon!

    1. that's right ~ darkness CANNOT overcome the light; trial CANNOT overcome the beauty!! I wish I had kept the complainin' less and the praising more ~ we do have sooooo very much to be thankful for!! I think we need to get together too ~ how 'bout Jan 18/19 for a 5th birthday party? :)

  4. Beautiful words, Anna! We've had our share of trials and tribulations this year (a few years..) unfortunately ours didn't have a happy ending. If you'd like to email, my new email address is Happy new year!

  5. I could just say ditto to what Elissa said. Glad for your raw honesty. I've learned to appreciate the 'thunderstorms' in life, as they make me appreciate the 'sunshine' a little more sincerely.