I thought we had turned the corner on that first brilliantly sunny day of the new year.
I thought surely God had given me the word rejoice for my yearly word just a day before for wonderfully obvious reasons.
On that New Year's Day, I was feeling remarkably better than I had in years. Just a few weeks prior, I had let go of a really toxic relationship and the guilt that accompanied it was replaced by peace. And on that first day of the new year, we discovered I was carrying our long-desired baby after having had our hearts broken by two miscarriages.
I wasn't naive enough to think the year would be without challenges. I knew adding a baby to the family would bring trials in itself
But I thought I really understood why God had given me that word, rejoice. Because, indeed, there was a lot to rejoice about. And a new baby would naturally have us rejoicing.
When we lost the third baby just shy of 12 weeks into pregnancy I just couldn't understand why God had given me that word.
I honestly thought that the birth of our little one was a central reason for our rejoicing.
And it has been -- just not in ways I could have ever dreamed.
The day I birthed our tiny baby into my hands, I had to make a decision.
I could sink under the heavy weight of grief. I could swim against the relentlessly smashing waves of sorrow and anxiety.
Or I could throw my hands up and cry out for rescue.
I threw my hands up, wildly waving them that day, asking Jesus himself to pull me out of the storm.
And almost every day since, I've thrown my hands into the air in still-surrender.
It's looked nothing like a sweet surrender and everything like a flagging down of the mother ship.
During the first few months of the storm especially, I angsted over and lamented the darkness overhead. As I was pulled through those days, a small boat tethered to the Rescue Ship, I was tempted to sever myself and just sink into the angry waters.
And on those days I felt the rope become increasingly taut ... until I actually found the rope had given way to being in the arms of the Rescuer.
I asked Him who He was. Really. Who was this Rescuer who came in my distress? And what was His heart for me, He who could have just as easily quieted the wind and waves.
He who instead He stilled me.
Over and over He spoke that verse about being still and knowing he was God to my heart in ways I couldn't understand until I finally began letting go of the busy, the expectations, letting the noise and other voices around me fade.
Have you ever tried to rescue someone who thought they were drowning? I have. My oldest son has been extremely cautious of water his whole life. He once went in over his head and when I got to him his thrashing, his movement made it all the more difficult for him to realize I had him and he was safe.
It wasn't until I began coming before Him in silence that I really began to relax and clearly see I was safe in His arms.
In those long stretched out days of silence and stillness, He began revealing himself to me in more intimate ways than I had ever known. I began entering into times of conversation, where I could hear His heart for me. At first it was harder to distinguish, but the more time I spent listening, the more I recognized it as clearly as I could hear my boys calling me from the opposite end of a busy park.
When I began hearing His voice regularly, and it always lines up with the Word I'll add, I began hearing His heart for me. He called me daughter clearly one evening as I drove home beneath blue skies and puffy pink clouds after a therapy session.
After I realized the storm I'd been in was a product of sifting from the king of lies, I asked Him to call me by my new name just as he had done for Simon when he renamed him Peter after denying Christ three times.
And he called me His lovely bride. I wrote down the truths that communicated about both me and also Jesus.
In this I realized I am valuable and loved, worthwhile and captivating while He is everything I've ever dreamed the most ideal husband to be: strong and patient, valiant and just, loving and merciful.
And I realized it beyond the song and dance I've known.
I realized it intimately and deeply, like I was truly hearing the lyrics to parts of the song I'd always just hummed over but enjoyed before.
There's more. Because with Him, there is always more but theres only so much time to write today.
The clouds seem like they are breaking apart now. The sun keeps poking out and streaming through these days. Not only is my body healing from the stress and regaining the physical balance that began faultering after the miscarriage; my heart and my mind and even our marriage has also been getting healthier, stronger.
Healing has been slow but drenching.
That, indeed, is a reason to rejoice.
Seven months ago at the start of the year I would have thought that our word for the year was finally holding true.
And it is.
But for reasons I never expected.
I rejoice today because the Rescuer of the storms is far more complex and personable than what I ever knew or understood