An Off Year

“This is YOUR year! Whatever YOU want can happen in 2015!” the ad promised. Thank goodness, I thought. I deserve a year for me. Because, as I confessed to friends recently, “last year sucked…big time.”

We spent 53 days in the hospital with Annie.

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We lived in the Ronald McDonald House for 41 days.

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We racked up almost $2 million in medical charges. We were separated from our other daughter for weeks on end. We watched our newborn endure pain that no adult should even fathom. During Annie’s interstage surgery period, she was bound to her oxygen canula and her pulse ox monitor and we all fought for her life by helping her get over a simple cold virus. We were told multiple times that she’d never make it, never be “normal,” never eat, never crawl…we’d never have what we had dreamed of. On top of that, we lost Matt’s dad in July. And we finally, officially lost an intact Briggs family with my parents’ September divorce.

I recently bargained with God, “I think it’s time for an off year. Okay?”

But you know what? If I’m honest in saying that my life is about Him and for His glory, instead of my comfort and gain, then last year didn’t suck. Are you kidding? What other year of my life have I walked so palpably close with Him?

In 2014 I literally felt Him sitting next to me in cold, lonely rooms whispering hope into my deaf ears and dead heart. I had a seat next to the powerful healer who did miracles in front of my very eyes. I had the privilege to share God’s heart for all people (even babies whose imperfections and inconveniences are identified before birth) by sharing the gospel with one of the most important and knowledgeable doctors in the US.  God gave us a story in the form of a precious, joy-filled, irresistible baby that put Him on display for thousands of onlookers. I proved His faithfulness to carry me through any situation and I experienced peace and comfort that goes beyond any human understanding.

I saw God. And I got to share those glimpses of His strong, loving, fatherly face with desperate families who shared the crowded ICU family rooms with me, who shared donated meals at tired tables after long, bedside days of similar bad news.

So I need to apologize to my friends for misrepresenting last year. A true account of last year is that it was perfect. God, by His grace, used a baby who no one wanted in ways I never could’ve imagined.

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I think I’d be naive and foolish to stick with my request for an “off year.” Instead, I’m changing my prayer to a request for God to give me more reminders of Him. Like in Joshua 4, when Joshua set up stones to remind generations of God’s faithfulness.

I’m asking that every time I see Annie’s scar, every time Audrey asks me about it with her new-found curiosity, every time Annie does something she was never supposed to do (like CRAWL!!!!) I can remember, “He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always remember to fear the Lord” (Joshua 4:24).

God, I’ll take another one of Your years. Let 2015 make you more widely known.