Where I Am and Where I've Been

Wow!  It's been a while, hasn't it?  Actually, it has been so long that I completely forgot my blogger sign-in information, and it appears they have changed the blogger publishing format so I will have to spend some time exploring that shortly!

I hardly know where to start.  While I have enjoyed not having the (purely self-induced) "pressure" of feeling like I have to write, rewrite, edit, rewrite, and edit blog posts, I have also missed writing and, surprisingly, I've had a few requests to "bring back the blog", so we'll give it a go.  I'm not making any promises about frequency or content, but I will admit that I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things a bit!  More than a few times I've thought "Now, that's blogworthy!", and I've been a little sad that I didn't have anywhere to share the love!

Life is as chaotic as ever.  But, because we just don't have enough excitement around here, we've added a few new things this year as well.
  • Brooke decided not to return to Cedarville and, instead, is living with Adam's family in Indianapolis.  She plans to complete her Associates of Arts degree in Health Services Management next summer.  She wasn't really a fan of the dorm life, cafeteria meals, and girl drama that she encountered in college, so this has worked well for her.
  • And........speaking of Brooke and Adam, they have now been engaged for 25 happy days!  I will post that story soon, complete with pictures, but for now, we are busy planning a wedding for late next summer.
  • We have also enjoyed having Hero, a Korean exchange student, in our home this school year.  He attends the same high school as Sydney and Payton, and it has been a great experience to have him living with us.  We have learned a lot, and I am quite certain that poor Hero will never be the same after a year spent with the VeStrands!
  • Sawyer entered middle school, Sydney is a junior, and Payton entered high school.  All are thriving and doing well.  I am left wondering where the time has gone?  Jeff is one-third of the way through his fifth year of teaching fifth grade, and he continues to love his job and be loved by all of his students.  A kind parent recently told me that Jeff is the only teacher at our school with a "fan club", and she was right!
  • I am working (mostly) full time at a job I love that has truly been a blessing to our family.  I can see "corporate headquarters" (as Jeff calls it!) from our home, I have lots of flexibility when I need it, and I love the people I work with.  It has been a great experience, and I am very thankful!
So that's mostly where I am..........the harder part is where I've been.  If I used labels on the blog and were making this a separate post, this one would definitely be filed under "Keepin' It Real", so consider that fair warning!

I can say, without reservation, that these past twelve months have been the hardest of my life--emotionally, spiritually, financially, relationally--in almost every way.  I'm tired, and I'm ready to say goodbye to 2011.  In late March, my younger sister was diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma, an aggressive cancer, that was, thankfully, caught very early.  That, on top of some other totally unrelated but equally difficult struggles, has made for a year that I'm happy will soon be over.

I could tell you that I've grown and learned spiritually and that I am stronger because of the struggles.  I could tell you that I've spent hours praying and reading about the trials of King David and the Apostle Paul.  I could tell you that I never doubted God's love or His sovereignty.  I could give you examples of how we've experienced God's amazing provision over the past year.  But none of that would be true.

Honestly, I've been angry and hurt, and I've asked "Why?" more times than I can count.  (You know that verse about God keeping our tears in a bottle?  Well, I'm quite certain I have quite a collection of bottles!)  I've gone into "self-protective" mode, and I've been very happy there.  I have decided that some things and some people, both of which at one time were very important to me (and for whom I thought the feeling was mutual), just aren't worth my time and effort any more.  Maybe they never were.

I know (in my head) about all the things I "should" be doing.  I know (in my head) all about "letting go and letting God".  I know (in my head) all about "claiming God's promises".  I know (in my head) all about "things working together for good."  But, honestly, my head isn't connecting with my heart these days.    And that's where I've been.  And that's where I still am. ( I warned you this would be "keepin' it real"??)  So this "blogging break" has probably been a very good thing.

You might say that I'm jaded and pessimistic and that would probably be true.  But I prefer to think of it as resigned and realistic.  And, for now, my plan is to enjoy the holidays.  Brooke and Adam will be home, and we'll be spending time with my sister, who is now cancer-free, and the rest of my family in Pennsylvania.  My plan is to enjoy planning Brooke's wedding. The memories I have of planning my wedding with my mom are some of my sweetest; I want the same for Brooke.  My plan is to enjoy watching Sawyer play on two basketball teams!  That means three to four games a week!  Bring it on!  And my (optimistic) plan is to blog!  I hope you'll hang in there with me.


Julie B said...

welcome back- and thanks for keeping it real! :)
love you!

Sandy said...

YAY, friend! I'm SO glad you are back. I've missed you. And, can I just say, that I'm right there with ya with SO MUCH of what you posted in your "keepin' it real" part of the post. I DO get it, and I'm in just about the same place. (hmmm...do you suppose that's why *I* haven't blogged lately, either?) I'm glad you posted, and I'm glad you are keeping it real!

Carla said...

Thank you for your honesty, Jen. I can so relate to your struggles. I've been in a spiritual funk for years now and there's no easy fix. So thankful we both have amazing husbands who weather the storms of life with us. I've often been encouraged by that verse in John about how God prunes his branches so that they'll bear even more fruit. He must REALLY love us if we have to go through all this pruning! Someday we'll be pretty trees again! :) Love and miss you lots!

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