Can I just say, I am so glad it is 2019. Not just because it is a new year…that is usually really cool all by itself…well, actually…yes. I am thankful it is a new year, just for that reason. As you may know, or read from one of my previous posts, 2018…..was not by favorite.

Even as I typed those last few sentences, I have to pause and admit that there was a lot of good that came out of 2018. What?!! It is true. Yes, I was diagnosed with cancer and the tumor was not small. I went through chemotherapy, major abdominal surgery, and 22 radiation sessions. I spent a lot of the year in doctors offices, 28 days in the hospital, and just did not feel good for many days. I would not choose to go through a year like that on purpose. With all of that said, I can say with no reserve that there were good times last year as well.

Someone asked me the other day how I made it through last year with such a good attitude. Well, first off…I am an optimist at heart. God made me that way, and I am very thankful he did. It made it more bearable. But, that isn’t what got me through. What did get me through? I will focus on three things:

First, I have never been more grateful or thankful that I have been over the last year for my family.

• My darling bride is one of the strongest, most wonderful people I know. She took this oversized man up in her arms and she cared for me and loved me and comforted me, even though she was having to face that her husband was very sick. She was my rock last year. She will tell you that she wasn’t strong last year, and she would be wrong. She was strong for me. She kept my eyes pointed in the right direction. She encouraged me countless times. She loved me consistently. She is the best friend in my world. I am so thankful for her and I want to spend the rest of my days reminding her how much I love her and how thankful I am for her.

• My boy has been my bright spot and the joy of my heart during this time. He is one seriously good guy. He has an amazing heart. He takes care of his mama and me and doesn’t blink an eye. He makes us laugh daily. He makes me laugh even when I don’t think I have a laugh left in me. I love spending time just being with him and watching him be himself. I am so proud of this boy and I am so thankful for him. I pray I get to watch him grow into the awesome man he will become for the next 50 years.

• My mom and dad are two of my favorite people in this world. Not only did they put up with me while they raised me, they have never been further than a phone call a way my whole life. When I got sick last year, they dropped everything and were by our side. When I started my chemotherapy treatments my dad drove 200 miles to take me to the hospital to be with me and encourage me. I know that my mom spent countless hours in prayer for me (dad did too) and gave me so much love and encouragement. I cannot express my gratitude enough.

I could go on and on with this category. I haven’t mentioned Marixa’s parents or our God given family, Colt and Mariah…I feel the same about all of them as I do about what I wrote above. God has been so good to me with the family he has given me.

Next, my relationship with God has never been more real. I understand that many reading this may not believe like I do, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I am so thankful to God for the love and care he has shown me for all my life and for 2018. From the moment that I got sick till now, I can see His hand on my life. Let me explain.

• I was fired from my last job in 2016. We lived in Oklahoma and had just bought a house about a year before. Within three months of being fired, our family uprooted and moved to Texas. I now have a new job that is so much better. I have good health insurance. I have short term disability insurance. All of these things happened in preparation for 2018. I know where we were. I know where we are now. I can see God’s hand.

• Every time I turned around last year, something was in front of me that was encouraging. Every bible study I read hit me right where I needed it. Every time we went to church it was like the minister was talking straight to me. You may call it coincidence, but it happened too many times…too often…it was too on point and so real. God’s presence was there. I believe it as firmly as I believe anything else in my life.

• Even through the uncertainty and doubt, which I had plenty of…there was an underlying peace that settled over my heart. Sometimes I had to focus really hard to find that peace, but it was there. It never left me. The still small voice was louder than it has ever been in my life.

• I know now more than ever, I am here for a reason. I don’t know all of the details of that reason, but I know that God has a plan for my life. It is a plan to prosper me and not harm me. He is giving me a hope and a future. (See Jeremiah 29:11)

Lastly (for this post, I really could go on for a while), we chose as a family to keep doing things that we could do to make memories. I have some really good memories of last year too:

• Marixa loves to garden and needed a potting bench built. So, 10 days out of a chemotherapy session I marched out to the garage and built her a potting bench…that would also double as a bomb shelter. That was one of the heaviest things that I have ever built. For all of my life I have been able to pick up and move just about anything I want to pick up and move. That doesn’t work so well after chemotherapy. It took all three of us to get that table (not fully constructed) from the garage to the back yard. I had to finish building it in the back yard. I like that memory. Marixa loved the table. Sick or not, that was a win.

• We moved into our house 2 and a half years ago. When we moved in we knew that the house had good bones, but some of the coverings were less than desirable. During 2018 we were able to work on the house to make it work much better for us. Marixa has painted and updated many rooms in the house. We were able replace the flooring in the public spaces of the house (when we moved in there were 5 different kinds of flooring in the house…hodge podge is a good description if you ask me). With Marixa’s amazing touch the house is a place of comfort. Having that space to heal in has been amazing and I am crazy thankful. God is good.

• We were able to take a family vacation in August of last year. This was in between all the craziness, but we were able to get away and spend time as a family. We got to see some of God’s beautiful creation in the Caribbean and we ate too much. With uncertainty of the future hanging in the air, having the opportunity to get away and breathe was amazing.

Like I said before, I could go on for a while. There are so many things from 2018 that I am thankful for. That is the point I am trying to make though. We have no guarantee that this life is going to be easy. We cannot control all of the things that happen to us. However, we can control the way we face it by the choices we make. I choose to look for the blessings in my life. When I look for them I find them. I choose to value the ones I love and show them every day. As far as I know right now, the cancer is gone. However, I don’t know the future. I will choose to face it with optimism, thankfulness and gratitude. Through that lens, I can certainly see the bright spots in a dark year.

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