And now I laugh thinking about that thought. In human terms, 2016 was worse and much harder than 2015 ever thought about being. And this time last year, I couldn't imagine a year harder than what we lived in 2015. 2015 included 2 trips to the ER because of overdose, temporary separation from my husband, a month of rehab for drug addiction, and a long, hard battle against an enemy that felt impossible to even stand against, let alone meet in battle. What could have been worse?!?!
2016 found us still battling addiction every.day. Each week was full of ups and downs, as addiction and depression walk hand-in-hand and never affect just one person. It found me in the basement, desperately pulling my husband out of his office chair and frantically giving him CPR. It had me standing in an ER room, with two of the most loving and brave women I know, as they turned off all the machines and I said goodbye to my husband one last time here on earth. It found my dad, once again, breaking news to children that someone they loved was gone. It saw my children tearfully rejoicing that daddy is healed and whole and enjoying all the grace and love and joy and fun Heaven has to offer as he worships daily at the feet of his Savior. It found me desperately clinging to His word on days when all I could do was read a line or two, cry, and pry myself out of bed. It found me with friendships deepened, my table full, my heart overwhelmed with the love the Father was lavishing on me through beautiful ladies, loving family, and an amazing church family who has learned, the hard way, how to love its own through grief and pain. It saw my faith put to the fire and, though at times I needed others to come close and put their shield of faith up over mine because I couldn't hold mine up, for the most part, my arms grew stronger and my faith got deeper and bigger. God enabled me to face one of the hardest events of my life and come out the other side with peace, hope, love, patience, kindness, and JOY. God-given JOY. He has opened my eyes to see grace where human eyes see only pain and tragedy. He has taught me to be a #tablesitter in the worst of times, earning the right to be one in the good times, too. Those who seemed like "bosom friends" before, proved it and grew even closer. Those who weren't "bosom friends", but were physically closer than those who were, stepped up and stepped in and adopted me as one of their own in ways I couldn't ask for or imagine. All of these precious ladies have given more than I could ever repay. My family has filled in every gap and loved from near and far and at all times. They've given sweet, thoughtful gifts, rejoiced and cried with me, and continued to point me to Christ all along the way. My church family has loved me through food, doing laundry, washing dishes, fixing cars and tools, putting in new flooring and other things around the house, watching and feeding my children, and so much more. Again, I could never repay any of these people and my words are just not enough!
For the last few years there was a word or phrase that I was focusing on for the year. I prayed about it this year and the only word that I could ever come up with was survive, but I want to do so much more than merely survive. And then I put in my Rend Collective Christmas CD and the Lord gave me a song as my theme for this year. My theme song for the year is For All That You Have Done (Listen HERE).
Your grace will never be forgot, Your mercy all my life,
will be my soul's forever song, my story and my light.
Yes! Yes! Yes! Sometimes I have to look harder for the grace than I really want to, but it's there. It's always there. Kevin's death was grace, especially to Kevin, even though it was painful. It opened the door to Sophie seeing her need for salvation. It opened a deep well in my heart to love and cling to Christ and His word. It has opened the door to Ethan being more sensitive to God and I can see Him moving in Ethan's life, even if it's slower than I want. He has given me a heart to seek and eyes to see the #graceinthegray more than I ever dreamed possible. It has given me the courage to speak and share the grace, even in the hard.
From mountaintop to valley low, through laughter and through tears
surely the goodness of my God will follow all the years.
Every valley surely does have a mix of laughter and tears. He has opened my eyes to see that in 2016. Psalm 23 is one chapter I have read over and over and over again. He is a good, good Father who gives good gifts, even in the hardest of times. Thank You, Lord, thank You!!!
For all that You have done for us, for every battle won,
we'll raise a song to bless Your heart, for all that You have done.
Oh, Father, fill my heart and mouth with a song of praise to You for every.little.thing. Thank You for surrounding me with those who will do that on my behalf on the days when I just can't do it on my own. Oh, Father, let my life be a legacy of praise and love to You, regardless of circumstance. Let that be the legacy of our little McSmith family, from generation to generation.
In all our failures and regrets, You've always lead us home.
Redemption's arm has raised us up, our triumph in the storm.
Could there be lines that are more true for both Kevin and I at the same time?!?! Regardless of any failures or regrets that Kevin may have had, he was lead Home by a loving and gracious Father. In the storm of addiction, depression, grief, fear, all.the.storms., He is our redemption, our saving grace. Amen!!!!
In unity, we'll stand as one, as family we'll go.
Shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, into the Great Unknown.
Every time it gets to this verse, I sing it as loudly as I can as many beautiful faces of God's love float through my mind. Yes! Yes! Yes! Amen! This is the church. This is what it means to the body of Christ, holding each other up when they can't hold themselves up. It's been year of hashtags like this: #asfamilywego #asfamilywegrieve #asfamilyweletgo #asfamilyweholdtherope #asfamilywetablesit #asfamilywerun #asfamilywelaugh #asfamilywecry #tablesitters #nomoretables
2016, you were hard. You were full of tears. You were full of adventures. You were full of joys. You were full of the unexpected. You were better and worse than I had hoped. I wanted to #justshowup, but others ended up doing that for me. I learned how to be still, ask for help, let others in, tell the truth, be real and raw, and depend on Christ like never before or I ever thought I could.
2017, I have no idea what you hold, but I know who is in control and saw every one of your days before one of them ever came to be. I will sing praise to the One who holds my days, whatever my days hold. I will give ubroken praise and ask God to "let my deeds outrun my words, let my life outweigh my song." I will continue to use social media to declare Your praise and I will hold up others when then can't do it themselves. I will speak Your word to all I meet and I beg You to let the legacy of our family be that we declared You at all times. Oh, Father, do great things for Your Kingdom through me and my family in 2017.