Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Year to Remember

2011 is a year we’ll always remember. It was filled with the many joys and struggles of this life. We laughed, went to ER, cried, went to ER, travelled, went to ER, and through it all grew “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18)!
Here are some of this year’s highlights… 

Abigail. Our third child, Abigail Adelle Jones, was born on February 10, 2011. She is cuddly and playful and such a sweetheart. She cut her first two teeth at 3 1/2 months, and now at ten months she has 14 teeth! Just like her Grandpa.

 Abby was born right on time, after teasing us with 16 weeks of false labor. The delivery went quite smoothly. But unbeknownst to us, a small piece of placenta was not expelled from Natalie’s uterus. Which leads us to our next memory...

Hospitals. After delivery, Natalie endured severe cramping and heavy bleeding for five hours. It took a D&C, four units of blood, four days in the hospital, and a lot of prayer to nurse her back to health. She had intermittent cramping and bleeding for another five weeks until a second D&C that removed more embedded placental tissue.

Before she was born, doctors noticed that Abigail had a kidney condition called hydronephrosis (fluid on the kidney). At first we weren’t sure if she would lose her right kidney altogether, but further testing revealed only a small defect where the ureter and kidney attach. A repair surgery took place in September at Loma Linda (where Dylan had his heart surgery in 2007). It went very well...until that night when Abby had internal bleeding.

What should have been an overnight stay turned into almost a weeklong stay with time in ICU. But again, God was kind to give us excellent doctors and nurses who knew just how to help. And He gave Mommy and Daddy the strength to endure. Once over that hump, she’s been doing great! We’ll get an ultrasound done in January, and follow-ups as she grows older, but it appears at this point that she is doing just fine and should have two perfectly healthy kidneys. Praise God!

In August, Natalie began to experience chest pains. It felt like a heart attack but, thankfully, turned out to be a gall stone attack. She had emergency surgery to remove the gall bladder, but then did not recover well. Her blood pressure dropped and she had internal bleeding. (Which, by the way, the Lord healed. When the doctor took her back into surgery the next day, he saw the old blood, but found no new bleeding. It stopped even before the doctor got inside!) Natalie’s mom stayed for a full month to help with kids and chores while Natalie regained her strength. Stephen’s mom also came to help after Abby’s surgery. Thank you, family, for your sacrifice this year!

From September 2010 through October 2011 we counted ten ER visits for our family, four operations for Natalie, one operation for Abigail, and constant doctor visits and intense moments. We’re very thankful for a window of rest the past couple months! But we’re also thankful for the trials God brought us through and the lessons He taught us. We’ve never felt so helpless, so dependent on God, so thankful for His love, and so mindful of the power of prayer. Thank you all who served us and prayed for us this year.

Arizona. 2011 was not all drama. We enjoyed some fun moments too. In June, we rented a house along with Stephen’s parents in Flagstaff, AZ for a week. This was such a great way to meet up with them. We spent a full day at the Grand Canyon, visited some caverns, and got to look at the sun and Saturn through special telescopes at the Lowell Observatory.

On departure, our family headed south to Phoenix and the Southern Baptist Convention. The kids had a blast riding the light rail train each day to the Convention Center!

Family. On July 15th, we celebrated 11 years of marriage by heading up the Palm Springs Tram for dinner and a hike in the gorgeous mountain scenery. Thank you, Lord, for best friends in each other!

Heidi turned three on February 20th. (She still talks about her princess birthday cake!) Dylan turned six on November 17 and started first grade this fall. He is reading well and really enjoys science. Natalie is teaching the kids at home and does a great job. Dylan recently lost his fourth tooth, just in time to sing All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!


Camping. In August, Stephen took the older kids camping for two nights in Idyllwild. Heidi was so excited to go this year! They arrived late, so they had to scramble to find a good site and set up camp in the dark. When they awoke in the morning, they discovered a rock nearby that the kids loved climbing on. With a little imagination, that rock became a pirate ship, a castle, and a hideout for bad guys.

Ministry. This was an encouraging year as we saw the Lord work in many lives. More and more families are coming to the church and getting involved. We had good attendance at VBS with two girls accepting Christ. We also did outreach at a local parade, a fair booth, a car show, at Halloween, and by donating money to our local high school to help renovate their faculty lounge.

We shared the gospel with many visitors at our Christmas service, and Stephen had the opportunity to lead a man to Christ just a few weeks ago. We also enjoyed many guest missionaries this year including Mikko Sivonen, Tim Kunkel, Philippe Viguier, and Jeff Thomas.

Stephen had the opportunity to serve on the California Southern Baptist Focus 21 Task Force. He also enjoyed teaching as a Course Administrator for The Master’s College Online program and as an Adjunct Professor at California Baptist University.

We were blessed by the group Majesty from The Master’s College who came out to sing in October. Plus they were able to stay a few extra days and help paint our sanctuary, hallway, remodel Stephen’s church office, organize the library, and help with outreach. They were a tremendous encouragement!

God provided for us to re-roof our sanctuary before the winter rains arrive. This was an enormous amount of money for our little church. Several times, money came from people we didn’t even know and once from over a hundred miles away. Praise God!

Yes, it’s been quite a year. But we serve quite a God --One who promises never to give us more than we can handle with His Spirit, His Word, and loving friends like all of you. We love and pray for you. Happy New Year!

Love,
Stephen, Natalie, Dylan, Heidi, & Abigail Jones

1 comment:

  1. It was quite a year indeed. Here's to a blessed 2012 for you and your family. <><

    I've ridden that light rail from downtown Phoenix out to Mesa and it is nice.

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