Gifts from the storm

Post by Taralee Hurff for the Kind Kindred series.


photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The year 2013 will go down as one of the hardest years my family has faced. My husband had a wisdom tooth surgery that changed his life forever, consequently also forever changing the life of my family. I learned a lot that year about life. Frankly, my whole family learned a lot of hard lessons. The heartache, pain, frustration and uncertainty of this time also provided my family with some pretty amazing gifts. Yes, you heard me correctly…gifts.

We gained the gift of an even stronger faith in God, in our family and in the people that belong in our lives. Our family was gifted a concrete example that our strength and bond as a family cannot ever be broken. It showed us that we can withstand a storm with honor and grace among each other. The gift of being vulnerable enough to clearly see who belongs in our world and who genuinely has a place for us in theirs has proven to be an invaluable lesson.

We may not have realized all the gifts we were presented with in the midst of the storm, but we certainly have seen and appreciated the rainbow with its infinite gifts after the storm. We grew together as a family and as individuals. Our lives changed and that is okay. We are all okay. We may even be better for having experienced it.

A year later, in 2014, I wrote a thank you letter to share on New Year’s Day.

Welcoming in a New Year…2014…

2013 has been a year of challenges and growth.

I have been brought to my knees on more than one occasion, but each time reached my hands to God and He helped me gain the strength to handle what was happening and what was yet to come. In the midst of questioning not my own faith, but the institutions that are supposed to embody Christ and embrace us in times of need, God and my faith was all I had to hold on to and my sole source of guidance. I am so thankful that He knows me and my heart, because without him I would not have made it through this past year – period. I yelled at Him, cried to Him, prayed to Him, and thanked Him.

“I can do all things through him who gives me strength” – Philippians 4:13

This past year I have been heartbroken, humbled, and stretched beyond what I ever thought I could handle emotionally, physically and mentally. At the same time I have never been more blessed or learned more about myself and life. I have never experienced more grace or been more grateful.

If you are reading this you have been a piece of my support system and let this serve as the words “THANK YOU” because “THANK YOU” is just not enough. You were someone who stepped up when I could not ask for help. You offered your shoulder, ear and heart. You prayed for me and my family. You sent a card. You babysat. You stopped over. You were just “there”…a text, a phone call, an e-mail, a smile…you let us know you cared. You simply asked “How are you?”, but meant it. From the smallest gesture of kindness to helping make sure our ship didn’t sink completely, my gratefulness is beyond what I can possibly put into words.

You were sincere and genuine.

You expected nothing in return.

You stayed.

“One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter” – James Earl Jones

I may not have been able to be the mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, or friend that I would have been had this year been different. I will not offer an apology for this but rather a sincere thank you for being tolerant of me through it all. I know it has not been easy, but know how beholden I am and how hard I tried to be the best I could be even when it was not enough…it was all I could give.

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom, Clippings from My Notebook

As 2014 approaches ever so swiftly I am filled with a renewed strength and hope for all it has the potential to offer. It would be too easy to worry, instead I am meeting it head on and prepared…pulling that seatbelt on this rollercoaster ride a bit tighter and leaving it to Him!

May 2014 bring you and your families many blessings, good health, an abundance of happiness and moments you will never take for granted.

~ Taralee

It is now 2015 and we still have daily struggles and frustration, even two years later. Guess what? That is okay too. We do the best we can and we live. We focus on each day and are present in our moments with ourselves and with others. We are grateful for all the gifts we have received and continue to receive every day.

I attended a Wellness Retreat in January with Kate Butler. This retreat has proven to be life changing for me. I discovered that somewhere along the way over the last two years I lost pieces of myself, not on purpose and I did not even realize it fully until this retreat. I wasn’t whole anymore because my focus was on making sure that everyone else was okay and keeping our world as “normal” or “together” the best I could. Let me be clear, I was not unhappy or not being me. Looking back I can say there was a nagging sense of something being “off”, but I never allowed myself to explore that further. What I learned during the retreat (and from the practices I have implemented after the retreat) was that “off” feeling was my inner self trying to alert me to the fact that pieces of me were missing. I was losing myself to take care of everyone else and always needing to be the strong one.

Kate Butler and the other woman present at the retreat refreshed my soul. I was smacked in the face with my own advice; taking care of me was essential to living the life I was meant to have. Taking care of me also means that I can take care of all other aspects of my life better.
The shift in mindset and implementation of self-care habits has led to one of the most beautiful months I have lived in a very long time. I mean every part of my life has had positive changes, in big ways and small ways, but each a stepping stone for more greatness!!! I know the retreat was precisely the right moment for me to have this “a-ha moment”. I am forever grateful.

I meet people every day that are facing similar situations to what my family and I have been dealing with over the last 2 years. If you are one of those people and you take anything from this post, I pray that you realize you are important enough to take care of yourself – no matter what is happening in your world. It will be the best thing you could ever do for yourself. Fathomably it could be the best thing that you could do for those around you too.

Remember to look for the rainbow…there are gifts to be received after the storm, be open to them.

Taralee received a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical/Counseling Psychology and Criminal Justice from Moravian College. She received her Special Education Teacher certification from DeSales University. Taralee is a NJ certified Teacher of the Handicapped, and has been working in the home and school settings for over 15 years. Taralee is currently President of the Board of Trustees for the Southern Regional New Jersey Early Intervention Collaborative, she is serving in her fourth year as a Board member. 
Taralee’s most important job is raising her three creative and inquisitive children (ages 9, 7, and 4) in Southern NJ. 
Taralee’s book “100 Things To Do Before You Are 10” was published in April 2014. 
Please visit her Facebook page or send an e-mail for ordering information.

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