Joyful: A Recap of 2021
By C.E. Stone
I enjoy doing year-end recaps. It’s awesome seeing how God works, and it also helps me process life’s difficulties. Well, 2021 has definitely been a mixed bag. There’s been some amazing blessings, positive changes, bad outcomes, and losses. Generally, though, I’m grateful for this year in which God has blessed us richly. If I had to describe 2021, I’d call it joyful.
More on that below, but first, our struggles! I like to start with the negative and then counterbalance it with the positive. Thus, please know that we’ll get into the blessings after the hardships.
(Note: I don’t publicly post names of family members, so my husband will simply be called “C.” in this blog. All photos from Pixabay.)
2021 started off with our kitchen appliances getting fried by a power surge. A day later, my husband and I came down with Covid. To say that was a rocky start to the year is an understatement. I was simultaneously working online while getting better while taking care of C. while ferrying food items between our half-working fridge and ice chests. I had a mild Covid case and it went away in 2 days. C. had a moderate case and a worrisome fever. He was ill for about 6 days.
Our parents dropped off groceries and God supplied us with a FREE refrigerator, (also dropped off). My brother, who’d just recovered from Covid, came over to help us move everything in/out. After that, February was a busy whirlwind and I had a doctor’s appointment to establish myself as a patient. My triglycerides were high, so my Dr. ordered an A1c (among other labs) to see what was causing it.
From March onward, life was a hectic hurricane. I had a full roster of students and was also publishing my first book, Starganauts! While there were positive aspects of publishing (see below), a negative is that I had multiple obstacles that cost me loads of time. The result? I was basically working 50 hours a week between work and publishing. For 3 months straight.
During this time, my mom and I were also desperately trying to see Audrey, a woman we’d adopted as family. She was like a grandma to me, but sadly, Covid protocols prevented us from visiting. Audrey had cancer, and she went to be with Jesus on April 11th. I’d gotten the vaccine just a day earlier, hoping to see her after my severe side-effects subsided. It was ironically tragic, though I do have the hope of seeing her again in Heaven. Audrey was a godly lady who lived a Christ-like life. She had a firm faith in her Savior, and left a lasting and positive impact on everyone who knew her.
May passed in a blur. I was grieving, and publishing duties had ramped up. I was finally able to shift to a less hectic summer schedule before publishing Starganauts on June 19th! We then celebrated the release of my first novel with a fantastic book signing! Many family and friends came, and their presence/support were a huge blessing.
However, I was absolutely exhausted. All those months of burning the candle at both ends caught up with me. In July, I experienced unusual fatigue and lethargy. I figured it was life circumstances. Publishing had been so exhausting and stressful, and my job is a lot like teaching. It’s immensely enjoyable, but you reach the summer feeling depleted and need rest. This was a rest I had to postpone until July due to publishing, so I wasn’t too alarmed. My best friend M.H. advised me to lay low and truly REST, which I did. The result? I felt back to normal in August.
In September, I went to a follow-up with my doctor and got news that was an absolute shock. “You have Type 2 Diabetes.” Not “your blood sugar is elevated” or “you’re pre-Diabetic.” No. Full-blown, Type 2 Diabetes!!!
I was devastated. T2D doesn’t run in my family and I’ve always eaten a moderate diet.
What followed was a very rough autumn. I accidentally overbooked myself, so I was working more than I’d planned, plus editing M.H.’s sequel for 3 months. Between that, I was adjusting to a low-carb diet, increased exercise, and Metformin. Taking care of my health now cost so much extra time in food prep, exercise, etc. that it added 4 hours a week to my already stretched schedule. On top of that, I was NOT handling the diagnosis well. I felt depressed, questioning, hopeless, and cried easily. I wondered why God would allow this when I already felt overwhelmed by life’s circumstances.
Additionally, finances had been tight much of the year. C’s health has slowly gotten worse from January to now, with his fatigue increasing and his ability to work even a little compromised. He started the year working 10 hours a week at Uber-Eats. He had to drop down to 6. He’s now working about 2-3 hours every week and that taxes him to the limit. His pain was also worse in the summer, although thankfully, that has lessened the last few months.
So now you know the challenges we faced in 2021. However, on to the positive!!!
2021 started off as a year where I felt that things would be better. For starters, I sensed God telling me last January: “Don’t worry about finances. I will take care of it.” For another, a beautiful woman of God I met through Instagram gave me a word for the year: joyful. As I endured Covid, a power surge, and working exclusively online, I wondered how on Earth both of those things could happen. Thankfully, I can say that 2021 was indeed joyful.
The Lord carried out His promise to provide for me and C. MIGHTILY. During January’s craziness, a godly friend dropped an envelope by with cash we needed to make it. God supplied us with a replacement fridge for FREE from a Christian couple we didn’t even know. A lady I met through social media gifted us with money randomly and EVERY time, it was the exact amount we needed. Through medical bills and car repairs, God matched us need-for-need. Then, in August, we got incredible news.
C. had been trying 10 months to apply for benefits through his Disability insurance policy. He’d faced one obstacle after another and we’d even been told he didn’t have a chance. At long last, we got the news: his claim was accepted!!! I cried for joy. After years of barely scraping by, this was a huge blessing! It took a burden off our shoulders and enabled me to relax a little...before my Diabetes diagnosis hit. C. qualified for partial Disability, so it’s supplemental and the amount fluctuates by month. However, we’re super grateful for ANYTHING. God delivered on what He promised. He brought joy and peace this past year.
Publishing has also made me joyful. From God providing me with a budget to the finished product to now being in a bookstore, it’s been one positive after another. Like I said, the publication process was crazy. Yet it’s been wonderful now that Starganauts is out. God’s exceeded my expectations with sales, rankings, the book signing, etc..! The only area my book is struggling in is reviews, and this has to do with quantity rather than quality. When I do get a review, it’s overwhelmingly positive and usually mentions my book touching that person’s life. As I write to glorify God and encourage believers, reading this ALWAYS makes my day. 😀
I’ve also been editing the sequel and that’s been going fairly well. I originally planned to release Starganauts: Retribution in April. However, I’ll be pushing it back to May 4th to give myself more time. Regardless, a sequel is coming and I’m super excited about it!!!!! I already have the cover, and I’m also considering releasing the next book January of 2023. We’ll see where God leads, but He’s continued opening doors for me to publish…and calling me to write.
Despite my husband’s fatigue increasing, his pain levels have been down the last month. His brain fog has been minimal, too. Even better? He’s no longer depressed like he was 2019-2020. He’s also matured and grown in wonderful ways, drawing ever closer to Jesus. C. was also a wonderful support to me through the grief of my Diabetes diagnosis. As a result, our marriage is thriving! That is a continual gift.
Another significant blessing that filled my year with joy was the birth of my nephew! On February 17th, he entered our lives, and I’ve loved getting to know him and being an Auntie all over again. :D Baby Stone has a huge smile, is very calm, and is already trying to walk! His older brother has continued growing as well, and I love his kind, energetic, fun personality. He has a great sense of humor, and it’s a joy to see him interact with his baby brother. Those two make my heart melt, and I’m grateful they’re in my life. My brother and sister-in-law do a great job taking care of…and parenting…them.
Last Monday, I got my A1c tested for the first time in months. All of my numbers have improved!!!! I am now in the pre-Diabetic range and I’ve never felt better. The most awesome improvement? My triglycerides dropped from a whopping 347 to 180!!! God is answering my prayers for remission, and that has been a wonderful note to end 2021 with.
How about you? What was your 2021 like? Comment below…I’d love to know. In the meantime, if you’ve read this far, thanks! May God bless you, and may you have a Happy New Year!
Last but not least, remember how I mentioned Diabetes and questioning God? Well, I finally came to a place of acceptance. I realized that God might have this trial for me, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t pray for remission. I also had a strong desire to do everything I could to get it into remission, so I hit the diet (and exercise) hard. At times too hard, but after adjustment, I settled into a rhythm and things got easier. I also began praying for healing.