God Makes Up for the Years the Locust Have Eaten

God will Repay-4

1. The biggest lesson I learned in December has to do with that verse about locusts from Joel 2:25—
“I’ll make up for the years of the locust,
the great locust devastation—
Locusts savage, locusts deadly,
fierce locusts, locusts of doom,
That great locust invasion
I sent your way.”

2015 ranks right up with 2002 as on of the most difficult years of my life. Thirteen years ago, the ‘locust’ in my life consisted of my husband’s almost fatal cancer diagnosis. We learned a lot that year about how God cares for his children and uses the circumstances in a sinful world to draw us ever closer to him.

This past year the locust came in a different, but just as devastating form—this time attacking our youngest daughter. She ended 2014 in a deep, never-ending depression that medication and therapy failed to touch. Just as suddenly, she seemed to snap out of it and rocket to the opposite extreme (we wrote about our journey for the #write31days challenge).

For the first time all year, our family spent time together doing normal. I cherished each day of our ten-day vacation at our eldest daughter and son-in-law’s home in Oklahoma. Every day together felt like God making good on his promise to ‘make up for the years of the locust.”

Don’t get me wrong—God doesn’t cause cancer or mental illness. But he does answer our prayers to grow closer to him and he does grant us opportunities to grow. Those locust plagues allow us the opportunity to become more malleable and stretch in ways we never would have envisioned that we needed stretching.

Locust plagues allow us the opportunity to become more malleable. Click To Tweet

He will never leave us or forsake us during a locust invasion—and at some point, whether on this earth or in heaven, he will make up for the times of trials.

2. I still get cold sores when I’m stressed. I need to continue working on healthy ways to handle stress at work, because I really hate getting cold sores. Sometimes, I might even act childish and grouchy when I’m stressed. I have room for growth. At least this year’s cold sore didn’t look as horrible as the one I had last December!

3. I caved to the Candy Crush saga. I’ve ribbed my husband for several years because he plays Candy Crush—but when I finished all the levels of Papa Pear, I needed something mindless to do. So, now I have a new, totally worthless skill set (ok, maybe those games do keep my mind a little sharper because I can problem-solve in a non-threatening environment…yeah, that’s it).

4. I’m a nerd. I’m also ok with that. I have a bird list (this also serves as an anti-Alzheimer’s tactic, because I read somewhere once that learning new skills as one ages helps tave off the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia). In December I saw and photographed my 435th and 436th species of bird. God creates such variety and beauty and I can spend hours just watching and photographing the beauty of his creation.

Gray-capped Rosy Finch

A Gray-capped Rosy Finch–bird 435

Mute Swan

A Mute Swan-bird 436

5. I (re)discovered a board game that doesn’t leave me bored. The first time we played Settlers of Catan (about 15 years ago), Pedro hated it. I loved it, and ended up playing on line 15 or 20 times back when it didn’t cost anything. Our daughter and son-in-law had recently purchased the game, and they convinced Pedro to play. This time, he loved it. We spent hours unwinding and laughing around the kitchen table.

6. There’s a reason I said I’d never paint a house again. But I forgot what it was. We spent four intense days patching walls and repainting the interior of our daughter and son-in-law’s house. About the third day, I remembered the reason. It’s hard work! Their home looks lovely and a difficult task tackled together by people you love is always worth the journey.

Tackling difficult tasks with people you love turns hard work into fun and memories. Click To Tweet

What did you learn in December?

I’m linking up with Emily P. Freeman over at her blog Chatting at the Sky.

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • What did I learn in December? You don’t want to know, and I don’t want to talk about it.

    It was frightening, and the worst may be yet to come.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your Dying Spouse 102 – Helping HandsMy Profile

  • Great post! I love your open, honest, transparent writing…and the beautiful photos of God’s handiwork in those precious birds…many blessings to you ❤️
    Beth Willis miller recently posted…Name Above All Names–Everlasting FatherMy Profile

  • Anita, your words never fail to leave me feeling better in some way, usually smiling. Even when you’re writing about the hardest times your referenced, your faith is clear and stronger than you realize. Enjoyed your list. I’ve always appreciated the verse about the years being restored. His word is true. Always.
    Debby recently posted…A Brave New YearMy Profile

  • Still processing December and all of 2015, but I’m coming into 2016 with a resolve to slow down and be more intentional about loving the people God has given to me — and a little less obsessed with the check marks in my day planner. Yeah, the stress cold sores are a dead give away that something needs to change.
    Blessings! I’ve enjoyed working with you in 2015!
    Michele Morin recently posted…The Gift of ListeningMy Profile

    • Thank you for the reminder to have a balance between being intentional and have check lists ;). I’m trying to form lasting habits of NOT wasting time (and using a planner to do so) and being more intentional. But balance is essential!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…The BOOK I read in 2015My Profile

  • Shelby

    Anita, thank you for this encouraging post. You learned a lot!!!! I am walking and have walked some very similar paths to yours and I always find what you write to be helpful.

    And I love your bird photos.

  • What gorgeous bird photos! Our family loves Settlers of Catan. It has become a tradition to play it at least once when we are all together. I don’t usually get phone apps I have to pay much for, but I did spend good money on the Catan game there. It has more than paid for itself, plus I’ve been able to practice strategy. 🙂 A newer game we have come to love is Telestrations – kind of a mix between Pictionary and that old “Telephone” game.

    As another commenter said, I haven’t had much chance to process December yet. We were blessed to have all the kids here for Christmas, plus my husband had the week off afterward. Then the first of this week I had several things to do along with several interruptions, delays, and other factors making those things take much longer than planned. So I feel I am just getting to the place where I can sit down and think for a bit. 🙂
    Barbara H. recently posted…Reading Plans for 2016My Profile

    • It nice to know there are other ‘Settlers’ out there ;). We even went out and purchased the expansion pack so that all 5 of us could play at once. I’ll have to check out Telestrations! Enjoy your time of processing and ‘recovering’ from vacation :).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Escape With the Perfect Gift!My Profile

  • What a great exercise! I love it and will consider adopting it. Blessings as you continue to share from your heart. You bless so many of us!

  • I love it when we can testify on the other side of the locusts feeding frenzy. Enjoyed reading your triumphs.

  • Great post, Anita. Love that you reflected back and still looked forward. And painting – every time I do it, I swear I will never tackle it again, and yet… 😉 Happy New Year to you and yours. So glad you enjoyed some “normal” family time and made sweet memories.
    Tiffany recently posted…When Brave Takes a DetourMy Profile

  • Those verses from Joel turned out to be a lifeline for me, literally about a decade ago. In the midst of my despair, I begged God to redeem my pain.

    And He did. Big time. I could write a book!

    And p.s. –> yep, I’ve been doing the Candy Crush thing this year … no apologies from this end! Sometimes something mindless is the best thing we can do.

    Linda Stoll recently posted…In Which I Don’t Have a One WordMy Profile

  • Anita,

    I always appreciate your candor and how you always point back to God and your hope in God even in the midst of the very hard trials you and your family have experienced. May God use your words to continue to encourage many. I love your bird photos. My phone is my camera but I always appreciate God’s design with birds so thanks for sharing your photos. Many blessings to you and yours in 2016 🙂
    Dolly@Soulstops recently posted…Top 3 Things I learned in 2015 (& song)My Profile

  • Anita, so thankful that you got through those seasons of locusts. It was a crazy hard year for you. But I am so proud of both you and Sarah for sharing your story. It is a story that needs to continue to be told. Also cold sores!! Oh do I get it?!?! I absolutely hate them….and there really seems to be no rhyme or reason to why or when I get them. I started taking Lysine vitamins because someone recommended to them. They seem to be working. Settlers of Catan is a fun game. I remember playing it with some friends at seminary. We had some good laughs too.
    Tara recently posted…Finding My BraveMy Profile

  • Rebecca Jones

    Thank you for this post, it was very encouraging. Care giving is very difficult and I saw it take a toll on my mother. She was over worked and over stressed. She plays Bookworm and that mindless entertainment allows her to relax and renew at the end of the day. We spent a lot of time doing puzzles in her difficult times. She once had a doctor tell her stress would kill her, it tried, but didn’t. Since then, I read that there was a report that said if you believe stress would kill you, it would. That’s sounds about right. I also read that minister Kenneth Hagin Sr., who’s with the Lord, once read about losing your memory as you got older. He was getting older, and started losing his memory but he decided not to believe that report, rather, Isaiah 53. I agree, God does not send it, He restores.

  • Anita, I am sorry your 2015 was so very hard. I am also grateful to God that He gave you light and love through these times. I am also smiling as to your new game skill and photographing your 435 and 436th bird species. WOW! I am a birder as well, but do not photograph them…at least very few of them by the time I find my camera and focus and refocus. I find that the identification process is my bag. And it takes a llloooooonnnnggggg time to figure those little guys out!

    May the bounty of the Lord bless you in this new year.

  • haha, here you are again! I clicked on the thumbnail over at Coffee For your Heart, and ended up back at your blog for the second time (different post). I LOVE the pictures of your bird friends. You’re an amazing photographer, Anita. I’m so glad that you’re on the other side of the locust plagues now. May 2016 be a year of incredible blessings.
    Mary Dolan Flaherty recently posted…A Heart Like GodMy Profile

  • I didn’t realize your daughter’s journey was so recent! Here’s to a “normal” 2016 for all of us! I am absolutely blown away by your bird photos – what an incredible variety! I LOVE seeing your pictures, you have such an amazing eye for birds!
    Melissa recently posted…Easy Chili And Bread Bowls RecipeMy Profile