It has been a pretty good year. It has been a very hard year. A little channeling of Dickens there, but it the best way to sum it up. I have learned so much, seen so much, and endured so much. In the end the result is that I am blessed and God is greatly to be praised!
Things I have learned:
1. Trust God, even when life does not make sense, when the pain is the worst imaginable, when the future is uncertain and life is spinning out of control. He alone never fails and keeps His promises.
2. PAIN: It is hard to watch people you love dearly experience the deepest imaginable pain to them. You want to say the right thing. You don't want to say the wrong thing. You want to be there and comfort them. You have to learn that ultimately, you cannot. Words in times like these are best kept simple and few. I love you. I am sorry you must endure this. I am here. I am praying. Other thoughts and words get twisted from intention and delivery and can be hurtful. So for those people hurting, not only say those things also do those things. You will feel helples and powerless. You want to comfort and take the pain away. YOU CAN NOT. All you can do is love them, pray for them, be there, and TRUST GOD to provide the comfort and peace, because only he can.
3. Time really is not our own. None of us are promised tomorrow. Life really is sacred. Our human folly is to live our lives not fully aware of the gift that life really is. We all expect to wake up tomorrow. We all expect to remain healthy and not get cancer. We all expect to have healthy children. Many times the answer is yes and the news is good. However,when we are in the waiting room of life, on our knees before the Lord, sometimes no matter how much you plead , the answer is NO. It hurts. You may have anger, pain, fear, and confusion. We must live our lives daily as if it were our last. We must cherish life. We must realize just how fragile life is. Then we will not take it for granted. Why is it that we only realize just how sacred life is when we are pleading for, or clinging to the life of someone we love, or our own life? Live like there is no tomorrow. And when the answer is NO, the only way through the pain is to TRUST GOD and He will guide you through the valley of death's shadow. He will leave you bread crumbs along the way so that you will know that you are not alone.
4. Fellowship. It is important. God ordained it. We all need one another. We are wired for connection. Even when we want to withdraw and run away because life is too hard, too busy, too crazy or people are too hard to bare, we must continue the fellowship. We are all broken. We must see each other through God's eyes. We must live together in LOVE and we must encourage one another. Our Lord tells us to use your words not to tear down, but to build up and encourage one another. This is so important. When you want to pull away remember this: The enemy is counting on our isolation. He wants to use our pain, fear, shame, guilt, loneliness, bitterness, and resentment to isolate us away from our fellow man. That way when we are at our weakest and defenses are down he can snatch us up and devour us. When we are in fellowship of believers and you are at your weakest, and I have been there, those fellows can stand around you, protect you, hold you up in prayer and in words and protect you from the one that is trying to tear you from God's grace and love.
5. Happiness is temporary. JOY is ETERNAL. The world promises happiness. It fails to deliver. There are brief moments of elation with new stuff, fun adventures, and great entertainment. Those emotions are so fleeting. When the hard stuff happens, in the midst of sorrow, joy can exist. Happiness and sorrow together are improbable. Joy and sorrow. This contradiction exists through GOD and in GOD alone. In our deepest valley, our driest, longest deserts, GOD is a GOD who provides and JOY does come in the morning.
6. LOVE When all is said and done, LOVE is the only thing that matters. I spent a lot of time this year praying for God's will in my life. I learned that whatever I do or wherever I work, the most important thing is that wherever I am I must LOVE. The greatest LOVE of all is not self love, that is the stuff of the devil. The greatest LOVE is from God that He sees a people undeserving of His love, breaking his rules, hurting one another, stealing, lying, cheating, and murdering. He looks past all that to our potential. He can see what we look like when all the bad is removed.
An architect looks at space and envisions the final product, a firm and beautiful yet functioning structure. An artist sees the empty canvas and envisions the great masterpiece. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them - Ephesians 2:10 We are God's workmanship. We are his masterpiece. He doesn't see the wires that were crossed, the cracks on the ceiling,the paint that bled one color into another. He sees His finished product, the end result. We can get there, but we must surrender to him and LOVE him more than ourselves and more than anyone or anything. Through this LOVE of God the good works he has crafted us for, the function of our building, the aim of our painting in this life is to LOVE others.
We are to LOVE God and He in turn fills us with such great joy, that we cannot help but give it away and LOVE others as we love ourselves. We are to do everything in LOVE. Praise, criticize, think, act, walk in love. When we do this we are performing the works that God prepared for us to do. Jesus was not a sinner like us. He died for us. No greater love than this, that a man should lay down his life for his friends (in the book of JOHN). TRUE LOVE is GOD's love and no other love can compare. Though we cannot achieve it this side of heaven we should strive every day until it is our last breath to LOVE like GOD loves.
What a year. I thank GOD for the trials and the triumphs. I have learned so much and have so much more to learn. I thank him for my dear family:
My husband that is my biggest fan;
Kyra means light and she is definitely a light in my life and a living embodiment of God's love and grace for me;
my Mom and Dad , my Step Mom and Step Dad- they have given me so much love and taught me so much;
my sweet brothers- I am so blessed not just to have them but to have wonderful relationships with each of them. I hear of people that don't have the same with their siblings. I am so blessed.
My SISTERS in LAW and Christ: I have learned how much you can love someone that is not blood relation as if they were. These ladies are a blessing to me. Being overprotective I always worried about whom my brothers would marry. So far, God has blessed our family with two wonderful, God-fearing sisters.
My step sister: she helped me learn first how to have a sister, we have shared the journey of parenting very closely as our only children are 5 weeks apart.
My grandparents,uncles (yes you UNC), Aunts, cousins, nephews and nieces and of course I have the best friends. So many. I think God to for my soul sister....in Christ, you know who you are...you are such a blessing to me....
I was born an idealist. I used to say life has tempered my idealism to optimism. God in his fun, loving, and yet wise way coupled me with a pessimist. As I am stabbing windmills, my mate reminds me that the giants are windmills. I have learned it is ok to stab windmills. And now in the light of this reflection on the past year, people say some see the glass as half empty (Ted, love you) and some say it half full.....well TRULY I SAY THIS my cup does run over and it only starts with God's love and grace and extends to each of you that are in my life. May you all be blessed and see the abundance in your lives, despite the pain may you always know the JOY that comes through God's peace.
Adieu to a hard, good year.
With hope, I look forward to the shaping and molding God has planned for this workmanship he is creating of this broken, silly, poetic soul....
Happy New Year!