Leaving 2013

2013 has been quite the year.
 It's brought blessings in unexpected ways, and joys that fill up my soul to overflowing. It's brought growth in my family through the birth of our youngest, Maximus, as well as growth in our marriage and in our parenting as our priorities have evolved and shifted and become something deeper and more valued this year. 

It's also brought pain in unexpected ways.
I remember leaving the end of 2012 thinking that we can only go up from there… and then 2013 smacked me in the face. Geesh.
We've hit roads in our journey this year that I never imagined. It's brought a heaviness that feels too great to carry at times. It's brought confusion, question marks, grief, and the muddiest waters I have ever walked through so far. I've been at points where I think I've hit my lowest only to be surprised that I can go even lower. Through trial and error, I'm learning that things can always get worse, so to be thankful regardless.

I'm overwhelmed by the good and by the bad. Through the heaviest and lowest and darkest points, it's brought an honesty in our lives that we never gave the time to look at before. Honesty is good but can be painful too. 

Through this season of life I have experienced such a whirlwind of things that tossed me into such deep waters that I didn't see getting out of. I knew all the right answers. I knew what I was supposed to do and Who I was to turn to *but* that didn't make it any easier to actually do it. When all you feel is numb, taking the next step seems better to put on the to-do-list for the next day.

I don't share any of this to complain or to have a pity party or for the fixers out there to try and fix things, but I share it to encourage those of you who are struggling, to keep on going, to keep on pursuing Jesus in the midst of confusion, to keep on re-fixing your eyes on Christ during the battle and to not give up. Winter is here but Spring is coming.

I've learned so much about being intentional with my life. Whether I like it or not, whether I'm in the mood or not, whether I am in plenty or in want, life keeps on going and it moves so fast. Either I can choose to be intentional with it and be faithful in the small things and be thankful for the blessings I do have, or I can get stuck in self-mode and let life pass and play victim to my circumstances. It's a choice to be intentional. 
It takes effort and time and energy. 

Life is messy. Pain is promised to everyone. It rains on the just and the unjust. It doesn't always seem that way because we all tend to put our best foot forward, but when you get behind-the-scenes, you find out that everyone else has bad days/weeks/months/years too. I did a little 15 second video on Instagram of some of the highlights of this year and it makes the year look happy and sweet. But those are just the *highlights*. Amazing highlights, but not the whole story.

I'm learning to cling to the good and move forward in the rest. To rejoice in the many blessings and pray about the stuff I can't control or understand. After being in church ministry for years as a pastor's wife and then being out of that life, it has been sobering at times, but man alive, it's taught me so much about life and Christians and Christianity and Jesus in ways I wouldn't have learned otherwise. I'm thankful for the Lord's constant pursuit in my life. I love reading to my kids, The Jesus Storybook Bible. It says over and over that God has a "never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love." 
He does.

I was reading this morning in Philippians where it says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice." Chuck Smith said, "I can't always rejoice in my circumstances but I can always rejoice in the Lord." Indeed.

I know that nothing is wasted and that the Lord works all things for the good(Rom. 8:28). I know that the Lord disciplines those He loves(Heb. 12:6).I know that peace comes from keeping my mind and thoughts on the Lord (Is. 26:3-4). I also know that, like the story of Joseph in the bible, sometimes some serious shmuckity-smuck has to hit the fan and happen before God is ready to reveal the bad-A ending. He always has a plan and His stories rock the house. So I'm learning to wait and I'm learning to trust and I'm learning that what Satan intends for the bad, God intends to make good (Genesis 50:20).

"God's people don't live on explanations; they live on promises."
-Warren Wiersbe

My verse for the new year:
Philippians 3:13-14
"… but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

2013 has been a wild year and as thankful as I am to be heading into a new year, I am so grateful for all that I have been given and blessed with this year as well. Family, friends, neighbors and even strangers have shown up for our family in some amazing ways. The body of Christ in action can rock your socks off sometimes. It's humbling. And for crying out loud, I have the greatest babies in the history of baby making. For reals. I am honored, amazed, thankful and blown away that I get to be their Mama. It's the coolest gig.

"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison."
- 2 Corinthians 4:17

Cherish the highlights. 
Cling to the good.
Pray through the rest (actually all of it).
Rejoice in the Lord.
And count your blessings, for there are many.

Cheers to a new year!



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