Sunday, January 1, 2012

a year in review

A year ago this blog did not exist, but I did write down my goals and prayers for the future of 2011 over on my private family blog.  I sit here in my new green chair alone in the quiet reflecting on how good our God is.  He planted many of these things in my heart twelve months ago in preparation for all he would do last year.  I had no idea what he had planned.  Take a trip down memory lane with me and see the updates I added in red.  Stay tuned for an "in the new year, 2012" post soon-ish.  Enjoy!  God is so good.

Original post date: 31 December 2010

Alright. We are minutes from ringing in the new year out here on the east coast. We all had fun with some new friends tonight who came over to eat dessert and play games with us until their kids had had enough. Now it is time to get down to business. Many of the things on my list this year have been running through my mind a lot lately. I am confident they were placed there by God. I am excited to see Him make some changes in me during this new year. He has given me a glimpse into what my part in those changes will be, but I am looking forward to the unknown. 2011 will be unlike any other. So here we go.

* read through the Bible together again.

--We did this again...kind of.  My Love and are on different days and months behind schedule, but we press on.  We will finish our One Year Bible in God's perfect timing.  In fact, it has been amazing to see God speak to me on daily readings "meant" for other days and yet amazingly perfect for that particular day in my life.  His sovereignty is amazing.
* complete a Bible study with each of my sisters (starting with Justine)...surprise girls! I already talked about it with Bee and it got me thinking. With modern technology the way it is, there really isn't anything keeping us from studying God's Word together and chatting about it over Skype. I can't wait.

--There are not enough words to describe how this goal blessed my life.  I was a little over zealous in thinking I could manage to do a Bible study with each of my sisters in one year.  But the one I did with my youngest sister was life changing for us both.  We read through "LORD, I Want to Know You" by Kay Arthur.  Since we live on opposite coasts we read a couple chapters at a time and then Skyped during nap to discuss what we had learned.  At first I didn't know what to expect but God showed up and blew my socks off.  I was so blessed to have a front row seat from a country away in literally watching the Lord work in my sister's heart.  After years of praying for her (alongside many others), I can say with confidence that she is firmly in her Father's hands.  His love and grace overwhelm me.  He NEVER gives up on us even when it seems like the rest of the world has.  Sometimes it just takes us to slow down and be still long enough so we can hear his still small voice speaking directly to our hearts.  Keep listening, sister.  He has big plans for your life for his glory.  I SO loved getting to KNOW the names of God with you in 2011.  Our relationship as sisters is stronger and I am thankful for all you taught me during our time together every week.  You remain in my prayers.  I love you.
* read more books (at least one a month)...We got some new books for Christmas and have been filling our spare time together reading. I love it! With this one comes a reason to reevaluate what we do with idle time. 

--I did read some amazing books this year but not as many as I wanted to.  One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp transformed my life and perspective.  Through the process of looking for and thanking God for his grace in my every day life, I experienced overwhelming joy in varying circumstances.  God used this book to take my eyes off of me and wake me up to what is really important in this life: to know Him and to make him known.  I also read The Fitting Room by Kelly Minter, Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and Decision Points by George W. Bush which were all great books.  I've got a new stack on the bookshelf from Christmas gifts that will get me going in 2012.

* learn a new creative hobby that I can use to bless others

--Somehow this one escaped me again.  I do enjoy being creative but perhaps God has other talents that need to be highlighted at this chapter of my life instead.  I hope there is a future that includes blessing others with some new creative hobby.
* set aside a date night once a month...we thought back to this year and realized we had been on two dates all year. Now in our defense we were busy having a baby and caring for her immediate needs. But two dates? That is pretty sad. We both want to make that a bigger priority.

--Haha!  This didn't go as planned either.  We did really well at the beginning of 2011.  We hired a friend's daughter in our neighborhood to babysit on a couple of occasions but with visiting family coming we discontinued that to wait for free childcare while they were in town.  I am certain we went on more than two dates in 2011 (probably more like six) but our goal of once a month was not fully realized.  Now that the kids are a little older I can see this becoming easier in the future.
* boldness!

--I am not sure how to respond to this one.  God did light a fire of boldness in me this year.  In conversations with friends I would often ask probing questions trying to deepen our fellowship and create opportunities for prayer and accountability.  I spoke more openly in public using the name of Jesus in my every day conversations with people.  I challenged many to open up and pray for loved ones and to be open to however God might want to use them in this moment.  Yes, I will say boldness was definitely the word of the year in more ways than one.  It is likely that some chose to stay at a distance from me because my passion for God this year made them evaluate their own relationships with him.  It is not my job to keep the peace and make people feel comfortable.  It is my job to please God and bring him glory.  Boldness.  Yes, I think I will choose to take that into the near year as well.  And if you have known me in the past, then you know it is only by God's strength that boldness could ever be used to describe a year in my life.  A bit of a former wall flower in social gatherings, God has done a big work in me to be able to use me for his purpose.  Isn't it usually in the opposite way than we think we can be used?  I find the stuff we are weak in is exactly what he wants to use to highlight his strength.  So if boldness was the theme of 2011, to God be the glory.  Because everything inside me knows that didn't used to come naturally.

* have friends and family come visit us. ;)

--Oh boy did this happen.  With all the craziness that came with moving at year's end, I had almost forgotten how many loved ones we were blessed to see this year.  All of our parents, two sisters, a niece, and several out of state friends.  We had an amazing year of site seeing and making memories with many who we know and love.  Thank you to everyone who came to stay with us in our home.  We loved having you and hope to see more of you in the new year.

* strengthen our close friendships here in Virginia

--  Yes this happened too.  As we started praying for the needs of our close friends here, we saw our relationship with them strengthen.  This has not always come naturally to me in the past either.  I know God wanted me to make deeper connections with friends this past year and that required me to invest in them and to open myself up to being vulnerable.  I know God used our time there at our old home to bring together several families that weren't plugged into any real group of friends at our church.  We became a family away from each of our own extended relatives and enjoyed many holidays making memories together.  We miss them all terribly but are lucky to still be close enough to see each other from time to time. I have been SO blessed to see God work in their lives and know we will be close for many years to come even though we now live further away.

* make ourselves available to be used for God's glory in our church.

--Well.  I'm not sure this was clearly realized in a way I can put in words but I KNOW God used us there.  Some things we just won't be told until we get to heaven.

* see complete restoration (and healing) of fractured relationships in my extended family

--God has been working.  He did some amazing work in 2010 but unfortunately there is still more healing to be done.  The first step will be forgiveness.  We continue to shower many in prayer.  Life is too short to make it about us, people.

* see family and loved ones return to (or accept) a relationship with God

--I know this happened in multiple people.  We continue to pray for the salvation and restoration of many who we love and some we have never met.  I really believe God listens to our prayers for the lost and keeps tending to the soil until the perfect time when the Holy Spirit opens their eyes to all he has done.  We pray and pray for that day to be soon for so many.

* see complete physical healing of a young "extended family member"

--A year ago a sort of extended family member (by marriage) was diagnosed with neuroblastoma.  We prayed for his life and health and family and for God to get the glory through every part of the journey.  I think he was eight.  He had surgery.  He did two rounds of chemotherapy.  The tumor stopped growing and he is currently doing well.  We praise God and continue to pray for this whole situation as we ask Him for complete healing.  None of this is surprising to God.   

* witness the miracle of life given to those who I know long to be parents (through pregnancy/adoption)

--WOW!  This sentence gives me chills now in light of the future before us.  We have been overwhelmed by God's love this year as we prayed with our dear friends who became the forever family of two children from Ethiopia.  We were present at the airport when they arrived home.  We have watched them grow and settle into a life that was chosen by God just for them.  It has been amazing.  We continue to pray for this family in the new year as they move forward with the adoption of another child.  God places the lonely in families, people.  We remain in prayer for more loved ones who we trust WILL be parents in His timing.

* keep my family safe and healthy in the year ahead

--I think I put this one in at the end for good measure.  Good health and safety is something we take for granted.  We should place even that in the Lord's hands to do with as he pleases.  We praise God for two healthy children and acknowledge that he is the reason for our safe keeping.  Thank you Good Shepherd.

Thank you Lord for already knowing the outcomes to all these personal goals and ongoing prayer requests. Mold me and shape me to be your instrument in 2011.



To be continued...

1 comment:

Persicke Family said...

WOW! God has been at work, and you continue to inspire and encourage me!