It best to explain this entry after a long pause with the words that frequently come on my heart. Luke 2:19, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
Bloggers neglect their sites, pay domaine fees, and occasionally post an article about what has prevented them from writing. The reality is, writers are constantly writing just as artist are always creating but most often the compositions formulate in their heads or in private journals that may never be seen.
I’m been in a season that required more pondering than publishing. My mind is crammed with projects I long to produce– canvases to paint, new techniques to master, and topics to dissect on this obscure outlet. When I started I was taught to build a platform for my writing. I had a Facebook page and I often used it to affirm my writing. I took a step back knowing it was a great time to do more pondering. The changes of recent years are indescribable, even to fellow believers. We are in a world that finds it difficult to walk by faith without tangible proof and justification. As I the years pass, I am discovering less is more in many ways.
Today I will simply post a paraphrased version of our year end update to start the process of writing again. Some of you were following along and it will recalibrate what will follow. I am hopeful to have shorter posts that may not come to a definitive conclusion. I’ve grown comfortable losing control and simply having faith that everything will work out and God will be glorified above all. It is liberating to come to this place. I won’t remove older posts that have been a part of the journey to where I’ve come to be. I won’t promise when I will write and won’t make it a routine. Social media platforms have transformed us in unhealthy ways. I hope introspective voices will grow in numbers to silence the narcissism that is prevalent today. Everyone has a story and a valuable testimony. I’ve tried to listen more and have enjoyed hearing simple details of life that once eluded me.
Blah! Another paragraph… what happened to brevity? I’m not going to proofread. I’m just going to stop writing, publish, and walk away from the computer.
December 31, 2018
Have you watched a surprise unfold where the blindfolded recipient is led somewhere with complete trust? Recent holiday ads and Christmas romance movies are flashing through my mind with this opening sentence. I hope you have had a December to remember and joyous 11 months preceding the holiday season as well. I’ve had visions of sugarplums and our holiday letter dancing in my head. The struggle to write a brief yet concise update has plagued me for weeks. I’m not sure how to put 2018 into words or offer prophetic optimism for 2019. We are walking by faith more than ever before and know what awaits us is larger and more valuable than a new BMW with a big red bow or a sparkly trinket in a tiny velvet box.
A stereotypical holiday letter is filled with proud moments from the year. Extra points for a photo from a vacation destination and bonus points for a family photo in coordinated outfits (especially if the outfits match the card design). I jest because I love to open holiday mail to stay in touch with family and friends. Thanks for including us if you’re still sending holiday greetings. I miss our long-time tradition of sending a Thanksgiving reflection and handmade card each year. I long to revive the tradition but realize I’m simply not able to invest the time I once did. Perhaps you’ll be surprised in the future to read a letter in November rather than January.
In years past, God placed a meditation on my heart each year for reflection—grace the year mom passed away, blessings the year everything was going well, simple joy when things were getting complex, hope when I hoped for the wrong things, humble the year I was downsized (again), and love when he started sending us on international missions. These were just some of the lessons that came through the annual composition. It has been a few years since a solitary word has been placed on my heart yet no others were needed. A few years ago I was given “PRAYER” and knew I had a lot to learn.
Prayer is the foundation of and essential to faith yet is often my last resort rather than first action. We learn to pray when we are young before we “lay me down to sleep” but barely dive as deep as God intended our prayer life to be. I strive to enrich my prayer life with each passing year and hope to always have this introspection on the forefront of my heart and mind. With fervent prayer comes authentic love, simple joy, eternal hope, true peace, and humility. I have found indescribable peace knowing the same Spirit that has enabled miracles since the beginning of time is accessible any place and any time. How liberating it has been to relinquish control of my circumstances and come to a point in life that I don’t desire a thing if it isn’t in accordance with God’s will. A midlife crisis is often associated with this season of life. There are no regrets to know all things have been used for a specific plan and purpose. If life were a walk in the park, eventually we would stop seeing the beauty around us. I pray each of you will find this balance in life if you haven’t already. The gift of Christmas truly is a peace beyond human comprehension. This gift is eternal rather than a season.
Writing this prelude is an important foundation to redirect the spotlight from our own accomplishments to give credit where credit is due. It is the answer to the long asked question, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” He gets the glory for giving us the strength to press on when the world would rationalize defeat.
How wonderful it would be to write a letter with nothing but good news. We have had trials this year and found ourselves in difficult places. Many of you have gone through tumultuous waters as well and are ready for the New Year to arrive. God has been good through it all. We are learning to seek Him sooner and look for direction to abide in His will rather than our own emotional navigation through life. We are a multigenerational family and the recent seasons of life have been interesting, complex, and atypical. Despite the challenges, every day is a fresh start with no regret for the experience each day holds.
I started a second job unloading semi trailers (by hand). They offer great benefits for part-time employees. A few years of underemployment prompted me to seek good health insurance and extra income. Years sitting at a desk was taking a toll on me and I needed to regain physical strength/mobility. I juggled this with my full-time job for a few months but decided to utilize the continuing education benefit. This coming semester I will take classes at a local community college to discern next steps. I let go of my full-time job and appreciate the peace of mind I’ve gained. I will work the night shift and also return to waitressing with a new gig at a local Italian restaurant. This is more than a midlife crisis– I hope my life will be a testimony to walk by faith rather than sight. Times are lean but we are rich with blessings and everlasting contentment. This is the key message I hope to convey—the ways of this world would have us on completely different tracks in life. Contentment, worldly logic, and self-sufficient knowledge might have us way off course from God’s desire for our lives. There is much left to do but it isn’t overwhelming with the understanding we aren’t accomplishing tasks for our own purpose or on our own strength or ability. We are simply willing.
We long to see our friends, to stay connected throughout the year, to pray each other through difficult times, and offer prayers of praise for celebrations of life. We desire your prayers for health, stamina, discernment, growth in our faith, and our ties as family to become stronger with each day. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This doesn’t mean we can do anything we set our mind to. It means we can do that which God plans for us to do with the life He has given us. We are blessed. Life is full. To God be the glory for His grace and mercy to allow us to be used for His purpose (Romans 5). Our prayer for you is health, stamina, discernment, growth in your faith and strong ties with your family as well. If your next season is uncertain, we pray you too will feel confidence to take the next step even if the path is unclear.
[Above is edited to remove personal content.]