December 2018 definitely makes the top five list for best months of my life. On the outside, it may not look like anything special, but the beauty I’ve encountered, the sheer joy of the Lord I’ve felt this past month is undeniable. God has blessed me in ways I can barely put into human words. He has restored things that were broken. He has watered dormant seeds and turned them into blossoming flowers. He has closed some chapters that were ready to close, but also opened some new ones. He has given me the perfect words to say in moments when I thought I had none. And He has used me, this broken girl, to do remarkable things for His kingdom. I am living proof that God calls the most unqualified people to places beyond any imagining.
This past December, I’ve felt more joy, more love, more family, more friendship, more redemption than I can remember. But it’s also been peppered with some incredibly painful situations, with sadness, and with uncertainty. God takes us up these glorious spiritual mountain tops only to lead us back into the treacherous valleys, but He gives us His strength to walk through whatever darkness we face on the way back down. It’s a beautiful dance really, these ebbs and flows of life.
The Deep Valleys
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” – Proverbs 3:5-8
As January knocks on our door, the ever present uncertainty of money tries to sneak in with it. And quite honestly, I have no idea how we’re going to make it in 2019. This coming year is going to be a challenge with the way things currently are looking. But GOD, He always has plans we can’t see. So I’m moving forward without fear for the future and knowing that all our needs will be provided for and our paths made straight.
But the pain this past month goes deeper than just finances… In the midst of all this joy and wonder of Christmas and time spent with loved ones, my dad had a heart attack and a stroke. He is currently in the hospital scheduled for surgery on January 11. But it’s uncertain. This may be his last December or he may have many more. I simply don’t know, only God. What I do know is that tonight, I had the chance to spend an hour with my dad just the two of us and it was the most precious time I can remember with him. Time that I hope I will never forget. We laughed and cried and grieved and read the Bible and reminisced about the past and the future. It was good.
And if this is the end of his life, I’m glad it’s at the end of this December; This beautiful December full of grace and truth.
The New Chapters
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14
Each December, my husband and I decide on a phrase for the coming year after much prayer and thoughtful conversation that seems fitting for the direction we are heading. The past few years have been as follows:
And for 2019, our phrase is Year of Grace and Truth.
We decided on this name several weeks ago, so I’ve had time to ponder it further and I’ve come to a deeper understanding of how this name fits into my life for the coming year. And now with everything this past couple weeks, it’s all making sense. At first glance, this next year is about going even deeper with God. It’s about service and ministry, about surrender and discipleship. And it’s definitely about keeping our eyes set on Him, the one who is all grace and all truth.
But there is a second layer of understanding to this title. You see, another big focus for my year ahead is simplicity. I’m committing to eating simpler, consuming less both mentally and physically, buying nothing but the basic day to day essentials, and saying no a lot more to ‘opportunities’ and invitations that may come my way.
Simplify. Purify. Create.
“First of all, simplify and purify your life. The art, if it matters, will follow.” – Randal Johnson
I was gifted a poetry book for Christmas, written by the late Randall Johnson, a dear old family friend who passed away from cancer many years ago. But this was the first quote I noticed when I opened it the other day. And my oh my isn’t it true? This quote really sums up my plans for 2019. But the more I’ve thought about it the past few days, the more I’ve realized that this act of simplifying and purifying are indeed grace and truth. Our ability to simplify comes from grace. And the purification we experience comes from understanding His truth. And then, with those two perfect things, everything you want to do and create with your life, if it truly matters, will come.
So in 2019 I want…
I want to live simpler. I want to live yielded to God’s will for my life. I want all Grace and all Truth.
And so this girl carries on, ever a pilgrim, ever marching forward. My heart on fire with love.