Friday, January 3, 2014

Hope In the Midst of it all.

I was texting a friend this morning. She asked me how I was.  My response pretty much sums up right now,
        "I'm good! Just sorting out the last year. Looking at lessons that I need to learn from it. It wasn't a fun year. There were good moments and God was with us...but it's a year that I'm leaving feeling weary. I'm looking forward to this new year.  I have hope for this year."
I've gotten pretty introspective over the Christmas Break.  I've spent a lot of time in prayer. I've spent a lot of time in contemplation.  I am still in that mode.  It's been so good to quiet my soul and withdraw from the normal routine for a bit.  It's been so good to actually be still enough to hear God's voice. It's refreshing.  It's healing.
2013 was a year of hard work. It was a year where I had to look at my dreams and goals and look them square in the face and let many of them go.  It was heartbreaking and exhausting in the moment.    When you hold so tightly to something for so many years that's the result when you don't see it coming to fruition.  I had to face exactly where I was standing in that moment not where I wanted to be instead.  It's letting go of pride.  And yet, in the midst of letting go God gave me so many sweet moments.  He carried me.  He encouraged me in ways that no one could.  He gave me hope as no one can.  In the midst.  He used many people, that he has placed strategically in my world, to bless me and encourage me to keep going and that we would make it...and there were people to teach me.
This last year was a year that I was rushing around like a crazy person doing all the things I "should" do. I got so caught up in the "should" that I never stopped to see if I was actually doing any good in all the craziness.  The result is exhausting.
So this year of 2014 my personal goals are along the lines of stopping and listening more.  To quiet my soul.  To have less "I need to do" and ask more "What would You have me do today?" "What did you create me to do today?"
I'm not interested in being exhausted for the sake of looking good on the outside.  I am interested in pursuing God and seeing what it is that He would have me do.   He is a much more gracious taskmaster to me than I am to myself.
In letting go of those things that I needed to let go of and all the fear that went with that...fear of failure...I am able to see more clearly. I am able to have a much clearer mind...less fog.  My mind is not full of what I'm failing at and the weight on my shoulders that comes with that.
As I was looking back over the year all the things that were so very stressful...God took care of.  He has blessed me with gracious people in my life who see my flaws and who don't kick me when I'm down but instead help to life me up.  He has given me the most amazing husband a girl could ask for. I learn so much from this gracious, funny, kind, sweet, forbearing husband of mine.  He has blessed me with 2 beautiful daughters who amaze me every day.  The three people who are in my world every day are magnificent gifts from a magnificent God. He knew that I needed them.

As I read through my Bible  and live my life I keep seeing God's graciousness.  I see His mercy.  He does not give me what I deserve.   I see His love towards  us.  I see Him carry me and bear my burdens when I let Him. I see Him singing over me.  I see Him rejoicing over me. He never changes.  The verse that keeps going round and round in my brain is this...the Lord speaking,
"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  
~ Matthew 11:28-30 ~
I just finished reading a book called Needless Casualties of War by John Paul Jackson.  Something that captured my attention (well one of the many things) was this
"Everything I do is to seek to know God's heart, to learn what revelations or miracles He wants to accomplish. And then I try to participate with Him in advancing the Kingdom of God...over the years I have discovered a simple truth: whatever you focus on, you steer towards...Whatever you fix your attention upon will consume you. It's true in the natural  and in the spiritual. Scripture encourages us to focus our attention on Jesus, who is altogether lovely, true, noble, just, pure, virtuous, ad praiseworthy. he has a good report...Frankly, my determined focus is to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, humble myself, and pray, I also focus on my need to live a holy life unto God and to pursue peace. God's word speaks of humbling ourselves before our Creator and one another. If we do, Scripture promises all these things will be given to us. Embracing a posture of humility and repentance will alter the atmosphere around us. God dwells with those who are contrite and humble"
Last year my focus was on the stress of situations.  I spent time praying but I was consumed with stress and the problems.  There is a lesson in there for me. It did no good to be consumed by those things.  It was a waste of time and energy. I do not enjoy waiting time or energy...they are precious commodities to me.  So along with so many who have gone before for time out of mind my determined focus is to seek first God's kingdom.  He has given me new eyes in this new year.

In that there is hope.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."  
~ Hebrews 12:1-3 ~