Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Glimpse: 2013

It's become a tradition for me to sit down near December's end and go through all of my prayer journals for that past year. It's an incredible time to remember, of seeing with a different vantage point the terrain that Jesus has led me through. It's memorable, painful, hopeful. It's a gift to be able to track some of the trails of the year, to see some of the ways they wind into each other, as I spot patterns, themes.

I have 11 pages of notes I made from the year. It was a wild one. 

I was reading through part of James 1 Sunday night, and it interprets me. It interprets this rickety 2013 of a year. 

I read it slow.

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,

for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (1:2-4)

From the get go, even before spring semester began, I got my first test. I didn't see it as a test of faith. {it was} I saw it as a test of whether or not He should have faith in me. {it most definitely wasn't}

The beginning of 2013 was full of a lot of brokenness, tears, attempts to regain my balance and breath. I was so afraid I had failed the Lord that I neglected my faith in Him. I was so afraid when I couldn't see Him working in my life, when I couldn't feel His love.

Praise the Lord for His patience, for the way He grows us in the midst of the pain, for the way that He tends to our faith, even when we're so incapable of growing it ourselves.

It took a long time for me to become a little stronger, to trust that He is the true Redeemer, that He has my little, weak life in His hands, that He is the One holding me up, definitely NOT the other way around. I pray, oh how hard I pray in this moment that the progress we made together will result in a steadfastness, a more sturdy resolve that will outlast the potentially more painful seasons ahead. I am beginning to trust Him more. I have seen His goodness. I have seen His redemption. I have seen His Light in the darkness. I will follow Jesus. :) It's so hard . . . but it's so worth it!!! :)

2013 was a year of answered prayer . . . 

The Lord brought Jessica into my life, a woman who has become one of my closest friends, who understands a conservative background, who encourages me to really follow Jesus. I prayed for a friend in January who could help me walk through some of my questions. Praise JESUS! He answered with one of the most wondrous gifts of a friend! :)

Jesus provided clarity and affirmation for decisions I didn't understand in the making. Holy, holy, holy. 

Sweet friend prayed for peace for me when I was desperate for it (her not knowing this), and my pastor preached a sermon on peace that very day in a way that kept me breathing. Grace.

Being able to get most of the paint I spilled at the Radiator Shop out of the carpet was also a big answer! Ha! Mercy, there were so many times this year when God was so gracious to go behind me and clean up my many messes. We really do love a very good King!

2013 was a year of blessing, even in the painful moments. Three of my friends came down to my house to visit me, home became a place of refuge and joy and rest, one of my profs treated me to dinner and truth and blessing (one of the best memories of this year), my 21st birthday was full of unexpected miracles . . . my first really good day of the year, my sister and I went on several adventures (weird drives, beach trip, hanging out in PDX . . . I love being with you, sissy!), swimming in the nearby lake with friends and sister, going to an interesting church meeting with a friend, hanging out with cousins during the summer (watching "Epic," laughing hard, picnic by a church, swimming in aunt's pool, . . .), MC'ing at my school's All-College Retreat, spending time with wise women, being a bridesmaid for a sweet friend, being a camp counselor at my church's camp, becoming VP at Multnomah (the hard and the blessing of it), laughing so hard with my family when I'm home and our many meals around the table, and so many more . . . 

Jesus has been teaching me about faith, about how I must believe that He rewards those who seek Him (Heb 11:6). He's teaching me about how He wants His people to be whole, healed, that His focus is on the healing when He wounds us to heal, not the wounding. He has taught me about the power of worship, of how life-giving it is to us when the Holy Lord God becomes our focus. He has been teaching me about this world and about Light and how Light and Love do make a difference, even when the darkness seems so severe. He has shown me that my love is inadequate to heal or even fix. I can trust the Lord to heal and fix though. I've learned that I cannot focus my energy on fixing needs but on following Jesus. I've come to realize that my ultimate goal should not be to be relevant but to present a gospel that is intrinsically relatable to everyone. I have seen the damage shame does, and I have seen the glory of His grace. Jesus has shown me that He knows what it's like to hunger and that He honors my hunger to be right with Him. 

I have seen the goodness of my God.

I have tasted it. 

This was the year of Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis, The Holy Wild by Mark Buchanan. This was the year of new songs, of "Shine" (Christa Wells), "Let Go" & "Trust" (Matt Hammit), "Carry Me Now" (Josh Wilson), "Oceans" (Hillsong United), "Symphony" (Tim Be Told), "The Beat" (Ben Rector), "Already There" (Casting Crowns), "Loved" (JJ Heller). 

Here are some of my heart cries from 2013:

"I want to hear Your words because I'm pretty sure they would be gentle or even if not, and You'd have to raise Your voice, at least I could trust Your voice, even if Your Words hurt. I'd rather be hurt by You than be hurt by satan's lies."

"Help me to believe that You desire to lead me into freedom and not bondage, that You know what I need and that there are some things I need that really can be enjoyed, that I'd love."

"It's high time I become a woman of integrity, that I stop playing games and kill the pride and fear that make me try to hold on [when I need to let go] . . . It's time - by Your grace and power, through Your work in me - to follow You fully, to make this about You." 

"Remind me - 
no one is as deep as You,
no one can show me more of the gospel and its realness than You.
no one can draw me out of myself more than You can.
no one will be more faithful,
will know how to make me laugh, 
will always be close to comfort and convict
no one - but You."

I'm glad 2013 is coming to a close. It was one wild year, but one I try to gather courage to thank Him for. :) It was a painful year, a faith-testing year. There were failures, victories, but all encompassed in a faithful love. My Savior is much more powerful than I dreamed and much more compassionate than I know how to understand. 

I'm so glad we don't know what the year will be like when it begins, and I praise Him for the way He can make good out of such painful seasons, that He wastes nothing. :) 

May our faith become more and more steadfast, sturdy, on a God who has proven Himself faithful and kind in the year ahead. 

On to more adventures! :)


Briana said...

I love spending time with you too sissy :) You da bomb. It is amazing how God is using our lives but He definitely has a plan and i bet it is going to be a crazy 2014! Lets live it together. Love you :)

Tiffany said...

How rebellious of me, reading this AFTER the new year has come! But I actually read this at a great time. Thank you for such a refreshing reminder of His faithfulness. He IS the Great Redeemer. Lately I've been feeling the nearness of the substantial change ahead. 0.0 Yikes! It can be pretty daunting. I pray that He will continue to show Himself to be the great, faithful Redeemer who is always near, even when it is so hard, when the darkness seems so thick.
I am so grateful for your friendship!

Anonymous said...

So encouraging! I am so thankful for you and for your perspectives. I praise God that you are able to find the courage to thank Him despite your painful situations and trials! Keep it up chika! =)