It’s hard to believe it’s over. It has been quite the year for my family, probably one of the most difficult years I have lived through. I have heard others say the same thing about this year so I know that I am not alone in this. 2013 has been a year of disappointments, heartbreak, loss, seemingly impossible challenges, and some financial struggles (and some victories, Praise the Lord!). This year we unexpectantly lost our dad/father-in-law/Grandpa and gained a beautiful grandson/nephew.
When the year started out just all wrong, I prayed and told the Lord that I didn’t want to go thru what we were facing and become bitter, but that I wanted to grow from it and be able to help others through my experiences. I awoke in the middle of the night several weeks ago thinking about all that has happened this year and I was reminded of that prayer I prayed. I realized then that God answered that prayer for me. I have learned so much this year about the Lord and His love and grace; I realized this has been a year of spiritual growth for me. I wanted to share some of the things I have learned, hoping that it will be a blessing to you. These are in no particular order.
1. I have learned that I am nothing without Jesus Christ. I need Him for every. single. thing, every. single. second. I have realized this year how truly dependent I am on Him and I am perfectly okay with that.
2. I have learned that He sees the big picture when I only see what’s right in front of me. So many times this year I have wondered why certain things have happened. I have questioned and complained, not understanding at all. It just didn’t make any sense to me, but then a few months later, looking back, I could see how it all worked together and it all made sense. God was working things out for the good all along! “And we know that ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
3. I have learned that I love being a Grandma! I have given much thought on how to explain the love I feel for my grandchildren and there are no words. I love them so much! It is different from the love I have for my own children, but no less powerful. They bring me so much joy and I am so thankful to have them in my life. It makes me think of just how great God’s love is for us. His love is even so much greater for us than the love I have for my children or my grandchildren.
4. I have learned that seeing my children suffer hurt and loss is the most devastating experience I have ever had as a parent. To see your children hurting so much and not be able to take that burden from them and carry it for them is heartbreaking as a mom. It is a tremendous burden that I have to lay at the feet of Jesus again and again, because it is not a burden that I can carry (yet I find myself trying to over and over). 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” I have learned that, although it is not always easy to cast my cares on Him, that once I do, He gives me the peace, strength, and wisdom that I need to be there for my children. And if I want so badly to carry my children’s burdens, how much greater does He want to carry mine for me.
5. I have learned that sometimes when we go through trials that seem so impossible at the time, those trials turn out to be the greatest faith builders. God has done some miraculous things for us this year. They may seem so small and insignificant to others, but to me they were a great faith builder as to what God can do. While facing a seemingly impossible mountain, I can look back and see the other mountains that God has safely brought us through and it builds my faith as I journey on, knowing that He will get us safely through this as well. I am so thankful for the testimonies that God gives us! “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Revelation 12:11
6. I have learned that even though we don’t see God AT work, it does not mean He is not working. I would probably classify this as the most important, most eye-opening thing I have learned this year. It has come by those little steps of faith…of seeing God’s answered prayers come seemingly out of nowhere. To realize that the whole time I was stressing over something, God was at work already making it happen. He is teaching me that I just need to trust Him and leave things in His hands, KNOWING that He is at work even though I cannot see the results I want to see right now. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
7. I have learned that God’s timing is ALWAYS perfect. This kind of builds from the last point, but I am always amazed how God comes through ALWAYS right on time. I like to feel that I have things altogether and that I know what to expect, but this year there hasn’t been too much of that going on. I have had to learn to lean on His timing like never before.
8. I have learned that His ways are not my ways, and that His thought are not my thoughts. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8,9 I am so thankful for this, because there have been many times when I would have (and sometimes have) done things differently, but God’s way is ALWAYS better. I don’t understand His thoughts and how and why He does things the way He does, but I have learned that He knows what He’s doing. Is it always easy to trust Him when you don’t understand? No! Is it worth waiting for Him to work things out His way? Yes!
9. I have learned that the Word of God is more precious to me than ever. I have developed a new love for the Word of God this year. It has been my counselor, my guide, my cheerleader, my inspiration. I have found so much comfort and direction from His Word. It is a beautiful thing to come into His presence and sit with His Word and let Him speak to your heart. There were times this year when I was feeling so low and I would just take my Bible to a quiet place and say, “Lord, I need something from you right now. Please lead me to a scripture that is exactly what I need in this moment.” And you know, I would open my Bible and turn to a scripture that was exactly what I needed. It was as if He was speaking it right to me, and in that quiet place I could almost feel His arms wrap around me and give me the strength to go on. It is amazing to me how you can read the Bible over and over and then a scripture can pop out at you and be exactly what you need at that moment…how a scripture can speak to you in a whole new way in a moment of need. God’s Word is so precious! “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105
10. I have learned that God places people in your life at the exact time you need them. Some of my greatest encouragement this year has come from my blog readers and the people I have met through my blog and my Etsy shop. I don’t think that (you) they have even realized that God has used (you) them to encourage me at exactly the time that I have needed it most. An email, a convo, a comment left would say exactly what I needed at that moment, put a smile on my face, and a warmth in my heart, and motivate me to keep doing what I feel God has called me to do. It is hard to feel creative when your heart is heavy, but God is good and He has a way of always providing what you need when you need it. So, thank you, to all of you that have taken a moment this year to send encouragement my way and for letting God use you.
I know this has been really lengthy and I don’t consider myself a writer at all, so if you managed to get to the end, I applaud you for putting up with me this long. I hope this has been an encouragement to you. I don’t mean it to be a downer in any way, but my purpose in sharing this is to glorify God. He deserves all the praise and glory. Yes, 2013 was a tough year, but God brought us through it and I am so grateful for the things I have learned and the closeness I have found with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. God is good ALL the time! I am looking forward to a year of victory in Jesus in 2014!
Thank you for letting me share my heart with you.