The first of a new year always challenges me to reflect and to dream. Last year, as I wrote my meditations and dreams for 2009 God gave me the word ENGAGE as my theme for the year. In many ways 2009 was a difficult year. There were relationships and ministries that were pushed to limits, and some that even needed to end. There were tears shed over people and things that broke me that a year ago I would have sworn those very same people and things were only blessings. It is not a year that I would wish to relive in many ways. Yet, when I look at the year I see over and over again how God has led me to ENGAGE in the midst of the turmoil. And the growth has been a blessing.
Last year I wrote:
"I believe that God is calling me to:
*ENGAGE in my marriage. This year will call for changes in German's work. It will probably mean a new account which could mean a new location. I need to intentionally engage with him to make the transition seamless as well as keeping the pressure off at home."
My marriage has grown more this past year than in the previous thirteen! I began the year anticipating the challenges for him at work. The challenges were there. From mid-January to the end of November there was an ebb and flow of "we need you to change accounts/we need you to stay where you are". The anticipated move did not happen. It will happen in 2010, we see the writing on the wall. But it was not the work challenges that God was preparing me for when I chose ENGAGE as my theme for the year. The challenges that German most faced were in terms of relationships and ministry. Because I was intentionally ENGAGING to keep pressure off at home, we were able to weather the storms that came. We both agree that the resulting relationship we have was worth the struggle in other relationships. 2009 has been our best year of marriage....so far.
"*ENGAGE with my children. This includes more engagement in activity for their education. I'm great with the factual education stuff, but hands-on is not my favorite way of learning. But it is theirs, so I need to engage with them in learning in a meaningful way for them. I also want to be more engaged in their spiritual development. Jewel is at an age where she is beginning to ask many questions about God and why Jesus came, and I want to take full advantage of this time. Finally with both them and with German I want to be more engaged in memory making. Whether it is in building traditions at home, celebrating milestones, or traveling, I want when they look back on these years for them to be able to recall parents who were fully engaged in their lives."
Again, it has been a wonderful year ENGAGING with the girls. We have built memories in Brussels and in Branson and in Turkey. We ended the year building memories with their grandparents in London. We have had a great year of purposeful school as well as seeing huge strides in the stuff of daily learning. I believe that we are seeing spiritual growth in both of the girls. We have brought some of our "church" time home this year, just worshiping and studying together as a family on some Sundays before meeting up with our small group. I think that they are catching a vision that worship is more than what happens in the church building, and that is an exciting thing to see!
"*ENGAGE with Scripture. I've felt the need to commit Scripture to memory for a couple of years. This year my dream is to do that. To that end, I'll be participating in the LPM memory challenge where we are to learn 2 verses a month. I like this plan, because each participant chooses the verses that God is laying on their hearts so it is applicable to day-to-day. I also want to engage Scripture in my personal Bible Study as well as the Ladies Study which I lead. As 2009 comes to an end, I pray that I am able to say that I've gone deeper and learned much. 2009 is also the year that I pray I will find a mentor for me. I've mentored many young Christians, but I am feeling somewhat empty in that pursuit. God has led me to two older women in our church (fairly new to the church) that I feel may be the mentors He has ordained. I'll be approaching them soon to see if they would meet with me, study with me and serve in that capacity."
This is the area I could be disappointed, and to some extent maybe I am a little. I was able to stay on task with Scripture memory through August and for that I am really grateful. I have also learned Scripture with the girls. In so many ways I have gone deeper and learned much. Where I am sad, is that much of it has still been on my own. I so desperately wanted a mentor this year. The lady I felt led to approach was diagnosed with leukemia in March (I hadn't worked up the courage to ask her at that point) and although she won the battle against cancer, her heart gave out in the process. It was only at her funeral that I saw so clearly why God had led me to her name. She inspired me, and I am determined that I will learn some of the lessons that her daughter taught about her in the end.
"*ENGAGE with ministry. My ministry at the church has been curtailed for various reasons this year. The Ladies Bible Study and the house group that meets in our home are wonderful opportunities, but I believe God has something new and "more" for 2009. I'm prayerfully anticipating what that might be."
I'm still waiting for the something "more" as my ministry opportunities through the church were totally cut off this year. The house group that meets in our home did continue and was a total blessing. The Ladies Bible Study was more sporadically attended this year, but there are glimmers of hope that it will be more stable in 2010.
"*ENGAGE with others. I'm feeling led to be more intentional in hospitality, especially with non-believers. Just as I'm seeking a mentor, I need to seek someone to mentor this year. And I want to engage others in this blog. I continue to pray that this is a place of hospitality, encouragement and support. May 2009 see that come to even more fruition."
God honoured this in tremendous ways! There has been only 2-3 weeks in the entire year that our home has not hosted at least one fellowship event or had guests. Some have been impromptu (inviting a church visitor home for lunch), others more elaborate (a large going away party for friends from church). The house group has grown. The Ladies meet to study the Bible. German mentors a young man who comes to hang out with us once a quarter when he is home from school. Our home has been filled and that fills our hearts as well!
So, that is 2009. What of 2010? Well, this year the word God seems to be giving me is
C O N N E C TA move is definitely in our future, so CONNECTion is going to be of utmost importance. You may not get the sense, sitting on that side of my computer screen, of the introvert that sits in this chair. I struggle with making CONNECTions. But that is going to be my life in a few months--new friends, new church, new neighbours, new Bible Study group (Lord, please let this be so), etc, etc. On top of that German will be connecting to a new team and the girls will be experiencing their first move and starting over. It will be my main ministry in the coming months to help them CONNECT and settle into a new phase of life. I cannot yet articulate what I hope those CONNECTions look like at the end of 2010. The only thing I do know for certain is that if I'm going to help them CONNECT, then I'm going to have to stay CONNECTed to God through study, prayer and ministry. I'm excited about 2010, if not slightly apprehensive. But as I stated in my last post, I want to look back on 2010 knowing that my priorities have been to CONNECT with my Saviour and the ministries he has ordained for me.
Praying as you reflect on 2009 and prepare for all that God will give you in 2010 you are filled with excited anticipation of what is to come. Thank you for your faithfulness to visit and encourage me in 2009. I pray you have found a piece of your blessing in the words I've written.