Every year you hear it… at least a dozen times.
“Can you believe another year is coming to an end?”
This time I can honestly say, “Yes, I believe it!”
Over Christmas I was actually able to do a lot of thinking. And much of that thinking was about the last year that is now trailing behind us. At times I was tempted to drown as I wrote in my last post. There were moments that I did, at least in my tears. I don’t want to necessarily focus on the negative, but you can’t ignore it either. It happened. It’s real. The tears and pain and grief are so real. Why try and brush it neatly under the rug?
I’ve never really been good at that kind of ‘house keeping’.
I’d rather talk about it. Look deeply at it. Face it head on and share what God has done with it and through it. Or even go so far as to admit: I still don’t understand, I’m still reeling, the pain is still present.
Is that ok?
This week I have been burdened with thoughts of Ukraine. It was a year ago exactly that I was there. I had just met with the first participant. I was excited and scared and loving being there! I was looking forward to the time of study that I would have with the women and the other leaders. I was enjoying time with family and friends. It was such a special trip.
When we left I didn’t know what our next step would be. Initially I thought it would be some kind of action. Putting together another team, planning another trip, raising more money. After a lot of prayer and a lot of ‘trying’ and talking and thinking and planning… nothing. What had just fallen into our laps the year before seemed to have dried up. God was saying wait.
We are still waiting.
And it’s been hard. Sometimes discouraging. I have questioned God, myself, His call. At times I feel as though I have let them down and the many who supported us financially and prayerfully. I have no answers to their questions. I have no answers to my own. I have no doubt we did what we were called to do. No doubt at all. But I’m left to wonder how it will all come together. Will this special ministry continue? What is God going to do?? Will I be apart of it? Am I the only one praying for post abortion ministry to take root in Vinnitsa? At times I feel as though I am…
My thoughts have gone to the many friends who I have watched suffer loss this year. For some it was loved ones to death, deployment, or miscarriage; lost jobs, houses, marriages, and relationships… Some were expected. And some were beyond shocking. My heart has bled with you and for you. I have felt helpless. I have stayed awake nights praying through tears. I have been angry and yelled out in rage. I have even thrown things. It has been difficult watching and praying from a distance. Feeling your pain even though it was not my own.
My thoughts have lingered on my own losses and struggles. There is the ever present parenting and marriage struggles, even though we are good. I have to remind myself, to avoid complete despair, this will never be heaven – at least not until we are dead. This has been the most wonderful year for our family, truly. I am so, so very grateful. We have all grown and matured and applied the difficult lessons from our harder years. It makes me thankful for the hard work we put into ‘hanging in there’.
And for the grace of God that didn’t allow us to let go, even when we really tired of holding on. It will forever be a process. But I’m not afraid anymore. In fact, I am quite at peace and enjoying this season of rest.
I have thought back over the last 5 months. Finding out we would have another has brought me such joy. For over a year I had felt that someone was just missing. I would have moments of slight panic, feeling as though I had lost one. I would count: 1,2,3… 1,2,3. They were all there, so why did I have this intense feeling that one was not? After a long time of praying, I realized that God had been preparing my heart for another. And when it really came to be, there was a deep sense of completeness that came over me. This pregnancy has been a joy. Even through the miserable days of being sick and exhausted I was able to be thankful. To rest in the gift of this little one. To recognize another chance given to me by God. My last pregnancy came at such a challenging time. I am glad that this time I am at peace and able to truly relish each moment.
But I wouldn’t be honest if I left it at that. The first 4 months of being sick was hard as many of you know from either my whining or your own experience. Certain areas suffered at my lack of attention and energy. The kids got out of control at one point, so did the house! Just when we had gotten into a great school routine, everything came to a forceful stop. But life couldn’t stop. We had to keep going, as miserable as it was. Somehow we got through, although I feel as though I lost about 4 months of my life. Mid November I realized that it was no longer the middle of the year, but the end! How the heck did that happen without me noticing until then!! Truly a bazaar feeling.
In the midst of that particular trying time for our family, we were hit hard with the news that our beloved pastor had resigned and under difficult circumstances. There were more questions than answers. I wanted to stop. To say, let’s just all take a break, take time to absorb things, you know, process. Can’t we just take a minute?!? But no. Once again, life doesn’t stop, even when you feel there is no possible way to keep going. One thing I have learned through this situation that threatened to shake me to my core, was that God doesn’t need us to hold things together. Thankfully, it’s not up to us. It’s not our church, it’s not our ministry – they are His. We are His. And even though everything is falling down around our ears, somehow, He is still holding us together. It’s not our job, even though we get sucked into the thought that it is. We don’t even have to try and keep it neat and tidy for God. Because He is even in the midst of the mess. The horrendous, disgustingly revolting mess. He’s there and He’s promised to never leave us, even when we ARE that mess. Can I say that I am thankful for this? Not yet. I’m just not there yet. I am still reeling. I am still yelling out in rage. I broke down and cried about it just yesterday. The pain is still very much present. And I think it will be for a long time. Some things just take a long time to work through.
And how could my thoughts not be consumed with the fact that my sweet sister and her husband and her baby are no longer safe within my reach. Just a week before Christmas they moved to Honduras to live with Javier’s parents. Am I glad for them? Yes. Do I feel certain they are following God’s call? Without question. But is it hard? Incredibly. I haven’t been able to write about it because honestly, I just haven’t been able to. It’s just been too hard. Their leaving has left a huge gap in my life and a slight tear in my heart. I miss them. I don’t like it either. I’ve never really had to miss anyone like this before. I have been sheltered all my life from this kind of separation. And now that I am holding it in my lap I’d rather not have to deal with this discomfort, this uneasiness in the pit of my stomach. But it’s not something that I can make go away, like a headache with the aid of some Tylenol. I’m stuck with it. So carry it I must.
I know I write these words at the risk of sounding despondent, despairing, depressed. But please believe me when I say I promise, I’m not. Somehow I am really ok. These have been hard things. It’s been a long year. But still, somehow I have been able to cling to God’s promises through all of it. Not perfectly, sometimes a little late. I definitely have frequent moments of giving into my emotions that are heightened anyway at the moment! I can truly say that God is carrying us. There is just no other explanation. I feel His presence so clearly, so intensely that I cannot even try and deny it. I have not lost hope in His sovereignty. I have not lost hope period.
One song that comes to mind is, The New Song We Sing. I will leave you with these words that are far more uplifting than my own. I feel as though I need to apologize to you. Normally ‘New Years’ posts are more uplifting and encouraging! But I can’t NOT be honest! And somehow I am hopeful and encouraged through it all. God will make it all right.