2016 was the first time I chose one word for the year.
It wasn't even that I had planned to but that Holy Spirit continued to impress upon my heart the word "rest", so I decided that was something to pay attention to and focus on.
Initially I focused on physical rest.
Clearing my calendar.
Learning to say "no" to things that weren't essential.
That was hard. I'm a person who enjoys being productive. I enjoy being involved with community and yet I was feeling called to give up so much of that. Pouring into my own family (mainly my children) more than others became a primary focus. But still slowing down is hard.
Then things began to shift. I've mentioned before that we have faced a very difficult year and in February when things started to unravel the focus of this "rest" shifted from only physical to deeply spiritual. God was asking me to rest in Him. To simply "be" and allow Him to fight my battles. Allow Him to provide for me. Allow Him to protect me. Allow His plan to unfold rather than plowing through with what I thought the plan was.
I snapped this picture a couple of days ago.
My tiny girl completely at rest in the arms of her Papa.
It completely captures the way God wanted me to rest in Him. Though I did not always have full trust like a sleeping babe in the arms of her Papa, I did learn to be more still and to wait on Him.
And He proved faithful...time and time again.
This Christmas wasn't what we expected.
Our son was hospitalized for several days during the month of December and we still don't fully have a diagnosis as to what exactly was and is wrong. But that's another opportunity to rest in God's goodness.
Just six days before Christmas my mother-in-law passed away unexpectedly.
Two weeks in a row was were hit with very hard things.
It definitely made for a difficult Advent and Christmas season.
But again, it was an opportunity to rest.
Despite all the hardships we have walked through this year, our family feels hopeful.
God is proving faithful over and over. He is answering prayers. He is leading us.
He is even allowing us to dream again.
Dream of the things He might have for us in the coming years.
Just talking through a lot of hard things this week my husband referenced my word "rest". He said, "Don't you feel like its morphed so much this year? And now looking back at the end, we can see how so many of the things that held us captive, held us back from really running hard after God, have all been LAID TO REST."
Until that moment I hadn't seen it, but that is true!
So many of the things that kept us comfortable and kept us from fully pursuing dreams and callings (even good things like a community of people we love) have been laid to rest. They have been removed from our lives. And yes, we grieved. Oh! How we grieved the lose of so many things this calendar year! Death of relationships. Death of the vision we thought we were pursuing. Death (physical death) of loved ones (we lost my mother-in-law and also our family dog that had been with us for 8 years).
So hard. So many tears.
While we still grieve some of those losses, there is hope in the grief.
We are free from some of those things that were holding us in captivity. They've been laid to "rest".
The work God has done in our hearts this year was excruciatingly painful.
But now...NOW...looking back and looking forward--
all we see is redemption. Hope. Vision. Excitement.
With the turning of the calendar we sense a turning of the tide.
We are excited for what God has for our family this year.
We've spent hours over the last few weeks dreaming of what it will look like. Who knows...maybe we really have no clue what God intends for us this year, but its fun to dream! After several years of not having the freedom to dream our own dreams, we are reveling in the joy of dreaming God's dreams for us. Living loved. Following HIM.
Thank you Jesus for 2016.
For the hard ships and the glimmers of joy.
For being a year that was painful...
for birthing so much out of that pain.