Reflections and hopes

The Gates of the Year

2013 was both amazing and challenging to us.  We remain very grateful for God’s good hand on our lives.  He has met our basic needs, providing us both with employment, blessed our business with good success, and given us opportunity for ministry.  He has renewed our spirit, and build up our faith in new ways we could not imagine.

We had so many “god sightings” throughout the year…. times when God put someone in our path, either to be encouraged, or who would encourage us.  Just when you wondered why we were in a situation God would remind us the purpose, and the plan. Sharing our hope in Jesus is a privilege and a blessing… and it seems these days that more people are tuned to hear the message.  Difficult times do open our capacity to listen and look for hope.

The media and economists would still refuse to call it a great depression that we have lived through, but for the countless people who have been displaced from lifelong careers, only to discover the employment options pay 1/3 of what they made, but the cost of living has increased significantly, we know better.  The ripples of the economic shift in our nation are still being felt by so many.  Jobs we trained for, developed skills in, and honed a path in have vanished.  The lesson learned is that career is not as significant or important as my relationships…. first with God, and then with people.  Perhaps God has trusted us with that challenge of loss of career to learn to build the relationship with Him – return to my first love.  If I can be painfully honest, it seems that it would just be easier to have that one goal, refine the skills, do the work, make my mark and that is it…. but in my life God has stretched me so much farther… it will never be that easy.

Stretching has meant reaching deep inside to find strength, faith and courage.  Trusting God for that next thing, that next step, that seemingly impossible task.

But 2013 has been a challenging year with heartbreaking losses of friends to death.  And diagnosis of difficult diseases.  Heartache seemes to live with large measures of grace and mercy.  Our hearts ached for some of the losses this year.  We think of a friend who’s twin brother died just after surgery and the gaping void he left on his family and friends.  While it has been almost 7 months since his passing, each day is still palpably painful, with the grief still very striking.

This year also saw the passing of the father of an old and dear friend.  He was the kind of guy that immediately had you laughing.  A hard working, kind man with a jovial spirit, he lived a long and blessed life, leaving behind a dear wife and many grown children.  Everything about death seemed to say it is easier to say goodbye when a person has lived a long life… but that is not the case.  His 80+ years encouraged, inspired and strengthened everyone around him.  His passing is also as devistating, leaving a gaping hole where he was.

We grieved the struggles with cancer, and the battles with health care that our friends walked through.  A life time of wanting to be a fixer, making all things right, I have learned this year how much is out of our hands.  We can only turn to God, and trust that he is good.  It has been a year of practicing that lesson in faith, believing that God will work all things out for the good, even when we cannot see how this is possible.

But we celebrated the joy of new life when we welcomed young Mr Liam to our family, and watched as he brought joy and delight to each and every family member.  We celebrated new life and we recognized how time has passed and those children of our family are now adults having children.  Again, time has marched on, and we are growing a bit older.  But energized by the hope of the young.

We celebrated victories over harsh things like cancer when a friend was pronounced cancer free after an arguous battle.  While this is a temporary victory, she also knows Jesus, and the eternal victory is hers through Christ.

We welcomed some new faces into our circle of friends, and said goodbye to some who were moving on to new places, new opportunities, and prospective futures.

In our business we watched as God opened doors we would have never imagined.  We remain humbled and thankful for each and every new venture he has brought to us.

And so we stand at the door, ready to greet 2014, a year that is a blank slate for us to fill.

Lord, we need you in every breath of this new year.  We need you more than we ever have, longing to seek you with each new day, and eager to join you in the work of building the kingdom.  Grant to us health, and provision.  Meet us at our points of need, and strengthen that which is weak.  Build us up to be candles set on a hillside, blazing the light and glory of you to this dark world.  Lord we need hope that only comes from you.  We life up every person our path has crossed, and will cross and ask that you would grant opportunities to love them, share our hope, and glorify you.  In our employment we ask for stability, and adequate wages to live.  Grant us strength for each day, encouragement for this life, and continue to build in us the expectancy of your soon return.  WE long for heaven, and the shedding of this cloak of sinfulness.  We yearn for true freedom from the limitations of this life which will only come in and through you.  Grant us boldness to believe for those situations that have little hope, and grant us mercy when it is needed.  We ask that you go before us, ordaine our steps, and order our path.  Lead us with strenght and boldness, and take us to the place you wish us to be.  We especially pray for those who are dealing with difficult situations – health, finance, emotional and mental struggle.  Bring your flood of peace, and your promise that you will always be near.  We yield our lives to you afresh, and give you our new year of 2014.  Have your way, Lord and be glorified.  Amen



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