I had a sweet time with Floyd this last weekend - thanking the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness this past year, and committing the year ahead to Him. I recounted all the ways the Lord has sustained us on this unexpected journey, and worshipped Him for His help and grace. We both cried a bit, but mostly it was lovely just to thank the Lord for all He's done!
As I think about the year that has just ended and the aspects of Christmas that we have celebrated, the trurh of "Immanuel - God with us" has blessed my heart.
"The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel, which means God with us." Matthew 1:23
I am so grateful that in all that I have walked through, God has been with me! I could never have made it on my own.
Ending one year and beginning a new one can be kind of unsettling and daunting. It's a bit unsettling because things you hoped and dreamed for may not have happened.......and it can be daunting because you have things you hope and dream for in this new beginning. It's starting all over again, and you realize the same thing could happen again with expectations not being fulfilled.
So why do we hope and dream? Because that's how God made us. We need to hope for the good, for making a difference, for succeeding, for having victory in life's circumstances. God has made us to dream for changing the world. Without hopes and dreams, life would be pretty miserable.
And when those things don't happen? That's where we trust the Lord. But we don't stop hoping and dreaming! When difficult things come our way, God hasn't lost control. He hasn't forgotten us. He hasn't stopped being with us! In even the most difficult of circumstances, God is at work. He will somehow bring good out of it into our lives.
God doesn't always take us on a detour around troubles. Sometimes He allows us to walk right into the fire, into the middle of dark, difficult times. But He's always with us! He's our help, our refuge, our strength. I could not have survived the last 22 months if He had not been with me.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6
I am so grateful that "Immanuel" has been with me this year - and I know He'll continue to be with me in the days ahead. I'm glad we can face a new year with that confidence.
As the new year is getting under way I'm starting with my medical appointments and I can't go to Floyd as often because of them. I've found I have to entrust Floyd to God's care (and the angels He sends to be with him!) when I can't be there as much. And I'm so grateful for the wonderful nursing staff who talk and sing to him.
I am praying for the Lord to give me wisdom and direction as I go to all my medical appointments to finalize my ongoing care. I have a clear sense that He's been directing my path. I'm so grateful for that. I couldn't make all these decisions without His wonderful counsel.
At the beginning of last year, someone sent me a verse from "The Passion Translation" of the Bible. "Here's what I've learned through it all - don't give up; don't be impatient; be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave and courageous and never lose hope. Yes, keep on waiting - for He will never disappoint you!" Psalm 27:14
I felt it was my theme for the year. Being one with the Lord, keeping hope alive, and waiting to see what God had in store for us. That was a good plan for the year. I read the verse frequently, proclaimed my trust in the Lord, and tried to be patient.
As the new year of 2018 rolled around, I wondered what God would say for this year. As I was getting my agenda ready for the year (I'm very old fashioned in that I still love a paper agenda!), I was praying over the month of January and I felt the Lord put into my heart that He wanted to renew and refresh hope in my heart! I even had a little sticker that said "hope" that I felt I was to put on the page for the month.
It's easy to lose hope - or to have it grow dim when the journey is long and setbacks come. Having cancer return to my body this past year was definitely a setback! As all this came to me, I realized that I needed a refreshment of hope in my heart.......so I opened my heart to receive that from the Lord as my word for the year. Once I did that, it swelled in my heart - trusting anew in the God of hope!!
Imagine my sweet surprise when I had an email the next morning from a friend who said she'd been feeling to pray for fresh hope for me and that God wanted to give hopeful fresh beginnings, great surprises, and unexpected joy to me. It was such a sweet exclamation point to what God had been saying to me. I love it when that happens!
Then my daily reading said that God can "weave miracles into the most mundane day" if we keep our focus on Him. I'm continuing to trust Him, with renewed hope, and watching for the surprises, joy, and miracles that He has in store - even in ordinary days.
Just a few days ago, on a very ordinary day, I was glancing out the window early in the morning, and a huge owl flew by with "breakfast" in its talons. The wing span of the owl was at least a meter and a half (yard and a half). It was magnificent and beautiful! It flew by so fast, but so close - I just stood there in awe. God knows how I love to see the beauty of His creation and creatures. It was such a special gift. A few seconds later, and I'd have missed it.
So, in this new year - I wait.....to see what little things and big things He has in store for me and for our family. I'm praying God will let hope grow in all our hearts.
" 'For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' " Jeremiah 29:11. I never get tired of this verse. Every time I read it something rises in my heart! God's plans for good for us never end!
"The hope of the righteous brings joy." Proverbs 10:28
"That is why I wait expectantly, trusting God to help, for He has promised." Psalm 130:5
Hope is being refreshed in my heart as I spend time with Him. I can have hope in this new year because our story isn't finished yet. God is still at work!
In this new year may the Lord bless you and keep you, make His face to shine upon you, and give you peace......as the beautiful blessing from Numbers 6:24-26 says.