Hello 2018! What a year it’s been so far. A year filled with fun, adventure, reminders, great memories, illness, and difficulties. Isn’t that real life – the good, bad, ugly, and amazing all wrapped into our day-to-day living. My word for 2018 is Embrace. God has placed a sense of wonder and excitement as He encourages me to courageously press on out of my comfort zone and embrace all He has this year. I’m steadily trying to embrace the challenges and joy this season brings.
At the end of 2014 my good friend challenged me to pray about a word for the new year. A word to be somewhat of a focus, challenge, and way to grow in the Lord. This year is my fourth year with a word of the year. But this year it’s been different; the Lord is calling me in a new and bolder direction. This word can best be described as a compilation of the words I’ve had over past 3 years. I’m amazed at the things God has done in my life in these couple of decades. I’m also blessed to see what God does in those I have the privilege to do life with. This excitement dwindled a little when I got my verse for 2018. And I wasn’t sure if I was more comforted or convicted. It’s found in Jeremiah 31:22. I like the Message version: “….How long will you flit here and there, indecisive?
How long before you make up your fickle mind?
God will create a new thing in this land:
A transformed woman will embrace the transforming God!”
I’m convicted because I trust in the Lord and believe God’s Word to be true, living, and active but I don’t always embrace it for my life as I should. I am convicted not condemned, convicted to seek God and how I can truly embrace His plans for my life this year. I’ve learned I can still be guarded in this whole embracing thing. Grief has a way of doing that to a person.
My dad went home to be with the Lord in January 2014 after fighting a difficult battle with cancer. In 2015, that first year with “my word” it was somewhat of a new beginning. A beginning I didn’t ask for, plan for or necessarily want. It was grief piled upon grief. January 15, 2015, it had been one year without my dad and January 16, 2015 was five years since my younger brother was killed by a drunk driver. How do you process that; grief upon grief? As an over-emotional almost forty-year-old wife and mom of three children; 10, 5, 2 at the time, not well! I cried more than I’d like to admit and coasted through many days on auto pilot. Our family dynamic additionally changed in the summer of 2014. We moved into a new house with my mom. Taking care of our parents is something my husband and I thought might happen later in life. Perhaps when our kids were older, but not smack dab in the middle of discovering how to do life with three children.
But God knew what we needed and what my mom needed. She helps take care of us and our kids which allows us to serve at church and in ministry together. It’s still a challenge navigating these new roads life brings, the hills and the valleys, but God is with us through them all.
We also were foster parents at this time, we didn’t adopt our daughter officially until March of 2015. One of the most beautiful blessings that has come out of our grief journey is our amazing daughter. God does that if we pay attention. He graces us with beautiful moments of answered prayers, blessings, adventures, and glimpses of heaven right in the middle of our trials. But we have to recognize it and embrace it!
This stirring, conviction, excitement, and nervousness for something new in 2018 challenges me to embrace this life again. Our life has been filled with many incredible moments in the past eight years and I have so much to be grateful for! But, I believe there are parts of me that I’ve closed off not wanting to be hurt again. Likewise, I’ve grown and experienced God in countless ways in the past eight years; ways that I couldn’t have without the deep reliance upon Jesus to walk me on this sorrowful road. But I still need to embrace more of God. Don’t we all? It’ll take a new surrender, funny that’s my husband’s word for this year. God has a unique way of weaving things together. Already this year I’ve watched seasons begin and seasons end. Many I welcome and some I don’t want to let go of. There’s that reminder – I’m not in control and that’s ok; Embrace the unknown!
As I sit behind my computer after work in the quiet library, waiting for my oldest to finish basketball practice, I’m reminded to embrace the still moments, albeit few and far between during this season. Embrace the time with my kids, it might be less now with my now full-time job and their increasing activities, but it can be sweet and celebrated when it happens. Embrace the times with my husband when we get a moment to just be. Embrace the gift of life God gives us out of His loving kindness.
I don’t know what your 2018 has been thus far, but I do know God has good plans for you. He wants you to embrace all He has for you this year. Jesus desires you to let go and lean on Him. Bring Him those areas you might’ve closed off after a difficult time in your life. Maybe it’s a dream you gave up on that He wants to reawaken. Whatever “it” is bring it to the Lord and let’s embrace all He has for us in 2018.