Reflections on a long year, mixed emotions and a table prepared by God

It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? As this year draws to a close, I’d be remiss not to reflect on all God has done for us. Bigger kiddos, a new home, and a busy summer schedule, followed by a hard adjustment to school for all of us – well, writing for an audience had to take the back burner. I’ve been showing up for three people who need me, while trying to keep my own tank full, and as you know, that can be quite the challenge. But I regret staying away so long. Partially out of fear that I’d say the wrong thing, in the midst of so many hostile opinions online and on social feeds, I’ve stayed back and watched, thought, and prayed about my role in all of it. I still don’t have a lot of new or fancy answers – no, I’m still gonna keep drawing from the Well of New Life, in hopes that it will spill out into your life, bringing joy and hope to press on.

I’m curious where you find yourself – in your heart, your home, and with your people. What’s going on in your soul? Are you tired, refreshed, excited – or just DONE and ready for a new season? Thinking back on what we’ve collectively survived this last year and a half – well, I’m sure there’s an element of all those things rolling around inside of you. How was the conversation around your Thanksgiving table, and how is your inner conversation? Is there understanding, or strife? I have to admit, I’m wrestling through some of my own internal conflict – following months of external conflict. The pandemic certainly has raised some difficulty for all of us, and being in ministry, well, it’s not entirely different for us either. But I’m finding a deeper and renewed hope in God through His Word, and that is so exciting to me. You’d think that knowing and following God for 30+ years would mean that all of this is old hat? Well, no, not at all! Prayer is the language of my heart, but studying the Word has been a challenge that I have wrestled through. Being married to a seminary grad and pastor doesn’t take away all that struggle – no, I need to invest the time and energy into seeking God through his Word daily. Having two kids 5 and under certainly means I have to get creative, but our recent women’s study on 2 Corinthians was such a joy and I’m thrilled to be looking forward to another deep study coming in a few weeks with dear friends. This set from my beloved for an early Christmas present is also quite exciting as I attempt to make progress on a life goal of studying every book of the Bible in depth. I have a long way to go! But I hope to leave a legacy of words that God has spoken to me personally as I study in this way. What goals are you considering as you look towards the new year? Can you ask God to impress something small, that could grow with you as you age? I have found that there are not many “quick fixes” in life!

Finally, may I leave with you an encouragement as you prepare your hearts and homes for the upcoming Christmas holiday. This time of year can bring such mixed emotions; I know this all too well. This weekend marks the anniversary of my miscarriage, and it will always be a tender spot for me. Seven years ago, we were searching for ministry jobs, had moved cross-country, lost Paul’s mother, and with a positive pregnancy test, we finally thought there would be some happy news. Two days later, I walked through an ectopic pregnancy that meant saying goodbye to our first child, Shiloh Rae, at five weeks gestation. It was a rough time. That Christmas was terrible in some ways, but there was hope. How, you might ask? Immanuel, God was with us. There was a deep peace that transcended all the despair we were feeling. I don’t remember what questions we asked God, but there was a deep knowledge that God was good and still in control, as we were surrounded and uplifted by the prayers of many. Perhaps this week you can set aside your long list of to-dos and find a quiet place to reflect on all God is doing and has done – in the dark times and the good times. We were so fortunate to study the life of Joseph together, and encouraged by the pastors to do just this! It brings such hope to look back – and remember. (All of the series is good, but “The Big Picture” sermon was my hubby ;-))

I sat with my Bible earlier today and as I meditated on Psalm 23, I realized that we mamas aren’t the only ones preparing tables this holiday. No, our Beloved Savior is preparing a table for us in the presence of our enemies. So as the weariness of the holidays creeps in, and perhaps you are lonely, or sad, or exhausted, may we find rest at the table we have in His presence. The Father God invites us, and the Holy Spirit indwells us, as we sit together around his Word, with His people, in worship of the Son. May you know that peace today.

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