Everything has been moving so fast since the beginning of the year that I have yet to really sit down with God and reflect on 2013 as a whole and think about my goals for 2014. This is an attempt to jot down my thoughts to remind myself of God's faithfulness.
Last year was an emotional roller coaster of a year for us filled with lots of ups and lots of downs. I don't ever like to say that I'm happy a year is over with, because I know that God redeems even the lowest of times for His glory, but God broke us numerous times in 2013 to teach us and rebuild us. It was a year that we'll probably remember for the rest of our lives.
Although it was one of the hardest years KB and I have endured together, I would have to say it was also one of the best. It's crazy how God works. I certainly don't understand, but I'm forever grateful that even in the midst of all the chaos, God still was working everything for our good.
Throughout all of the uncertainties, the stress from not knowing, and the weariness of trying to remain hopeful even though the situations seemed hopeless, God's hands were at work molding every situation for His good. One of the biggest blessings we received through this was learning the importance of small group and community.
KB and I had never been a part of a small group before. When Alliance Community Church first started, we knew that small groups would be the heartbeat of ACC. Within those small groups, relationships would flourish, faith would be discussed and grown, and the gospel would be lived out. But in the beginning, it was just all a concept that sounded good. It wasn't until we experienced first hand the blessings of being in community that we realized how essential doing life with other believers was to a Christian.
I remember the first time we shared with our small group exactly what we were going through. They gathered around us and prayed over us. After they all left that night, we received texts and emails with songs and prayers and encouragement. Even though we were going through a bad situation at that time, when I look back at it, it was also one of the best memories because of the support and prayers that were given to us from our community. We felt like the burden was lessened because we had this family that was helping us carry it. When we hurt, they also hurt. That alone made everything so much more bearable for us - Jesus's love and power being demonstrated through our small group!
My dad went through a lot this past year as well. I guess we're getting to the age where we start to realize that our parents are getting older. They're starting to have health problems and will need our assistance more. My dad was suffering from severe pain from gall stones and had to undergo gallbladder surgery. There were some complications with his recovery, but he is doing great now. In the midst of all of it, it was very scary. He's my daddy. No one ever wants to see their daddy - the strongest and toughest person they know - be in pain or bed ridden. I just remember being so worried about him and praying constantly for him. And then I realized that my church community was just as worried and praying just as hard. And as soon as God revealed that to me, I felt like the weight was lifted away. I didn't need to hold on to this burden like it was all my own, because everyone loved him and was praying right along side me as well. The love and power of Jesus through community!
I keep thinking about the fact that KB and I were content with being comfortable. He was doing well in his career, I was happy staying home with the kiddos and focusing on the home, we were happy to be a part of ACC - we were very comfortable. When things started to make a turn, it left us feeling like everything was being taken away. In another post, I talked about how I got a lot of encouragement from the book of Job. But looking back on 2013, I see God's faithfulness through it all. There was never a moment that we had to go without. He always provided. And we have come to learn to be content with being UNcomfortable. To always be needing His strength, always looking to Him to provide, to yearn for and be thankful for his mercies anew every day.
I could go on and on about how much we have learned and been blessed with during one of our toughest years - the notorious 2013 - but it would take a while for you to read. It's just amazing, to me, that God can take a whole bunch of bad and turn it into ten times more good. So cool.
If you're going through something, trust in God. Also, plug into a community. He doesn't want you to go through it alone. And thinking of all of this, I am sure that no matter what 2014 brings, it WILL be GOOD.