2018 was a year of anticipation. As the year began we looked forward to two graduations (me – MA from BGSU and Emma – graduating from high school), a new job for Kevin, a new job for Julia, and a family VACATION – the first one in many many years! And all of that was wonderful!
Finishing my Masters was HARD and stretched me in ways I didn’t know I could stretch… and worth it. I learned so much and I am confident that the process has helped me be a better teacher. Even though I lost a lot of TIME… and brain cells (or wait, did I gain some??)… I didn’t lose MYSELF. I worked by booty off to still keep 1st things first – God / Family / Work – and stayed grounded in all that I know to be TRUE (Jesus, His Word…) despite various ideologies that were consistently presented (um, persuaded). In the end – I summed it up on my graduation cap with “A DIOS sea la GLORIA” – To GOD be the GLORY” for what I was able to accomplish through Him.
We enjoyed Emma’s last basketball and softball seasons and were proud of her many accomplishments as she graduated from high school and began college. To GOD be the GLORY!
We had a wonderful vacation in Ft. Myers Florida. We stayed at a friend’s condo and enjoyed Ft. Myers Beach, Sanibel, Captiva Island – – the beaches, the seafood, the CAKE! It was relaxing and fun and created memories that I will cherish forever.
That’s where the record screeches to a halt – time stands still – and all that you know and love and plan is literally changed in an instant. I’ve already shared about the accident here and here and here, and I supposed this is not the last you will hear of it – major life instances take time to process. But GOD – who I trust in and believe in and LOVE, works (is working) all things for good.
I would not wish a major car accident on my worst enemy – in fact it is a mother’s worst nightmare to receive a call that their kiddo has been in an accident (in this case we were together in the accident, but it’s still a nightmare/fear). And this accident could’ve been a million times worse… just a millisecond later. TO GOD BE THE GLORY! That horrific evening, however, changed the trajectory of the remainder of 2018. The last six months has been filled with physical and emotional pain, broken bones, bruised bodies – and spirits, disappointments and many appointments, discouragement, decisions, frustrations, mental replays, reality checks and unexpected anxiety. But despite all of that I can honestly sit before you today, because of my relationship with Christ, and COUNT IT ALL JOY.
James says it this way – “Consider it a great JOY, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:2-3
Paul explains that, “‘We also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.’” Romans 5:3-5
I always thought that SOMEDAY – when I can say that I can count my TRIAL(S) as JOY I will FINALLY be a mature Christian. HA! Well, I am counting this joy – but I definitely have a LONG way to go to continue growing in my walk with Christ – I’m thankful He’s giving me the opportunity to continue the journey.
*I count it JOY that we experienced/are experiencing this trial because I know that God is using it to grow us, strengthening our endurance and faith.
* I count it JOY because my physical body can endure WAY MORE than I would’ve ever thought and by His hand of healing is getting stronger every day. I WILL walk my dog around the reservoir in 2019 and I can. not. wait.
*I count it JOY that when I have felt relationally alone on this journey, when it feels like no one cares/understands, I am never alone and HE CARES FOR ME (1 Peter 5:7).
*I count it JOY because I truly can do ALL THINGS through CHRIST who gives me STRENGTH (Phil. 4:13). This is not a sports verse – this is a verse about being content in a hardship. And when every step hurt and when the replays diminish sleep and when fear creeps in and what ifs paralyze, CHRIST is the One who has given me strength. He is so faithful.
*I count it JOY because of the many health professionals who have taken good care of us. Special shout out to our friends @ Opti-Health Physical Therapy. The PTs and PTAs have definitely been a bright spot of this healing journey – for both Emma and myself.
*I count it JOY because I now have the car I’ve wanted… just a few years earlier than planned (and with a payment – HA!). But really, I do like my car and I’m thankful for it :).
*I count it all JOY because of the HOPE I have in Christ has been strengthened, renewed and present. His hope does not disappoint – God’s love has ben poured out to my heart through the Holy Spirit throughout this journey. I can’t imagine this accident not happening and I am thankful for His sufficient grace and presence in my life because of it. To GOD be the GLORY.
What are some things you fear? Let me encourage you that should XYZ happen, God is faithful, gracious, constant, loving and sufficient for whatever you may face in the coming year. In this world we will have trouble (John 16:33), but He does not leave us to deal with it alone (Heb. 13:5). And that, is how we can have JOY in the journey.
2019 will surely bring some GREAT times and will surely bring some hardship. My hope is that God will continue to give me eyes to see the JOY in the journey.
Postscript: Upon some further reflection, I am declaring (after the fact) that JOY is (was) my word for 2018. With counting trials as JOY, and with faith producing steadfastness (in the ESV, endurance in the HCSB) comes some responsibility. James 1:4 says “endurance must do its complete work” in the HCSB, but worded a little bit differently in the ESV, it says “and let STEADFASTNESS have its full effect.” Whoa – LET it work. Trust the process. Don’t just drown in the intensity and the self-pity and the weight of the trials. I can already testify that the trials of this past year have created opportunities for God to work IN me, now I must let steadfastness have its full effect so I can be “perfect (mature) and complete” … “lacking nothing.” Lacking nothing. When all I need/want is God.
Trials -> grow the genuineness of faith -> resulting in praise, glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus (1 Peter 1:7).
Trials -> rejoice with GREAT JOY -> revelation of Jesus (1 Pet. 4:1-13).
When the trials come, and we count as JOY because of the work He is doing in/through them, and remain steadfast, keeping the focus on HIM, He gets the glory – all honor goes to HIM. And that’s the way it should be.
Lord – help me to be steadfast in these trials you have entrusted to me and in the trials (and joys) to come, so that YOU may receive the honor and glory and praise. Amen
2018 JOY (this Post)
2017 – Didn’t declare a word – – could’ve been “survival” or “hustle.”
2015 It’s whatever, man