A blessed year didn’t begin that way

Wedding centerpiece 3This was my Facebook post on January 1, 2014:

“My Scripture for the incoming 2014 year: “… one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3: 13b-14)
I’m putting the past in proper perspective and focusing on God’s good plans for me and for my children as we move forward into the new year and new beginnings. God is on His throne, and I trust His goodness and faithfulness.
Happy New Year!”

Sometimes moving forward can be difficult to begin. At the beginning of this year, it was challenging at times to focus on the future, rather than on the past. But I was determined, with God’s help, to do just that. And trusting God to hold my hand (and at times to carry me) as I journeyed into unknown territory has paid off. If anyone would have told me at the beginning of 2014 what God would do in my life this year, I’m not sure I would have believed them. But as this year draws to a close, I must say that, despite my initial expectations, it has been the single most blessed year of my life. In this year, I have learned much about the grace of God, lack of control over others, how to truly trust the Lord, and what love really looks like. I have had the support and encouragement of family and friends, both old and new.

I have seen my dreams continue to come true in my business, which is also a ministry. Most days I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. I started this business during the most difficult time in my personal life, but God truly caused the growth. I believe I am doing the work I was created to do, and it’s an incredible feeling.

As significant as that is, I have to say that the most pleasant surprise of the year was finding true love and having the opportunity for a new beginning. I feel completely blessed to have a wonderful husband, and to be beginning a journey that started with a “Broken Road,” but has turned into a new path that I’m confident will take us to beautiful places.

So yes, God has demonstrated His good plans for me this year in a major way. But those plans started with a season of heartache. Putting the past in perspective and looking toward the future was the first step in being able to move forward. It wasn’t always easy to do, but the results were worth it.

The difference a year can make

10285258_10205378926856698_7225796448017537297_oChristmas Eve, 2014

I began this blog 14 months ago with the post “How should we respond to the consequences of other people’s choices?” The point of that post was that we often are affected negatively by the decisions other people make. The opposite can be true as well. We can be positively impacted by other’s actions.

This time last year, I was in the midst of a divorce that was the result of repeated devastation. I remember not feeling at all festive as Christmas approached the next day. All I could think of was that my family had fallen apart and that I would be sending my kids to be with their father at 2 p.m. on Christmas. Still, I had joy because I knew that Christmas isn’t really about presents or even about family–it’s about a baby who would grow up to change the world by giving His life for our sins.

During the agonizing process of divorce, several people told me that I would feel so much better after a year had passed. Repeatedly, I heard people say, “I know you don’t believe it now, but it really will get better.” They definitely were right, but even they had no idea what God had in store.

Soon after the divorce was final, I began praying for a “kinsman redeemer,” someone who would love me as Christ loved the church and who also would love my children. Two months later, God answered that prayer. We soon became best friends, then more than friends, and last week, we were married. Not only married, but parents to seven children between us. We are off to a good start for sure, and I look forward to seeing how God uses us in ministry together.

Just as my life seemed to be devastated last Christmas, due to negative choices made by another, my life is absolutely blessed this year, due to positive choices made both by myself and by a man who loves me with a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. Now I have what I never even knew was possible in human terms.

What a difference a year can make … and I look forward to the year ahead as I learn what further beauty God wants to create from the ashes of the past.

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