I have been somewhat "absent" from the blog and social media for the last couple of weeks. I have spent time catching up, creating new items for the shop, and staying connected through instagram and a few posts here on the blog, but I have purposefully been taking a little time away to rest, spend extra time with the Lord in prayer and in His word, and with dear family and friends (near and far).
But if I am honest, I have mostly been unplugged. Life throughout the end of November and December was a whirlwind of activity. From starting a new and intense treatment protocol, finishing the wonderful blessing of lots of orders for the shop to the release of my third book, it seemed non-stop for a while and a little retreat was absolutely necessary.
And I have been spending a lot of time thinking and praying.
And marveling again at how God works in our lives in unique ways that we could never have imagined.
This gal who has never liked to be the center of attention and whose voice used to shake anytime she had to speak in front of a large crowd has been sharing her life publicly and voluntarily (at that) on this blog for almost three years now.
And... sharing personal stories and lessons in magazine articles & a second book that will be published soon along with thoroughly enjoying the opportunities when the Lord opens the door for me to speak (and not even getting nervous at all).
Honestly, it leaves me speechless. If you would have told me four years ago that this is what my life would look like I would have stared at you in disbelief and thought that you were a little insane. Honestly, I probably would have been scared out of my mind. There would have been NO way I could have imagined all that has transpired.
Put me in front of a classroom full of students who I can live life with any day but other ways of living life "publicly"- absolutely no way. I have said this often-I love people, but I am a "private person" in many ways.
But then... slowly and surely the Lord started moving me completely out of my comfort zone, stripped my life to "ashes", and has given me the strength to face each day to fight several serious diseases, and His goodness overwhelms me in the pain. And my heart longs to give Him glory for all He is doing.
And there is absolutely nothing private about that.
And I am in awe of Him.
As we move forward into a new year I am reminded of all of these things in light of what an incredibly difficult year 2015 was. I felt that the Lord had given me the word "mettle" for the year 2015, and it was perfect. In many ways it was so full of hard times that outweighed the "happy times". 2015 was filled with incredible pain, deep and aching loneliness at points, and countless tears. I don't think that if I had the choice I would want to repeat most of 2015 but in other ways the deep adversity brought about a rich depth of my relationship with the Lord, deepened true friendships, and has taught me in new ways to appreciate the simple things that surround us each day.
In other ways I have never been so grateful for 2015. The Lord blessed me with an amazing miracle of a lovely cruise, the release of two new books (Prayers for the Single Journey and When Light Dawns), presented some speaking opportunities, was a year of growing in creativity and thinking about where I am heading with my shop, found courage to say goodbye to something that was not my calling and hello to a new adventure that was with Grace Engaged, learning contentment and peace in this season of life and becoming an advocate for those for Lyme Disease, and mostly falling in love with the Lord in new ways. In many ways this year was about learning to show up in hope in the ordinary.
And the biggest answer to prayer and the most amazing gift... moving forward in treatment to help beat Lyme Disease. Thinking about where I was a year ago and approaching 2015... knowing I couldn't even handle any type of antibiotics ... this past year with starting an intense shot protocol to "nic the picc" finishing 8 intense weeks of treatment this week is utterly amazing... and only because of the Lord.
As I look back on the incredibly painful and difficult times of 2015 and remember with gratitude the miracles that have happened. I look to the future year in wonder of what God is going to do next.
In many ways I know that this is journey that the Lord has me on is something that I would have kept very private if it was up to me. Things that I would have recorded in my journal for my little heart alone. (*smiles* Let's be honest- all of you that know me know that if I had known I was going to not only be diagnosed with Lyme Disease, but Cancer too within six months of starting this blog there is no way that I would have even started writing! *giggles*)
But when I remove life being all about "me" I see in new and great ways that God is faithful. He provides light for each day and tells us to leave the future in His hands. And His word and scripture show us how to be obeying Him in the daily- even when it is scary or uncomfortable. I am reminded of the truth of scripture that states that "obedience brings blessing"... and I see that in so many ways through this growth and stretch of sharing this journey with you sweet friends.
Sharing the pain of illness, the heart-wrenching grief of certain circumstances, and the beautifully answered prayers of ordinary days has changed me in a thousand different ways.
My heart has never known the beautiful love of Jesus so tenderly and personally as this year. This blog has helped challenge me, encourage me, and grow me. This blog forces me to come to the cross anew as I examine what I am learning and sharing with y'all. This little blog gives me one more opportunity to be reminded that Hope is ever present in our lives.
So as we approach not only a new year, but each new day with the wonderment and expectation I accept with gratitude that if we allow the Lord to use everything in our lives for his glory we can't help but be changed by Him.
By His mercy.
By His love.
By His faithfulness.
By His goodness.
As I expectantly look to the Lord (Micah 7:7) for 2016, I see the Lord's gentle nudging and love reminding me that He has created me and will lead me on the path that I take. Truly, Yahweh charts the course. And as we look to the new year I am joyfully content to recognize that the Lord has given me an "artsy old soul". A soul that God created to live out the verse that He truly makes beauty from ashes. I can't wait to live fearlessly ("sine-timore") and expectantly with you this year friends, stepping out in even more faith. I can't wait to share with y'all some this next steps of this caravan and cheer you on on yours! Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and sharing this journey with me!
As we say "goodbye" to 2015 I pray the Lord's greatest blessings on you sweet friends. Happy New Year! I can't wait to live life with you in this coming year!
With Lots of Love,