I know it isn't over yet, but the the end of the year is quickly approaching! This post has been on my mind for the last few days. I'm going to try to get my rambled thoughts into a coherent post.
2010 has been an interesting year for our family. It feels as though it has gone by so, so quickly but yet as I think back to January, February, March they feels as though they were long ago.
We have already lost 2 families from our church congregation (soon to be 3) to the missions field this year. Oh how I miss them! As we prepare for the third family depart, I feel the longing for the others more acutely than I have in the last couple of months. Will you pray for all our missionary friends? The R family to Norway, the N family to Saipan, and soon the S family to Uganda. To be honest my husband and I have just really began to understand international missions in the last 3 years. Prior to that I always thought there was more than enough missions work in our own country that needed to be done. Why go so far as Africa or Norway? Why send so much money to other nations when so many in our own nation are struggling? Our country does need more missionaries, more people to stand up and say "I believe in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for me. I'm going to live, and speak, and behave so that everyone knows about Him." Many in our nation are struggling financially and could have much to gain from assistance. But oh, the Lord has changed our hearts. He has gently reminded us over and over of Matthew 28:19-20 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Meeting so many missionaries from all over the world, watching friends heed God's call to other nations, and my hubby going on his first international missions trip has forever changed our hearts. So if you feel the way that I use to feel, I urge you to read deeper into God's word and to seek out blogs and articles on the things happening all over the world in the name of Christ.
We have lost loved ones. Dear friends lost their infant early in the year. We have seen again that the loss of a child bears so much pain. God reminded us in Matthew 5:4 "4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." I was so grateful for that reminder because later in the year, my grandma passed away. Still feeling the pain of loss from my father's passing, I wasn't ready to let go of someone else so near and dear to me. I feel though that I have gained understanding of the importance of God's timing and that His plans are so much better than mine could ever be. This was also a difficult time for Apple as she and Grandma had a close relationship. I feel like even though she is still sad and feels the loss, it has been a wonderful opportunity to show her a deeper understanding of Heaven.
On a personal note, I have lost 30 lbs this year and 3 pants sizes. Woohoo! I have gained a love for Zumba. I need to lose more weight and I hope to do so in 2011. I think this has helped me to see that it is perfectly acceptable to spend a little time and thought on myself and my health. It is so easy for me to engross every minute into my children and my husband. I know now that spending some time exercising is a great stress reliever and will help insure that my health will not one day prevent me from enjoying time with them. In all of that I have also seen this year how quickly just about anything worldly can become an obsession, eating, exercising, blogging, facebooking, television, reading. There are so many snares available to keep us from God. I hope in 2011 to be even more diligent about my priorities and just making certain that all things are done in moderation.
We have in a sense "lost" friends and family members to divorce this year. An alarming number really. We have seen many separations and rifts in marriages too. Satan loves to attack the family. He loves to bombard marriages. Please pray for yours and mine! It is so very easy to become selfish in marriage. It is so easy to start a line of thinking of "I deserve......" This was one of my statuses on FB earlier in the year "Do you work as hard at your marriage as you do your job? Do you treasure your marriage as much as your hobbies? Do you fight for it like you fight for your friendships? Do you pray for your marriage like you pray for your material desires? Do you love your spouse like Christ loves the church?" And these were the verses that played over and over again throughout the year Col 3:18-21 "Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." Does Christ expect us to stay married? Absolutely!!! Does He expect us to be bitter and unhappy? No. BUT we are to live our lives in service to Him. Not for our own pleasure. Part of our service to Him is following scripture which clearly includes do not divorce. It is gut wrenching to see the father of 3 walk out because "he is unhappy." It is painful to watch him chose another woman and her child over his wife and children. It is heartbreaking to see a husband and wife chose hobbies, friends, and work over their spouses. It is terrible to see a wife chose revealing clothing and flirtation over her husband. Guard your marriage as you would a treasure. Choose to love your spouse everyday.
I have lost friendships over silly things, nothing at all, and some over reasons unknown to me. I try very hard to be a good friend. I try to be someone that is trustworthy, helpful, and a joy to be around. I try to give in every relationship expecting little in return. Sometimes however this just doesn't work. I have found this year that sometimes things just aren't going to jive. Do I expect everyone to be my best friend? Obviously not but I do treasure friendships. Growing up in the environment that I did, friendships were vital to my survival. As a teenager I could truly depend on my friends more than my own family in many situations. I, as most women, really value friendships. Other women that I can talk to, confide in, and bounce ideas off of, are really a blessing to me. Our choice as a family to walk out our journey with Christ has cost us some friendships. Our choices about homeschooling, traditions, and lifestyle have cost us some friendships. My specific choices in a few instances to choose my husband and children over friends have cost me. I will not apologize for those things. I will say that I am saddened by those losses. I carefully chose those that I draw closest to me (as I belive everyone should) and so friendships that have spanned 20 yrs, 10 yrs, and 3 yrs are big losses. I continue to pray that feelings will be restored and that healing will happen in all of those friendships. God has shown me that community and friendships are so important to our spiritual maturity. He has shown me what a blessing real true friends can be. Pray for your friendships, that they be strengthened by a love for Him!
I have gained a love for homeschooling, a new found respect for law enforcement, a host of new friends, a Panera Bread in my hometown (one of my favorites), and a renewed sense of awe for our Savior.
What have you gained or lost this year?