"2015 is a year for getting strong," my sister said towards the end of 2014, and I feel like that statement encapsulates the theme of this past year for me.
I embarked on a journey in January to bring to fruition a vision I had had ever since I moved to Colorado: begin a women's Bible study in the local jail. It took a decent amount of effort to just find who I needed to talk to to get the ball rolling, but after 6 phone calls to the jail, I finally got in touch with the chaplain and started the application process.
The plan that I had to buy a house was put on hold when I was asked to go to Vietnam and help start a Montessori kindergarten. This threw me for a loop and I agonized for weeks about what I should choose before finally (in the dark, not knowing if I did right) deciding against it. But through it, the Lord stopped me from going forward with buying a house, which looking back was God's good hand of protection from a step I was not ready for yet.
Several other people also applied to do the jail ministry with me, and the Lord built a team of 4. We started meeting together to plan and brainstorm about our Bible study.
I went home for Easter and had a lovely time with my family. Then I got back and got my wisdom teeth taken out. While that was healing, I drove down to Texas and got to stay with a dear family and attend a women's conference where the main speaker was a lady named Pamela Rosewell Moore. Her story was incredibly interesting and inspiring. She worked with Brother Andrew and with Corrie Ten Boom, and she had a powerful testimony of living a surrendered life to Jesus Christ. Part of the unique aspect of her story was that she was single until she was 42, and her love story was a beautiful picture of God's faithfulness. (See her book, Safer than a Known Way--I highly recommend it! )
The team finally jumped through all the jail's hoops and we began our Bible study. The first night only one woman came, and gradually it grew, and we began to grow in our skills of presenting the gospel and leading women to know and walk in the truth.
On June 1, I moved into the most darling little rental house, and about two weeks later I hosted my first house guests--my mom and sister came for a little over a week, and we did some lovely hikes together. Living in my dear little house was the best, most fabulous gift that I could imagine, and I could not help exulting in the goodness of God in my behalf. I am still in awe over this.
July brought more house guests (my uncle and cousin) and it was a really sweet month of tending my garden, bike rides, and having my jail team over every Wednesday night. I think it was also then that we started up a second study in the jail on Friday mornings.
My youngest sister got married on August 1, and at the last minute I got to have the day off work and fly home for the wedding, surprising almost all the family members (two were in on the secret so that I would have someone to pick me up from the airport). Back in Colorado, I had the incomparable experience of summiting Long's Peak with 3 friends, which was exhausting but totally worth it. At the end of the month, I also got to go visit my newest little baby nephew, who is the joy of my heart and truly the happiest baby I have ever seen, which is not too surprising considering that my sister has always been the baby whisperer.
This month was mostly life as usual (work and so forth), except for a family reunion in Ohio where all my dad's side of the family got together. We all enjoyed each other's company tremendously and also got to see the darling bitsy munchkin nephew again. Also my newly-married sister and her husband came, and I heard about a book my cousin had written that would be coming out soon.
My favorite month of the year, work-wise, because I was given a number of awesome projects to do (such as creating tutorial videos for our customers) and my company also sent me to Mexico for a week for a UX study, which was super fascinating. While I was in Mexico, our jail Bible study team experienced some growing pains with a situation that arose that threatened our unity, which I look back on as a team-building exercise created by God especially for us. Also, we added 3 new team members to the Bible study, with the intention of opening up a men's study that the chaplain had offered to us.
I flew to Washington for Thanksgiving, which was a lovely time of getting 4 of the 6 siblings together. We went up to Mt. Ranier and drove out to the coast and enjoyed happy fun times with my brother and his family. I dropped my brand new phone in the ocean and that was sad.
My cousin came out to stay with me for her Christmas break, and we had some fabulous times together, going up to Vail village, spending a couple days in Utah, and then coaxing my sister and two more cousins to drive out and join us. We did a snowshoe trek the day after they got here, and then we decided to drive up to Idaho, where we joined up with my brother and another cousin and her husband. It was quite the cousin-sibling reunion, and we brought in the new year with skiing and a visit to a hot spring (quite the novelty!) I lost my phone again. 2 phone mishaps in a month. I also read my cousin's new book, Overtaken by Destiny, which I found to be addicting and fabulously creative.
Reviewing back over this year, I see the Lord's hand of strengthening and blessing me with beautiful gifts beyond what I could have imagined. The year before (2014) was a difficult year where I was being stripped and broken, and it was in many ways the most difficult year of my life. This year (2015) was about God building me back up and restoring what had been broken, and not only that, but abundantly bestowing upon me many things I never thought I would have in my whole life (like a house all to myself).
I look forward to what the future brings, knowing full well that the beauty and glory that I have exulted in this year may be changed completely tomorrow. Things can't always be THIS GOOD, and the fact that things have been so good, so sweet, even for a moment, is more than I deserve. If an unforseen twist in life should bring pain and suffering in the coming year in the same proportion that I have had joy and blessing this year, let me be found to be faithful, giving thanks in all things, valiant in faith, unshaken in my love to the Beloved, and unswerving in my declaration that He doeth all things well. May I not grow soft in the enjoyments of the comforts I have been granted, and may I not cling so tightly to the benefits and luxuries of this American way of living that I become unable to let it all go and leave it all behind the instant I am called upon to go to the front lines of the battle. May the Lord be glorified through my life in this season, and may my love and affection and adoration be poured unceasingly at His feet. May He find in me a willing servant and humble vessel who is quick to do His bidding. May the coming year see less of the flesh, more of the spirit; less self indulgence, more poured out sacrifice; less Martha, more Mary; less self-reliance, more dependence; less wringing my hands at areas that are out of control, more peaceful resting with all areas under His control. May I be consumed with Jesus, reflecting Jesus, putting Jesus on display, making Jesus known, and knowing him more.
Doxa en upsistis Theo!