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Whoa 2015, y’all. It has been a YEAR for our family. And not of the exciting variety- more of the punched-in-the-gut variety.
Last week, I read this post on Ann Voskamp’s blog about how a hard, hard year gave way to their most abundant harvest. And I am so thankful for their happy ending!
But that hasn’t been our year. We have faced a bunch of losses this year- some really big (like our house and most of our possessions, and a failed adoption that still makes me tear up when it comes to mind), and a string of much smaller losses that are less significant, but also large in quantity, and thus large in impact.
Y’all, I wish with everything in me that I could say, “But then it all turned around and Burke and Piper got a little sister/brother and the typhoon costs weren’t as great as we thought they would be, and the dozens of other smaller losses had happy outcomes (or even just that a few of the smaller losses turned around- haha).” But it’s just not the case this time. On almost every front, our circumstantial losses have turned out to be just that- losses.
And yet- even without any circumstantial changes on the horizon (and even some rough things coming), I can say with great confidence that God has met us in the valley. We feel raw and beat up and would trade this year’s circumstances in a millisecond if given the chance. And yet, there is fruit here, and there is redemption happening, and we are so thankful (though, do not misunderstand me, I still wish for an actual, circumstantial, tie-up-with-a-bow-happy-ending every single day, multiple times a day).
To any of you who might also be still waiting for the U-turn or the happy ending and coming up dry, let me offer some encouragement. In this year’s valleys-
-There has been God’s Word as an anchor. Verses that I learned outside of the rough have come rushing back in and they have been balm to the rawness and weariness and wounds. I have never been so thankful for the steadiness and endurance of God’s Word.
-There has been a pressing in. With the Lord as our only unshakable steady, we have studied Scripture and prayed and clung tight like never before. There is something transforming about complete reliance on God (not to mention the transformation that comes from studying His Word) and we are seeing that fruit.
-There has been repentance. While I don’t believe our circumstances have been punishment to us, the crazy upheaval has opened our eyes to sinful (or just unhelpful) patterns of behavior. As God has scooped out that which has surfaced, I feel so thankful for the refining and the sanctification.
-We have not been destroyed. The night that we found out that the baby-would-not-be-ours, I discovered a reserve of tears that I didn’t even know I had. I didn’t expect the intensity of my reaction (not a good surprise). However, the breadth of the pain also gave way to the knowledge of the vastness of God’s provision. The next morning, I walked into our already-prepped baby room and realized that what threatened to consume had not- that I was still standing, that He was still there, that the night had not destroyed me. I know our bad news pales in comparison to what many of you have endured, but I also know that God’s sustenance imparts the ability to withstand much more than we ever imagined.
-There has been grace. So much grace. The grace of God’s presence and His Word, grace through unexpected silver linings and blessings, grace in a deeper appreciation for the life-of-overflowing that we live in, grace dispensed through the encouragement of friends and family and through the laughter of Burke and Piper, grace at every turn.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t holding out hope that 2016 is a different kind of year than 2015 has been. But I am also a different girl than I was last January, with greater confidence in her Savior, a more fervent prayer life, and a broader knowledge of the depths of God’s grace and a more fierce love for His Word. And I am praying that if you are in the rough, if 2015 leveled you like it did me, that God would be meeting you with grace upon grace and redemption upon redemption as well.
ps- A few verses that have been life to me these last few months are pictured above. If you want to memorize them, here is the PDF with all of those verses as index cards.