Reflections from 2018

I say this every year but I am not about new year's goals that lead to silly resolutions. I am all about looking back and pausing, reflecting on the past year in order to make good goals and lifestyle changes. I make goals every month and each month I reflect on last month's wins and areas to improve in, but at the end of the year it really does bless me to reflect and look back at what all God is doing. Sometimes, I think, we can too busy to even remember. To see the growth and to celebrate it. God tells the Israelites so many times to "remember" and I want to be faithful in remembering all God has done and is doing in my life. 

The obvious highlight of 2018 was welcoming our baby girl into our family. She has been such a joy, a true gift from God and I can't stop thanking Him for her. She completes our family in a way that I didn't know we all needed. The newborn days can be a blur and I'm still not sleeping through the night but looking back, I see it all as a gift. My heart is still so tender and I think often about all the children who aren't getting kisses or snuggles or being given proper sleep or food and it grieves me so deeply. I know I need to wait for my biological children to be a bit older before we explore foster care, but I also know there is so much I can do for these sweet kiddos in the meantime.  I know that pregnancy and delivery are not my thing and my body does not do well with them. I am so looking forward to 2019 where I will stop nursing and potentially get my body back. It's been a long three years of always being pregnant or nursing and I am excited to hopefully sleep and feel myself again soon. 

Mark was in school, getting his masters this entire year - which added it's normal share of stress when a spouse and father is in school along with a full time job. I watched my husband lead our family and home and also work so hard at so many things. I watched him wrestle with knowing when to have date nights in, or play on the floor with the kiddos or lock himself in the Muskoka room to listen to lectures. I love my husband more deeply each day but watching him balance all of the things in 2018 made me appreciate him and fall more in love with his character and heart than ever before. He never once complained, never rejected Jackson or Marlowe or myself, always helped clean up dinners and put kiddos to bed. 2018 was a long year of school but I want to remember the strength Mark showed and the character we all built through this time. I know you grown and learn through the hard times, so I am thankful for this year but wow, am I giddy with excitement to know that my husband has his masters and we are done school!!!! All the praise hands:) I'm so expectant for how we can use our time to serve others and invest in different things. Expectantly praying for all God will do this coming year.

2018 was our first full year in Gravenhurst. If I'm being totally honest, I was hesitant to make friends and really invest in the community because I thought we would probably be leaving in two years. I really wrestled with how much time to invest in my friendships back home and what that practically looked like now that I moved away. I knew all my mentoring relationships weren't really possible to carry over and I knew that if I focused all my energy on maintaining friendships back home that I wasn't giving myself room to invest in the community God had told me to go too. It's been a balance and I've had to grieve a few things but little by little the Lord has given me a heart for the people of Gravenhurst. A heart to support my husband as he leads and pastors these people and a heart for the people of Gravenhurst to know the hope found in Jesus Christ. Elmira is definitely a white middle class town with everyone saying they are ok with their two car garage and decent incomes. In Gravenhurst, 1/3 of the population lives under the poverty line, there are two prisons nearby with lots of girlfriends and wives and kids living in the town while they partner serves their time and everything you get with a small, rural town. It was a bit of a culture shock, which I never thought moving a few hours up north would bring, but instead of rejecting it this year I started falling in love with these people. I started reading the newspaper every week and finding out what makes Gravenhurst tick. I started looking people in the eye and making conversation in the town. I started praying more boldly and asking God for opportunities and He has given me plenty. There hasn't been a life giving, thriving, bible believing church in Gravenhurst and I believe God is calling us to be lights to this town and to invest. Do I have a time limit on how long we will be here? Nope, do you have a timeline on your life? Nope. But whatever time I have in whatever area I am, I know I want to invest, dig deep and be present because the Lord has called me here. This is a wonderful lesson I've been able to walk through in 2018.

God gave me the verse early in 2018 in Luke 10:2 that says: "the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few." When I lived in Elmira there was a church on every corner and many of them are preaching biblical Christianity. There was a place for kids and students to go for mid week programs. There are lots of faithful workers to bring about the harvest. But up here? There was no mid-week kids program, no youth group in the town and I just felt the Lord speak so clearly to me saying "I brought you up here to be another worker. Partner alongside these workers that are here and bring my hope to this weary world." There are definitely less workers the more north you go and I am so grateful to be up and partner with these workers.

So Gravenhurst feels like home. I have friends here now, an incredible church family (they are literally the best!) and a deep sense that for however long, I am called here. If you are reading this, please remember that whenever you are living right now - you have been called there. You have been called to love on and serve and be Jesus to the people around you in all areas of your life. You aren't there by accident and until you hear the Lord call you somewhere else, you better believe He wants you right where you are, investing in those around you. Also, in feeling this way, we bought a house! It's a new build and won't be ready for over a year but we are so excited to put down some roots - in faith:) 

My word for 2018 was unseen. What a wonderful blessing this word has been to my year. It has grounded me so many times and brought my focus back on what matters. I wrote in my blog post last year that "God has been showing me that the really sacred things are not meant to be shared in public. We validate social media and sharing our highlight reels and great moments but God has been teaching me that the great moments according to His word are the things in secret, the things to sacred to share."

Oh how this statement has been so true this past year. I fell in love with Jesus in a fresh new way. I didn't rely pastors to give me God's word, or podcasts or instagram captions. Typing this at the end of 2018 I can say that I don't even desire these things - they don't satisfy me like they once did. I heard it said that these things are a vitamin not a meal and that really resonated with me. I still listen to podcasts and sermons weekly but they are on top of my alone time with Jesus. I can't stress this enough - spending time alone with God's word and directly hearing from Him is the best. He wants to connect with you, to talk to you, to meet with you - we just need to give Him that time and space. And in these unseen moments where it was just me and Jesus and no one else - these are the highlights of 2018; processing it with Him, sitting at His feet and just in the stillness meeting with my creator - this is where we grow. This is the good stuff. Being unseen this past year has produced in me a foundation and love of the bible that I pray will continue and deepen in this coming year.

Spending time with Jesus and His word is never wasted time. I've learnt that. I wasn't able to do this all the time this year #newbornbabynosleep but the times I did get weren't wasted. Never. Even if I didn't understand what I was reading I know the Lord met me and honoured the time. 

In a world of production and highlight reels and feeling validated when you are seen, it was hard for me to resist this and seek the unseen. But wow, is it ever freeing when it becomes a practice. I know that being a pastor's wife my life will be 'seen.' My kids will be 'seen' and a lot of my ministry will be public. I love teaching the bible, speaking at conferences and doing a lot of 'seen' ministry. I know this season will come - but for 2018 I can look back and smile, knowing I prioritized the unseen and the Lord was faithful and met me in the quiet. I built a love for God's word and learned more about what the bible has to say so that when I go into public ministry I have a slightly better understanding (however the more you read the bible, the more you realize you don't know it all). 

2018 you were so good to our family! I can't wait to see that all 2019 will hold. I know there will be highs and lows - there always is but I am excited to learn and love and give God away. 


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