New beginnings- always a good time for reflection.
This time last year I was packing my suitcase in preparation for our trip to Israel that began the first week of January! There was lots of planning into what I would put into that suitcase. It was my lifeline for 15 days! Some items were pretty things for evening dinners at the 5 star hotels we enjoyed. Some items weren’t packed for their beauty – I packed them because of their necessity. – things like an adapter for my belongings that needed power – the curling iron, travel iron, computer and phone charger. Snacks for energy. An umbrella for protection from the storms. After my trip was over I realized how thankful I was for each item I took with me! The pretty, the necessary, the energizers, and the protective items each had special purpose.
I look behind me at all that was “packed” into my year, and I am awed at God’s goodness and wisdom. Here, too, I am touched at the beauty of many things He allowed to be brought into my life. Here are a few of my blessings from this past year:
- The opportunity to see and walk where Christ lived and ministered! To visit the Garden tomb, the Mt. of Olives, the Emmaus Road, Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, and so much more! It was the trip of a lifetime.
- Our first “Ray Sister Reunion” in a cozy mountain cabin in the spring. Three days and two nights to do “girl stuff,” walk the trails, sing, pray, read and rest!
- Time to fellowship and be encouraged by other ministry couples in a place not too far away in the early summer.
- Opportunities to speak at ladies’ retreats in Louisiana at Southland Christian Camp and in Ketchikan, Alaska. What joy it is for me to get to serve the Lord in this way! My heart was knit to the ladies in each group in the short time we had together. I’m praying for many of them each week and for the burdens they shared with me.
- My oldest daughter and her husband purchase their first home! Wish I had a picture to show you!
- My youngest daughter finished her 4 year college degree at BJ (a semester early!). She stands here displaying her gift from us. No, it wasn’t a hint! She started a job as a nanny in Greenville the following week!
Then God allowed some other things He knew I needed to get packed into my year:
- Watching my husband go through retina surgery and 8 weeks of recovery
- Changes in plans, due to his surgery
- A mother-in-law who began failing in health. Being alone with her when she is diagnosed with in-operable 4th stage Lung Cancer. (What a sweet time we had together at that moment – reading Scripture, praying and thinking on the Truth of eternity)
- Staying at the hospital for four weeks while she is treated for many other things, including heart issues and a blood clot in her leg.
- Plans to help my daughter move into her new home must be changed due to my responsiblilities to help care for her Gramma.
- My husband is diagnosed with pneumonia the day I’m to bring his mom home. I care for him on one end of the house and his mom on the other end.
- My younger daughter’s old bedroom, recently vacated, is now occupied with her gramma. Such a dichotomy.
- Twenty-four hour care of my mother-in-law – a blessing, but also a huge responsibility.
- The flu strikes me down for three days, leaving my husband to care for everything.
All during the trials, the not-so-lovely things He packed into my year, I can see that God also packed some “engergy bars,” if you will. They were pasages of Scripture that He brought through a devotional or my daily Bible reading. They came in the form of messages I listened to. Some engergizers were people God brought into my life. Some of the “pretty things” from earlier in the year fed my heart and carried me along. I can see the umbrella God packed – his umbrella of grace and protection over me.
Oh, yes! God knows how to pack my suitcase, and I’m so thankful for all He wisely planned for me this past year.
What are some of the things that God put into your suitcase in 2012 that you can give thanks for – even though they might not be beautiful things, but you know they were necessary?
Happy New Year, my friends!