For our family, the low light of 2013 was losing two babies, Mary and Isaac. Caleb gave us a big scare when surgeons informed us he needed an emergency appendectomy. Our family did not fall apart through these things, but pulled together to get through them. We didn't lose faith; it grew. We became more determined to use all of our circumstances to bring glory to the Lord and shine His love on others. Our family gave ourselves a new label, "overcomers." We have overcome many things through Christ. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
The list of God's goodness to us in 2013 is too long to write, but I will touch on a few: We had the opportunity to minister to many people in painful situations. Brandon graduated from college. Amanda graduated from cosmetology school, became a licensed cosmetologist, and started college. Both of them found jobs quickly. We made progress on our remodeling and saw some life desires fulfilled. Our younger children made strides in their education. We received countless compliments on our children's conduct, integrity level, work ethic, and maturity that touched our hearts and renewed our commitment to our parenting. We were able to communicate with people we had not heard from in many years. We made new friends and heard from family members we had not heard from in a long while. We had many memorable moments as we visited new places. We traveled the range of our state and took two week long family vacations. God provided abundantly for all we needed and for some luxuries too. The list goes on and on. We have had much to celebrate!
The end of the year is a fitting time for reflection on personal sin and how we can make changes for the glory of the Lord. Philippians 3:13-14 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. We should each find things in our own lives to leave behind and race forward to do what is God honoring. I certainly have my list.
Each coming year will bring new challenges, opportunities, and blessings. How we respond to these things is more important than the length of our days. The Apostle Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." This is how we should approach every new year. We look ahead to 2014 asking and trusting God to lead us every step of the way.
Don't shine so others will see you. Shine so through you, others will see Him. C.S. Lewis