Wednesday, January 1

looking back at 2013 before looking ahead!!

20 Questions to help me reflect on yesterYEAR :)

1. A highlight in 2013?
My highlight for the past year (oh man, there were several) but well, it has to be seeing our ministry begin, after a 12 year journey with God, since receiving the call to ministry.  (read blog at  - go back to the first posts for the info)
2. Hardest part of 2013?
Spending time with my sweet friend Audrey as she was slipping from this world a little more each day, and nearing Heaven.  The morning I was by her bed, and was able to see her released into the presence of the Lord, was so hard - but so wonderful.  
And within two weeks - getting a phone call from my sister, rushing to the hospital, and then within mere hours, watching as my firstborn niece left us to be with Jesus.  Totally unexpected - so incredibly hard - but beautiful to be there to support my sister and her family during this time.  Seeing someone I love in pain, and not being able to take it away - is one of the hardest things in life.
3. One of my unexpected joys?
It continues to be my grandchildren - who bless me over and over and over again - in ways I could never have ever imagined how wonderful being a Granny would be.  Another unexpected joy has to be the fact that our kids live within a stone's throw from us - totally unexpected when we built where we did - but absolutely amazing and a gift from God to have them all so close!!  
4. An unexpected obstacle in 2013?
My fibromyalgia was at a high that I have not experienced in a few years, which makes moving around, housework, etc - a lot more work than it should be!  But God continues to bring grace for each day - and strength beyond measure.  
5. Three to five words to capture 2013!
Beauty redeemed from brokenness!
6. Best family moment for me?
I don't think I just have one!  My immediate family mean everything to me - they are my all!  I thank God for them.  My best extended family moments are the times that in the depths of our despair, we were there for one another - to wipe tears, to hug and to help the other stand, and to help recall the faithfulness of God.
7.  A travel highlight in 2013?
Alvin and I made a very greatly needed vacation trip to Mexico and it was wonderful - walking the seashore, meeting new friends and just spending time listening to God.  
However, my other travel highlight was when I went last November - to Glen Eyrie retreat center in beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado - for NextStep School of Spiritual Director with Dr. Larry Crabb.  My heart overflows with these memories.
8. The best book that I read in 2013?
I had to read through the Bible cover to cover - as part of my getting ready for Next Step and my certificate in Spiritual Direction/SoulCare.  The Word of God - amazing - absolutely amazing!  Okay, yes, I sloughed by way through a few of the Old Testament books, I will admit - but you have to read through the Word of God!!  I also needed to read 66 Love Letters by Dr. Crabb along with the reading of the Bible!!  
9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
My most valuable relationships were with my husband, and my kids and grandkids.  I will never stop pouring into their lives as God gives me strength and breath.  These kids and grandkids are my legacy.  I have come to see the man I married in a whole new way this past year, and thank God for him!  I am so greatly blessed.
I thank God for my siblings - who make me laugh, and also who share the legacy that we were left from parents who were not perfect, but who loved us with a great great love!!
I also thank God for my friends - you guys know who you are - the ones who are there for me - and have been so helpful and supportive in our ministry.  One of you I talk to almost every day - and I am thankful!  You have walked through some tough stuff - and continue to - and I have learned alot from you during this time you have gone through.  I also thank God for how blessed I am to have friends who love me through thick and thin!! 
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
My biggest change has to been becoming a morning person!! By the grace of God - seriously - only through HIM.  Also by becoming more of a MARTHA person while still being a MARY at heart.  Also, finally beginning the road to losing some very very unwanted pounds!!  Just the beginning - but 17 is better than nothing!  on to more!!
11. The way I grew emotionally?
I cried alot this year.  It is hard to say good-bye to those we love.  It is hard to walk along side of another.  I have also grown emotionally - and have been learning that sometimes I take a different meaning from something that is said, but was not intended that way.  Emotionally I am feeling stronger - and I am thankful.  I still remember the days of depression, but they are what serve to give me "red flag warnings" when I get a little over extended!!
12. Spiritual growth in 2013 included:
oh Lord - I am so thankful for all you have done in my heart - and in my soul this past year!  I have grown in leaps and bounds as I have seen God at work, and continue to literally stand amazed over and over again.  I have heard God speak - and I continue to thank him that He does speak - and he speaks often.  I have seen God at work.  I have been a partner with him in ministry and I am so thankful that He doesn't call the equipped but that He equips the called - like me!  
My "aha" moment that brought me to a weeping mess, was on the Tuesday night, after our session at NextStep with Larry Crabb.  Upon returning to my room, I barely opened the door when I was overwhelmed with such emotion, and weeping. I won't go into it all - but it hinges around what I feel is my prophetic burden as Larry described it.  I believe it is to help women feel how precious and beautiful they are in the eyes of God - who created them, and sent his son Jesus to die for them.  It was that night, that I realized that I was having my own trouble believing that .... and yet I wanted other women to experience it.  I wept, and wept, and cried out to God, and fell asleep with tears rolling off my cheeks and onto my pillow.  In my debriefing with Larry, I came to see more aha moment stuff - and I am forever thankful! A couple days after, I got a Starbucks coffee with a note on it, from someone within my quad.  Cal made me cry!  I had to take a picture to remember!! 

When I left, Larry signed my name tag with the following, which I will cherish forever.  "To Joy ~ may He continue to release your beauty to reveal His to many"
13. Physical growth or challenges:
Physical growth - the mirror continues to remind me that this body is getting older.  Somehow my face is such a reminder - as I notice the pillow creases take considerable longer to disappear from my cheeks, and there are lines that have formed around my lips!  Oh such is life and age!!  
My challenge is to get going on losing weight - now or never - and I am into the challenge by a month - and having lost weight so far - I have enough still to go - with a hopeful date around summer.  I am not doing it for vain glory - but to be able to run and play and get on the floor (and up again) with my grandkids.  The Lord is with me in this - and he says that "with him I can scale a wall" so I figure I can also beat the scale literally as well!!
14. In what way(s) did I grow in my relationships with others?
I have come to see that life is fragile.  I have been greatly impacted by words of friends who have left for heaven - far too soon!  I have been impacted by my relationships with my family - who continue to teach this old mom about life - and about faith in Jesus.  I have come to value relationships in a new way - and cherish each one.  I feel like all of a sudden I don't have time for triteness .... or for frivolous things, or for "conversation about the weather" but instead want to have meaningful conversations that count - that change us - and encourage us to live all out for Jesus!
15. What was the most enjoyable part of my work (both professionally and at home)?
Continue to have such amazing memories of the job I resigned from in January with Canadian Blood Services.  Loved that job and the people.
Now my job is at home - and in minsitry - and following God in this is exciting and meaningful - and makes me feel challenged and joyful.
16. What was the most challenging part of my work (both professionally and at home)?
Likely the most challenging part of work - is the fact that our home is also our ministry house - and trying to figure out the boundaries not only on time, and for family time, but also with people retreating here.  All good - but a process.
17. My single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
Facebook - hands down.  Hate to admit it - but it is.
Or just the computer in general!  Or even the iPhone (sorry to say)

18. My best way I used my time this past year?
The best way I used my time was in helping my kids with the grandkids!!
Also, the ability to write and send real notes via snail mail.
Also in doing some work with inner city ministry.  Blessings abound!
19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?
This is going to sound silly - but  I learned that when people "unfriend" you in Facebook - it is likely because they are mad at you for something - and life is way bigger than having friends on facebook!!  LOL  
ALL JOKING ASIDE (although that was something that happened) .... this is really what I have learned:
Life is short.  God is in control no matter what.  He is also good all the time, even when it seems he didn't answer you prayer the way you prayed.  I learned that we can't wait till all is perfect, or we have the money, or the time, or energy - but that we need to live all out - full - head on - for Jesus NOW ....
I have also learned that too many people my age are looking for freedom 55 and counting down days to do what they want in retirement.  I am remeinded again that no where in the Word of God does it talk about retiring from being used by God - so here we are - instead of ramping down as the world encourages us, we are ramping UP and having the time of our lives for Jesus..... yes we are more pooped than we were to years ago, because we are older - but we are feeling like following God - there is NOTHING LIKE IT!!
I have also learned to appreciate and love the honesty and openness and closeness of my family.  I have come to realize that not all families operate this way, and I am sad for them. I have to come realize that the relationships my kids have with one another and with us as parents, are rare - and I try not to take this for granted.  I love the way my kids encourage one another, and challenge on another to living greater for the Lord.  But even more than that, watching them - challenges me.  I have seen them stand up for what they believe, and for all they believe to be right - regardless of what that may cost.  I have not always been so brave in my life as a Christ follower.  I am thankful, that God works with us, as messy and broken up and needy as we are.  I am so thankful!
20. Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.
During this past year, I have seen how God has continued to make broken things new, including me and my family.  I have seen how he redeems beauty from ashes and how he does bring joy eventually from mourning.  God is in the business of redeeming brokenness.  That being said - the best is yet to come, and I have been reminded of this again and again, as I have said good-bye to loved ones family and friends who have gone home to be with Jesus - many who were way too young!!  We are just passing through - this is just a middle ground for us - and the best - oh my friend - the best is yet to come - and WILL come in the twinkle of an eye.
Are you ready to meet Jesus?  Don't wait!!  And hey if you need to know more about making him Lord of your life - I am here to talk!!
Thankful for 2013
but happy for 2014 - a fresh new start!
Happy 2014!!

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