I bet you’ve heard this a thousand times:
For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord…
I have a few friends – ok, me included – that get cranky when we see this verse (Jeremiah 29:11) on cups and shirts and Facebook statuses. My usual response is…quit taking that verse out of context. (Icky and self-righteous, huh?)
But those few words penned thousands of years ago by the prophet Jeremiah are the ones I cling to this year.
I am living in the temporary. I’ve been living out of suitcases, but so blessed by the friend who allows me (and usually my kiddos) to share her space. It was my choice to leave my home because sometimes we just know deep in our guts what’s best for our own hearts.
And I don’t do well with no plan – with temporary. I can be flexible, but not knowing (literally) what the next week holds has been beyond difficult for this control freak.
I have laid it at Jesus’ feet again and again. Some days, it’s a 20-minute lament in anger and some days it’s simply a mild…help. Other days, it’s a great big THANK YOU for your provision and faithfulness to Him.
Because life seems so fragile right now, I was reluctant to choose a word of the year for my blog. And, if I am even more honest, my reluctance came from a place of deep hurt, anger at God, and feeling like 2013’s word (HOPE) was an epic failure.
At the end of 2011, I chose a picture to focus on throughout the next year- one that held deep meaning. But, I grew to hate that picture by the end of January 2012 when life fell apart. But, I was determined – beyond determined – to press in to God, begging Him to see my family and me through 2012.
And, He did.
It was hard and took TONS of work, but He carried us.
I began 2013 with the word HOPE – more hopeful than ever that the problems of the past had been laid to rest and life was beginning anew in many ways.
I still have hope. In fact, my hope grew exponentially in 2013 as I remembered almost daily that my hope is not in this earth but in eternity. Still, I must confess…the bulk of my “hope” plans for 2013 had high expectations for God attached. My heart had some very specific requests of God, and I confidently believed he would answer each one as I “hoped.”
Not even close.
I read the devotional initially – gave up by March when life began to slide.
My friend, Elaine, and I completed the Bible study I mentioned in last year’s post, and it sustained my faith in more ways than I can even articulate.
I prayed. But, I quit writing my prayers because it seemed NONE were being answered. (Notice, I used the word “seemed” – we never know what God is doing.)
BUT, my EPIC failures did not come in my time with God…devotional, Bible study, or prayer…they came in the next two areas of last year’s post: family/marriage and health.
As most of you know, my marriage didn’t work out. I could kick and scream at God all day long for the ways in which I feel He didn’t “show up” for a marriage that I felt God called me to forever.
Yet, it failed.
The issue from early 2012 reared again in 2013, and exhausted, we both decided it would never work.
We did the work – I will NEVER doubt that. And, yes, I am fully aware that it is NOT about our work alone, but HIS work. Still…for reasons I can’t seem to fathom this early, there’s not “hope” for our marriage.
Hope. The truckload of it I placed in my marriage…gone.
Which leads directly to last year’s hope for my health. Epic. Failure. Here.
Early on, Steve discovered he hated exercising outside. He chose an elliptical. I am NOT good at exercising alone, so my efforts were sporadic at best. So, you can’t really do a half marathon by training on an elliptical – or by training sporadically.
And, as things began to fall apart, I gave up. Plain and simple. I am an emotional eater, who quit being intentional. Who stopped being wise knowing what I know about myself.
As a result, instead of losing weight in 2013, I gained about 50 pounds.
Oh, what a difference just 365 days can make.
So, here I am. Tomorrow is 2014. I should be MUCH less hopeful for this upcoming year than any other.
He’s not changed.
He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
His steadfast love is unfailing, unchanging. And that’s the exact premise that I began writing this blog years ago: Psalm 36:5…
Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
So, this year…He knows the plans He has for me, and I am choosing to ABIDE in His unfailing love…in Him as He abides in me.
My plans for 2014 aren’t big like last year…simple abiding.
Of course, I plan to eat healthy and exercise. It’s key to my emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. And, I’ll share with you how that’s going.
I am starting the Abide study with Jen Wilkin, which is a close study of 1, 2, and 3 John. I am also joining my friend, Elisa Pulliam, for Focus 52. And, on January 3, I’ll begin Story 101 with a group of 25 ladies led by Elora Nicole.
Most of all, I am refusing to see these past two years as epic failures, for there have been MANY – way too many to count – wonderful things about these years. And, instead of looking at 2014 with discouragement and fear, I am choosing to abide and wait expectantly on what God has for me and my kiddos….including…
After 15 years of infertility, my sister will give birth to my new niece or nephew in June. (I am beyond excited!) Me and the kiddos are also going to Disney World (for the first time!) in April to watch Hannah perform at the Dance Worlds in Epcot. Best of all, Hannah has decided to start her own ministry to help those in Honduras (can’t WAIT to share that!).
And, in between, I’ll abide as I wait eagerly to see the plans God has for me and those I love.
I can’t think of any better way to close 2013 or this post than to share with you the prayer I read this morning from Everyday Prayers (which is FREE today on Kindle). Scotty Smith’s words accurately articulate how my heart feels today:
Heavenly Father, as I sit quietly before you on the eve of a new year, I’ve got a case of sad and glad going on inside of me. Both of these themes are at work in my heart as I reflect on this past year. It’s a good tension, one for which the gospel is more than sufficient…Thank you for your steadfast love and fresh mercies that came every single day this past year (and will come this year), when I was aware of them and when I wasn’t. You remained faithful to everything you’ve promised in Jesus…But, Father, it’s because of your love for me in Jesus that I can also own my sadness.
This past year I also joined the nations in saying, “So where is your God?” You usually heard this complaint from me when you busy doing what please YOU, and now what pleases ME. Many times I trusted my voiceless, sightless, senseless, powerless idols more than I trusted you. I grieve my foolishness…
Prepare me for twelve new months of groaning and growing in grace. Bring much glory to yourself as the gospel does its work in my life and through my life. I pray in Jesus’ faithful name. Amen.
I pray this for you too, friend. May He prepare your heart for twelve new months of groaning and growing in grace as you abide in Him.
Happy New Year!