Wow 2017. I am blown away by the things God did, the ways He nurtured new growth, new birth and ushered restoration into corners of my heart and then flooded back out into facets of my life that I never expected. I have new found courage to never lose hope, to keep trusting in God’s timing, in His character, and remember that the things people may intend for harm, God will always use for His good, in His timing. (Genesis 50:20)
What did I learn in 2017? To leave fear behind and pursue God-breathed dreams with abandon. Don’t expect everyone to understand or to cheer you on, but don’t let that bother or surprise you. Shine your light and mark the way along the path less traveled, believing they will soon be coming along on their own journeys, too. Maybe they haven’t been freed yet from the bondage of fear or the chains of legalism or distraction of sin. When our identities are rooted firmly in Jesus, we have His approval and so we need others’ less. Instead, we can love our enemies, empower everyone around us, and use words that build instead of words that destroy. Don’t be afraid to speak truth, to talk about hard things, to be a safe place for others to share their hearts, embraced warmly with the grace of God.
In 2017, I learned that “walking by faith” is better described as jumping off a cliff, where the only One who can come through at each moment of the free-fall of life, is God. The comfort zone has ended, and the things that used to hold back, the blockages in prayers, have given way to the open conditions that are finally perfect to learn how to fly.
Last year at this time, as 2016 came to a close, I had experienced a crazy year involving a leap of faith following God, health problems, a huge injury and pregnancy. Last December, I was in my third trimester pregnant with Lucy, and had constant preterm labor and had just been discharged from the hospital after I had been told I would be there weeks until Lucy was born. This was a miracle in itself, God was always working in the mess. Previously, in November, I had torn all the ligaments in my foot from a fall which caused my water bag to break, but God closed it. In the months prior to that, I had experienced a season of death and rebirth in following God’s leading in my life, as well as some other health concerns, which God miraculously resolved. Things were grim last New Year’s Eve. Agape Moms, the ministry I had launched in October, after much prayer, had come to a halt due to my injuries. But God wasn’t finished yet, and I never stopped praying and believing.
Come February 2017, just before Lucy was born and with all the uncertainty of her life, I relaunched Agape Moms, and it soon took off and continued to snow ball, each mom coming as God had appointed and personally planned for them. The gospel was taking root and bearing fruit, in and around me. The one mama who remained from the first Agape Moms gathering was soon birthed into the co-leader of our group. Women from across the country started asking me to help them begin Agape Moms in their town, and so training locally and video-driven commenced, and two new Agape Women groups are launching in early 2018, and more in the works. Talk about living outside of my comfort zone, but what a thrill it’s been!
In the fall of 2017, more mercies and graces were given. I was given the opportunity to serve the women at my church and beyond in the community as the Women’s Missional Director, a calling I’ve felt over my life for many years, one that seemed impossible and blocked at times, but God did the impossible when I chose to stop trusting in myself more than I trusted Him. And as if to be the icing on the cake, my alma mater, Moody Bible Institute who previously did not honor women well in ministry, hosted a mission conference entitled HER (honor, empower, release) with one of my favorite authors, Carolyn Custis James, as the headline speaker, showcasing the rich heritage of women in the bible and God’s global heart for women as co-laborers for Christ with men, “the blessed alliance.” Wow you guys, never thought I’d see the day, but God’s Word is living and active!
When God calls you, burdens you, convicts you with His word, and empowers you with the Holy Spitit, there is nothing the enemy or a person can do to stop His work in and through you, because that’s what it is, His work, not mine. My prayer for 2018 is to continue to steward well the things God is calling me to do, no matter the opposition I will face. My “resolutions” are to continually find my identity, rest and strength in Christ alone, to encourage others to follow Jesus with abandon, and for the Gospel to bear even more fruit in and through me- all for His Glory! And my prayer for you my friends, is that you’d step out and trust God in new ways in 2018- whatever He’s placed in your heart to do, stop giving way to fear, His perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18), so go ahead and do it- jump.
(P.S. 2018, please take me back to this hike in Colorado! Grays & Torrey’s peaks)