Well, 2017 is coming to an end, and I figure it’s always good to reflect over the past year before entering another. Plus, things have been really busy….at times stressful….at other times exhausting….for me over the past months, and I haven’t gotten around to blogging as much as I’d like. So here’s a reflective recap of my year.
The Weight Loss Saga
At the end of 2016 I found myself very frustrated. I had lost a lot weight, pregnancy and newborn life helped to bring some back, but my frustration was grounded in the knowledge that I just couldn’t get over food. I thought about it, liked it way too much, found comfort in it, found stress-relief in it, celebrated with it, mourned with it, and everything in between. So my husband recommended a book that was just coming out entitled Breaking the Stronghold of Food by Dr. Michael Brown and his wife Nancy. So as 2017 rolled in, I was reading this book and dealing with my lust for food as I would every other sin.
Looking back, I’m glad I took time to read that book. I don’t remember everything in it, but I have learned to “call a spade, a spade, and a sin, a sin.” So when I’m working through a difficult time, dealing with my emotions, or see inordinate affections for food rising up, I’m quick to call it what it is and deal with it, rather than just eat and be sorry for myself later. So at the end of 2017, I am just over 40 lbs lighter than I was at the beginning of the year. It’s been a long process, but I’m still working at it.
Communion with God and Meditation on the Word
So the main goal I had for the year was to improve my daily communion with God and to learn how to meditate on the Word better than I was doing. Consequently, this year has been filled with lots of reading, studying, and praying. I’ve read several Puritan classics (i.e. Communion with God, Mortification of Sin, The Crook in the Lot, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, The Mystery of Providence, etc.), but I’ve also gone back through books of the Bible that I’ve studied before on my own and enjoyed the process of digging in even deeper than before with additional study aids and commentaries. I’ve learned to commit more things to the Lord in prayer much more quickly than before, and overall, I can say that I have learned to entrust myself to the Lord much more fully this year while my love for Him has grown even deeper than before.
I Want to Go Home
After my grandmother died last December, I was really overwhelmed with grief for a long time. When my pastor’s wife from home (my literal second mother) died right before Easter, I was just floored all over again. Even with a brand new home, I have just wanted to pack everything up and move back to Virginia this entire year. I can honestly say that I have never been this homesick in my entire life, and the feeling only intensifies as I hear about more and more people that I’ve known all of my life dealing with illness and knocking at death’s door. What makes it worse is that my husband and I have never really cared for Charleston (I hate to say that because I know some die-hard Charleston lovers), but I’m perfectly aware that I don’t really “fit” in Charleston. And, being really honest, I don’t think I want to either. So my struggle with being homesick has only gotten harder this year, but what stays my hand from trying to make a move happen is the knowledge that it is the Lord who brought us here in the first place. And until He has accomplished all that He has purposed, I will not move. I just can’t. So as more people I know and love at home pass away this year, I anticipate this to be a growing struggle for me. But I know I can also anticipate the Holy Spirit being an increasing comfort to me as I continue this walk, and ultimately I know that I have a heavenly home where there will be no pain, sorrow, or death ever again. That is truly the home that I am waiting for above all else.
Changes, changes, and more changes
We moved into our new house early this year, and it has brought in a world of changes for all of us. I found my workload more than doubled after the move, and the opportunities for my girls to run around, be rowdy, and half-way destroy things continues to abound. But as I see them grow and change, I find myself doing the same thing. In particular, a lot of the lessons and advice I heard over the years has come back to my mind, and I am forever grateful for all of my dear brothers and sisters in Colorado and Louisiana who shared their lives and lessons learned with me. So little things like learning how to pray and commune with God over the kitchen sink, or not stressing out about messy clothes and hair, or not losing it over spilled milk (literally) or anything else that takes a tumble, or continuing to be kind and gentle when you’re spent, and abiding in Christ through all of your highs and lows, or keeping in mind that it takes years to make a house a home, and to not feel pressured to have it all together at once….all of those things have become like growing reverberations in my mind, and I recall them constantly. Those words bring so much comfort and encouragement to me each day, and I pray the Lord blesses those who bless others with wise words and sound advice.
Moreover, with all of these changes, I’ve had to figure out my priorities, boundaries, and limits all over again this year. Now, that has not been a seamless process, but I am learning how to figure myself out, for myself, and not always feel compelled, pressured, or obligated by other people and their stated (or unstated) expectations to do things. So I expect to continue working on this into the new year as I learn to balance all of my responsibilities in their respective spheres.
Refining Convictions and Church Life
Reformation 500 – The first thing I’m going to say is that I am Reformation-ed out. Like honestly, I think I was over the Reformation in April, and the Lord has carried me along since then. When the last Sunday in October came, I literally breathed a deep sigh of relief that it was all over, and I went home and made myself pancakes and took a nap. I know no good Reformed person is going to say that out loud, so I’m just going to say it for myself and everyone else who secretly wanted to.
Racial Problems/Reconciliation – I’m also over the church’s (or maybe it’s just a PCA denomination issue) racial reconciliation conversations/dialogues/groups of words that are put together but produce no result because the issues lie in the hearts of men and women and external changes don’t change the heart but everyone is either too passionate and “caught up” in the cause or walking on the nuanced, politicized eggshells to really say that and stick to it. Yep, I got over that real quick this year, and I’m still trying to figure out how people have as much time as they apparently do to devote themselves to that conversation if they are really working each day. ….Hmmm, or maybe my husband is right in saying that people only have time for that because they aren’t working hard enough????
Convictions – Well, after years of reading lots of things on Church history, Presbyterianism, covenant theology, and a lot of other topics, I can wholeheartedly say that I am most definitely a Baptist…LOL! And what’s funny about it is that I told my pastor’s wife that I probably would have just acquiesced into Presbyterianism with enough time, and she was so surprised by that and thought that maybe they should direct their efforts at me and not my husband. But with all this reading and stuff, my convictions have definitely become more refined, and I have a much greater confidence in what I believe and why I believe as well. Now, by itself, that’s a fantastic place for any Christian to be in because we all know the path there is not always smooth and peaceable. But for me, it’s been more of a difficult process because I’m a Reformed Baptist in a really tradition-heavy Presbyterian church. So this has been really challenging for me this year, and I anticipate it will continue to be challenging into the new year. However, I know that this is not a surprise to the Lord, and I trust that He will be glorified in and through this as well.
The Joy of Answered Prayer
Right in the middle of an increasingly annoying conversation over the Christmas holiday about my life choices, I realized that God answered my prayer!
I’ve prayed for the Lord to bring me to a place of contentment and joy being in the home as a mother for years….literally YEARS! And while my husband has always told me that I manage our home well, I’ve always lacked contentment doing the work. So being in the home was always a matter of duty and responsibility for me, rather than joy, satisfaction, and peace with the plans and purposes of God in my life. Well, in the midst of that conversation I realized that I truly am content and happy with where I am, and I really had to stop and marvel and praise God for that. He is the Lord who hears and answers prayers….even years later. And as the old saints used to say growing up, “He may not come when you want Him, but He’ll always be there right on time!”
So, this has been my year in review. I know that the new year will bring different joys, pains, challenges, and growth. But I am trusting that the same Lord who saw me through this year will see me through the next.
Happy New Year to you all!