It was one year ago that Mary Joy asked me to join her in ministry here at Unwrapping His Grace.
It has been such a blessing in every way to partner with Mary Joy and grow in relationship with her as fellow sisters in the LORD. I have been touched in so many different ways from her encouragement in my life over the last year.
She has spoken life into my very soul.
She has given me a safe place to share my heart.
She has allowed me to befriend some of her friends – Hi, Y’all!
She has helped me grow as a writer by encouraging me to share from my heart rather than writing only in third person all the time (like I can tend to do!).
In more ways than one, her discernment at critical times has steered me in the right direction, caused me to pause and reflect on something, and drawn me closer to the Lord.
They say that God always knows what He’s doing and has a plan for our lives; I know that being able to grow with Mary in these ways over the last year has come at a very critical time in my life.
One year ago at this time, I was worried that I was dying.
Yes, I literally thought that I was dying. I was worried that this could be the last Thanksgiving I would have with my loved ones. I wasn’t scared of going to Heaven and being with the LORD – - but I was starting to look at life as if it was going to be the last time to see certain things, do certain things, and enjoy life and special times with the ones I love the most…..
I was sick – but we didn’t know the names for what was “wrong” with me yet.
Was it seizures?
The beginning of MS?
The “we-know-something-is-wrong-with-you-but-we-don’t-know-the-name-for-it” syndrome?
I felt like I was at the bottom of a staircase, looking up, and trying as hard as I could to see where the staircase was ending.
But it was still out of sight.
And, on top of that, my world was in black and white. Like I was living in a movie or nightmare – I was somewhere that felt foreign and unfamiliar to me.
I was afraid to know where that staircase was leading – and, yet, I followed Him…
One step at a time, I followed God up each step,
footstep by footstep,
choosing in each moment to have faith
in Him and trust where He was leading me.
The end of last year was hard for me too –
As I packed away the Christmas decorations, I remember labeling the boxes and telling Randy, my husband, to look for the ones with the big X’s on them when decorating for Christmas 2013; the boxes with the X’s were the ones with the most well-loved ornaments, the stockings, the most-needed-and-most-sparkly knicknacks.
I was trying to plan for me not being here to have another Christmas with my husband and children.
I was packing away the decorations and, in many ways, packing away my future hopes and dreams.
Can you imagine the amount of sorrow, worry, fear, and confusion in my heart?
I trusted God – but the pain of saying goodbye was always threatening to wash over me.
I wasn’t ready to leave for Heaven yet; I still had people who needed me here.
I am immensely grateful to say that I am still here one year later - by the grace and love of God.
I have lived through a long year of countless tests, doctor appointments, and diagnoses; we have learned that my symptoms aren’t fatal, although I will always live with chronic illness. (There are still some things we don’t know – but we know enough about things now and are thankful that God has been with me and my family through it all.)
Over time, my black and white world has taken on a vibrant color again; I am seeing the rainbow of God’s promises coming to life through the beauty of my life all around me.
There are so many ways that living through this last year has caused me to stop and consider just how much I am blessed.
I may not be in good health, but I am deeply loved and lack for nothing of real, genuine, lasting value.
I have learned that in everything, there is Grace and Hope to be found in the LORD.
I may have “lost” so many things due to failing health,
but my heart has grown stronger according to the work He is doing in me.
I know that no matter how dark the situation and how horrible the diagnosis that God is with me
-never to leave me -
and that there is beauty to be found among the ashes of my dreams.
These “gifts” from this year - this year of great trials and growing deeper in my faith – have enabled me to say that I am content and at peace in climbing up those steep steps of my life.
I can’t plan for what’s ahead – but I can hold even tighter to His hand as He gently leads me higher and higher into His love and care for me.
I still don’t see the top of the staircase, but I am stopping to look at the view on the way, and I am in awe of the beauty of my life because of the One who has given it to me.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful and humbled
to know just how much I am loved
– how much I am cherished -
and that, although challenged,
I am given the grace day by day to continue to trust God
to bring me to healing in this world – or in the World to come.
I wish you a loving, grace-filled, blessed Thanksgiving with your loved ones.
Know how much I am thankful for you – and for the One who has given so much to us.
TO GOD be the GLORY – Always!
Colossians 2:6-7 & 3:17
The Message (MSG)
6-7 My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.
15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
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