I usually look forward not back, but I simply cannot look ahead to 2014 without pausing to reflect on the year that draws to a close.
As I type we are returning from a family vacation at the most magical place on earth. At least their slogan lives up to its promise. It was lights, parades, memories, Mickey and friends and so much more. This was a trip we won't soon forget. I can't think of a better way to close out the year then spending this time together as a family. 2013 is a year I want to memorialize. In the Old Testament there are references to altars built to stand as reminders for generations to come. 2013 stands as such a year for us.
At the start of 2013 I was celebrating a quiet New Year's Eve at home while my little man was tucked snuggily into bed. I was a single mom with a house on the market and in the middle of a bitter custody battle. It would be a few months into the new year before some of those things would be finalized. Lots of chapters ended while others began in 2013.
By the end of January the house would go under contract. In February I celebrated my 34th birthday surrounded by family and my Prince Charming. Most of the month would be spent packing and consolidating. E and I would move the majority of our things to storage and resume residence with mom and dad. It was a familiar and comfortable home for us and had been for the better part of three years. Nevertheless The Lord made it clear He was closing the door on 166 Addie Way. I can say with full confidence that throughout this year God has made it abundantly clear that the house that now stands was perfectly built for the family who now call it home. I've been blessed to see the fruition of this God-sized plan. From broken dreams to heartache and tragedy, beauty from ashes is what that now represents.
I hadn't been skiing in a decade but Prince Charming had a trip planned for us in March that would forever change our lives and our future. Atop the snow covered mountains after a fun-filled day gliding down the slopes, he shared his never ending love for me and his desire to serve me all the days of his life. I said yes to the most beautiful hand-crafted diamond ring...and the most amazing, gentle, kind-hearted, servant of a man I've ever met.
By the end of the month we were not only planning a wedding, we were wondering what God was up to when Michael's house also went under contract after just 6 weeks on the market. House hunting and more dreaming began.
April brought the celebration of Michael's birthday. We also settled on our lot in the cul de sac and chose plans for our new home. But April also brought the biggest career change of my life. I called LibertyUniversity my place of employment even before I graduated. I changed positions over the years but never left campus. Until April 1, 2013, when I entered the world of restaurant marketing and never looked back. This was not only a leap of faith but as I reflect upon this career move these past 8 months, all I can be is blown away grateful.
In May one very special little boy turned 5 and I was wondering where the time had gone. It also saw a lifelong dream come true for Michael as he received his degree after a 15 year much overdo, life got in the way, college career. They broke ground on our lot and we began the planning.
June seems like a blur with final preparations for the wedding, family members packing and preparing for moves and new homes, and making all kinds of selections for the new house being built.
The long awaited month of July had come. Family started to arrive and the day we had planned and prepared for was here. July 5, 2013. An altar upon that day is cemented in my mind, implanted in my heart. It is the day I married the love of my life. It is the day broken dreams and shattered hopes were mended as the presence of the Holy Spirit encircled us as we exchanged vows. We've both seen those vows broken. We've both experienced the pain and heartache of love lost. For us, 2013 became a long-awaited time of new life beginning.
August brought another milestone. Kindergarten. This mama had a harder time than Eli did. Nevertheless we are halfway through the year and so far we've survived!
The fall came closing in marked by the countdown of our house closing. October 24 sealed the deal and we began moving into yet another dream come true.
We gave thanks with my immediate family gathered around the table at my sister and brother in law's new home. We celebrated Christmas wth family in our new home, a trip to see Michael's 85 and 84 year old parents, and now close the year with so much behind us and still so much more to come.
I admit at times I feel as though I'm living my fairytale. I can also look back at years gone by and recall the times when the future seemed bleak. There have certainly been years I've wanted to forget and leave behind. There have been new year's celebrations that have only marked the hope that the year to come would somehow be better than the one I was saying goodbye to.
My faith has been challenged, strengthened, rocked to its core and built back up again. My life has followed the same progression. When I tell you I'm a living, breathing exams of God's grace, goodness, forgiveness, redemption and mercy, I more than mean it. When I share about the blessings, they are not separated from the steps a battered heart has taken on this journey to arrive at this point. I'm also well aware the final destination is still yet to come.
It may sound selfish for me to say, but I'm believing God for even more in the coming year. We are praying about big things. There are opportunities before us that we must seek His will to know the steps to take. There are situations out of our control that require us to walk and live by faith. There are inevitably unforeseen circumstances we don't even know about that will cause us to trust Him.
I'm well aware that 2013 marks the close of a year many would rather soon forget. I'm also well aware of the fulfilled promises of a sovereign God to complete the good work He's started in each of us. I'm living proof of the plans He has to prosper us and give us a future we couldn't have dreamed of on our own. I'm witnessing His mercies made new to us each morning. Everyday.