What was one of the greatest blessings I experienced this past year?
Three things immediately come to mind and it is hard to pick just ONE but these top 3 need little explanation for making my list.
1. Mom moving into Summit Place Assisted Living; she is settled in and thriving in her new environment
2. My sister and bro-in-love moving here.
3. Our oldest grandson coming to visit for a week.
What was one of the biggest challenges you faced?
Oh, wow. It was Bruce's decision to go on his mission trip to Honduras that challenged me in SO many ways. It tested our relationship, it stretched me in ways I thought would make me snap. It required great relinquishment on my part and subsequently a deeper spirit of submission to both God and my husband. It also required forgiveness and acceptance, both of which were difficult for me to arrive at. It was not my favorite experience of 2013 by far, but yet it was also a very crucial part. I don't know yet what that sort of testing may someday lead up to, but I sense it is definitely part of a bigger plan God has for the two of us. EEk!!
What lesson did you learn from that challenge?
Not to try and navigate these sorts of things on our own. I think sometimes we forget that God created us to live in community and we neglect to bring in the wise council of strong fellow believers. It is natural and right for a married couple to turn to each other first when facing a challenge but what do you do when the challenge has you on opposite sides? For too many weeks Bruce and I were at such odds over his decision and we thought we could navigate this turbulent trial through continued conversations but those conversations only left me more angry and resentful. Finally we sought the counsel of 2 couples from our church that we respect and trust. It didn't solve the dilemma but it calmed the storm raging inside me. And that was the first major step in bringing me to a place of acceptance.
How can use that lesson to help you grow as a person?
By realizing how much another believer can help me, I came to understand that if I offer that sort of help to someone else who is struggling, that in turn will grow me in ways that will never happen if I keep it to myself. One of my roles as a leader of a small group is to come along side of another and support or mentor them. I feel a strong affinity for young married women in particular. Not that I am an expert on marriage by any stretch of the imagination but I can offer to listen and to pray. I can turn them to God's word for instructions and encourage them as others have encouraged me. I liken this to my past role as a fitness coach. I learned the work out and then began to teach it to others. It not only was a benefit to my members but it served to reinforce my own learning of the workout. As a result, both the women who came to my club and myself, grew stronger. I look forward to using my own past experiences to fuel both myself and another who is challenged, into a brighter tomorrow.
You know, 2013 was a pretty good year! There were plenty of other blessings and challenges that I could pull out and examine and I probably will as the week rolls on. Today brings to mind this scripture passage from Hebrews; Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance, the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith...
Good bye 2013.... and let's get ready to embrace with JOY the New Year!!