Here I am - almost September - and I wonder how did this year go by so fast. Seems like just yesterday we were having our New Year's Eve party with about 50 people crammed into our house all decked out in their 80s attire. And now, we are into our second full week of school and our schedule is right back at crazy!
And yet, I don't have that feeling that life is rushing by without me. In fact, while the weeks pass so fast, the days have seemed much slower. And what a gift that has been. So, before the storm the schedule of insanity really hits, I wanted to stop and ponder the richness of the blessings we've had this year.
The biggest and most precious gift I had this year was on January 10. That was one full year since Scott had been released from the hospital after his truly near-death time there in 2007. I guess when you come face-to-face with doctors saying "We just aren't sure what will happen. The next six hours are crucial" - and they say that same thing to you three different times - you realize there are very few things in life that really matter - in fact there is NOT ONE THING in life that really matters - only people. That experience has forever changed me. I am now much more focused on celebrating every day - for there are gifts in every moment. And I realize in a way that I imagine few ever do how very precious my husband is. He is more than my best friend, more than my soul mate, more than my life's companion. He is, in every way possible, my hero. His profound faith in God surpass that of anyone else I have ever known. His deep love for his family is amazing. And the complete selflessness with which he ministers and serves is the most genuine picture of Christ I know.
So, while that is the overwhelming theme of my life this year, there have been many other moments to treasure. In February my baby turned 8. I can't even begin to explain what a gift she is. Having experienced the loss of a child, I carry deep within an appreciation for the true frailty of life - and the gift that being a parent is. Casiday is just the most amazing child! I know she's mine and I am extraordinarily biased but she is. In spite of being in a class last year with some really mean kids (who picked on her and stole from her, lied about her and even hit her), she carried herself with such grace. In fact, she prayed for those very kids - not because I told her to or suggested it but because she told me that they needed God. She even used a pencil she had gotten from LifeWay to witness to one little boy. Of course, she is normal - she gets in trouble for not cleaning her room, for being sassy, and for a thousand other things all the time. But, when all is said and done, she loves the Lord and is not afraid to share her faith. What more could I ask for? (Although, I'm not denying a clean room would be nice!)
I have the most incredible friends! In April our children's pastor's wife and I were able to get away and go to a conference with a church in Alabama. It was so nice to not be charge - to have NO responsibility. And I really enjoyed my time with Karen. She is just a great person. I can't begin to describe all the things that make her so special but she is an incredible wife who sacrifices herself all the time to help her husband. She loves her 3 girls and makes their lives full of special moments - from little trips after school to the park to making scrapbooks with them, Karen truly is invested in her children. And, most precious to me - she deeply and passionately loves the Lord! She hungers and thirsts for righteousness and desires a deeper relationship with Christ - even when it's hard. Spending a few days with her was a blessing and encouragement that God gave me and I am immensely thankful.
I also have those great friends who call just to say hi, who text to remind me that they pray for me, who send me notes to encourage me, and who are always available for a hug, a shoulder to cry on, a coffee break at Seattle's Best, or a shopping trip to Ross. I have the kind of friends who love me no matter what but who never let me be a slacker. The kind who will challenge me to be MORE but stand by me when I am far less. The kind who laugh with me and sometimes at me. Who help me not take myself too seriously. But who strengthen me to stand firm in my walk with Christ.
There have been small moments too - an afternoon spent watching "Enchanted" with my own princess. An evening walk on the beach with my beloved. So many - so much - I am so full.
This year I've travelled overseas. I had the privilege to spend a week in Roatan, Honduras. What an experience! To see the passion for Christ by fellow believers was such a challenge to me in my own life. I guess I always thought they "had" to be passionate about Christ because they had nothing else. But, the reality is - they are passionate about Him because He is worthy of our passion. I was deeply moved, enormously convicted, and forever changed.
I get to spend four hours every week sharing the truth that God has a plan for each of us as I volunteer at Care Net. This year I have been honored to be a witness to 6 people moving from eternal death to abundant life as they asked Jesus Christ to be the Salvation they need. It really doesn't get any better than that!
I've seen my daughter dance her first solo at church. I've had the long-prayed-for opportunity to teach a Bible study at Care Net. I have started exercising and eating better. I've reconnected with friends from years gone by and built relationships with many senior adults who remind me that life is too short to miss out on the moments of each day.
So today I find myself looking forward to what the next four months of 2008 hold. There are things I know are coming - a trip to the Smokey Mountains in November, Casiday dancing in "The Nutcracker" for the third time, and celebrating Thanksgiving with very dear friends. And yet I am even more excited about what will be surprise. The moments I can't predict, can't create, can't even imagine. The moments when God shows me glimpses of Him - in nature, in His Word, and in others. The times we will spend sharing meals with those we love. The moments Scott and I will share - just the two of us. The times when Casiday will make me laugh and the times she will make me realize that I am privileged to be a part of her life. The quiet moments when life is slow and still. And even the hectic days when God gives me the strength to make it through. In this and so much more I pray I will be a reflection of Him. One who loves God and loves others. One who serves. One who sacrifices. One who reaches out. One who lives abundantly!
Yes, the year has gone by fast. But there's so much more. And I face the days ahead with confidence, with anticipation. For my God is the One God - and I am ready to go and do and see and learn. As the commercial says, "I want it all!" - All that He has for me. Even the storms - for the rainbow always comes.