So, we knew we wanted to share about this past year. We wanted to share where we are coming from. But first, I want to say that this past year has been a “butt kicker”. There have been moments where we loved it and where we hated it. I’ll be honest, the majority of the time I hated it, but for what we’ve learned and how far we’ve come, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
In January 2013, we said goodbye to some incredible students that it had been our privilege of ministering to since 2009, both as volunteers and then as their youth pastors. This was one of the most challenging things we have ever had to walk through. During that season, we had some of the most rewarding and heartbreaking experiences of our lives. We learned a lot and we didn’t do everything perfectly but, by God’s grace, we did our best.
This past year we also started MissionBrand. This is a company specifically designed to support missionaries through the sale of custom apparel that my incredibly talented husband designs. We learned a lot from this experience, too. Things don’t always go the way you expect them to. We received an incredible amount of moral support and encouragement. A lot of people have said that we inspired them to take steps of faith out into the unknown. This meant so much to us! Would I do it again? Um…Oh God, please don’t ask us to do this again. Will He ask us to do this again? Probably.
We travelled. A. LOT. Two giants in a Kia Rio with a 2 year old. We went from the West Coast to the East Coast. Our kid is a trooper. Matt spoke at churches and youth groups and MissionBrand was a like a second child with us on the road. So fun.
We struggled A LOT. We had an expectation that we would do MissionBrand and travel and then we would be right back in ministry in some capacity (at least I did). But what we didn’t realize is how hurt we were. Ministry, people, and experiences had worn us down emotionally and spiritually and we needed to recover. God knew that. So for a while we felt aimless, frustrated, and a little depressed. Then God started speaking into the deepest parts of us and told us emphatically to just rest in Him. We were in the “wilderness” and we weren’t coming out until we learned how to trust. During this time I was reading the book of Hebrews. Every word jumped off the page. If you find yourself in a similar season I recommend this book of the Bible for time with the Lord.
Here’s a little something just because it’s so good:
(By the way, the “Therefore” at the beginning of this verse means you should find out what it’s there for…haha, get it? Read Chapter 11. You won’t regret it.)
We saw God provide. In the Bible God provided manna a.k.a. food for the Israelites in the wilderness. In the morning they would walk out of their tents and find it scattered on the ground and If they gathered more than they would need for the day the left-over food would be rotten in the morning. They had to trust that God would provide for them daily. Boom. Welcome to the wilderness. Last year was a constant walk of faith even for our most basic needs, but we saw God come through every time. Every time we might have been tempted to think God’s provision had run dry we would wake up to find fresh “manna” on the ground.
We made and maintained awesome relationships. We have some of the best family and friends. We go to an amazing church. We feel so incredibly fulfilled in this area of our lives.
Our marriage got stronger. We could have given up on life and on each other. It would have been super easy to start blaming each other for where we were. And I think at times we both felt tempted to do just that. But I think we realized in the midst of all the things we couldn’t control our marriage was something that God had given as a place of refuge and solace as well as a ridiculous amount of laughter and friendship.
This past year we realized that we are truly rich. Our bank account didn’t always reflect that. It still doesn’t. But I wouldn’t change a thing. We are so extravagantly loved by God. We learned that if we give Him all of ourselves, our hopes and our fears, our dreams and our disappointments, we get all of Him in return. We get His love and favor; His desires and plans for us. We also get His perspective, and seeing things the way God sees them is probably the most valuable thing of all. We don’t always get the full picture but that’s what makes it fun, isn’t it?
So, what does 2014 hold for us? We have no idea. We just know God has called us to use our time, talents, and the tools He has given to reach this generation. We’re going to do practical things like work really hard, be parents, and volunteer at our local church. We’re also going to be communicating with anyone who will listen that the God of the Bible is worth serving with all of who you are.