If I look back over the entirety of the year 2015, I am filled with awe at how the Lord has stretched me and our family throughout the year. I started the year filled with apprehension about getting our homeschool daughter graduated, and all her work finished, and getting her into a college with funding, etc. etc. I look back and thank the Lord for his sustaining grace through some days of unknowns, and turning things into beautiful endings and new beginnings. There is a great amount of doubt and anxiety involved in doing things for the first time. For whatever reason, when I can’t see the end of something I have trouble blazing the trail ahead without feeling a level of concern that I will be a huge failure. Irony of ironies, as I am typing I am also texting - either a sign of genius or madness, you decide - and my friend expresses her season of stretching - tingles! I hadn't said a word about what I was currently doing - just checking in and seeing how she and her family were doing since we hadn't spoken in a while. I couldn't believe when she described how she was being stretched .. whoa! She and I shared common feelings that the stretching brings and most of it's uncomfortable frankly - but we experience these things so we can encourage others - don't forget that! So 2015 was a stretching year both for myself and for my family. We were very inwardly focused for a few months just handling the daily routine of work, travel for my husband, and getting her work finished, diploma ordered, and a graduation celebration organized. I also had two seniors graduating from the studio and needed to organize two different studio recitals a month early because of major conflicts in May with all events. So the first half of the year seemed to be internal stretch. God allowed us to begin working again with a small group of young people in our church - we love singles and young couples who are just getting married lives started. It’s an exciting age, and they have so much energy and passion for the things of the Lord. So we started working with this group during the same time frame.
Summer quickly came and rest was so wonderful - I look at the calendar and see lots of space and we spent a lot of time brainstorming with our small group how to grow the group, how to impact our community and to encourage our church family. This led to some big ideas which led to more of the stretching we discussed, as we launched the ideas of not just a 3 on 3 tournament for our community outreach and a mission project, as well as another men’s oriented event that had not been tried by our church before. I began to feel that God was calling me to really dive in and be more than I was at this point and I have already written how I was challenged to make a priority of time and space with the Lord in the mornings before my day ran off and away from me.
Starting in August, I spent dedicated time in prayer for these really big events - again events that had not been done and no idea how they would turn out - and to pray that God would use me to impact His kingdom. We also took the whole family and spent our Thanksgiving day serving a meal with a great group of folks to a side of our community that doesn’t have much. God is crossing our paths in significant and life changing ways with people that we would not have ordinarily met or become friends with in our normal way of life. It’s been life altering and the stretching continues.
From here, I had also known for some time that God was directing me to lead a trip to my favorite ministries in the Dominican Republic. I have a heart for what God is doing on this island, and I have people who are impacted through our past trips who want to go and be a part. But honestly I have dragged my feet - the idea of team leader is too much - too big a thing to be prepared for, to be in charge of, to be leading. But I submitted and began the process of the planning and preparation to put this trip together. God has continued to confirm and open doors for this trip - I am so excited to see what happens. He also began to put in my heart my desire to do this trip with our entire family. That’s right all 5 of us on mission together this summer. Wow…that’s a God sized dream that we are trusting Him to do for us.
Also during this time, internally I began to feel like that God was calling me to do some things that I haven’t pursued personally too much. When the kids are little, and the days are busy, it’s hard to think creatively and to pursue dreams and desires that we have. But as the kids age, and as we learn to manage our time in different ways, I have found that there is indeed time and space. The next obstacle then is our fears and doubts. What if what I have created - music, books, blogs, websites, etc.. isn’t received well or is criticized. I’ve always compared it to being such a personal process to share our creations with others - you want them to think your “baby” is beautiful - so in fear and doubt, we hide our “babies” and keep them to ourselves because we doubt what God is telling us to do.
So here we are already 12 days into 2016, and I can see that I’m done stretching - we have moved straight on into leaping off the edge…I’m cliff jumping and I’m scared to death. I am ready to move forward without holding back what it is that God gives me to do and to say. I am ready to trust Him completely with the results - good and bad, and just continue to be persistent and to continue improving. I have joked in previous blogs that I have so many words in my head and so I’ve decided to start writing so I can get them down on paper. One of my goals this week was that as I opened the studio up, I wanted to protect a certain portion of time and dedicate to writing. I am working on several projects right now, but sometimes there are ideas that just need to be written while they are popping around inside my brain. I set a goal to hit 1500 words a day during the week while I’m teaching. Yesterday was my first day and I went way beyond 2000! Today I’m over my goal again…so it looks like perhaps I set my sights too low.
So I am sitting and blogging here today during my time frame Ive set aside - and Mandisa is playing in the background - Waiting for Tomorrow - if you don't know it - take a listen. I can't help but feel that God just continues to reinforce the things I am thinking and doing. Maybe what I write doesn’t connect with anyone out there, but it’s just cathartic to release the words out there for me. That’s ok with me..I just have to take my next step in obedience and jump off that cliff, knowing that my “baby” is good enough for my Lord - since He has called me to obedience. What about you - have you been given a dream/desire but something is holding you back from pursuing it fully? Don’t let fear and doubt cripple you - God wants us to live full and overflowing lives for His glory. Come on - we are cliff jumping - won’t you join me?