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December 30, 2016

You know how some families do that thing where they share their High from the day and their Low from the day? My family does it. But only on nights when I actually cook dinner and make us all sit down together at the table. So about three times a week, if it’s not summer or Spring break or Christmas break….

OK, enough about how we don’t do family dinner as often as we should. My point is, High/Low is a way to celebrate the great moments of the day and commiserate over the bad. A way to just keep in touch with our loves, after being apart all day.

I recently saw a post about a group of church elders gathering to discuss their personal Highs/Lows from the entire year. They laughed and cried and prayed together. How powerful.

I immediately took an honest look back at my 2016 to pinpoint my personal High/Low from the year. I want to share them with you to demonstrate God’s goodness and how He makes beauty from the ashes.

Before I do, I am dying to write about where I am right this moment. I’m looking at the ocean. Sunlight is hitting the waves as they crash into white foam. The grass outside is green. The fire inside is charming. I’m curled up on a striped turquoise couch under my soft lavender blanket, which was a Christmas gift. It’s quiet. My soul has found rest here.

A dear friend gifted us with a two-night stay in an oceanfront condo. It’s the type of gift where saying, “Thank you,” will never feel like enough.

I didn’t bring a laptop or even a pen and paper, but I was dying to write from this setting, so I found some of Isaiah’s discarded drawing paper and a brown colored pencil to get these words down. So I write.

My low from the year was back in June. Months earlier, I applied for a full-time teaching position at a Christian school. It felt like the perfect fit for me. My skills fit. My faith fit. I was ready to step out and do something new. I had been praying and waiting on God for a couple of years for Him to lead me down a new path. This seemed like He was finally saying it was time. All my friends and family were praying and encouraging me that this was perfect for me.

But God, in His infinite wisdom, said no. It wasn’t for me.

It hurt me so. I was deeply disappointed. Tears spring to my eyes right now as I relive those emotions.

But, there had been a point during the interview process where I felt some doubt about whether the job had been perfect for me. I knew that if I got the job, it would be a huge time commitment. I had a moment of panic when I realized that getting the job meant I may not have time to blog, to lead Women’s Bible Study, or to spend as much time with Seth on our mutual day off together, which is Monday. All of these things were extremely precious to me. I thought, “If getting this job means these things will be taken away, it can’t be right!” But then I remembered that God knows what He’s doing. I thought, “If I get the job, I may have to set aside my blog and leading Bible study. I trust Him…”

But then, when I learned that I actually didn’t get the job, I felt grief. I felt shocked. I felt confused. My heart had gotten 100% invested in the dream and potential of this new ministry.

I asked God to one day show me why He didn’t give me that job.

And now for my High of 2016. My Women’s Bible Study. I can’t even write it without bubbling over with delight! One night early this fall I said to Seth, “I was made for this!” Nothing in my life has brought me this type of joy. I absolutely believe that I am fulfilling my God-given purpose for this season of my life. I feel that I am exactly where God wants me to be.

I wrote this journal entry on 9-22-16:

“The Lord is drawing women unto Himself. I am so excited about all the ladies coming to Bible study. They are hungry for God. I get the honor of preparing the place and providing the materials so that these women can MEET WITH GOD. Wow. My heart is full. Thank You, Lord, for this ministry You have allowed me to be a part of. Thank You for loving each of these women so much. Thank You for the destiny You have for each one of us. -Psalm 36:7- ‘How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.’”

You guys, my heart feels overwhelmed with joy every time I prepare for Wednesday night Bible study. I no longer feel scared and overwhelmed by the task of leading, which I felt last year. I always get on my knees in the classroom where we meet and tell God I recognize this is His ministry. I am only a willing vessel, preparing the space for women to learn from Him. It is the hugest honor to be used by Him this way!

My heart just bursts with pride in these ladies who keep showing up for Bible study, in spite of being exhausted and fighting battles with their schedules or with their children. There they are, showing up because they know that they need both Jesus and connections to other women. We need each other! Seeing each other’s faces and sharing our stories of struggle and victory, asking for prayer, laughing together, and reading the Word of God together. There just could not be anything sweeter for me in this season. What better gift could I give women than Jesus & Girlfriends?? Oh, and Chocolate! We often have chocolate.

So, do you see it yet? My High for this year is a result of my Low. I would not have time or energy or attention to lead the Women’s Bible Study if I had gotten a full-time teaching position. All throughout this fall, I’ve been thanking God for not giving me the job I wanted so much. For any of my dear friends that felt so disappointed for me and even angry on my behalf, (first of all, thank you!), I want to tell you that I am happier and more content than I have ever been. God was so good to me to not let me have what I “wanted.”

God knows so much more than we do. His ways don’t always make sense to us. I trust Him even when I don’t understand Him. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”

He always sees the big picture, sometimes allowing pain into our lives to increase our dependence on Him and to direct our path according to His will. I praise Him for His goodness! Saying, “Thank You,” will never be enough.

What about you? What is your High/Low from this year? Have you seen God make beauty from ashes in your life?

If not, don’t give up. Keep walking with Him and waiting. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

–Romans 8:28-

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