Friday, January 3, 2014

The Word that Chose Me in 2013

Disclaimer: I write this post as I think of many of us who may not have had a completely fun year.  This post is not intended to be a “woe is me”piece, but more of my thoughts about how God carries us through unexpected seasons.

Do you reflect on your life as a new year begins?  Perhaps you might even choose a word to describe your new year.  I started out last year with a great energy and excitement, goals, structure – ready to take on anything.  Bring it on, 2013!!  Here's my Caton crew last New Year's Eve!

Within the first two weeks, I became very ill with a chronic health issue that led to many painful and nauseous days lying on the couch for over three months.  So much for big energy and tackling a big to-do list!

Around the same time over the holidays, my family was faced with a huge “bomb” of info that would forever change the course of what our “normal” looked like.

You know those “bomb” moments, we all have them. 

There were no easy answers, no formula, no resource book or doctor to fix things.  There were many nights when no one in the house was sleeping; nights when my (incredible) husband and I could only cry out to God for help because there were no words.  Like laying-face-down-on-the-ground cries to God.  I found myself taking on very heavy burdens of others, including my children’s burdens (as we mothers are so capable of doing).  Not to sound over-dramatic, but our little family was literally fighting through darkness.  There were days where I could only find strength to focus on getting through the morning, then the afternoon, then the evening, then through the night.  Through those first several months, I received wisdom from professional counseling, had precious friends literally praying over me and my family, and I kept hearing the word “REST.”  Rest… Really?  I mean, I’m not a morning person, but I can barely sit through a whole movie without getting up.  Rest = Boring, in my mind.

In Matthew 11:28-29, Jesus said, “Come to me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  

I started praying and speaking the above verse daily.  As a family, we learned that we needed to work on resting our minds.  There are many ways to try to rest our minds.  We’ve adapted a tangible practice of holding out our hands with our “burdens” and literally lifting them up to Jesus to take from us.  In exchange, we ask for the REST and peace, which He promises, and we bring our hands back down to our hearts or heads.  It sounds completely cheesy and weird.  But I don’t care.  It’s working.  I’m sharing in case it might work for you.  It’s been a wonderful practice, especially before bedtime, as we can physically envision how we give away our burdens and receive REST for our minds and hearts.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

REST. It was the “word” for my 2013, whether I liked it or not.  So I chose to accept it.

REST, as I had to trust God to heal brokenness that I could not fix. (imagine that! ha)
REST, as I read a wonderful book in the summer called “Desperate,” together with other moms who were also looking for permission and ways to find rest and peace.
REST, as I had shoulder surgery in late summer and faced more complications that have delayed my recovery. 
REST, as I could not drive for 8 weeks, did not have a lot of energy and had to be home more than usual.
REST, as sometimes I could not live up to MY expectations as a mom, wife and friend.
REST, even when it disappointed others when I had to say no. 
REST, and give others and myself much grace that it’s OK if things don’t go as originally planned. 
REST, and humbly accept meals, help and love from my family, friends and community.
REST, and enjoy special times with my loved ones with a grateful heart.
REST, and see all those unexpected joys, even in the darkest of times.  Because the joys ARE there!

I look back at 2013 with much thankfulness, as I see so much healing through the pain. I see AMAZING, good times we had in the midst of chaos.  Jesus has brought so much restoration and peace to my family.  We still ask God daily to give our minds rest and peace as a family.  We are in such a different place than a year ago.  I enter 2014 with excitement again.  I feel refreshed and renewed, looking forward to new things and new communities we have recently joined.  I already know REST is still involved as my shoulder is still immobile.  

Do I want to go back to January 2013?  Not a chance!  

Am I thankful for the growth and lessons learned?  More than I can ever imagine.

Pic describes our year - clinging to one another and to our God! :)

Maybe 2013 was horrible for you, or 2014 is not looking pretty so far.  Remember that Jesus is completely capable and willing to take your burdens.  It’s worth the time to try to learn what that means.  I’ve been spending most of 2013 trying to learn, and I feel that promised "peace" even as I still have so far to go.  My heart just wants to shout to anyone who can relate, “Don’t try to face it alone!”  

Happy New Year, my friends!

What's the word that describes your 2013?  


Colleen Kessler said...

I'd chosen "simplify" as mine for 2013, and in some ways it was perfect -- we were forced in many ways to simplify, especially towards the second half once our prior commitments were fulfilled. We hunkered down, and sort of hibernated -- leaving only once or twice a week if we had to. It was great. It was also difficult as we learned to sacrifice our needs for that of a clingy baby. He's grown a lot -- and so have we all.

2013 was a chaotic whirlwind when all is said and done, and 2014 is beginning with the flu... we can only pray and forge upwards.

Praying your 2014 is blessed, Amy.

Amy said...

Thank you for sharing, Colleen! I want to simplify more this year. I'm so sorry you all are dealing with the flu! That's NO FUN :( I look forward to seeing all the new adventures that 2014 brings to you, including good health :)

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