Another New Year’s Eve to reflect upon another year.  Last year my dear friend and pastor, Gary Walker asked our new church plant to reflect on six points as we evaluated 2012 and how God has moved in our life.  The points to reflect upon on are timeless…so once again here we go.

  • A passage of scripture that has moved you in some way
  • An answer to prayer that gives glory to God
  • An area of growth in your life that honors God in some way
  • A tough situation that God helped you get through and overcome
  • A new vision of what God wants to do in your life in 2014
  • How Connection Church of Franklin has enabled you to step out in faith

My New Year’s Resolution for 2013 was to let God lead.  As I reflected upon the year, I had huge success in following!  I typically don’t follow in anything.  I charge ahead full steam.  But this year I stayed one step behind (the whole year!) The single most important thing that happened last year in 2012 was being transformed by the renewing of my mind.  Romans 12:2 was last year’s most important scripture.  I thought differently because I let God in.  It took 56 years before I finally put God in charge and I mean REALLY in charge.

On Christmas Day a week ago, I spent the day alone with God in praise, thanksgiving and worship.  It was the sort of Christmas I had always wished for.  I reviewed my journal for the year and here are the significant lessons learned.  At the start of the year, I was in desperate circumstances.  My environment was suffocating the life out of me.  I felt worthless, I could not live in harmony no matter what I tried, I was dependent on my family.  I needed a real job.  I needed my own roof over my head.  I had assets that would not sell and most of all I had fear that my head injury of 6 years ago and the resulting challenges would keep me from working in an office environment.  While I looked for work and finished my Florida guardianship responsibilities, I spent hours upon hours and months upon months studying God’s word.  I wrote it all down, His words my prayers for myself and others, my dreams.  I read many Christian authors and soaked in all the wisdom they gave.  Proverbs 18:15 says wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights.

IMG_6028I took all God’s promises to the bank.  Isaiah 46:4 says I made you and I will carry you, I will sustain you and I will rescue you.  Psalm 31:23 God takes care of all who stay close to him.  My Christian authors made it clear God gives his best to those who leave the choice to Him.  I replaced worry, anxiety, and hopelessness with the belief that God would give me the same miracles he gave to Abraham, to Moses and Joshua.  I read about every miracle and said “Why not me.”  Ephesians 3:20 MSG says God can do anything, you know, far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams.  He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.

So I started to dream.  Really big dreams, destined to fail without Divine intervention.  I started to become a risk taker and went out to slay some lions thanks to the motivation from my writer friend Mark Batterson author of “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.”  Daniel did not fear the lions, he trusted the Lord and was content with whatever the Lord had in store for him.  Maybe God wants to stack the odds against us so we can experience a miracle of divine proportions.  Maybe faith is trusting God no matter how impossible the odds.  Maybe our impossible situations are our opportunities to experience a new dimension of God’s glory.  I was motivated by all the reading I was doing.  I claimed God’s promises and I trusted that if I kept my part of what God wanted from me, He would deliver me.  In the face of what appeared to be no hope, I believed.  Others in our group could not imagine that I could be so convinced of what God was about to do for me.

I took all God’s promises to the bank.  Isaiah 46:4 says I made you and I will carry you, I will sustain you and I will rescue you.  Psalm 31:23 God takes care of all who stay close to him.  My Christian authors made it clear God gives his best to those who leave the choice to Him.  I replaced worry, anxiety, and hopelessness with the belief that God would give me the same miracles he gave to Abraham, to Moses and Joshua.  I read about every miracle and said “Why not me.”  Ephesians 3:20 MSG says God can do anything, you know, far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams.  He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.

So I started to dream.  Really big dreams, destined to fail without Divine intervention.  I started to become a risk taker and went out to slay some lions thanks to the motivation from my writer friend Mark Batterson author of “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.”  Daniel did not fear the lions, he trusted the Lord and was content with whatever the Lord had in store for him.  Maybe God wants to stack the odds against us so we can experience a miracle of divine proportions.  Maybe faith is trusting God no matter how impossible the odds.  Maybe our impossible situations are our opportunities to experience a new dimension of God’s glory.  I was motivated by all the reading I was doing.  I claimed God’s promises and I trusted that if I kept my part of what God wanted from me, He would deliver me.  In the face of what appeared to be no hope, I believed.  Others in our group could not imagine that I could be so convinced of what God was about to do for me.

Even the greatest optimist has down days.  After completing literally hundreds of online job applications and getting no response, after networking with some of my most influential friends and finding every  door closed, I forged on and started praising the Lord for what he was about to do.  I got my first confirmation that it would all work out as I grabbed a new children’s bible and right there in black and white it said in Psalm 55:7-8 MSG I want some peace and quiet.  I want a walk in the country.  I want a cabin in the woods.  I am desperate for a change from rage and stormy weather.  The bible actually says “a cabin in the woods” which is my dream.  My journal of March 9 says Dear Lord, thank you for giving me the cabin in the woods, the peace and quiet, respite from the rage and stormy weather.  Praise to you to finally make me unstuck and get me back to being a contributing member of society.

At my lowest point (which was right before I reached the summit), I discovered the MSG version of Psalm 86  Bend an ear, God;   answer me.  Keep me safe – haven’t I lived a good life?  Help your servant – I am depending on you!  You’re my God; have mercy on me.  I count on you from morning to night.  Give your servant a happy life.  I put myself in your hands!  You’re well known as good and forgiving, bighearted to all who ask for help.  Pay attention God to my prayer; bend down and listen to my cry for help.  Every time I’m in trouble I call on you confident that you will answer.  My CCF family prayed for me continually but at a certain point I remember the prayers accelerated to a new level.  One of my church family took praying to a new level by fasting until I got a job.  What if my family member withered away to nothing as we waited for a job.  I had not even been called for a single solitary interview in over 100 applications.  We did everything God said to do and now it was God’s reputation on the line.  We took those promises of His to the bank.

It was clear I was not going to make anything happen and actually I might have just been getting in the way so I decided to get out of town for a few days and clear my head.  I went to look at some cows at the Ohio Beef Expo.  While freezing in the cold, I had this subtle nudge from the Holy Spirit to check my  email and not the inbox but the junk folder.  I had just gotten one of those smart phones and it was clearly smarter than me.  I could not find the junk folder for anything but the nudge turned into a shove and when I found the junk mail, there it was, an email from another of my church family asking if I would be interested in a job with her company that paid exactly what I needed to live on my own.  A one line email offering a wage I needed but never dreamed would be possible.  So even ignoring for two days the only job interview I had even the privilege of receiving, God was still looking out for me.

I drove back to Indianapolis in a hurry.  I found the company where I was to interview the next day.  I drove a prayer circle around it.  I went to the closest church and prayed while sitting in the parking lot.  I spent the evening writing a dissertation on why a woman who wore snake skin boots to the job interview and hauled a real helicopter behind her truck to give kids an up close and personal view of aviation was the best choice for the job.  As I took a seat for the interview, my about to be boss said “tell me about yourself.”  I took a deep breath and I said “I am a bit funky.”  Really…a bit funky???  This is what I chose to say in my one and only job interview.  We hit it off and the only real question he asked is how soon could I start.  I said “right now.”  I was hired.

The lesson learned is when God leads and arranges, you can lose your most important email in your junk mail, you can be of retirement age and you can show up in snake skin boots and a skirt and describe yourself as funky and still get the job.  Before my interview was over, Pastor Gary was texting me to see how it went.  What kind of pastor does that?  What kind of church supports people like this?

The only thing I told God I could not do was to work in an open area where lots of others were talking, singing, tapping their desk and listening to five types of music all in the same room at the same time.  Please don’t tell God about the only thing you cannot or will not do.  As I toured the bull pen I would work in, I said “God you have not brought me this far for me to crash and burn…show me how you will make this work.”   And He did.  In short order after spending my first week’s pay on Bose noise cancelling head phones, I realized I was starting to adapt to the environment.  In no time at all I was thriving.  What I had to overcome in order to make this environment work was beyond words.  Getting the job (in spite of myself) was a miracle.  Adapting to an environment I had failed in multiple times since the accident was a clear miracle from God.

The next task required no less than five miracles.  I needed a roof over my head.  My mom agreed to finance a house, so it had to meet her requirements.  After looking at hundreds of homes, the requirements changed and to being brick with gas heat, in a certain type of neighborhood and in a certain price range.  My only requirement was a wood burning fireplace.  A dream for the last 18 years has been sitting in front of a roaring fire writing my heart out.  A basement and a garage were on the wish list in second and third place.  The combination of her requirements and my wood burning fireplace left two houses to pick from.  I picked the home that was as old as I was with a vintage pink wall oven.  It is within a few blocks of my elementary school, the mansion my first husband and I built and I lost after he left me for his secretary, and it is within walking distance to the cemetery where my great-grandmother is buried, the dear soul my pen name comes from.  I had come to terms with losing my dream house and former life.  I went from a mansion to a mobile home within a year and once I found God, I never looked back.  I spent 18 years wandering in the desert making huge mistakes but thankfully finding the Lord and following Him.  I was ready to come back to the old neighborhood and finish out my time with a new attitude.

Six months of some of the hardest physical labor culminated in taking a wacky 1950’s house and turning it into my version of a dream home.  Every room reflects my personality which is at best wacky and eclectic.  I have a bedroom that looks like it is right out of a cabin in the woods.  I have an art deco kitchen of a combination of granite counter tops and vintage pink appliances.  I have a 1500 square foot basement full of all the things I have carted around the world for the last 18 years.

Christmas is my favorite time of year.  One of my dearest friends from Florida came for a visit in September.  We started working on the perfect Christmas decorations for my “cabin in the woods.”  I carefully chose every piece.   It was a mad rush to the finish as I create my own Christmas cards each year and this year had to feature the new/old house and the fireplace.  I had two weeks of Christmas company and I had an annual calendar to design.  There were dinner parties and Christmas parties and a severe lack of sleep.  The most beautiful gift of all was spending Christmas Day alone with the Lord,  It was a day of reflection on some of my darkest moments and the faith I had and the promises I claimed.  It took two years to get to this moment and it was an uphill battle with more heartache than can be published in this forum.  So many lessons learned.  The more you are hammered, beaten, pounded, put through fire, shaped and polished, the greater your value.  God is preparing you for events yet unseen.  I am ready Lord…I am ready.

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