Life can be so hard.
2012 challenged and stretched me in ways I never thought possible.
In the span of one year, I said goodbye to my mother-in-love after a painful battle with cancer. I nursed my husband through a difficult job change and a nasty bout of pneumonia, on top of the ache of losing his mom. I limped through the end of our first home school year, and barely started a new one. I had a painful disagreement with a dear friend. I watched as my dad struggled with a debilitating illness that has left him in the hospital for 4 months (and counting).
And that is just what I experienced personally.
I was also a spectator to the families who had to bury loved ones after multiple, tragic shootings. I've watched as our collective liberties are being stripped away and our faith in Jesus Christ is attacked. I've grieved the apathy of the church and the ugliness of people in general.
My heart hurts.
But ... life can be so good.
I have grown closer to my husband as we have navigated huge challenges and incredible pain. He has stepped up to provide for our family in ways that have stretched him greatly but have made me fall in love with him all over again. He is a good, hard-working, godly man. He makes me want to be a better person. I am incredibly blessed by him.
This year marked the first FULL year of my being a stay-at-home mommy, something that I have wanted since childhood but could only dream about for so many years. I had the great privilege of watching my children get another year older and wiser without having to get the information second-hand. I saw my son come to faith in Jesus Christ at the ripe age of 4, and my 2-year-old recite scripture she learned in Sunday school. I have watched my 10-year-old daughter mature and grow in Christ, and have come to know her more this year than ever before.
I have grown closer to my dad through his struggles and have seen a strength in him that I never knew was there. I have also grown closer to my brother as we have leaned on each other through the ups and downs of Dad's illness.
I have deepened relationships with old friends and developed relationships with new ones. I have seen our church grow and have been honored to be part of the minstry that is happening there.
My heart is so full of love and joy.
In Christ, our hardships and blessings in this life happen simultaneously. We endure much. Our faith in Christ grows. He blesses us with more, but promises that more hardships will surely come. But so will more blessings. And the cycle continues, until that glorious day when God calls us home and we receive our ultimate reward.
But let us not forget that the blessings He gives - right here, today - are deep and rich and beautiful. Yes, there are difficulties. But for those who are living their lives for Him, who are knowing Him and making Him known, the hard times bring character & Christ-likeness and the good times are full of His glory, provision and joy.
Here's to an amazing 2013! I can't wait to see what it brings ...