Thursday, December 28, 2017

Arise, My Daughter

Do y'all pick a word for the year? It's something I picked up a handful of years ago, praying about a word that God would in some way provide as a sort of theme for the coming year. There are years I have focused on that word more than others, but every year it's crazy to look back and see how God used it to shape the following 12 months.

In 2014 my word was seek and I taped up in several places around my tiny little apt in Nashville. I was back from Rwanda, living in a new city, and desperate for some fresh direction.

In 2015 my word was courage. I didn't post a single blog that year (this was my first blog back), but I ordered a necklace with J, 1, and 9 charms on it for the verse Joshua 1:9, Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. I also had a Giving Key with 'courage' etched on it. I wore them both every day and promptly re-gifted them as soon as the year was over. Happy to close that chapter. I thought He was preparing me to be brave for something great. I had no idea when that word came up that I was actually going to be so incredibly weak that year, that I would need courage like never before just to hang on and keep going.

In 2016, my word was chosen and it meant so much to me I got it tattooed onto my arm. God had been whispering it over me for some time, but it took a precious friend, audibly praying it into my ear as I wept, for me to internalize it. He chose me. As His daughter. For this exact life; for exactly this place, with exactly these people, doing exactly what He asked me to do. Maybe I didn't feel like I was enough, because maybe I wasn't supposed to. Despite how the previous year had thrown me around, I did hear His voice and He is directing my path. We are in this together, He and I, for the long haul. Because He chose me. And I knew he was asking me to rest in that.

In 2017, my word was rise. I never offically wrote about it, but I heard it clear as a bell. Again, another sweet friend was the catalyst. Her text said, "Hiiiiiiii. You just popped in my head and I prayed for you. I heard 'God is listening'. So there you go." The story only starts out sweet, because it made me so mad that God would tell her He was listening, but I felt like I had been BEGGING Him to speak.

There is a mountain near our house that I started climbing the year before, I would go up when I felt like I couldn't breathe. From the top were the most stunning views; I could see clear to the lake and all the way into Congo. God often spoke to me from that spot (and I often told Him I'd like to jump).

One particularly rough day, the same day I got that text, I put on my tennis shoes and hiked up that mountain to give God a piece of my mind. It had been a while since I had been up there and the eucalyptus trees someone planted had finally grown too tall and I could barely get to my prayer rock and, even when I did, I couldn't see the view. I kept walking, wondering why He would take even that away from me. My one place. It started to rain and I stopped at an old, boarded up church and pressed myself tightly under a tiny overhang. I started to cry and slumped to the ground. And then I heard Him. Arise, my daughter, it's time to move on. Your spot is gone because you don't belong here anymore. I finally understood. I had been down too long, asking Him to speak or to move. And He was just waiting for me to get up. When the rain stopped I walked back down the mountain, lighter than I had felt in months. And when I got home, I googled "arise scripture" and got Isaiah 60:
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. 
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you. 
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

“Lift up your eyes and look about you:
All assemble and come to you;
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters are carried on the hip. 
Then you will look and be radiant,
your heart will throb and swell with joy;
the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,
to you the riches of the nations will come.

The message was crystal clear and I vowed to rise. It happened with the grace of a baby giraffe. There were no monumental moments of clarity, just slow and steady steps forward. Hard circumstances strengthened the bonds between the boys and I; we all settled in and really began to thrive. We rented a new house and new shops for the 41 gals and I started to dream again. We found our Myla girl. We bought land. We raised a large chunk of change and started to build our house. If you would have told that crying mess on January 8th, 2017 that this is where we would end up on December 28th, 2017, and that every single line of those verses would have meaning, I would have fallen down dead.

God has moved mightily this year and I'm so thankful that I was standing to see it. It's been a long time since I've looked forward so expectantly to a new year. I don't have my word yet, but 2018, we're coming in hot.

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