|His infinite glory, dwelling within me|
This year my theme is for His Glory, but first, a recap of what the theme of Surrender looked like in 2014.
In addition to surrender, two other words come to mind when I think of the highlights (and low points) of 2014: loss, and laughter.
We lost B's beloved mom and the girls' beloved grandma this year. Another less permanent loss was my stepdaughter's move to Seattle: a loss of closeness with her. But despite moments of tears and loneliness and loss, this year has also been one of so many laughter-filled moments, especially with my girls and B. It's not that they've all at once become funnier this year: I think it's just that I appreciate them more, how they make me laugh. All the funny things they say or do or funny things we discover together. One of the very best things in life: when your kids do something that make you look across the room at your husband, smiling, and he looks back at you smiling, and without speaking a word we share that deep pride in our kids and family and our deep love for each other.
So, a year of loss, and a year of laughter... and surrender. Surrendering control is a constant struggle. This year has been our tightest financial year yet (and we've had some tough years in the past). I wanted to control every penny my husband earned, in addition to my own, but I had to keep surrendering that urge to control and nag my husband and instead, trust God.
A few years ago I remember having to accept the change in my father as Parkinson's overtook him. Another form of surrender. In 2014, I've had to accept changes with my mother. She used to be my travel buddy - we loved to travel together! We had wonderful trips together in recent years (some with kids, some just us) to Virginia, South Carolina, and lots of places on the Front Range and mountains of Colorado. But in 2014 she wouldn't travel at all with me; she still wanted to, but it was too hard for her to leave my dad's side for more than an hour or two at at time. I admire her devotion and care for him, but I was heartbroken to lose my travel buddy. But looking at the bright side of things: we can still do lots of stuff right here in Laramie. We went to the Nutcracker and a couple Christmas events in December and I'm so thankful her health is good and we can get together whenever we want to chat over lunch or a cuppa tea.
Another family-related surrender this year: changes in B.'s family. Losing his mom, my girls' grandma... the changes catch you in unexpected ways... like this was the first summer we didn't go boating on the Missouri with family. Because the boat had to be sold when she died to pay some debts incurred during her fight with cancer. Also, this was the first Thanksgiving and Christmas not going back to South Dakota (Grandpa didn't want anyone to come this year, it was too hard on him). I hate how one loss multiplies out to other losses. But if there's one constant in life it's this: change. Things always change, and you can't stop it. Surrender. Accept. Be thankful for all the good things you still have, and trust in more good things to come.
With my kids... I've had to continually surrender my daughters to God with the things I cannot control: like Blaze's dislike of church and disinterest in God, and Dreamer's fears. I cannot take away her fears; only God can do that. I cannot make Blaze love God: but I know He can open her eyes and soften her heart and fill her with awe... in His timing. In the meantime, I'm so thankful for another year of so many opportunities during home school to share with them how God is working in my life, and share the verses He gives me that brighten/strengthen my day and sometimes catch my breath with deep joy.
Surrender is a common word in Twelve Step meetings and the books and materials for Overeaters Anonymous. You can either surrender to your desire to eat, or you can surrender to God and humbly ask Him to remove your short comings/stumbling blocks. My favorite saying from OA: The more total your surrender to God, the more freedom from food and other idols. I barely missed any of my OA weekly meetings in 2014, and was able to keep the 20 pounds off that I lost in 2013, and lose four more pounds. But more than losing weight, I'm thankful to be free from the old obsession with food.
I still struggle deeply with insecurity, especially at church, and especially as church continues to grow and I feel lost in the crowd (particularly on busy Sunday mornings when there are so many people!) The first five/six years after I got saved, my church was such a close knit family. Now its so big and busy it doesn't feel like a family at all, and I struggle with that loss. But I know this church is where God wants us to be, which means surrendering to the change, and being thankful for all the good things that come with a big a church instead of dwelling on the sense of closeness lost.
One thing I haven't had to struggle with for 3 years now: depression! Another depression-free year. Oh my great Lord, my Abba father, thank you so much!
So now I come to my theme for 2015. I chose to focus on His Glory this coming year for these reasons:
1) because the more my eyes are on Him, dwelling on His glory, the less my eyes are on myself... and the paradox is that I'm happier and more content and more fulfilled when I'm concerned with others, with God in particular, instead of myself.... which reminds me, I want to devote an entire post on the article "Who Are We? Needs, Longings, and the Image of God in Man" by Edward Welch which addresses the error of focusing on our needs and longings, even if we focus on how God fulfills them. We are not primarily beings seeking for fulfillment as we are beings created to radiate his Glory.
2) because the heavens and earth are full of His glory, and I want to see it all and give praise
3) Whatever we do or seek to accomplish, if we do it all for His glory, then none of it is wasted or done in vain
4) Because there are dozens of verses that tell us to give glory to God
Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to Your name give glory, for Your mercy and loving-kindness and for the sake of Your truth and faithfulness! Psalm 115: 15) Because God's glory makes me think of shining light; and I love all the different ways He made light shine in our world. How he made the sun the source of the energy that drives all life (like himself) and at the same time the sun can be seen by everyone, but is itself too bright to look upon, like himself! How beautiful and precious light is, all the way from a child's nightlight and little Christmas lights to His mighty stars; from glowing candles and firelight to the majestic northern lights. His Word is a light, and a lamp to our feet. His Glory even shines inside our hearts:
2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.6) When we bring Him glory, we radiate His glory out to the world. Isaiah 60: 1-3
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.