Through the course of this year, I have grown so much spiritually. I am a walking testimony of sailing through life and being complacent during the "good" times. Having my world fall apart brought me so close to my Savior. The funny thing is, He didn't move. He has been right beside me since I asked Him in my heart when I was 6 years old. I am the one who moved away. I am so very guilty of wanting to handle life on my own and let God have His say at my leisure. Oh, Amber...not so smart! There have been various times during this year where I have been on the floor of my room looking up at the ceiling and saying, "that's it! I cannot do one more thing. You are going to have to show up in a big way!". Upon reflection, I can see how He was showing up non-stop; I was just too distracted by my junk to see Him at work.
I may have already written about this, but it's worth repeating. At the beginning of this year, Cecely, Titus and I felt trapped in our house in Hendersonville. We hated being there. We literally only slept there. When I made the decision to move us, I frantically began searching for somewhere affordable and safe. I looked at various apartment complexes and rental properties. I was actually in the process of looking at an apartment I found online. I drove out there, looked around and knew there was no way I would let my kids live here. I turned around, feeling sad and defeated. No kidding, I saw a complex on a hill that somehow I had missed when I was driving past. Now, I had looked at other apartments who would not take me because I had not been working long enough to prove I could bring in the income needed for a home. I went into the office of this complex. I told the lady I did not want to look at anything or hear her spill about the perks until she had run all of my information. An hour, she came out of her office and told me I had excellent credit, and that with my new job, she had every confidence in mine moving here. I double and triple checked everything, then took the tour. That afternoon, I signed a lease and picked a moving date. Here are some of my take-aways from that experience. First of all, God had me right where He wanted me...I was ready to settle for something less than He had for me, simply because I was tired. He did not want my kiddos and me to be just anywhere. He had a safe, beautiful, brand new home waiting for us...that I could afford and that put us closer to our friends, our church, and Target (bonus!). Secondly, I realized I could make choices on my own. In my past, most of my decisions were made for me. Even as I began to look for a new home, I wouldn't do so without my parents' help. While I am extremely grateful for my parent's involvement, it was so empowering to realize I could make a choice, a good choice, on my own!
The most substantial example of God's provision comes from my job. I was working 15 hours a week and homeschooling when Mark left our family. I was completely dependent on him financially. Over the course of this year, my hours at my job have grown. My incredible bosses and senior staff of our church have worked with me to help grow my position. During this, I have been blessed with the most amazing team of coworkers who have rallied beside me. The women I work with are incredible...full of love, kindness, generosity and humor. The men I work with take the role of protector very seriously. I feel as if God placed me where I am and said, "See, little girl? I am surrounding you with the people you need at the moment you need them!". Thank you, God, for my job! I am also so blessed to get to serve and serve with amazing people at the East Campus where I technically work. These people have been a safe place of unconditional love and encouragement for my children and me.
There is one more sweet story of God walking with us. This may sound trivial, but it was big to me. Cecely has gone through quite the growth-spurt this year. When winter rolled around, Cecely needed a coat. I went to Target to get her a light coat to wear for church, and her Dad was going to get her a heavy coat. For whatever reason, that wasn't able to transpire. The NEXT DAY I was at Chick-fil-A with my friends, and our children's pastor's wife was there. She asked me if Cecely needed a coat because someone had left a BRAND NEW one in her office! Come on! God sees the littlest need...remember that verse in Psalms? He clothes the lilies...He did the same for my little lady!
So, it is safe to say that even though I'm a slow learner, I KNOW that God provided for me in small and large ways in 2013, and I am counting on Him doing the same in 2014!
As I look to 2014, I realize I have ample opportunities to make resolutions. The truth is, this year is going to be one full of changes; therefore, I am not concerned about resolutions per se. There are some things I expect from myself, some behaviors I want to change, some attitudes I want to adopt. I have learned that I have spent so much of my life worrying about what others think about me and for me. I have spent a lot of time saying nothing rather than to rock the proverbial boat. I want to become bolder. I want to be confident in what I believe and what I think. I want to share those thoughts with others in hopes of lifting others up! I want to be less focused on the future and to be more present in the present. I love a plan...I like knowing what 's coming...and, obviously, I will be responsibly planning and preparing for my future. But, I want to invest just as much time in simply enjoying the experiences that come my way. I have been blessed with amazing family and friends, and I want to soak up every minute I have with them. I want to spend less time using technology and more time with real people doing real things and living life. I want to make a conscious effort to be engaged with Cecely and Titus, taking pictures as we go, but waiting until they are asleep to share those moments with others. I waste so much time with my kids trying to show everyone else what we're doing. I want to be braver this year. I want to stand taller. I want to find strength and confidence again. I want to radiate with a love that I can't explain, but that gives me the chance to tell others about that precious love. I want to be a daily encourager. Every day, I want to affirm the people whom I love. I want to go this year...anywhere, everywhere! I want to pack up whatever vehicle I have and hit the road near and far. I want to spend more time with the ones I love and who love me. 2014 is going to be my year...I feel pretty good about it!
I know so many who read my blog are facing a struggle of some sort. In this sad, broken, and sinful world there is an overabundance of hurt and pain. I know of those who have lost family members this year...those who have lost parents, friends, and children. Those who have watched those they love pass away. There are those who are dealing with unemployment and all the stresses that goes with that. Others are facing their families being ripped apart by divorce. There is just so much sadness. No matter what you are going through...YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! And, if this year was terrible for you, make whatever choices you can to make the new one a great one. Find a safe, supportive group of people to surround yourself with. Plug into a community of faith that can encourage and build you up. Take some time for yourself to reflect on the past, but don't dwell on it. Search for the lessons that you can take away and that you can use to help others. Find a place to serve others...I have found one of my greatest joys is reaching out to others. Don't be ashamed, don't be afraid, don't worry! Make 2014 the year of YOU!!!