I’ve been thinking the last few days…   is there a verse that encapsulates this whole year for me – for us?

Last year at this time I was reading like crazy, getting ready for tons of travel in a new position.   In January they delivered the company truck and tool trailer and the next morning I left in 11-below temperatures for an installation 2 1/2 hours away.

It was all we could do to keep up withourselves; things were going well enough that I told Brenda she didn’t have to teach next fall – she could officially retire from teaching & leading the pre-school she helped start.  We had all we needed and then some.  We were able to share and I enjoyed being generous. I loved meeting with people from so many types of churches and came away from each project with a greater understanding of their traditions and values, those I agreed with and those I differed with alike.

My heart swelled with gratitude and pride in May, and I watched in humble admiration as Jared led those who gathered for Commencement at Cornerstone University in “Benediction”, unaware that family was watching via the internet.  Remarkable!  Two hours later we “commenced” moving him into an apartment in Grand Rapids.

The bomb went off in late June with the phone call telling me to suspend or cancel all travel plans, I was no longer needed, the company was not earning enough to keep me on staff.  Things had begun to trend down right after Easter and since I was the last one brought on I was the first to be let go.  Some have observed, perhaps rightly so, that the company bit off more than it could chew.  That could be – I’ve never worked with a more energetic, aggressive team.  At any rate, the wheels fell off that day and I began my search the next.

I find it interesting that we began Dave Ramsey’s  Financial Peace University at our church with enough money coming in to take action and quickly right some earlier mistakes.  We ended the series unemployed and in survivorship mode.

Nestled nicely in early August was the sweet, sweet weekend where I had the privilege of officiating Jared and Meagan’s wedding and enjoyed watching them open their gifts in their apartment’s living room.  God’s touches of provision were everywhere that weekend – you had to be NOT looking to miss them – and I came away with memories I’ll treasure forever.

Our church asked if I would teach an established life group. I hesitated to commit to it in light of our search and potential move.  “Would you teach it as long as you’re here?” they asked.   Brenda and I prayed about it a couple of days and agreed that I should.   It’s been wonderful for me, and I’m hearing back from those in class that I’m making a difference for them.  That’s what teachers want most – to make a difference in someone’s life.  I believe God has me here to do just that – make a difference.  I just don’t know where that will be long-term yet.

The search has been long and challenging.  Every day I “work first shift” looking for the place God has for me, and several days a week I work second shift catering to the whims and desires of the wealthy (talk about a shift in paradigm!) I accepted a part-time position at the front desk of a luxury hotel so I would be in place when anticipated transitions “upstairs” occured.  Those have come and gone and I’m right where I was so I continue to look for the place God has for me long-term.  In the meantime I do my best to honor Him with my best each shift I work. First shift searching, and second shift earning.   Brenda was approached by the office she worked for a couple of years ago and has stepped back into that role part-time.  It’s going well and we’re grateful.

We have received unexpected and unsolicited help this fall and it has been both humbling and gratifying.   God knows right where we are and just what we need.  What’s more, He knows precisely when we need it.  He’s shown us so time and again.

I still get nervous and anxious,  I’m no different than you in that regard. But part of Psalm 37 comes to mine a lot these days.  Maybe that’s the passage I should tape to 2008:

The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
[24] Though they stumble, they will not fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.

[25] Once I was young, and now I am old.
Yet I have never seen the godly forsaken,
nor seen their children begging for bread.
[26] The godly always lend generously
and their children are a blessing.
Psalm 37:23-26

…or maybe this one…

How grateful I am, and how I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me …[11]… for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. [12] I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. [13] For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.   But even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.
Philip. 4:10-14

So tonight, at 11:59:59  when 2008 makes its exit, I don’t mind telling you  I’M going to be thinking:

Sayonara ’08  I think we packed enough into your 52 weeks.

Hello ’09!  Let’s make a fresh start, shall we?!

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