At the beginning of a new year, many of us have the tendency to want to bid the old one good riddance, particularly if it was a tough year. For me, this past year was one of the toughest ones of my entire life.
But as I look back, I am so incredibly amazed at what God did. If I could use one word to describe the past year, I would say STRETCH. God stretched me. I feel kind of like Gumby right now, but in a good way.
At the end of January last year, my husband moved out. It was the culmination of two years of watching our 22-year marriage spiral downward, regardless of how many prayers I prayed–and there were hundreds.
For the first four to five months, I was angry and bitter. But as I gave my emotions to God, He began to do a work in my heart. As I began to heal, He showed me what I had done to contribute to the downfall of the marriage. More than anything, I had failed to give my husband the respect God expected. One day, as I was praying, the Holy Spirit gave me a repentance like I’ve never known, when I realized that my lack of respect for my husband had seriously affected our two daughters, who have also sinned in not respecting their Dad.
My husband is moving back home at the end of this month, after a year of separation. We’re both a little scared (OK, a lot), but I know that we are in God’s will, and that He will help us.
And as I look back over this year, God was such a husband to me. He kept all of us vibrantly healthy. We had a few bouts with sickness, but they were very short-lived. He provided financially. He brought people into my life to counsel me and lift me up. He showed me scriptures that fed me just when I needed them.
But there was more than that. Here are some of the marvelous things that happened:
1. We decided to begin to rent our cabin as a vacation rental after owning it for two years. After struggling with trying to manage it myself and doing pitifully, I prayed about it and God dropped an amazing management company comprised of two incredible Christian women into my lap. Since they took over, the cabin is thriving and we are receiving more than enough to pay the mortgage payment.
2. In July, my husband and I decided to purchase another vacation rental in Sandpoint, ID. (I know this is weird because we were separated, but that’s another story.) It’s a log home (a long-time dream of mine), and a six-hour drive from our home. It had been formerly occupied by a bachelor and seriously needed a woman’s touch. I have been driving there once a month by myself and single-handedly transforming it into a dream cabin. At 52, I never expected to be pulling out carpet, painting ceilings 12 feet high, dragging a trailer over there 4 times, or fixing the top of the garage door 12 feet in the air. I even backed up the trailer between two big boulders (with about a foot clearance on either side) to the front deck, so I could unload all the furniture by myself and slide it into the house.
3. After praying that God would bring a Christian couple alongside my husband and me to helps us, within a few months, God brought the perfect couple to work with us through the study, “Love and Respect.” (The book and study are amazing, by the way.)
4. As I talked about in a former post, I auditioned to do a solo part in our church’s Christmas production, “Light on the Plateau,” replete with small orchestra. After getting the part, I had an onslaught of nerves. I could hardly even sing my part in front of the choir! But God was so good, and when I opened my mouth to sing that first night in front of about 350 people, I had what seemed to be an out-of-body experience. I heard my voice coming out clear and strong, and everyone in the choir later told me that it was the best I had ever done. I went on to sing that solo the next night, and then again on Christmas eve.
5. Here’s my favorite thing. A few years ago, I wrote a book, titled, God, Up Close and Personal. After beating every bush in the publishing world to find either an agent or a publisher (or both), I couldn’t find anyone to take it on. I had even sold the first chapter of the book to the Christian magazine, Discipleship Journal, and was paid a hefty sum, but before it was published, they notified me that they were closing their doors. I went to God and said, “OK, what now?” But nothing happened. Then, around May, I lost the flash drive that had the entire book on it. (I had it in hard copy, however.) I looked everywhere. I went to God again. “OK, I have the feeling that when the time is right, you will bring this flash drive to light.” Then in early December, I got an e-mail from a Christian self-publisher. I had so far spurned all vanity publishers–many of whom had contacted me. But something spoke to me about this one. I prayed about it and sent an e-mail to my husband. His immediate response was, “Of course you should self-publish. Absolutely.” Then, within a few days, my daughter found the flash drive–in the suitcase I had been dragging back and forth to the log home. It had been there all along, but God brought it out when it was time. So now, God, Up Close and Personal will become a reality…and in only a few months. Praise our mighty God.
Just call me Stretch. It’s a good thing, even when it hurts a little. Let our mighty God stretch you, so you can do great things.