8 Things I Learned This Year

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1.  I learned that I don’t want to stay the same.

I don’t want to stay the same each year. I want my heart to grow, and expand. I want to continue to be transformed. I want my heart to be soft enough to keep changing. I hope my mercy and compassion for people grows each year, along with the desire to understand people who are very different from me.

2.  I learned I need friends. 

I wrote this post called Three Little Words That Ignite Friendships. And they are, “I need you.” It’s hard for me to verbally say that. But I feel stronger with friends. I feel happier and more connected. I need friends that encourage me, and recieve encouragement from me, too. (I also learned that if you don’t have any good friends, and keep praying that God will give them to you: He will!)

3.  I learned I need to be more heart, and less attack. 

Thanks to a Pandora station, I stumbled into the band Needtobreathe this year–and I’m so glad I did.  Their song, “More heart, and Less Attack,” has become a breathing song for me. I didn’t really care for it at first–but the more I listened–the words are just perfect. I want this to be a mantra for the year to come.

Especially toward my husband, I want to be “more heart, and less attack.”

4.  I learned I have a tendency toward heaviness. 

Realizing this is helpful–because I can bring that heaviness to others. And that’s something I want to be careful not to do–or to do too much. I am drawn toward sad things, and I can easily get lost in tragedies. I can become paralyzed by fear. I don’t want to use my words to make people feel burdened. I want my words to help lift the burden. 

5.  I learned of an author named Emily Weirenga. 

I read her first memoir Atlas Girl, and am now on her second Making It Home. And she feels like a soul sister to me. She knows the language of the soul and how to soothe it. Her authenticity is refreshing to me–and reading about her life unlocks something in my heart–in a way that typical Christian non-fiction cannot.

I had forgotten the power of good writing–how the words move something in my spirit. And how my soul longs for something more than just “information” in this crazy over-loading information age. I don’t need more books about information. I need a living, breathing person, and stories–and that’s what I find in her.

You can find her site here.

6. I learned I want to sing more love songs with my husband. 

It’s something we’ve never done before. But I want to. I want to sing love songs with him, and I want to fall deeper in love with him, too.

Because, he is really amazing.

I read the book “Redeeming Love,” by Francine Rivers last February, and it broke something in me. I wanted to love more tenderly after that, because God’s love for us is so tender and passionate and good. And I think marriage should reflect that love more than anything.

7.  I learned that God’s plans are a lot better than mine. 

I spent so many nights this summer scrolling through Zillow and Realtor.com apps hoping I might run across our “dream home.” I would get frustrated and hopeless with the market, and the houses, and prices.  I was dissapointed when a house we bid on fell through.

But, all along God had prepared a house for us just down the road. I’m so thankful our plans didn’t work out. And His did.

He is always more at work than we think He is–even when it looks like things are falling through.

8. I learned being a mom is one of the greatest pleasures of my life. 

I continue to learn more from this little girl–than almost anyone. She brings me so much laughter and joy and so many happy tears. Watching her grow is one of the best gifts I’ve ever experienced–and I thank God that He let me be her mom.


 

These just are few things that have shaped my year. (And I’m sorry if this post seems kind of self-focused.) But I just had to take some time to reflect on what God has done, and where He is leading me. I hope you take some time to thank Him for what He has taught you this year, too.

I sketched this in my journal the other morning, and I want it to be my theme for 2016: Open Arms

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I want my arms to fall open like a book.  

Because the posture of surrender,

and the posture of receiving

is the same. 

 

Open arms.

Come Lord, do all that you have in mind.

I open my arms completely

to You.

 

I hope wherever He has lead you this year, and whever He leads you in the year to come, your arms will fall open like a book.

And you will open them wider than ever before.

And embrace all He has for you.

Much love,

Rebekah

 

Don’t Forget The Miracle

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It’s 9:47 p.m. and she’s still not sleeping. Though I put her to bed over an hour ago. It’s bedtime–the never ending saga–of hugs, and kisses, and stories, and songs. And tears–because the door isn’t cracked open enough to let the light in, and cups of water. And reassuring whispers in the dark.

It’s 10:15 p.m. and I thought she was sleeping, but she’s calling for me–yet again. “Mom! Come here, I need to tell you something!”

I go up. “What?”

“I hurt my finger.”

I have no idea how you can hurt your finger while wrapped in soft blankets. But, that’s my girl. “Okay. Good-night,” I say.

Eventually, she does sleep. Eventually, we all do.

And…I forget sometimes that the little blonde-haired girl in the blue snowflake pajamas next door–is a miracle. I forget sometimes of what my life was like, before her.

And how I never expected her to come.

But she did.

She did come, because God had ordained it. And I didn’t know it. I didn’t know she was coming to us.

All I knew was this name, He dropped in my heart, before we ever conceived her, before we ever even wanted to try.

It was,

Selah.”

It’s from the Psalms and means, “pause, and reflect on this.” It’s a musical interlude, when the singers to grow silent, and reflect on what was just sung.

And I thought about Selah often. I didn’t know if Selah was really a girl, or merely a state of mind. I didn’t want to try and “name it, claim it!” I didn’t want to try to dictate to God, what He would do, or what or who He would give us. I thought maybe God just wanted to teach me how to practice, “Selah.” To be still, and listen, and reflect–on Him.

And I wasn’t sure.

And it was shadowy, like something from a dream. Like traveling through fog.

You can’t see it, but then, it’s right there.

And I didn’t see her. I couldn’t see her.

But then,

she was right there.

The miracle.

Sometimes miracles are like that. They seem so far away. And then, suddenly, it’s right there.

We were just watching a movie one night, and I got up to take a pregancy test I had bought that day in the clearance section at Walmart. “Do you want me to pause it?” my husband called up the stairs.  “No!” I shouted.

I didn’t know that in two minutes everything would change for us.

I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t see her coming.

But God did.

He always saw her.

And this is something I love about God–He sees everything. He sees it far before.

And He sees us.

He sees us, even on the day we stop believing in miracles. And He loves us still.

I don’t understand it all. I don’t always understand God. But that is part of His mystery. And part of His majesty.

I don’t really know how miracles work–but I know that when God does a miracle, we should celebrate it. We should remember it. And never forget it.

That’s why when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River, they were commanded to bring up twelve stones from the bottom of the river–and take them with them. It was to remember that God had stopped the flow of water for them, so they could pass through. He saved their lives. And God wanted them to keep the twelve stones as a memorial–so that one day, when their children were grown, they would ask their fathers, “What do these twelve stones mean?”

And then, they would remember. Then, they would tell their children–what God did. The miracle God worked on their behalf.

We are prone to forget–the miracle.

So today, remember.

Remember the miracle–that God did–that time you were crying out. That time when you whispered prayers in the dark. And you couldn’t see anything in front of you. That time you thought nothing would ever change–but it did.

Remember the miracle, that God did?

Remember?

Sometimes we have to remember the miracle of the past–in order to have hope for the future.

Remember the time, He victoriously came through?

Remember the miracle?

Because when we remember–then we can celebrate. Then we can trust Him. Then we can worship. Then we can stop walking by fear, and start walking by faith. And joy. And trust.

We are taught to be good at telling people our accomplishments–about showcasing our talents. But what if we started saying, “Now, let me tell you about what God did..” “Let me tell you about what God accomplished…in me.” “Let me tell you about the time God victoriously came through.” These are the stories our kids need to hear. These are the ones they will remember. This is how we show them the twelve stones. And the God–who carried us through the river.

“We will not hide these truths from our children, we will tell these truths to the next generation, about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about His power and His mighty wonders.” Psalms 78:4

We have to remember. We have to celebrate–what God did. Even if it was last month. Even if it was last year. Even if it was ten or twenty years ago.

Remember the miracle. And the God who showed Himself through it.

“So the next generation might know them—
even the children not yet born—
and they in turn will teach their own children.
So each generation should set its hope anew on God,
not forgetting his glorious miracles
and obeying his commands.” Psalm 78:6-7

***

One day, my daughter will ask me if I believe in miracles.

And I will tell her, Yes. You are one.

Selah

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