Hope for the New Year

Relax

Recover

Refresh

Renew

Rekindle

shutterstock_165919043-SNOWThese are good words for the last few days of 2016. The holidays are over. It’s time to box up the decorations. And of course, there’s one other “r” word–returns. I plan to wait a few days on that, let the lines shorten.

Hope rises with the sun in the morning. Yes, most of winter lies ahead of us. Many changes lie ahead, too. But still, one of the most renewable energy sources remains strong–Hope.

Hope wakes us up in the morning, keeps us going from one day till the next.

My source of hope is my faith in God, and in my Savior, Jesus Christ. You may regard that as false or foolish hope, but it’s real to me. I’ve lost nothing if I continue through life believing in that blessed hope. I’ve gained a life of peace and contentment (even through the difficult, gut-wrenching losses).

Next week is a New Year! Maybe I’ll investigate a few “P” words–productive, possibilities, peace…

Happy New Year!

What Lies Ahead

  1. Write first post for 2016.
  2. Complete book 2 of Kinsman Redeemer Series: Sutters Landing.
  3. Get passport photo.
  4. Get passport.
  5. Fly to Cuenca, Ecuador for mission trip that includes a speaking engagement.
  6. Did you see #5?
  7. Omgosh! I am actually going to Ecuador!

Here’s how it happened:

My youngest son decided he wanted to go to Ecuador on a mission trip, and he wanted me to go with him. After a moment’s hesitation, I said, “Umm…okay…” In my head, I was already formulating all my excuses for why I could NOT go to Ecuador. But first…

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Bill & Connie McDonald, Missionaries to Ecuador

Why Ecuador? A couple of my acquaintance (Bill and Connie McDonald) left for Cuenca in 1989. I admired them greatly, and was so proud of them, but I have to admit–the very thought of going so far away frightened me. So I pledged to help them, which got me off the hook for the time being. All these years later, that couple–lead by God, of course–accomplished quite a lot: “…they have pioneered the Pentecostal Evangelical church in the Andean region of Ecuador, headed the Latin American Childcare (LACC) program to plant schools with a Christ-centered focus throughout the nation, and founded the Unsión Foundation and Unsión Television.” –from Unsion Foundation‘s webpage.

Bill and Connie are no longer full time over there, but travel back and forth. However, both their children are now serving in the Amazon regions. See Joil & Leah Marbut’s Jungle Missionary page.

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Youngest son & me

In early December, my son approached Bill McDonald and asked about making a trip. What could we do to help while we’re down there? Bill had an idea. He turned to me and said something that sounded a lot like: “I’d like to have you speak to a group of women in the area church…a three-day conference with around 150 women–possibly as many as 500.”

After I retrieved my chin from the floor, I realized that God had been preparing me for this. My first clue was the head nod. Instead of the back-and-forth of a negative response, I was nodding…as though accepting the invitation. Okay. That very morning, I had “happened” upon a blog post titled “Do It Afraid.” The writer speaks at conferences around the world. In the post, she confessed her constant battle with fear. Fear of flying, fear of strangers, fear of crowded places, but she refuses to let any of those stop her. So I knew instinctively, if God is calling me, He would give me all I need to accomplish it. Courage. Confidence. Material needs. Monetary provision. Strength for the journey.

Preparing the way. The last few months, I’ve been reading and studying scriptures and messages regarding forgiveness, pointing to certain topics, pinpointing painful circumstances in my life, as well as the lives of others close to me. These prodding messages caused me to turn inward and ferret out all the dredges of bitterness. I’m not claiming to be perfect, far from it. I think because it’s been an issue in my life, much of my writing includes the message of forgiveness and reconciliation. As Bill spoke about the problems faced by the Ecuadorian women, understanding flowed over me like rain.

TakeoffOver the next few months, as I prepare for this trip, I hope you’ll think of me and say a prayer for me, and for those going with us. We have a Facebook page started, called Ecuador Trip, and also a “Go Fund Me” page for those who’d like to help us make this journey. We’re also looking into translation of my books to Spanish.

The needs of these women are not so different from those of women around the world. I’m praying God will use the message of grace and forgiveness to heal their hearts and set the stage for what He has called them to do.

file0001745124941Along the way, I plan to keep you informed of our progress and give you insight into what God is speaking to my heart. He is not overwhelmed by the need, and neither should we be. Following his call should not be cause for fear, but for honor, and humility. Because I am well aware, He often chooses the least to accomplish his work.

One More for the Road

d26c1-2013-08-2704-20-45It’s a little unnerving. This is my last post for 2015–so it’s one more, for the road. This year raced past me, leaving me a bit flustered. In many ways, it’s been my best year. We’ve celebrated several firsts, I accomplished a couple big things. We’ve had some family additions and victories.

So I can look back on 2015 with a full and very thankful heart.

And then, there were the losses. I thank God, His grace sees beyond our worldly horizons to what lies ahead for each of us. A beautiful friend left this life for her home in Glory. Another beautiful friend lost her soulmate on Thanksgiving Day. She’s still reeling a bit from the loss, but God’s grace is sufficient. She leans on her Father and her beautiful family for healing and support.

Many of my friends are fighting life battles.

Woman Why Do You Weep?“Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.” –– Isaiah 53:4-5 NIV

And so we enter 2016, imperfect in many ways, but striving, still. Some will make and keep New Year’s resolutions that will improve their lives. Others will make them and quickly forget them. I don’t usually make them, but this year, my plans include a few changes that are already in place. I know they will improve my life and help me get a better perspective on the coming days.

My prayers for you–yes, I pray for you–include a blessing on your life, that you will seek what your soul needs most. That you will knock on doors of opportunity and have them answered. And most of all, that God will grant you peace in your journey, wherever it leads.

HappyNewYear2016Happy New Year!