I’ve seen it all over Facebook. People sharing their year in review, their decade in review, their one word for the year. I’m sure you’ve seen it too.
At first, I thought, “I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon. I’m not going to follow the crowd.” But this past decade has been about NOT following the crowd. Hearing from God and being faithful (my one word for this year) to follow HIM.
And so, it seemed a disservice to God and all He’s done in my life this past decade to not recap it here. After all, this website, this blog, is supposed to be in large part, dedicated to talking about the church leaving the building, and that happened 10 years ago.
It all started January 10, 2010. I sent an email to my then pastor, Richard Gay. It said that although I was on 3 committees and serving the church with my gifts, I couldn’t shake the feeling that outreach – on my part and the church as a whole – was lacking. It was a little more eloquent than that, but it was still a bold move considering I’d been attending the church for less than 2 years. He saw me a few days later and told me he wanted to meet to “discuss your passion, my thoughts, and where to go from there. God bless you for listening to your heart.”
My journal goes on to say “and so something exciting will begin…at least that’s my prayer.”
I had NO idea the ride I was about to embark on.
By March of that year we had held a food drive, but while it was successful, it didn’t take anyone out of their comfort zone and no one outside our walls was encountered.
A team was formed, a vision statement was written, and CommunityConnections was birthed. For the next 4 years, we would create and implement more than a dozen outreaches. At times, the pace was so rapid and the ideas so outrageously large, we just looked at each other and said “surely God is in this, because we would never attempt it in our limited human capacity!”
October 20, 2010 saw the end of my 31 year marriage which included a four year separation.
My Lakeside Lessons blog was born in July of 2011.
In the beginning of 2012, a friend told me about a writing competition through Women of Faith.Although I had gone back to school at 41 and was then employed as the Creative Services Director at a local radio station, I hadn’t written anything more than a 60 second spot or short blog post in decades. I entered the contest, and although I didn’t win, the desire to get my story in long form on the printed page was born.
I attended a the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s conference for the first time that year. Eight months later, I was contacted by The Quiet Hour (a publication much like Daily Bread) and I’ve been writing a week’s worth of devotions for them each year since. I was finally a published author, but I really wanted to finish writing my memoir.
By the end of that year, I was a mother-in-law. I was so blessed to see my beautiful daughter get married.
In December of 2013, God gave me my one word for the following year: Trust. Once again, I had no idea what was coming. I would need to lean hard into that word.
In 2014, my ex-husband took me to court to force me to sell my home. Although I had paid every bill and the mortgage since he left in 2006, he wanted to purchase his own home and needed the money from what had been ours to accomplish his goal. I was angry. I was confused. I asked God a LOT of questions. Here I was, working full time at the station and basically full time for the church in the outreach ministry, and now I was facing homelessness. I tried every which way to stay in that home, but God closed every door.
It was easy to see why He moved me in retrospect, but trust was all I could do in the midst of it. So 2014 was the year I moved into my current apartment, and the year I switched jobs.
The station had changed hands and I was being asked to write material for people and companies that were in direct opposition to my faith. There was an opening at Princeton Alliance Church running their benevolence ministry, and now that I had 4 years of lay leader experience in that field, I applied. For some time I had hoped to switch careers, because I loved serving others, but God’s timing was perfect. I’ve been at the church ever since.
In 2016, I became a Gamma!! Emma Jane has forever changed my life for the better. The mop of curls and sweet little voice that always sounds so excited to see me is a joy I could never have comprehended before living it.
2017 was the year my brother showed up homeless and in need – about the same day as my first cancer diagnosis of Lymphoma. I spent that year going through radiation treatments from May to November while trying to get him into social programs to keep a roof over his head and food on his table.
Relieved that 2017 was in the rear view mirror, I welcomed 2018. But it was a short-lived love fest. Three weeks in, I received my breast cancer diagnosis. Once again, God was faithful. Hey, did I mention that’s my one word this year? I did? Well, it bears repeating!
Although that surgery was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever gone through I was blessed not to need radiation or chemo. That was the year God gave me the word Presence. I got better at letting go and letting others serve in their giftedness so I could “rest well” as my boss likes to say. I spent a lot more time in His Presence especially during my weekly trip to the beach. I concentrated on doing things to pour into my soul to replenish what is poured out on others each week.
2019 held great sorrow and great joy. Richard Gay, the pastor who had been my mentor and cheerleader, my shepherd and friend, passed suddenly and unexpectedly the week after Easter. It was a loss the entire congregation and many in the community and beyond continue to work their way through. But the great thing that happened was a last minute decision to attend a retreat in February by myself and where I knew no one. Until I met the speaker. I felt an immediate connection and before the year was out, I was part of her latest book called The Identity Effect. I wrote a chapter on my life and finding my identity in Christ. I finally had a by-line in a book – and not just any book. A number 1 best-selling on Amazon book! I know Pastor Gay would have been proud and I wish he were still here to share my joy.
I’m excited for what 2020 holds. I believe it will be the year I finally finish and publish my book on church outreach which was started 7 years ago as a memoir but morphed into so much more.
One decade, so many changes. Married to divorced. Homeowner to apartment dweller (and happier for it). Parent to mother-in-law to grandparent. Copywriter to Benevolence Ministry Leader. Two time cancer survivor. Published author several times over.
But the biggest change has been in the depth of my faith. I never would have thought I could accomplish or live through half of what this decade brought my way. God is amazing. He gets all the glory for all the mountain tops and all my thanks for walking me through every valley. He is faithful.
Did I mention my one word this year is faithful?