This Time Last Year

       I’m continually amazed at what can change in a year.

In January this was particularly obvious as I recalled the shaking shell of a girl I was. January 2016 I was holding my breath and by January 2017 I hadn’t just exhaled, but had repaired all the damage I’d suffered from the extended lack of oxygen. As the year progressed, I remember thinking over and over how I felt like a cat whose fur was growing back in after it’d licked itself bald from stress. January to January was an incredible journey.

But April to April? Can I see such a change there, so marked that I am almost unidentifiable from the person who followed the direction to “Keep writing, Sarah?” By April of 2016 I’d already come so far from January, but I have often found April is take two of the comparative months. Generally by April I can see what my New Year’s Resolution should have been and get to work on it. About the time everyone else is canceling their gym memberships, I am signing up to better myself.

I am very grateful now that I have managed to keep the blogging up for a year now, because a year ago when I started this blog I took an account of myself and documented my mind and my heart. I opened the first post from last April, the 8th, and I’m ready to sit down and take another account of who I am in heart and mind.

A year ago….

 There are days that I ache for Ohio, for our family we left behind,
the children who are quickly becoming adults, the emotional closeness
that proximity allows, the adults who are still growing themselves…..
There are days that I would flee back there in a heartbeat and settle back
into that comfortable life.

………and today.

This weekend we will load up the suitcase and trunks and
return for a quick trip back to our old stomping grounds. Easter
this year will not just be a reminder of the life after death of our Savior,
not just a reminder of the eternal life available to us after our death,
but a reminder that God allows endings to bring about His new beginnings.
He allows eternal live not to be lived only in the hereafter, but grants us
heaven on Earth. And ours is Virginia. Ohio was the birthplace of my adulthood,
and I cherish it, but those fly away home pangs are gone. Because I am home.

     A year ago…

           I’ve had those times, too, where I can see immediate clarity to
how I’m being used here, but much of my time has been spent feeling
a bit like I’m mucking through mire. On the topic, I check in from
time to time, and the answer is almost always the same, “I’m preparing you.”
For what, I’m not sure, but if there is one thing I’ve learned since coming
to the valley, it’s that His plans are always better than my plans.

and today….

This almost makes me chuckle. After 3 years of “I’m preparing you,”
He is filling in the rest. And while being able to complete that sentence
with “for ministry” is a step forward, there is still a vagueness to
the exact method of that. I can only imagine the journey ahead in the
coming year while He continues to unwrap this gift, and I am so excited
to peel back the paper. I’m in the middle of my third class and the
most clear lesson I’ve learned is this. In all that time of preparation, any
number of times I told God that I was pretty sure I was ready for anything,
but today I am acutely aware of how much more preparation I need.

      A year ago…..

          Heritage in Ohio was my home, but this was a good home
away from home. Over the past four months, this church has
supported me, has connected with me, has given me the opportunity
to serve and be served, spoken to me and has sidled alongside
Heritage in my heart. Perhaps the situation is something more akin
to a duplex, than a beach house.

                                                                                               and today…

We officially joined our church here, Harrisonburg First Church
of the Nazarene. There was a long stretch of time that I would have
said it would be a bittersweet experience, but it was with an
undivided heart that I was able to commit to being in HFCN’s body,
and to be doing so not out of obedience, or obligation, or convenience,
but truly joyful that God brought us to this local congregation.

I think a year later I would see myself as settled, but still growing. Perhaps, sprouted or budding would make sense as the stage of development in my little garden here. I wrote a sermon for a class recently on Joshua. Joshua spent all this time in the shadow of Moses. Even though from the beginning it was Joshua who would ultimately lead God’s people into the Promised Land, he was denied leadership for over 40 years. He didn’t use that time to pout or to compare himself to Moses, he used it to support the current leadership and to go into the tent of meeting and to remain in the presence of the most Holy God.

This is where I’ve been for the past year, in that tent, enjoying the presence of God. And there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. There may very well come a day when I am fighting battles, marching around my own Jericho, and I will remember the time I had over the past year, drawing near to Him, with sweet remembrance and jealousy….but I sincerely hope that by next April I can look back and say that no matter what growth I’ve exhibited, no matter how much the world looks different to me or I to the world, I hope that it can be said of me, that I went into the tent of meeting and did not depart.

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