It's the year 2020 and I see many posts of people's reviews for the last year or even the last decade. It's healthy to pause and review one's life at certain times. New Year's is a natural time to do just that. So here is a quick decade in review from my story.
2010 - I was laid off from youth ministry and after a period of not working, I transitioned to serve as a chapter planter with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
2011 - Our first daughter Kysa was born! Laina and I learned to slow down, enjoy each moment and rest. It was certainly a life transition where we couldn't pace our life as we once did.
2012 - I continued to serve with IVCF and went to my first Urbana. I was exhausted and skipped a main session. As I laid on the bed and prayed God spoke to me in my thoughts, "Ask Laina her dreams." Laina's dreams were to have another baby and move by her parents. A week after asking Laina her dreams, we found out she was pregnant and we planned to move to Wisconsin.
2013 - Our second daughter, Matea was born! But two months later Laina had a suspicious lump. We investigated.
2014 - We found out Laina had breast cancer. Six months of treatment and we got the all clear. We had planned on moving to be near Laina's parents. We delayed due to the cancer. It was a very difficult season in ministry as well.
2015 - We moved to Wisconsin to be near Laina's parents. I continued with IVCF.
2016 - We discovered cancer metastasized in Laina's brain, lungs and liver. I was in shock and struggled with anxiety and depression.
2017 - We continued to fight the cancer with various treatments. I resigned from IVCF. I started to substitute teach as I was able.
2018 - Laina fought hard, and taught us all how to live each day with joy and to cherish each moment. I learned to submit to the Lord and accepted his calling for Laina. My anxiety and depression went away. Laina passed on to be with the Lord, September 6. I started a Spiritual Formation Cohort with Moody Bible Institute. I continued as a substitute teacher. And learned the joys and challenges of being a single parent.
2019 - I took a Masters class on the Synoptic Gospels from Trinity International University. I started year 2 for the Spiritual Formation cohort and Spiritual Direction certificate. I continue to substitute and started to teach Environmental Education.
2020 - God willing, I will complete the Spiritual Formation/Direction certificate and continue on with my Master's of Arts in Theological Studies. It's been my dream to take seminary classes most of my life. I'm taking life moment by moment and step by step. God is with us on this journey.
In the Spiritual Formation cohort we are practicing the discipline of "Silence." I've appreciated this discipline most of my life as I've been a quiet person. Yet, what I discovered is that since Laina passed, I've been filling my mind/soul with noise. Always listening to something or watching YouTube or looking at Facebook, reading and taking on house tasks. As I try to pull away from all of the "distractions," I discovered a void, a deep sadness. I've been suppressing this part of my grieving and trying to move forward. But only in silence do we face what is buried deep inside our souls. We may seem fine if we suppress it or bury it with distractions, but it needs to be acknowledged and brought to the Lord or it will emerge in more harmful and unexpected ways. I know there are many others going through their own trials. I hope we can learn from each other as we journey through suffering and grief.
Submission to the Lord is the first step to freedom from anxiety and depression. Then desiring to draw near to the Lord and seeking Him in his word, prayer and community we can hear His words to us. "If the Son sets us free, we are free indeed." John 8:36. His Presence bring Freedom and peace. Silence has drawn out what remained unseen. Now I need the faith and courage to face the grief. It's healthy to do so. It's not healthy to suppress it. This brings us to some forks in the road. Moment by moment, day by day, will I choose distractions or choose to let the Lord lead me through this grief? Some days I do well, others I am totally distracted. But the Lord is a gentle shepherd and leads his sheep with care. He even puts us on His shoulders and carries us at times. And already I am seeing God's hand over these terrible times of suffering and loss. Other's are going through trials and some have even asked, "How do you do it? How do you get through letting go? How do you get through grief?"
There is much to say, but at times like these it would be more than any person could bear to listen to it all. But the simple answer is this: Submit to Jesus and keep your eyes on Him!
Whatever lies ahead for 2020 - Submit to Jesus and keep your eyes on Him!
With sincere love toward you in Christ Jesus,
A blessed New Year from our family to yours!
Here you will find updates, thoughts, discussion and prayers for my life and ministry...