The end of 2013 was not kind to us in the health arena. We contracted our third virus in 8 weeks over Christmas break and it was confirmed to be the flu virus, probably H1N1. So who doesn’t like that tucked in their stocking at Christmas? The kids were feeling better by Christmas day but my sickness was in full force. I think honestly I could relate more to what the first Christmas was really like (if that’s even possible) while lying sick in bed and cleaning up messes (I’ll spare you all the details). I kept thinking, “Is this how Mary felt physically?” I’m sure she felt achy all over, had a terrible headache, and yet had joy watching her baby that had just blessed her life (and the world). I’m sure Mary and Joseph didn’t enjoy the smell of manure in that stable with animals was all I could think of as I cleaned out a bathtub full of diarrhea. I felt an odd sense of closeness to the Savior in a new way this Christmas. Sometimes life happens in very unexpected and well, smelly ways but there are hidden mercies in there somewhere. I felt terrible over Christmas but it was still fun to see the excitement on the faces of my children and experience the real meaning of Christmas in a different way. And my husband cooked all the meals for a couple days so that wasn’t half bad either I suppose. This picture was taken on Christmas eve as I laid in bed watching my family light the last Advent candle.
Over the course of the holidays I also watched this cute craft we did fall apart. Those little fake snowflakes melted right off that line. Seriously, they need to tell you these things when you’re making them. Warning labels people!
These two bring such joy to my heart.
You would never know it was December by the weather. It seriously felt like spring.
Although Christmas this year was not what we entirely hoped for and brought uninvited challenges, two things remained true: I’m so thankful that God never changes and that I’m blessed by my family. God came so that in sickness or health I could know Him and he brings hope for a greater future even when life doesn’t go as planned. I’m so thankful for the family that I do have and the joy they provide.
The end of each year we spend 4 days serving about 500 college students from around the NW representing about 31 different universities. We always tell students that God doesn’t speak more loudly at conferences like these, we just put ourselves in a position to hear Him more clearly. This was true for me when I attended these conferences as a student and it still rings true today. Each year we see God move in the lives of our students in really great ways.
One of the 4 days I enjoy the most is the day of outreach where we serve the city in some capacity and engage people in spiritual conversations along the way. If you want to read more about what we did this year (which was an incredible undertaking) head over to Matt’s blog to read more.
Each year we ask students to sign this commitment if they are serious about it and it’s one of the most encouraging nights to witness.
Some students make this commitment for the first time at this conference. It’s the beginning of their journey following a God who loves with an all consuming love and takes us to places that sometimes we never imagine going and yet, it’s a journey that is always worth taking. I know students may make this commitment, but we as staff (myself included), have to make this decision every year (and every day for that matter) as well. Making the decision to sign this 16 years ago changed my life and was the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s not always been easy but it’s always been best. I give my life to working with college students because God changed my life and I’ve seen him change hundreds of lives in the past 12 years of ministry. These glow sticks represent students decisions to go where God wants them to go, do what He wants them to do, say what He wants them to say, and give what He wants them to give. I’m convinced these lights will help change the world for the better.
We said good-bye to 2013 by spending it with 500 college students. It really is an entertaining night. And there’s no better way to end a year and begin a new one by worshiping in the new year.
Happy New Year from our family to yours!