New Year’s Eve Reflections

It’s almost time to venture out into our busy city to celebrate the end of 2012. But first, a moment to stop and write. As my friend over at Eternity wrote today, the end of one year and the start of a new one, is a good time for self-reflection.

This morning I read some wise words from John Piper. He says,

For me the end of a year is like the end of my life. And 11:59pm on December 31 is like the moment of my death. The 365 days of the year are like a miniature lifetime. And these final hours are like the last days in the hospital after the doctor has told me that the end is very near. And in these last hours, the lifetime of this year passes before my eyes, and I face the inevitable question: Did I live it well? Will Jesus Christ, the righteous judge, say “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

~ John Piper, ‘Solid Joys’ App, 31 December 2012

I was confronted and humbled as I reflected on this notion that each year is a miniature lifetime. What if my life was to end tonight? Did I live 2012 well? Was I faithful?

Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—

they are like the new grass of the morning:

In the morning it springs up new,

but by evening it is dry and withered.

Psalm 90:5-6

I used to hate thinking or talking about death. It’s still not my favourite topic, but I have learned in recent years that it’s helpful to think about from time to time. Remembering I will die one day forces me to stop and think about whether the life I’m living today is of value in an eternal sense. It also challenges me (and I know this is cliché) to see each day as a gift – not something I have owing to me, but something precious bestowed upon me to use for God’s glory. As I look towards 2013, I’m not sure yet what my ‘resolutions’ will be, or if I will make any at all. But I will be seeking to see each day as a gift!

And so, in no particular order, here are ten things I’m thankful for as I come to the end of 2012.

  1.  The opportunity to experience living with friends and the ways this blessed, challenged and refined me.
  2. Our fantastic holiday in Spain.
  3. Completing my Advent Blog in December.
  4. The provision of our cozy new apartment in Alexandria – with a studio for Adam and a great balcony to share with friends and family.
  5. Going deeper into God’s word and seeing the fulfilment of his promises through studying my first theology subject.
  6. A challenging, busy, great first year working at CMS. I am thankful that I like going to work most days!
  7. Growing in my understanding of what the Bible says about being made in God’s image as a woman.
  8. A whole year of no migraines for my husband – the first year this has happened since he first started getting them as a teenager.
  9. Challenges, adventures, joys and trials in our marriage – all of which God has used to make us more dependent on him and closer to each other.
  10. Deepening relationships with our church family at one1seven, Redfern.

photo (26)

 

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:12

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Advent Blog Day 12 – One year at CMS

It’s a year today since I started working as the Communications Officer at CMS. As I reflected in November 2011, I started in the job with a great sense of God’s leading – it wasn’t my plan, but his.

I had to hit the ground running when I started, and though I’ve taken some holidays along the way, it is by far the busiest job I’ve ever had. The deadlines just keep coming! Quite a contrast to my experience as a solicitor – when I would often have to drag my feet around the office asking for more work, which was actually quite demoralising. Busy is definitely better – especially when the work is varied and fulfilling!

I have spent a large chunk of the year working on CMS’s quarterly publication, called Checkpoint – and along the way have learned a lot about working with and communicating with people. Like how do you tell someone you’ve never met in person that the article you have already asked them to re-write once is still not appropriate? That was not my favourite day, but I have learned from the experience.

Some of my favourite times this year have been training new missionaries in how they communicate with churches and supporters, when missionaries have popped into our office to say hi, and the opportunity to spend time with some missionaries in Spain when we went there on holidays. In the last few weeks I also got to try my hand at writing kids’ activities, which has been a new and satisfying

There have been some challenging times over the course of the year. Sometimes being the one female on a team with two guys can be hard – but I have learned to expect the weird looks I get from time to time! I have no doubt that there are more challenges and opportunities for growth to come.

As I look back over the last year I am deeply thankful for a job that’s usually not hard to get up for in the morning, where I can serve God using my passion for writing and editing, and also help others as they reach people for Jesus all around the world – from Germany to Cambodia, Namibia to Chile and many places in between.

my editor's sign-off!
my editor’s sign-off!

 

Advent Blog Day 4 – Friendship

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17

Tonight we met with our church small group – probably for the final time this year. We reflected on what the book of Proverbs has to say about friendship. According to Proverbs, great friendship is characterised by loyal, constant, unconditional love that mutually encourages both people.

It was a joy to share and reflect on these things with friends – with people we have grown closer to as we have shared life and learned together over the past year.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

In dying for us we see that Jesus is the ultimate friend. He loved us before we even knew him.

God has blessed me with many wonderful friends. I’m thankful for each one and feeling challenged to be more intentional in my friendships. I pray that I might love my friends at all times, in a way that is deeply, truly encouraging.

Here’s a little photo snapshot of some dear friends…

NaiSuse

AJNAiKtKathNai Vioricaone1seven

(and if you’re not here I still love you…it’s almost midnight – my advent blog deadline!)

new year, new hope.

When I flipped over our photo calendar on January 1, I saw what I’d written last year on the front cover – “Adventures and challenges, hopes and dreams, joys and trials await.” I didn’t know what they would be, I just knew they would come.

From beholding the Swiss Alps and being drenched in water on a boat at the base of Niagara Falls with Adam, to finishing up my work with International Teams – a job that was more than a job – it was a deeply life-changing chapter. From the joys of witnessing up close our precious God-daughter’s growth and development and the new adventure of moving in with another couple, to a very dark week when people we loved passed away and a close friend’s marriage fell to pieces.

God knew it all before the year began, indeed before time began. And He was right there with me, with us, with my friend through it all, and always will be.

And so, as I write my first post for 2012, I wonder what it holds too. When it struck midnight on New Years Eve the people at the party were all exchanging resolutions – one said no caffeine, and another was resolved not to speak negatively about herself. I hadn’t really thought about it. Last year I resolved to write a blog post once a week all year…and that went well for the first few months and then petered off.

Was it even helpful to have one? New Year, new start…an external motivator to seek some internal change and growth. Can’t hurt! (provided I don’t get guilty about not doing it!)

Since I tend to default to worry in most situations – always scanning the future for possible issues and discomfort, and instead I would really like to be more fully trusting God with my future, from little to big things, I’m trying to think of at least one thing at the end of each day that I can thank God for. It seems easy and simple, (the hardest part will be to remember to do it…maybe I should be writing each thing down?), but I sense that it will help me see the day-to day things of life more positively and that thankfulness, no matter what life brings day-to-day, year to year, is an important part of growing in Godliness.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18