This has been an interesting year. When we returned from sabbatical last December, I expected that I would feel refreshed, reinvigorated and ready to tackle new things. I envisioned a ‘simpler life’, scaled down, and not as filled with activity. I did indeed feel refreshed by the six months away in the farmlands of Illinois. But God had His own purposes for me in mind rather than my dream of a simpler, slower life.
Rather, it was clear that I was to ‘stay the course’. Not much about my pre-sabbatical life really changed all that much. I have family and friends to enjoy, a job which I love, a home to keep and hobbies to pursue. Nothing new there.
But it is how God used those things in new ways that kept 2019 interesting. Getting to share my children’s lives as adults is a joy and true blessing. This might sound heretical, but I have discovered that it really IS the most important thing that they are walking with the Lord. This is what you always hear in parenting classes when your kids are little – but I am not sure I actually believed that completely. Until now. It is a privilege to walk alongside them as they make ‘grown-up’ decisions. What joy it brings to know that they trust God to help them through the difficult things, and to guide their decisions about important things. This is a new phase of life for me and I love it and thank God for it, knowing that He is sovereign over their lives, just as He is sovereign over mine. That helps a lot when they are struggling or confused or things are not going well.
God did use circumstances to eliminate some commitments from my schedule. I admit I was not the most cooperative in following His lead in this – giving up activities that are rewarding is not easy. But in retrospect, I can say it has allowed me the freedom to see God work in new ways for His honor.
The biggest surprise has been in how God has been prodding me to use my home and hobbies in new ways. This has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. Through a series of circumstances that only God could have strung together, I am now hosting a group of international students in my home monthly to learn to knit! Now, clearly, I love knitting. But really, knitting as outreach? Who knew? This was not on my plan for my post-sabbatical life – in fact, I was thinking that life would get simpler when we got home. But what a delight to see God drawing these women to our home, to welcome them in and teach them a new skill that has a strange way of opening up conversations to share our lives. I have made a number of new friends through this hobby in addition to these Friday nights, and it has definitely enriched and expanded my life beyond what I would have imagined. It connects me with women of all types through the use of sticks and string to create useful and beautiful things. Through it all, I feel that God is using this as a way for me to share my faith and my dependence on Him.
So, on to 2020. I am glad that God knows what is ahead, for me, for my family and for all of us. He leads in unexpected ways, and I am not always a willing follower. But 2019 has shown me that He is trustworthy, faithful and good, even through hard times. I am looking forward to what He has for us all as we trust His goodness through good and bad. May 2020 develop our vision to see new and different ways to bring God’s glory to the world around us!