Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Blogger Christmas Card

This is most likely my last post before Christmas so I just want to take a few moments to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas.  It is this time of year where we begin reflecting back on the year and I hope that we all can look back and see just what God has done for us since last Christmas.  Many of us send Christmas cards with photographs commemorating whatever family milestones that may have been reached since last Christmas.  I do not have photos, but this, in a way, is the Like a Tree Firmly Planted Christmas card.

This time last year I already had one surprise snow storm under my belt and was watching the weather with reports of a possible snow storm for around Christmas day.  The storm looked like it had less and less of a chance of really causing any problems for us, but then things dramatically changed.  I awoke Christmas morning to a weather report saying that the storm that seemed to be moving further away had become a monster that was going to hit at the worst possible time.  In the end, the storm was much worse than anyone had expected.  I remember driving home after the storm because it was like driving through an apocalypse.  There were cars abandoned all over the highway, roads were closed, people were driving the wrong way on the roads that were open (including myself), backhoes were pulling out large snow plow trucks stuck in snow banks, and in the end helicopters had to be sent to several highways to make sure no one was trapped in the stranded vehicles.  That road home really set the tone for much of last winter. 

If you remember last year, I wrote many posts on the weather.  Week after week for over a month, there was a snowstorm that kept me near work and kept me from going home.  Week after week God kept me safe on dangerous slippery roads.  It is hard to put myself back into that mindset, but just like that first ride home in that first large snowstorm, from my vantage point I was wondering if it would ever end.  It seemed like around every corner there was another storm and more dangerous travel.  I kept the faith and pushed on, going through some doubts and fears, and in the end I made it through.  From my vantage point now, I can see how amazing God's protection was and how things could have been much different if He had not been protecting me.  The lesson here is that many times as we are going through something, it is hard to see God's hand.  We become like Peter who no longer saw Jesus through the waves and began to think more of the waves than He did of the Lord.  It was then that he began to sink, but it was also then when Jesus reached into the water and saved him.  Peter did not see the Lord's hand sustaining him as he walked on the water, but got to a point where all he saw was the water.  I made it to that point a few times last Winter, but each time God reached out His hand and kept me safe. 

Then just as sudden as the snow began, it stopped, and in came Spring.  Spring was very welcome last year after the Winter we had!  The weather grew warmer and warmer and God really began a financial work in our lives.  It was late Spring when we received a surprise inheritance of clothes and jewelry from the various television shopping networks.  In fact, we received so much stuff that we are still not done getting all listed and sold.  This money was a blessing as it allows me to pay down and pay off years and years of debt improving my credit to the point where I could actually qualify for a mortgage.  It also made our checking account happier to where we no longer had to worry if we had enough money in the account to cover our bills.  We did not get rich by any means, but we made it to even and even is a good place to be.  It is also in late Spring where my wife and I took our vacation to Arizona and had a blessed time seeing God's artistry in some of His greatest natural wonders.  When I think of the amazing beauty of the Grand Canyon and the Painted Dessert, I am even more amazed that He though so much of little me to provide us such provision to pay down our debt. 

After Spring comes Summer and Summer began an ongoing test of patience.  My wife and I started looking at homes closer to where I work and we also listed our own home to be sold.  Many months later and after looking at seemingly countless houses over the Summer, we are still in our same home with my same commute with no buyer or home to buy in sight.  While that honestly does get frustrating at times, I also know that God is preparing a place for us.  I do not mean in the Spiritual sense, but in the very present physical sense.  I know that there is a house for us and the timing is going to work so that a the right buyer will come along with the right house at the right price with the right interest rate.  That is my hope and I truly believe that is what God has in store for my wife and me.  Of course, other than the house hunting, Summer is home to most of my favorite activities.  I love walking on the boardwalk (though I seriously deprived myself of beach and boardwalk activities this year), barbeques, parties, warm weather, and just general Summer fun.  Did I mention that I love Summer? 

Finally, there is Fall.  Fall was much of the same as Summer.  We looked at a few houses and had a few showings, but nothing really came of it.  Then, in November, we were blessed again financially.  This new blessing was truly beyond all that we could have hoped and asked for.  I remember when it began, I said that I was being ambitious in hoping that it pays off all the rest of my credit card debt by the New Year.  Of course, God had bigger plans.  Not only did we finish paying off all of my debt, but we began on my wife's debt paying off one large bill and now working on another.  If there is one thing that truly sums up the previous year is that God provides. 

Looking back on the past year, I see an amazing trend.  The Christmas snow storm drive home was a microcosm of what the whole Winter was going to be and the whole Winter to be was a microcosm of the year to come.  What I mean is that there were times on that ride home when I did not think that I would ever get there, then there were times this Winter where I did not think it would ever end, and this is just as even with the money I was taking in, paying off all of my debt seemed like something still very much out of reach.  I can not begin to tell you all how encouraging this message is for me.  The same God who was able to provide and get me through in situations that I thought would never come to an end is the same God who my wife and I are praying for in our never ending (seemingly) attempts at moving jobs and/or home and in starting a family. I believe that what God has shown me this year is that He is going to come through in even bigger ways in the year to come.  I do not know what this next year has in store for us and I do not know what next year's message will say, but I am excited to find out.  I know that God has great things for me. 
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV

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