And So It Is...2013

i enjoy looking at the new year with new light.  with hope and excitement.  with trust in God, sitting in humble anticipation.  i try.  i dream and imagine.  i pray.

end of 2010-2011.  ben and i felt the need to start the journey of living minimally.  he excelled at this (and continues to do so), far better then i do.  but i knew that was a needed part of our lives and i too began down-sizing and trying to rethink the way that we lived.  this is an on-going work, but i'm so glad that we started when we did.  it helped us prepare for our big move half-way around the world last year.  there was a reason why God planted this in our hearts.  

end of 2011-2012.  not knowing where we'd live or what would lay ahead.   never would we have thought we'd be here in doha.  but we started that year with our eyes on God and allowing him to lead us.  we were finally in a place with an open heart--even if it meant leaving our beloved pittsburgh.   in addition to that, we were given a great peace about this family of four and felt that our joy had been made complete through the gifts of our daughters Sophia and Audrey.

God is good and has been faithful.

and for 2013?

i want Jesus.  sweet Jesus.

in our travels to the states and back over christmas, i was once again filled with such quiet peace at the loveliness that is my family here.  we said our good-byes to our extended families and i shed a few tears upon leaving them, but almost immediately my heart was overflowing with thankfulness for what God has given me.  my heart is here with these beautiful children and my loving, truly wonderful husband (who has earned his doctorate) and our gentle, furry dog.  happy smile.  thanks and wow.

but i can't help but fall to he pessimistic-side of my human self and ask, "when will the bad stuff happen?"  this all seems really good right now.  and if i know God--ha (which i don't...He is infinite)--my life has been marked with some good 'ol brokenness and pain; so when's that new pain a-commin'?!  He gives and takes away, right...

and of course things are far from perfect here.  i am a work in progress after all.

one of the saddest parts of leaving pittsburgh was the spiritual family we were growing with.  ben and i had decided to participate in a monthly gathering in a group called the House of St. Michael the Archangel.  i'm sure it sounds a bit, hum, sketch with a group title like that.  at least that's what i thought at first.  it's not some "hip", catchy, group name or even a name that outrightly "gives away" what that group is all about.  so after much prayer and a bit of hesitation on my end, we started going in the summer of 2011.  we met monthly for deep, intimate worship and sharing our thoughts and insights to the readings for each month--mostly works written by the ancient church fathers and mothers.  we shared vows--what God had pressed upon our hearts for that year--and lived day to day, in small ways, for the total conversion our heart, mind, souls, bodies and the world.  sharpening each other as iron sharpens iron.

there was beauty here in such small ways that it surprised me how much change i saw God had done in me as we ended our time with them before we moved.  there was spiritual vibrancy again.  there was intentional time spent with God in simple yet profound ways.  there was unity.  there was learning.  there was intimacy with Christ that i had missed for so long.

and of course i miss them.  that group.  our church family too.

i find that it's an odd thing to pray for a deepening in my relationship with God.  for more of Him.  for continued conversion; here in this desert place.  of all places.  uprooted.  away from the people who knew us and who we knew and trusted to a place where we don't even have a church that we feel quite at home in yet.  granted, it is a miracle that there is even a church that we can attend here!  we don't have intimate friendships that help nourish our walk with God (yet).  it seems quite spiritually barren here.  and yet i'm asking for a deep well of Jesus to spring up in my life and the life of my family.

help.  that's what i ask.

(i read Anne Lamott's most recent book "thanks, help, wow:  three essential prayers" over our stay in the states.  this is what comes to mind as i write this post.)

i look at this lovely family of mine and i see a bit of Jesus absent from our presence.  it's not that we've "kept Him out."  it's that we have been just getting by in many ways--sleep, money, time together, etc.--that it often becomes easy to leave out the most important piece of our family.

so i not only sit in a place of expectancy looking to God to bring me the refreshment of His Spirit, His Light, so that i can know him more intimately starting this year; i also desire this for my family.  for my marriage.  and i don't have a plan really.  but i will start by renewing those vows i made when we were part of the House and perhaps adding or editing a few things:

-Singing the name of Jesus at least once a week for 5 minutes or more
-Praying the Jesus prayer at least twice a week for 5 minutes or more if time allows (inserting the name of someone God puts on my heart for one of the prayer times)
-Read at least 1 book or written work that will encourage my soul and bring more intimacy with Christ
-Read the Gospel of Luke
-Read through the children's bible with Sophia and Audrey
-Spend 10-20 minutes at least every other day sitting with Ben  (in quiet or talking)

thank for 2013.  help me.  i will see the "wow."