2013 was supposed to be the Year of Restoration. This was the word the Lord gave Kevin and I last December when we prayed for vision for 2013.
What I didn’t expect was the breaking down that comes before restoration.
In January we set off on the biggest adventure of our lives and were immediately met with hard times.
We felt our daughter’s skin burn like fire our first night in Papua New Guinea.
We felt exhausted as all of our cultural norms and habits were challenged and stretched in the attempt to build relationships, learn a new language, and a new way of life.
So much questioning, so many tears.
When he and I battled and yelled and said things we wished we could take back.
When my cold words cut my daughters’ tender little hearts.
When she fell and fear swept over like a dark, toxic cloud.
When I felt like a failure and more weak than I ever have in my life.
When I laid in the jungle hut and wished I could die; when I longed for Heaven so much that it hurt.
When I couldn’t see Him.
When it hurt to keep giving my life to God.
When I watched my daughter laid down on the altar, and me surrendering again and again to Him even when it felt like too much.
All the tears, all the prayers, all the time: restoring.
When I discovered that baptism isn’t drowning.
When I watched my daughter find Jesus in the night time sky and later ask Jesus to live within her three year old heart.
When I rediscovered grace and relearned gratitude in the jungle. When I started numbering the gifts again.
When I found beauty in the ugly.
When a brown-skinned Papa carried his malaria-stricken white-skinned daughter.
When we kissed on our wedding anniversary and felt the same love and commitment from the “I dos” we spoke six years ago.
When we extended grace to one another.
We sit on our bed and reread our scripture of the year. “Wow,” he says, “That really was for us.” On Sunday we join the preacher’s wife in thanking God for all He’s done in 2013. For all the hardships, for all the moments He met us, for all the gifts, the laughter, the tears, the knowing Him more deeply, the trusting Him more fully. And my tears fall from a heart full of thankfulness, for surely He was near, all the time. Truly, we are restored. And what joy to know that He is still restoring. Always.
“When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem,
it was like a dream!
We were filled with laughter,
and we sang for joy.
And the other nations said,
“What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”
Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us!
Restore our fortunes, Lord,
as streams renew the desert.
Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plant their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest.” Psalm126