2012…what a year! It was a year of many changes for us, and though some of them were hard to go through, the Lord has used them to draw us closer to Him and for that I am thankful.
As I look back over last year, I see how the Lord has changed our ministry. The Lord has opened many doors for our family to go and share what the Lord has allowed us to go through and that has been a change for us. We are home bodies for the most part and the extra traveling was something that we had to get used to! Our son Caleb used to hate it when we had to leave, but he told me the other day that he loved traveling now. Only the Lord could make that change in our hearts. We love it when we are home, and we love it when we get an opportunity to go and share.
One of the challenging things about being out and sharing your life with so many others is that I never want people to think that our family has arrived or has it all together. Live with us for a while and you will learn we do NOT have it all together! We have our challenges, our temptations, our failures, our frustrations, our victories, our accomplishments and our lessons learned – just like all of you do. We think that we should be as real as possible while also maintaining a private family life. One of my favorite things is for someone to come to me and share their own struggles after hearing mine. It keeps us all in one place together – a place where we all desperately need the help of Jesus. As our family fails and succeeds, this is the one thing that we cling to. We are staying in this battle because we love Him and want to please Him with all of our hearts. And that is all He asks.
This year, we have started a wheelchair support group in our county. As a paraplegic, this is something that I needed and since there was nothing here, I desired to do something about it. Jimmy has been a wonderful supporter of this and now does most of the work in helping in the physical preparations and clean up. Our whole family looks forward to meeting with the other adults whose lives are touched by a physical disability. We have seen this really grow this year and have a lot of wonderful things planned for 2013.
We also learned of churches that had monthly parties for families who had special needs children. We learned more about this and got a passion to do this in our church. Since this was a church ministry, we needed the support of our church for this and weren’t sure if they would be as passionate about it as Jimmy and I were. We presented it to our church, and almost every single person signed up to help. These families that we serve each month have been encouraged, and as we have tried to bless them a wonderful thing has happened. We are the ones that come away blessed. I love how the Lord takes what you are trying to do for others, and allows you to receive the benefit from it. Now you know why I love serving Jesus. He always makes it so worth it.
We have also had the privilege this past year to get personally acquainted with the ministry of Joni Erickson Tada. The Joni and Friends Ohio team has taken us under their wings and has encouraged our family, taught us many things about disability ministry and opened the doors for some amazing opportunities. The more we have learned and are around this caliber of servants, our hearts and vision has been dramatically changed. It is very sobering to see the ministry of Jesus Christ in a physical way in this day and age. Jesus spent His time reaching out to the outcasts of society – the publicans and sinners, the fornicators and cheaters, the lepers, the mentally tortured, and those with physical disabilities. He looked past all the prejudices of that time and saw their souls and that all of them had the same spiritual deficiency. He met their needs. He worked in their physical lives to prove to them the work He could do in their hearts and lives. He also reached out to the wealthy (Jairus) and to the religious (Nicodemus), but most of them would not have Him. They already thought they were the answer to their problems. Working with Joni and Friends, and being disabled myself, has helped us to realize that my group of people already know they have a deficiency and are needy. Many of us don’t like to admit it, as it is humbling, but to realize that Jesus can fill those empty places offers a hope and sweet consolation. Since I know Jesus, I know it is true and our family wants to help do all we can to give others this same hope. My hope is not in Heaven and having a perfect body. I am thankful for that but I need something that I can cling to every single day while going through what I go through. Jesus is that hope and I would be a very selfish Christian to keep that to myself.
Because of these major changes in our ministry, we know that Satan has fought us hard this year. Our marriage has went through a season of adjustment as many marriages do. We are not a perfect couple and since disability already keeps our marriage interesting, it does not take much to make us both selfish individuals. Jimmy and I have both faced our own frustrations this year with ourselves and with each other, but I am so thankful that we are both committed to our marriage. We do not want to just live together. We want to love each other and like each other. We know that since God is using our family, Satan would love to destroy us. We are not going to let him do that. He fought us for several months this year, but we praise the Lord that God got the victory as we turned ourselves and each other over to the Lord. God has strengthened our resolve for the sanctity of marriage and we have come out of this even stronger in our desire to help other couples who have a disability strengthen their relationships. I am more in love with Jimmy today than I have ever been and only the Lord can do that work in our home and marriage. We just celebrated 14 years of marriage and I look forward to many, many more wonderful years together.
2013 is already getting full of exciting things for our family! We are excited for whatever the Lord wants to do in our lives. We already know from past experience that you don’t always like what He picks, but we have also learned from past experience that it truly does work out for a better good in our lives…and so we trust Him. Please pray for our family this year. Pray for me. Pray that the Lord will be glorified and Satan will be defeated. Pray that we will be very sensitive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in what we should or should not do as we juggle many things in our lives. Pray that we will have wisdom in our choices. Pray for our precious children. The Lord is teaching and showing them things and we do not want to ever get in the way of what God is doing in their own personal lives.
I am so excited for every day the Lord gives me to live for Him!! Because of that I am very, very happy for this new year!