Saturday, January 2, 2016

Embracing All That 2016 Holds...

New Year's Eve had us face-to-face with our church's first (of two) sponsored Syrian refugee family. My girl wrote a blog post about this day... click here to read it because it's definitely one that you don't want to miss.

This refugee family... four humans, who are just like us and equally loved by God, but who have been through more pain and violence and brokenness these last few years than we can ever fathom or understand.

Four humans whom our church family has committed to come alongside with for the entire first year of their life as permanent residents of Canada... an endeavour made possible by this tireless committee of people that I have the utmost joy and privilege of leading and of whom I am deeply grateful to serve alongside with.

And then... four days into this New Year, I will be embarking on an exciting new adventure and stepping full-time into the role of Compassion Canada's Ministry Relations Representative in the Greater Toronto Area.

As full and awesome as our 2015 was, as is so beautifully reflected here by my girl, I have a feeling that, because of the two new beginnings mentioned above, 2016 will far surpass it... in small and big ways that are very much brand-new to us!  

A photo posted by alyssa (@_godsgal4ever) on

For the last number of years, at the start of the New Year, I have always chosen a One Word to serve as an inspiration for me for the upcoming year... a One Word which would give this New Year a name.

In 2015, I have loved this quote by Kristen Welch:
Our yes to God should scare us.
Not to keep us immobile, but to keep us dependent on the One who asks us to say it in the first place.
Fear keeps us moving towards God.
Yes, there is fear in obedience. But peace keeps us on the journey.
And the joy that follows our yes to God is wild.
Yes, there is definitely fear in obedience and these last few weeks, the word BRAVE kept popping up everywhere... perhaps because of the out-of-comfort-zone ways that God is shaping this year out to be for me and my family.

The word BRAVE particularly jumped out at me in the verse from Joshua 1:9... 

I hadn't told anyone, not even my family, what I thought my One Word for 2016 was shaping up to be. Come Christmas morning, as has been our family's tradition for many years now, we share about our birthday gift for Jesus.

What hubby shared floored me.

His birthday gift to Jesus --- to boldly go where no man has gone before. 

You know... it's taken from that famous line from Star Trek. ;) But, seriously, he meant to boldly go wherever God leads.

I quickly looked up Joshua 1:9 in another version and this is what I found...
Yes, be bold and strong! Banish fear and doubt! For remember, the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. - Joshua 1:9, Living Bible (TLB)
Amazing! Apparently, BRAVE isn't just *my* One Word for 2016... it is hubby's too! :)

I have come to love the song You Make Me Brave because it beautifully sums up what being brave is all about... it isn't because I am capable of being brave on my own strength, it's because HE is the One who makes me brave.
I stand before You now
The greatness of your renown
I have heard of the majesty and wonder of you
King of Heaven, in humility, I bow
As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in
I have heard You calling my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace
Your grace
You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way
God has orchestrated 2016 to arrive with many new things in store for our family to embrace and I know that it's going to require a lot of being brave... 
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. - Isaiah 43:19, NLT.
I think this song is going to become my our anthem this year!

And this our prayer...
God, we thank You for being near in a world filled with selfish ambition, where too often our tendency is to turn inward and contemplate our own desires despite the suffering that surrounds us. We live surrounded by a wealth that defies the imagination of our poorer brothers and sisters, yet we live with the fear that we will never have enough. Expand our hearts, Lord, that we may learn to truly love.

May we put our hand to the plow and work as those who have a higher calling. In the days that come, Lord, reveal to us new patterns of living where our spiritual lives and work lives become an integrated whole. May all that we do be worship to You.
We acknowledge that out of the ashes of our lives You are bringing shalom. We believe You are calling us to be a part of Your shalom work in our own cities and across the globe. We ask You to lead us and guide us. We are called to be Your hands and feet. As representatives of Christ we believe we should carry Your message of love and grace into the dark places You came to restore, the places where disease and illness plague people. Lord, do not allow us to seek safe havens, to hide the news of Your gospel; instead, call us out so that Your Good News will be evident to all.
- Chris Seay, A Place at the Table.