Selah~Day 227 “Finding Beauty in the Ashes: 2013 Highlights”

This past year, 2013, was one of the most emotional year’s of my life. It was a year that presented many tests, many trials, and many moments of tears. But, through it all, I learned how difficult; yet, how important Paul’s writings in Philippians 4:4 were to carry out. He states, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” He is emphatic that even though our circumstances may not give cause to celebrate, we should still rejoice or revel or have a party in the Lord.

In Biblical times, one would have ashes thrown upon their head to symbolize a time of mourning. But, we learn in Isaiah 61:3 that our Lord bestows a CROWN of BEAUTY instead of ashes for those who mourn. We are children of God, joint heirs of the most High Prince of Peace. Our role is one of royalty. Because of this, we can always find beauty in the ashes.

My 27 Thanks for 2013:

1. Gary and I kicked off the 2013 year celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary at the Scurvin Hotel in downtown OKC. It was a great night away and we loved staying in an old, Historical landmark.

2. Gary held my hand and covered me in prayer during one of the most difficult, trying times of our lives. Several close friends became even closer as they covered me with their prayers, words of encouragement, and daily scripture texts. I am so thankful for friends and family.

3. We became closer as a married couple and learned what the depth of our vows to one another truly meant when we said, “In sickness and in health, in good times and bad.”

4. I stumbled upon a 10K reasons blog written by Sarah Blount. Sarah’s blog spoke to the depths of my heart. Through it, I was inspired to begin my own 10K reasons journey and walk down a road of victory, not destruction.

5. Psalm 34 became my life support. It was a chapter that I read on a daily basis for a few months. The words written brought life to my soul. He is truly close to the Brokenhearted and He rescues them.

6. My 33rd birthday in April was a difficult day for me. Gary was at the fire station that day and I was having my very own emotional pity party. Gary surprised me and took off the second half of the shift. He always does sweet things to bring a smile to my heart. It was a simple act of kindness, but spoke volumes to my heart during a difficult season.

7. In May, a tragic tornado tore across a beloved part of my City. All of my kids,  in both Briarwood and Plaza Tower schools, were safe. Even though some of them had to be pulled from the rubble, none of them were injured. I had several friends who suffered great loss to their homes and belongings, but today, they are all stronger because of the storm.

8. Both Gary and I worked tirelessly with relief efforts. I loved seeing first hand the beautiful response to tragic events and the perseverance of the human spirit.

9. Gary survived a very scary rescue experience in the second round of tornadic weather that we experienced. While conducting a routine water rescue, his rescue boat capsized, sending him and 2 other fire fighters into the rolling waters. Thankfully, they were able to catch a few bodark trees and hang on until they could be rescued. He only suffered a few scratches from the long bodark thorns.

10. Gary and I took our kids back to Camp Wow for kids camp. We had an amazing speaker, Clayton Poland, as our guest. We were able to minister to not only our kids, but also welcome kids from the surrounding rural areas to participate. It was the best camp experience ever. Gary and I became great friends with Clayton and his family.

11. Because of our great camp experience at Camp Wow, we have been invited back again and they have asked Crossroads Kidz Ministry to put on a kids camp for several churches who are now asking if they can participate because they heard it was so awesome!

12.Gary and I moved into our beautiful dream home. We custom-built our home with Eric and Austin Cheatham. It was a great, stress-free experience. I love my home. It brings so much warmth and joy to our lives. I don’t know why, but I still stand in awe at the blessings of God.

13. We took Judah to his very first movie experience and watched Despicable Me 2. As a family, we laughed all the way through it. It was such a fun time together.

14. Several friends were inspired by me to start their own 10k reasons journey. It is a very difficult commitment. Some are no longer on the journey, but there are a few who are still writing with me.

15. Judah knows how important this 10k reasons blog is to me. He spends most mornings sitting on the arm of my writing chair while I write. He loves to be close to me.

16. In July, Crossroads Church hosted a 10k reasons night of worship. During the worship experience, people wrote their reasons to praise the Lord and thank Him for all of their blessings. Collectively, they wrote 10k reasons of praise to the Lord during that one night of worship.

17. I attended my sweet friend Valarie’s wedding. It was a most beautiful day and I was thrilled to see her walk down the aisle and join hands with the man of her dreams. She had waited so long for her wedding day and I was so thankful that I was able to experience that with her.

18. Judah started school at Antioch. He got the best set of teachers. I love the experience he is having at this great preschool.

19. As a team, we launched an initiative at Crossroads called, Generations. Through this initiative, we will not only bring Crossroads to another level of excellence in look and style, but also position ourselves to reach more people both home and abroad with the Gospel of Jesus.

20. This year, I was really given the opportunity to use my creative skills in a way that I have never used them before. I was stretched to the max in some areas and I loved it. I got to work with some very creative master minds in the area of video and design. I loved working with them and learning from them. It was a great experience.

21. In November, we hired Abby Darrah to join with me on the Kidz Ministry staff team. She has worked in Crossroads Kidz Ministry since she was a young teenager. Now, she is has an education degree and is ready to use her gifts and talents for the Lord at Crossroads Church.

22. My precious friend, Bethany, gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl named Kyla.

23. Gary and I hosted both of our families at the same time at our house for Thanksgiving. It was a great day! I am so thankful that both of our families love spending time together too.

24. I got to co-write and direct a Celebrate Christmas production that brought laughter to many faces. It was such a fun production to produce and direct. Personally, it took me to another level of production ability and I learned a lot about production and myself as an artist.

25. Gary worked closely with me on the Celebrate Christmas production. I learned that he has some amazing technical skill. It was so much fun to work right beside him in the tech booth.

26. We scheduled many days of rest at the end of the 2013 year. Through this year, I have learned that rest today is vitally important if you hope to do bigger things tomorrow.

27. Growth.

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