To say this was a year of extreme loss, sadness, and emptiness is an understatement.
After 13 years of prolonged mourning, my beautiful mother finally was able to meet her creator. Though for years she was in a vegetative state, after she passed it hit me, that I can no longer touch or see her. I wonder often, how wonderfully different life would be, if she was here with me.
Unexpectedly, my sweet dog of 10 years had to be put down in June due to a rare disease. I took her for granted. After she left, I realized how much joy she brought into my life. Now, every morning, I walk into my living room, look at the couch, and wish she was there. I miss our mornings together, I would give her morning breakfast as I made my coffee.
The 7 years of my long commutes to the north side of Chicago with my two older daughters – my best friends – came to end. In the fall, I found myself getting them ready to enter new seasons in life, without me. Bianca left for Washington D.C. for an internship, Naomi left to college, and I was now traveling alone. The loss was sometimes unbearable. I am not much of crier. Yet, during this season, the tears would flow.
Then, there were the attacks I endured from my inner-circle that were unmerited and at times hurtful. My people. My tribe. My family. Who would have thought? Not me. I trusted these people. I thought they were for me and knew my heart, but they ended up coming against me. I knew that many of these attacks weren’t intentional and at the end of the day I don’t battle against flesh and blood, so I choose to pray and forgive.
All things considered, 2018 wasn’t gentle. It wanted to crush me! But what the enemy didn’t know is that he can’t crush an Oak tree. Now, I am getting ahead of myself.
On October 13th I attended an anniversary celebration for a ministry at my church. At the time, I wasn’t defeated, but I was a bit undone. I needed assurance from my God that He saw me and was going to get me through this year. That day, He reminded me of His love and grace in the midst of it all! He gave me 3 memories to remember.
As I sat in the café of the church, God reminded me how one of the speakers (at the event) had previously messaged me about two years prior saying she wanted to leave her husband. Now, that same woman was sharing her testimony of how God miraculously moved in her life and marriage.
Later, as I continued worshiping at church on October 13th, God again placed me in a state of remembrance. Remembrance of his faithfulness and blessing. For a while I counted planning my mother’s wake among my greatest fears. I didn’t want to face everyone and experience that moment of immense grief.
But in his timing, God provided a place to host the wake, the very church, I lead and attend. With the help of many people, we were able to give her a beautiful memorial, full with live worship music and a message that ministered to many including a large group of unbelievers who were in attendance.
But God didn’t stop there.
After the church celebration on October 13th, Juan and I were able to take a newly married couple from our church out to dinner. As we sat in the restaurant, we poured into the couple’s marriage and ministry. And, once more that night, God jogged my memory, and put me in remembrance of His blessings.
Previously, 18 years ago, Juan and I had sat in that same restaurant. Our marriage was at its worse. Divorce seemed a likely option. But within months, God had supernaturally turned our marriage around. We renewed our vows, and even today, we’re still involved in leading the marriage ministry at our church.
Remembrance is a powerful thing! When you’re a believer, God does that for you. He not only loves us with an agape love, but He meets us where we are, so we can experience His mercy and grace when we feel undone.
Today was the last Sunday church service of 2018. As I worshipped this faithful God, thinking of the new year approaching, He put me in remembrance of the day I prayed the prayer of salvation. And gave me a prophetic word to share.
You see 20 years ago I surrendered my life to God. A precious seed of faith was planted that day. Now, today I am like a 20-year-old oak tree. And, it’s because of that decision, I was able to weather the storms of 2018.
There is a saying that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and the second-best time is today. If you haven’t surrendered your life to God, don’t let today go by without planting that seed of faith in your heart. If you are saved, don’t stop watering that seed! It takes a consistent pursuit of God to have your roots settle, grow and become an Oak tree.
An Oak tree is a symbol of power and strength. It can withstand the strongest of storms. If you desire to live in this cruel world, and still have love, peace, and joy, you need FAITH!
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” Psalm 77:11
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted , but not abandoned; struck down, but now destroyed.” 2Corinthians 4:8-9