Back then, I was surrounded by grief.
The night felt incredibly dark and the New Year felt anything but Merry.
But there was one word that I had been given in the quiet of the days leading up to this night that I clung to and I learned much about Christ from.
That night and that word draw out so many memories...
and so much hope.
I think on the other words that followed and how each one has been a tender gift -
a giving of a glimpse of the Father's heart to cling to when chaos would spin all dizzy around me,
each one having built on the previous year:
In the Midst
He is so good and faithful.
I've begun to collect the words stamped onto metal on my wrist, not quite brave enough to ink them deep into my skin, but near enough to flash my eyes back on to the promise Christ has given.
I wasn't surprised when this year's word began to appear more intentionally in the pages of scripture, in lessons, web pages and articles; I really didn't even bat an eye.
I may have sighed though, just a little.
Because it's a word I wrestle deeply with, not just to give, but to receive.
And yet, woven throughout the words in the Bible, an incredible picture of grace is given - one with many facets and much depth drawing me in past the surface sayings and "feel good" platitudes.
Olivia, the one named for all the wrong reasons by a mama desperate for a peace she didn't understand...her middle name was given under the same circumstances.
I just wanted an easy labor and my midwife assured me that all girl babies named Grace were born quickly and without much effort.
Olivia Grace broke every mold and almost broke me.
But, this wild and unruly child, this girl who wrestles hard with many and all, she has taught me much about the misconception of ease.
If grace is to be birthed into this year, I have to wonder if it doesn't come with a struggle. Grace, in all it's beauty isn't given without effort, even though it produces incredible peace with God.
Looking at 366 days ahead, I know there is much to learn and much to receive. There could be much to fear, if I let myself.
But the One Who is Sovereign over all things, the One Who has forgiven me of much and rescued me from more, He has already called these days into existence and nothing will happen outside of His will.
I can trust this.
Even if it hurts.
I can allow grace to change and shape me and my days.
Even if it hurts.
December 31st holds a world of pain, no matter how many years pass, but on the edges of all of that dark, truth and hope shine boldly promising that there will come a time when all pain and tears and grieving will be wiped away by His tender Hand.
Until then, I press forward with eyes lifted to Him, hands open to receive all that He will give.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. — 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV).