January has been good. I've had to skip writing much of this good stuff, but my heart overflows with thankfulness. Truly, sometimes it beats hard with anticipation and trepidation, but wonderful things are transpiring and there is goodness all around.
I've learned more of God's love for me in brand new ways this month. I've especially been struck with how He chose to set His love on me before I yet knew Him, and loved me despite all my sin and shame. He loved me before I knew Him and waited patiently for me to come. I've thought of the way He willingly entered my world, leaving His glorious heaven to enter my place of sin in order to rescue me from it. I've thought of how He laid down His very life for me, died and now lives victoriously, my freedom purchased by His blood.
The depth of His love and the magnitude of His sacrifice are in comprehensible, but bit by bit I am finding joy and abiding satisfaction in sacrificial love. Did Jesus not say, "Come, follow me"?
"If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his live will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."
Luke 9: 23-26
Strong language? Maybe a little terrifying? Oh, but what a wonderful promise if we believe and live by it!
Some of my most favorite times this month have been in prayer with Jon, his end-of-day praise and petitions before we fall asleep. His leadership in this way, his words, his humility... they are a transformative thing for our marriage. Even though he is not speaking to me, his prayers to God communicate depth of love and unify us well beyond the minutes spent with heads bowed. And I believe God is in the business of answering prayer, so together we lay our petitions for Him to work out, trusting in His perfect love and His perfect timing.
I have such admiration for Jon. He is a confident man, yes, but can also be hard on himself. He is always striving after righteousness, for humble obedience. I see the Lord working in him, fruit of righteousness becoming evident in new ways. God has given me a great gift in this husband of mine.
Pictures from early January during the Christmas break-
Hiking after the rain
After a long ascent, a snack in the grasses off the trail
Sharing sunflower seeds with a brother
Funny how many pictures I took of their backs. They don't know how much I enjoy watching them...
Miss Long Legs waiting at the end
I fully believe life can be wonderful, if only we look for the wonder. There are certainly wearying things, hardship, sadness. But there is also much beauty, and joy, and contentment. Beauty is all around for those who look for it, joy is a fruit that can be cultivated, and contentment comes by way of discipline in thankfulness. Maybe you are depressed by the bleakness of a frozen winter, but by looking you see the beauty of God's creation in ice crystals and the joy of a cup of warmth shared in the company of a friend. Maybe you are going through a trial, but you remember the growth you've experienced in past sufferings, knowing that all things are for the good of those who love the Lord. Maybe your pain seems more than you can bear. Let me remind you that God's promises are true, His word never fails, and He draws near to those who call out to Him. And maybe now, for a little while, life is just plain good. Don't forget who to praise for it.