Monday, April 7, 2014

April of altars

I like the month of April. Aside from the fact that it is typically the month we celebrate the most important date in all of history with the resurrection of Jesus Christ (sometimes Easter lands in March), it is a month of atypical milestones for me and my little family.

The first comes this Thursday. It's my and Neal's Date-iversary, and this year we hit the quarter century mark. Wow. And I am still crazy mad in love with him. Heck, I still like him, and from what I see a lot of not only is getting this far exceptional, but actually still enjoying being together is even more rare.

As I look over our 25 years together and take stock, I am very aware that our lives don't look like the classic "success." In fact as the world defines it, we miss the mark in a lot of areas - careers, finances, accomplishments, etc. But I have to force myself not to look at our success through that perspective. Instead I look at our relationship as a couple and a family and without taking anything for granted I say "Thank You, Lord, that today things are good." Today our marriage is strong, and I hope it stays strong enough to face hard things that may be ahead. Today we have the right mindset that in our challenges we are on the same side and we are for each other, never against each others and that any battles we face, we face together. And I pray we make the great effort to stay that way.

Today our kids are good. All three of them make us proud of them for the kind of people that they are today. They love God, love others, sometimes they even love each other. They all have great strengths in their character and today they are moving the right direction in those areas of who they are. I don't take it for granted because I know we are all just a mistake a way from really screwing up our lives, but today they are doing well, and for that I am thankful. I pray their dad and I continue to help them pursue God's personal path for their lives, and that they all stay on the right path in following Him.

As I am mindful of our 25 years together, I see the lack of THINGS that we have, but I also see an abundance of riches that could not be bought for any price. Today that date-iversary makes me grateful.

On the 17th of this month I will "celebrate" six years of writing this blog. It has been a faithful companion to me. The Lord has bestowed upon me a gift to express myself in written word and through the advice of a once upon a time good friend, I began this blog. It has been a place to tell my stories, process my struggles, occasionally vent a complaint. It has been an expression of myself to the world around me. It has been with me through some of my very darkest days. It has been a place where I have been able to recount the greatness of my God and His faithfulness in my life. I have written my Psalms here, and I have tried to encourage and challenge the world around me. It has been "My Walk of Faith." This very post will be my 499th when I post it, and so I imagine that this April at some point will even be the month of my 500th blog.

April 20th is a very important day to our little family. This April 20th is Easter Sunday but also it marks the 10th anniversary of our Ethan's "Gotcha Day." That's the day that our family was made whole and complete. That day is a testimony of God's amazing grace and faithfulness to our family. After over 3 years of one of greatest and most difficult challenges, each individually and as a whole, God fulfilled a promise to us that we thought might never be so. It is a day of great rejoicing and victory and it's why this year, Easter Sunday will be even more special to us. It's a double reminder of the greatness and faithfulness of our God.

I think there is a clear reason why God so many times told His people to build altars in their journeys of faith. It was so they could look back as they passed by those places again and be reminded of the things God had done for them. As I look at the calendar of April amidst soccer practices, church meetings, school breaks and play performances I see altars to God's faithfulness.

He took this lost broken couple and brought them into His fold. I believe it was in April of 1992 that I actually first returned to church, and it wasn't long after before Neal joined me there. And He created this family of His followers in His own unique way. It was messy and complicated and oftentimes just really hard, but His love was relentless throughout. He taught us things about Himself that we could never have ever imagined to know. God the Father, Jesus the Savior, Christ the Redeemer, Holy Spirit our Counselor, Author, Finisher, Alpha Omega - the Faithful One, Lover of our souls.

I am glad to pass by these altars in these difficult days. It does nothing to make the days better, but it does everything to make us better - reminding us of Who He is, and of what He has done, and it reminds me of the promise yet again, that come what may, God will work it all out for our good because He loves us. And that even if I can't see or imagine what it is, God has a good plan for us. His promises are RICH, and I am thankful for these altars in our lives that also remind us that His promises are true.

Our daughter's name was given to me as I was reading God's word. Victoria, the victorious one. Later at perhaps one of the darkest moments in our family the Lord brought the verse to my mind and I heard Him whisper that it wasn't just her verse, but it was the verse that He had promised and spoken over our family. Today I cling to it.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.
And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

1 John 5:4

Thank you Father for our April of altars. I cling to Your promises, I cling to You.