In Chapter 3 Verse 1 of Ecclesiastes, the writer says, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” For the past year, I’ve been intentionally quiet on social media but active and busy in other parts of my life as I have taken time to grow and spend more time with the Lord. I have been through the seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter – sometimes all within the same day!
As I’ve taken this time of rest, I’ve seen the paradox of beauty and pain coexisting in people and the world and experienced the fulfillment of God’s promises of redemption while also longing for His answers in other areas of my life.
Life has been wonderful, hard, and messy. I don’t think I would ever ask for another year quite like this one, but I am grateful for the many good things and lessons learned. To give honor and glory to God and perhaps encourage you, I want to give you a glimpse of my past year.
I’ve continued coaching adoptive families, missionaries, and others who God brings my way. With the help of a third party, information, accountability, and the setting of small goals, it has been a joy to watch individuals and couples grow and change. I gave up my office and spend most of my time coaching through the use of an online platform called Zoom.
Some days I get up early and meet people who are halfway around the world and other days I meet people who live in my city. I pray with all my clients and am always amazed the next time I meet with them to see how God has been active in providing for them. I am only a small piece in their formula for growth, but what a privilege I have been given to live out this part of my calling to help others!
My family is one of the greatest blessings God has given me on this earth. I am proud of my husband, our thirty-year marriage, and each of our beautiful children – Travis and his wife Brittany, Erin, and Katie.
For our thirtieth anniversary, my husband and I stayed with some longtime friends and adoptive parents at their cabin in Montana. We hiked, rode four-wheelers, ate tacos at the local tavern, and drove over dangerous mountain passes. It was truly a trip to remember.
Over Christmas, I had the joy of being together with all of my children and following our holiday traditions. Our house is a little quieter these days because the children have all moved out. Sometimes I like the freedom of being able to set my own schedule, watch what I want on TV, and not having to cook large meals, while other days I really miss the busyness and volume of more people in the home.
Although I’m an introvert, I love being around people and serving God in my city. I have volunteered with many great organizations in 2019. Currently, I mentor several young women on a weekly basis, serve at my church, and volunteer and teach parenting classes at a local pregnancy care center. I have been learning a new way to share my faith and make disciples through principles and tools that are taught in Disciple Making Movements (DMM or 3/3rd groups).
God has been ever faithful as I have continually surrendered my life and taken large chunks of time to spend with him. Last March I was able to attend a retreat and heard multiple talks on identity in Christ from an 80-year-old retired pastor. This older gentleman confessed that he did not realize he had found his identity in being a pastor until he retired.
Other spiritual highlights included reading Victory over the Darkness by Neil Anderson on identity in Christ and Praying Freedom: Lenten Meditations to Engage Your Mind and Free Your Soul by Vinita Hampton.
At the beginning of 2019, I noticed that the muscles in my shoulders were extremely tight. In March I developed intense pain in all of my joints and my muscles began to ache. I went to my general practitioner who ran blood tests and performed an examination but did not find any cause for concern. After praying I decided to visit a functional medicine doctor who diagnosed me with mold toxicity, mast cell activation syndrome, and possibly yeast overgrowth.
Part of the reason we moved home from China ten years ago was symptoms related to the black mold we discovered in our apartment. Dr. Snyder, the functional medicine doctor that I see, said that some people have more sensitive bodies and are not able to filter out toxins. Apparently, I am sensitive! Why did my body react ten years after we moved? Research has shown that some people have underlying issues, but stress can cause symptoms such as mine to occur years after the initial exposure. Dr. Snyder started me on a treatment plan that included a low carbohydrate, low sugar diet, stretching, stress reduction, targeted nutrient therapy, and “binders” to remove the toxins.
I am happy to report that, although I am still healing, I am doing much better on this regimen and treatment process.
Several years ago I discovered some childhood wounds that I did not know I had. I have continued to be open to whatever resources God puts in my path to help me grow and heal from these wounds. I am thankful for personal counseling, online classes, and prayer healing. Because I’m a coach, the best fit has been believers who have taken a coaching approach and helped me look forward, set goals, and offer accountability.
What does 2020 hold? I plan to keep coaching, loving others, listening to God, and doing my best to follow Him and make Him famous. Recently, He spoke to me and said, “Renee, where is your faith?” Luke 8:25. Even though it can be difficult at times, I put my faith and trust in Jesus – the way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper, light in the darkness* – and trust Him to show up in 2020!
Well, that is my 2019 in review. If I haven’t heard from you in a while, I hope to hear from you!
*lyrics from Way Maker by Michael W. Smith