Monday, January 5, 2015

Reflections on 2014

This is the first blog entry for 2015.  2014 was quite a year for me personally with my marriage to Michael and the blending of our two families.  We spent the week of Christmas merging our two houses to finally be under one roof.  2014 was a year of great joy and great changes.

Professionally it was also quite a year, with the work of Church-based Business as Mission growing by leaps and bounds, with the development of a plan to develop suitable materials to be rolled out to more countries in this coming year - starting in Ghana and Egypt.  This also includes a number of changes for me.

My children continue to change and grow:  Hannah turned 21 in 2014 and Noah will turn 20 in just a few weeks.  Hannah is a senior at Calvin; Noah is a junior.  Both continue to face life challenges and develop into the adults that God is calling them to be.  It is exciting yet scary to watch.

But most significant in this past year was what continues to happen around the world.
  • Ebola swept through West Africa reaping devastation and loss of life.  Countries that have experienced so devastation because of civil war and poverty were hit again with this terrible and terrifying disease. 
  • Boko Haram continued to wreak havoc in Nigeria.
  • Al Shabab continued to kill and terrorize in Kenya and Somalia.
  • The rise of IS and terrorist attacks in other parts of the Middle East drive fear into the hearts of many.
These are just a few of the things that remind us of how tenuous peace is and how fragile life is.  We are reminded of how far we are from being the creation that God intended.  Yet through the darkness we hear stories of grace and mercy, of perseverance and God's light shining through. 

Overall there continues to be a spirit of optimism in Africa that things are changing for the better and that Africa is indeed rising.  What will 2015 bring?  What entries will be made in this blog over the next 52 weeks?  What turmoil, grace, and creativity will the world see?

To help me find my center, I go back again to the book Guerrillas of Grace by Ted Loder, and to the prayer, "Help Me to Believe in Beginnings":

God of history and of my heart, so much has happened to me during these whirlwind days:
I've known death and birth; 
I've been brave and scared;
I've hurt, I've helped;
I've been honest, I've lied;
I've destroyed, I've created;
I've been with people, I've been lonely;
I've been loyal, I've betrayed;
I've decided, I've waffled;
I've laughed and I've cried.
You know my frail heart and my frayed history - and now another day begins.

O God, help me to believe in beginnings and in my beginning again,
no matter how often I've failed before.

Help me to make beginnings:
            To begin going out of my weary mind into fresh dreams,
                        Daring to make my own bold tracks in the land of now;
            To begin forgiving that I may experience mercy;
            To begin questioning the unquestionable that I may know truth;
            To begin discipling that I may create beauty;
            To begin sacrificing that I may accomplish justice;
            To begin risking that I may make peace
            To begin loving that I may realize joy.

Help me to be a beginning for others,
            To be a singer to the songless,
                        A storyteller to the aimless,
A befriender of the friendless;
To become a beginning of hope for the despairing,
Of assurance for the doubting,
Of reconciliation for the divided;
To become a beginning of freedom for the oppressed,
Of comfort for the sorrowing,
Of friendship for the forgotten;
To become a beginning of beauty for the forlorn,
Of sweetness for the soured
Of gentleness for the angry,
Of wholeness for the broken,
Of peace for the frightened and violent of the earth.

Help me to believe in beginnings,
            To make a beginning,
To be a beginning,
So that I may not just grow old,
But grow new
Each day of this wild, amazing life
You call me to live
                        With the passion of Jesus Christ.

I can't control much of anything in the world.  I can control very little within my own circle of family and loved ones.  I have difficulty even controlling myself.  But if I can live into even a portion of these words in 2015, this year will be a success.  I wish you the passion of Jesus Christ and the belief in beginnings as well in 2015.