It is amazing that we are now ready to say goodbye to the past year and begin another year. Many people like to look back on a year and think of an overall theme or some type of overarching way to describe that year. For me, 2016 was the year of the roller coaster. The year was filled with quite possibly some of the best moments of my life but also some of the most difficult circumstances. Yet God proved Himself faithful through it all.
Many of you are already aware of how the year started out for my family. On New Year’s Day, we received a phone call stating that my mom was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Since my mom had had no symptoms or physical signs of this disease, we were very much shocked at the news and honestly felt we had the wind knocked out of us. Yet, through this whole year, we have been amazed at the faithfulness of God and the support of those loved ones around us. To this date, my mom still has not had to have any medical treatment for the cancer, but has just focused on exercising, eating healthily, and drinking lots of water and tea. 🙂 She did have a scare with symptoms of sickness this summer that turned out to be related to high blood pressure and not at all related to the Leukemia. We are thankful for God’s healing power at work in her and for the wonderful physicians He has led us to who have been able to help her in her journey of healing. As of now, she is feeling great and does not have any symptoms of sickness. Praise God!
There were additional trials this year, mostly in the realm of relational challenges and spiritual warfare. Also, different friends of mine and my family also went through a variety of major challenges, and these challenges weighed heavily on our hearts. We felt drained and weak at times—sometimes because of our own battles, and sometimes because of the battles of our close friends—yet God was always faithful to send just the right person, the right word of encouragement, and the right Scripture to sustain us and give us hope for what was next.
On the flip side, in the midst of all its challenges and curveballs, 2016 had some amazing highlights as well. I have continued to be heavily involved in the church my parents planted in Omaha called Kingdom Encounters. My primary role is to lead the musical worship team and other aspects of the worship services, called Kingdom Expressions. It has been a dream of mine since I was a young child to be a worship leader, and I frequently “pinch” myself to make sure I’m not dreaming! For over two years now, since the start of the church, I have had the privilege and honor of leading this congregation in worship on a weekly basis. What a blessing and how humbling it is to serve God and the congregation in this way. The worship team also began a recording project which is still in process. We are so excited to have begun such a project when we are still such a relatively new church!
Another way I “pinch” myself regularly is
when I think of my job as a teacher at Lifegate
Christian School. You mean I get to wake up every day and influence the next generation as I teach middle schoolers about the Word of God? I get paid to do this? It is honestly so much fun to be able to speak life into these students on a daily basis and see them grow in their faith throughout the year. This year, I was also able to take on a few other odds and ends responsibilities, such as study skills, co-teaching a music class, and co-sponsoring student council. I have also been asked to go on a global journey with some eighth grade students and their parents to Costa Rica this spring. If you would like to know more about this upcoming trip, let me know and I will give you more information!
Other fun things to note from 2016 include being involved in a couple events associated with Omaha Metro Burn. Burn is a spontaneous and prophetic worship/prayer event with a body of believers. The purpose is to bring unity and transformation to that region. My heart is always for unity in my city, so it was awesome to experience leading worship with people from other churches in the area as different teams joined together to promote greater unity and vision for worshiping our Savior corporately all over our city.
The year also included some fun opportunities
to travel, such as traveling with my dad to Washington, D. C., and traveling with my family to Minneapolis, Minnesota. The trip to D. C. was filled with divine appointments. One such opportunity came when we visited the American Center for Prayer and Revival, situated directly across the street from the U. S. Supreme Court Building. At the prayer center, there are continual prayer watches as various teams and individuals come in to pray around the clock for our nation. We were greatly inspired by this and other opportunities that surfaced while on this trip. The Minnesota trip was a very refreshing and much-needed vacation for our family. We were able to spend time with friends we know up there and also extended family on my mom’s side, including a marvelous boat ride on Lake Minnetonka. I didn’t want that vacation to end!
There is so much more I could share, but I really have to conclude with one word that I have used several times in this letter already: faithfulness. Through the highs and lows of the year, God was always faithful and always true to His Word. The words of a song we sing at Kingdom Encounters come to mind: “You’re never gonna let me down, for You are good.”[i] With the tumultuous events in our nation and around the world this past year, many have called in to question the faithfulness of God and whether He really does care. While the journey is not over, and assuredly there are challenges yet to come, I have to believe that God does care and that for every challenge waiting, there is an even bigger victory around the corner. Keep pressing on, my friends, and don’t lose sight of the prize. Trust God’s character, and trust His faithfulness. He will never let you down.
Have a blessed and wonder-filled 2017.