A lot has happened in the past year. One of the most life-changing events was my husband's acceptance into the aspirancy program of the diaconate.
Things in our household have remained pretty much the same. I mean, the kids still go to school. I still teach piano lessons. My husband still goes to work every day. We're still very involved in our church.
Things in our household have changed a lot, though. My husband and I spend 4 hours every week on the drive to/from the seminary, and an additional 2 1/2 or more hours in classes. Of course, he has studying to do, papers to write, books to read...you get the picture.
Nietzsche has been quoted as saying, "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger." I'm no Nietzsche fan, but it is true. (Romans 5:3 says, "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope." So Nietzsche wasn't as original as he would have liked to think.)
This has been a year of tribulations for our family. Each of us has faced many situations which have tested our faith. It has been a time of battles, for sure. Of course, the coward in me wants to say, "God, please, just take it away!" And, of course, God wants me to pray for strength and perseverance.
I have heard the story of two trees. One was well-cared for and pampered. Planted in a private garden, it seemed to be strong and healthy. The other was planted on a high, lonely hill. It received moisture when there was rain. Other than that, it simply stood on the hill, bearing the brunt of the changing seasons. While shorter and more gnarled than the other tree, it still grew.
One day, a strong storm came. The winds blew fiercely, and the flooding rains poured. The garden tree bent and broke, then washed away. It's strength was not enough to hold it fast. The tree on the hill, however, stood firm. It bent and swayed, but its roots held it to the hillside. It had faced storms before, which had made it strong.
I pray that our storms have done this for us. I know only time will tell. We have a long road ahead of us. If accepted into the full diaconate program, my husband will have four more years of seminary. By the time he finishes, our youngest son will be a senior in high school! If he is not accepted, we will have more time of praying for direction.
Only God knows the road ahead. May the next year be one of growing, learning, and being ever-strengthened by Him.
I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.