2013 was a wild one, that's for sure. I was going through my pics and loved revisiting some of the memories I made over the year. I realize people get quite annoyed with all the kodak moments I'm constantly capturing (with my super high-tech camera also know as my i-phone), but they really do help document my life and it's always so fun to look back, reflect, and remember the moments.
I never would have thought the first year of my 30s would be so full. I am surrounded by a community of believers that have been such a provision from God and provided so much joy and life. I got the amazing opportunity to travel to Spain and France - wow, what a whirlwind of beauty that was! God has taught me so much in the past year and much of it has been through suffering and/or experiences that have stretched me.
This hasn't been a completely carefree year, but it has been (without a doubt) the richest year I have lived on this earth. The Lord has truly been my provision and my portion (Psalm 73:25-26). He has shown me love through those around me, family and friends. He has revealed His hand on my life, moving and working in ways that have absolutely overwhelmed me. Don't get my wrong, my heart and flesh have failed over and over again, but His love never fails and never runs out. As obvious as this might be to most of you, I feel like this year brought me to a new level of gratitude for the gift of salvation--that HE chose me, the wretch that I am, to be in relationship with Him. Who am I that the Lord would think of me? And yet, He does. His thoughts toward me are too numerous too count (Psalm 40). Apologies if this is getting preachy, certainly not my intent, but just the overflow of my heart.
Through the ups and downs of 2013, I would say I am most grateful for the experience of breaking both of my wrists. I realize people break bones all the time, deal with injuries, or are going through much more difficult forms of suffering such as terminal illness; however, this is the most physical suffering I have personally experienced, so it is what I am able to talk about. That aside, I couldn't believe it happened, couldn't believe I had to have surgery (complete with plates and screws) on both wrists, and couldn't believe I had to rely on having people do pretty much everything for me (bathing, washing my hair, feeding me, driving me around, etc.). Talk about a MASSIVE piece of humble pie and an equally MASSIVE lesson on dependence - both of which are not my strong suits. I also couldn't imagine getting my wrists back to a working condition since they seemed to be frozen solid in a blade position. I mean, on the upside, it helped me perform a solid robot dance move, but I could only appreciate that for so long.
I won't pretend I had the best attitude in the world. I won't pretend I didn't get extremely frustrated. I won't pretend I didn't experience a lot of pain (including the pain of regret). I won't pretend I didn't ask why and I won't pretend I didn't cry at least once a day (including on a call with my vice president...low point, I tell you, low point). Nevertheless, I was stretched in my faith, got to witness God's love incarnate through the hands and feet that cared for me, and I was able to learn lessons in compassion, dependence, trust, humility, and gratitude. I will never be able to tell my family how grateful I was for their charitable acts of love and service during this time period. They swung into action immediately and never seemed to be burdened in the least. My mother graciously washed my hair. My dad prepared almost all my meals and served as my personal chauffeur. My sister was literally almost physically in the shower with me at times, but never once made me feel like an inconvenience. My sweet friend Meagan organized meal deliveries. My community came to visit since I was confined to my parent's home. My extended family sent flowers, notes of encouragement, and prayers. It was incredible and humbling to be shown Christ's love. I will never forget it.
All the while, I thought the injury was about me...about my spiritual growth and how I could learn and grow from the experience. I remember praying at the very beginning that I would not go through it unchanged. I desperately wanted good to come from the bad and I didn't want to be bitter or have a complaining spirit. Funny thing is, months down the road, the Lord revealed to me that it might have had very little to do with me. Because of my injury, I crossed paths with an individual who was in darkness and needed someone to bring Him back into community with other believers. I never would have interacted with this person had I not broken my wrists. Not too long ago, that individual let me know how God used me (as a broken vessel) to bring him back into the light as he had been in an extremely dark place. I didn't do anything - it was ALL God and His perfect plan. HOLY COW! I truly do not think I have ever seen such a tangible picture of God's hand moving and working to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28). I KNOW in my head that the Lord has a plan and a purpose for everything, but sometimes, these phrases just roll off the tongue and we say them mechanically without actual heart belief behind them. I remember my cousin telling me that my suffering would not be wasted, and gosh, how absolutely right was she. I was given a gift in 2013 to "see behind the curtain" -- to catch a glimpse of our all-powerful creator moving and working behind the scenes. To say my faith was strengthened would be an understatement and because of this, I can confidently say that breaking my wrists resulted in receiving one of the most beautiful gifts I have been given -- CRAZY!
Whew...if anyone is still reading - kudos! I suppose this has become less of a 2013 recap and more of just storytelling with Rachel. Nevertheless, I did want to share some of my favorite pics/memories of 2013, so here goes nothing: