Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Keep on Keeping On

 As many of you know, I love getting Christmas and New Year cards--seeing pictures and hearing stories of how friends are doing from all seasons of our lives.  I traditionally send out a card and a letter, but I have been hit and miss these past few years due to my health. When I do send out a card, I always choose a word that best encapsulates the previous year for our family. Looking back on 2017, I struggled to find a word that really fit the ups and downs we dealt with as a family. But as I spent time in prayer and reflection, the word that came to me to describe the Loy family in 2017 is PROVISION. Here is a little review of our family and how God provided for us last year.

I do not want to spend a lot of time focusing on the bad and the ugly, so I will start with it, and get it out of the way. 2017 absolutely sucked when it came to my health. I could go on and on, but good Lord, I promise to spare you. In a nutshell, I spent most of the year feeling less than 50% most of the time. I had complications from a surgery in 2016 which led to another surgery in June 2017 that had many more complications. At the same time, my doctors found another tumor in my lung, so I had a second surgery in August with a very difficult recovery. What I discovered? I am getting OLD. Nine surgeries in three years has taken its toll on me—and I don’t bounce back as well as I would like. I did a lot of crying out to God, a lot of dropping to my knees in prayer, a lot of cussing and shouting…and a little bit of punching and throwing things. Yet in my pain and suffering, God provided. He provided love, comfort, and strength in the hardest of times. And even if I couldn’t see it during the darkness, He revealed it to me in the light.

Despite my poor health, “we kept on keeping on.” One thing I have learned with cancer is that you push on and live the best you can. Our greatest joy of the year was traveling to Uganda (our second home) with all four of us. Noah and I were thrilled to share our love of this place and these people with Greg and Micah—and they jumped right in, working alongside and embracing our Ugandan family. To quote from a card Micah gave to me: “Thanks mom for sharing the most joyful place on earth with me.”  The village we have adopted has been transformed by Christ, and the villagers who have endured so much pain and tragedy display the renewal of the Lord in their hearts and their homes. God provided for us to travel there and he gave us travel mercies (despite some crazy bus stories). I can say with certainty that this was one of the top experiences of all our lives and we cannot wait to return in 2019 to plant a new church.

God provided for Greg’s company which continues to flourish and grow. He provided for our church, Risen, as we head toward our official one year anniversary of being a new church plant. God has provided for us financially to pay for my health bills while at the same time paying college tuition for Noah. He is in his third semester at Colorado State Fort Collins—fully involved in Young Life—is a leader at the local high school and lives in a house with guys in his Bible study group. Micah is a junior and beginning to pare down decisions of his top colleges to apply for in the fall. He is involved with leadership and ASB at his school and has become a fashion diva with hopes to create his own clothing business in the future.  I would say that he got his fashion sense from his mama, but his taste is much more expensive than mine!  He is also involved in Young Life and hopes to serve at work crew this summer. God’s provision for our boys has given them a great community of friends and mentors who pour into them and help them navigate their faith as our whole family has struggled with the difficulties of my illness.

One of the joys of being a former Young Life and Youth Director and teacher is that we have many life long relationships with sweet young ones. We had the joy and honor of attending six more weddings and I have affectionately called these the #weddingofthemonthclub. We get to witness the love and hope that still exists despite the broken world around us. God provides grace and hope to us through young love and marriages grounded in Christ.

We also had some fun travel adventures. We went to Atlanta and Columbus, Georgia in the spring for my annual college reunion with my forever friends from my Resident Advisor days at UCSB. We also got to see Greg’s cousins and my friend Kendall. The Coca Cola Museum was fascinating! Noah and I went to Oregon for my niece Gracie’s high school graduation. We made a few trips out to visit Noah in Fort Collins. He sure picked the best college town—such a beautiful and fun place to visit. And lastly, we capped off the year with Christmas in Puerto Vallarta—my “happy place.” I am in awe at how God provides us with his creation to reveal His majesty. We are blessed that we get to explore the many places God has designed for us to enjoy.

But the most beautiful thing that God has provided for us is the gift of community. He created us for real, authentic, vulnerable relationships with other people. We have seen God’s provision through the lens of community—friends walking alongside us in the suffering and in the joy. Friends and family near and far praying for us and praising with us. A church family that has a blast together and who extend grace to one another. Friends who laugh uproariously together, and who work together to seek God’s truth and behold his glory. Friends who love with words and with action. Because of God’s provision we are truly #bettertogether.

As you head into 2018, the Loy family prays that you will experience God’s provision in your life. We pray that you will experience His provision the way the Israelites did in the desert. God gave them just enough manna to make it through one day. If they tried to hoard it, it would rot. Sometimes there are days when we try to control what God provides and take it into our own hands (okay, every day), but God promises that he will provide.  Sometimes that provision is simply HIM—his Holy Presence. May you feel his peace, his provision, and his presence.

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