31 December, 2014

Looking back at 2014

Almost a year ago I wrote a blog post about what we were looking at 2014 holding. It's really interesting to look back at these posts each year and reflect on what did and didn't happen.

The biggest surprise for the year was finding that we didn't have to pack up our whole household and move out. Instead we've had two teachers housesitting for us. That was a great relief in moving back to Australia, but even more that we can look forward to moving back into the same house (just rearranging the three bedrooms on the second floor).

In the post I wrote at the beginning of the year I resolved to reflect on Hebrews 12:1-3 each month on this blog. I didn't do so well at that (next time I'd choose a whole chapter, three verses were too few). However, in an interesting turn of events I found out last night that a meditation that I submitted before Christmas last year to The Upper Room magazine is slated for publication this time next year. That little piece was based on Hebrews 12:1-3.

One of the other things I mentioned in the above post was that at the time it was easier to list the things we'd miss in Japan while we were away for a year. What was harder was predicting the opportunities, the good surprises. Some of those thus far have been:
The car friends bought for us driving at the front of the school
our boys have the privilege of attending for these 12 months.
  • wrestling action for all three boys (and a significant gold medal for our eldest)
  • new friends
  • a house provided for much less than we anticipated and a car bought for us
  • a trampoline (first time our family has ever owned one)
  • many pieces of furniture and other furnishing that's been given to us for the year
  • driving lessons for our 15 y.o. (on a family property)
  • school camps/trips
  • guitar lessons and his own guitar for our eldest
  • opportunity for our youngest to try the trumpet six months earlier than his mates at CAJ in Japan can try band instruments
  • a growing interest in cricket
  • tickets to a live cricket match (World Cup, no less, in February)
  • both younger boys will have iPads for school use for the next six months
  • a growing first-hand appreciation for Australia (for our boys), including Western Australia
  • growth in resiliency (at least I hope that is what we're seeing)
There's just a few that easily come to mind. We have much to be thankful for.

We're half-way through our third home assignment, the third individual year we've spent in Australia since we left for Japan in November 2000. It's been wonderful to visit churches and individuals who've travelled with us for the last 14 or 15 years. That's a significant length of time to maintain a relationship where you don't see one another so often. Such faithfulness is worth giving thanks for. That is one the purposes for us being here this year: to say thank you.

But ultimately I need to say thanks to God. Here is a phrase that is repeated many times in the Bible:
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever" NIV.(For an example, see 1 Chronicles:16:34)

And finally, I shall heap all the praise that people keep trying to heap upon us, back onto the true deserver of praise:
If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11, NIV)

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