31 December, 2012

Happy New Year!

It seems that the older I get, the faster time flies, and I have to say that 2012 has been an absolute blur as it flew by so fast. As I sit here and reflect on the past year, my emotions run the gamut, from laughter to tears. Though it all, I have to say that it has been a good year for the Garrett family, and GOD has blessed us beyond measure. We've walked through some pretty deep trials this past year, but God has brought us through in ways that have been absolutely miraculous as God proved his faithfulness to our family. 
2012 has brought some changes and challenges to our lives, our family and our church. We've seen many people leave our church over the past year and I heard that one person gave a "word of prophecy" in which God had supposedly revealed to them that Harvest Church would be closed in less than a year and that our family would move away within a few months. Well, the year has come and gone since these words were spoken and we are still here, the church is still alive and kicking and lives being transformed. All I can say is that the person who prophesied such nonsense is clearly a false prophet or a liar, or both.  Nuff said on that subject.  
In 2012 we have faced struggles and through those struggles we've seen God's supernatural provision. I won't go into it all, but we saw, both in our church and in our personal finances a tremendous loss of income, but God has provided in both situations in absolutely miraculous ways which has taught me personally how to trust him more than ever. We close out the year for the church and on a personal level with all bills paid and walking into the new year with renewed faith that with God, all things are possible, and that he is not limited by what we can see with the natural eye. I believe that our kids had their faith strengthened this year as well as they witnessed the miraculous way in which God provided for us. For that, I must say that it has been well worth the struggle, as I want my kids to be "water walkers" in their walk of faith.
Daniel was blessed this year to be hired on for Sprint, where he does their tech and repair work and makes a very good living, especially for a "kid" in college.  He has taken some time off from school but plans to return next fall to finish up his degree. Ashley is in her Sophomore year at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. She went through a really tough time in the fall of 2012. She was sick for more than 6 weeks, then had to have her wisdom teeth cut out, with one of those developing into dry socket. She was so sickly, had lost weight and was becoming depressed, so she withdrew from school for the semester to come home and recoup. Even in this, she saw God work on her behalf, as the school officials decided to refund every penny she had spent for school, which was a HUGE financial blessing and load off of her mind! When she came home and her strength returned, so too did the bubbly, bouncing Ashley. I still laugh and rejoice when I think about the day that she announced to the world on Facebook, "I've got my joy back!"  Boy, did she ever. The Bible tells us that "the joy of the Lord is my strength." I believe this is more firmly entrenched in Ashley now than it ever was before. She left us today to return to school, and even though I cried when she left, I was so happy because I saw the real Ashley back that car out and drive down the road, and tonight daddy does not have one worry about her this semester. (You go girl!)
This year has gone so much better for Libby on her job. It's still stressful. You cannot teach at an inner city school and not face stress. But she loves what she does, and that makes it all worth while. Of course the administrative red tape is headache upon headache, but I'm married to one strong woman! (By the way, we celebrated our 27th anniversary 3 days ago... I'm a blessed man!)
We've said good bye to some folks as close friends left the church do follow where they believed God was leading them. That was hard, but we've made it, and God never takes one thing away unless he sends a replacement, and he certainly did in this case. We've also said good bye to loved ones who left this life. This year was really tough in that regard. I've said good bye to way too many of my friends this year. People are not supposed to die that young. Three friends from my youth and school days, a college friend, and 4 ministerial friends, one of them who was one of the closest friends I've had in all of my life who was my friend for the last 20 years all left us in 2012. Another church member who I'd known for more than 40 years died recently and of course, our families dog, Rowdy also died this fall. I'm hoping 2013 does not hold so much death in store for us, but I have to say again, through it all, God has been there, and He has been faithful.
So, as we get ready to cross into the year 2013, I'm filled with hope, optimism and energy! I am believing that God has some incredible things in store for us, both personally as well as in the ministry. I'm more excited than I can recall being for any year in a long, long time. I don't do resolutions, but I do have some goals. The past couple of years I've pulled off some weight and this year I'm going to take it another notch. I have set a goal of losing 15 pounds more this year, while increasing my exercise and raising my good cholesterol to the level my cardiologist wants it. I've been tinkering at writing for several years now, and I have 3 books on the burner. I have a goal to have at least one of those books published this coming year. I've also been messing around with photography now for several years as more of a hobby than a business, but this year I am launching it further and it's my goal to at least double the income from my photography. Perhaps the biggest goal I have involves the ministry. God has been challenging me to stretch my wings, and this year I'm going to begin speaking more away from my own church. In recent weeks I've been invited to preach in Kenya, and if God provides the means to do so, then I will go. I'm also going to begin preaching short, mid-week revivals. I've already had a couple of people contact me and if we can work out the details I'm going follow where the Lord leads.  Another goal is to finally put together a Christian based 12 Step support group sponsored by our church. I've wanted to do this for years, but the time has come and we are right now working on preparations to launch this by Spring. There is more, but I won't bore everyone with all the details. You may wonder why I've put this much out there. Well, because by doing so, and stating what my goals are, I've now made myself accountable to others.  It's my goal to be a blessing to others wherever GOD leads me.  
So 2013... Here We Go!
I wish you well and great blessings, this New Year! Fiscal cliff or no, God is in control and He WILL take care of His own! Put your trust in Him and not in Uncle Sam!
Blessings from our house to yours for a wonderful, blessed and prosperous new year!  
With love and gratitude,

No comments: