Happy New Year, everyone! I hope that you all had a fun-filled and safe New Year’s Eve celebration…I’m sure it was a bit more eventful than ours. We have a house full of sick people, so no games were played or crazy videos made (a Miller tradition), just a quiet night watching two movies.
As many people do, I wanted to take time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the year to come.
2012 was a year of tremendous growth and change for Dave and I, and 2013 promises to hold even more change and growth.
In the past year we:
- Decided to move to Kaohsiung, Taiwan (read more on that here).
- Sold most of our earthly possessions and moved into my sister’s home
- Quit our jobs: Dave worked for the same wonderful non-profit organization for 4 years, and I had been teaching for 6 years
- Had to say goodbye to our beloved dog, Lily, whom we rescued from a shelter, nursed her back to health, and enjoyed for the past 2 years
- Struggled with months of infertility (more on that here)
- Found out in August that we were expecting a beautiful baby (girl!)
- Found out in November that our daughter may have a devastating chromosomal disorder called Trisomy-13 (more on that here)
I can honestly say I did not expect any of the events of the last year to happen. With each new change or hardship that arose I had to make a choice: freak out, or rely on God’s sovereignty. I wish I could say that I always chose the latter, but I did not. In the beginning of 2012 I definitely was relying too much on my own strength, on “signs”, and on what others said to me. But as God often does, He has used each of the bullet points listed above to strengthen my faith in Him, and draw me closer to Him.
Looking back on those bullet points I can now see how God was there in each situation, even though it didn’t always seem that way when I was in the thick of them. And it’s because of the assurance I have in a God that never changes that I can look to 2013 with courage and excitement.
In less than 3 weeks Dave and I will get on a plane to Taiwan (with a one-way ticket) and say goodbye to all that we have known for so long. There have been some people in our lives who have doubted our decision, especially with the recent news of our baby, but we are continuing on this journey anyways. Perhaps you are wondering the same thing: why would they move to a new country, quit their jobs, sell their things, and leave their family and friends?
Well, let me try and enlighten you. This past year my parents gave each of us kids a book called Radical by David Platt, and I can honestly say that it helped change my perspective on Christianity, especially “American" Christianity. Here are some quotes from the book that will help you understand our perspective in choosing to go to Taiwan. I encourage you to really read these, and not just skip over them!
"We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves"
"But do you and I realize what we are doing at this point? We are molding Jesus into our image. He is beginning to look a lot like us because, after all, that is whom we are most comfortable with. And the danger now is that when we gather in our church building to sing and lift up our hands in worship, we may not actually be worshiping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead we may be worshiping ourselves"
"The dangerous assumption we unknowingly accept in the American dream is that our greatest asset is our own ability. The American dream prizes what people can accomplish when they believe in themselves and trust in themselves, and we are drawn toward such thinking. But the gospel has different priorities. The gospel beckons us to die to ourselves and to believe in God and to trust in His power. In the gospel, God confronts us with our utter inability to accomplish anything of value apart from Him. This is what Jesus meant when He said, 'I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can nothing’ “
"This is how God works. He puts people in positions where they are desperate for His power, and then He shows His provision in ways that display His greatness"
"God blesses His people with extravagant grace so they might extend His extravagant glory to all peoples on the earth"
"Whereas disinfecting Christians involves isolating them and teaching them to be good, discipling Christians involves propelling Christians into the world to risk their lives for the sake of others. Now the world is our focus, and we gauge success in the church not on the hundreds or thousands whom we can get into our buildings but on the hundreds or thousands who are leaving our buildings to take on the world with the disciples they are making"
"The way we use our money is a barometer of our present spiritual condition. Our neglect of the poor illustrates much about where our hearts lie. But even more than that, the way we use our money is an indicator of our eternal destination. The mark of Christ followers is that their hearts are in heaven and their treasures are spent there"
And of course, above this wonderful book, is The Book where ultimate authority comes from.
Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"
Ezekiel 36:22-23 "This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes"
For Dave and I we couldn’t read those words and then go about leading our simple lives, working to gain money just to spend on ourselves, and ignoring what is really going on around us. I understand that God doesn’t call all of us to pack up and move to another country, but He does require sacrifice of us all.
So, that is why we are “taking the plunge” and jumping into an unfamiliar country with unfamiliar language, food, culture, customs, and people.
Looking towards the next year I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a bit afraid. I’m scared to be in the unfamiliar. I’m scared to give birth to a (possibly) very sick baby in a hospital in a foreign country. But I take refuge in my God, the same God who brought us through 2012 and will continue to carry us through all He has in store for us this year. That’s the wonderful thing about being a child of a Sovereign God: there are no surprises for Him. He will never be caught off guard or overwhelmed by the circumstances in our life, He will simply carry us through them.
I want to end this post with a couple verses that I hope will encourage you for the new year. Thank you all for your support and prayers in the last year, and I ask you do not forget the Ly family in 2013.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:6 and 8
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7