A Short End of Year List for a Hard 2017

The end of the year is the time for list making. I’ve read (and been encouraged by) many lists of books, blog posts, and favorite things. I’ve even created those lists in years past. But instead I am going to share the three things that the Lord used to sustain me this year. As I’ve shared before, this is the year that took us through the ringer in so many ways. Ben’s arrival into the world was traumatic (a word I don’t use lightly) and hard on our family in ways we are still processing. But even in the difficulty we have been encouraged by the Lord through people and through his word. I know that many don’t come to the end of the year with the mental or emotional bandwidth to take in a lot of lists and book ideas. Life is just too relentless, so if you find yourself in the midst of a difficult year, I pray these resources encourage you too.

The Psalms: Once we got to the hospital, and the pain from the placenta abruption subsided, I found myself unable to read anything in scripture except the psalms. Every single day was an emotional roller coaster, but the psalms gave me language for my emotions and pointed me to God and his character in the middle of uncertainty, overwhelming fear, and hovering over death. If you know me, you know that I’ve talked about the psalms nonstop since Ben’s birth. It’s because they’ve been such a balm for my soul that I can’t stop talking about them or reading them. I’ve told friends that God’s word has never been sweeter to me than it has been this year. If that’s the takeaway from nearly dying (and nearly losing my son), then, as hard as it is to accept, it’s worth it.

Struck by Russ Ramsey: I met Russ in April at the TGC National Conference and he kindly gave me a copy of his book. I didn’t know then, but I would need it desperately just six weeks later. His reflections on living after almost dying (and everything before, in between, and after) were God’s direct means of showing me I wasn’t alone in my questions and struggle to make sense of a new normal. His book is outstanding and I go back to it (and recommend it) often.

Dale Ralph Davis: I put him (not just his books) because there are too many to mention. I read one of his books on the psalms in the hospital and his commentary on Joshua, and his book on Abraham after coming home from the hospital. All of these (coupled with countless) sermons have been faith strengthening for me. I swear he wrote these books for me. If I ever met him, I would cry tears of gratitude for how God has used him in my life to remind me of who God is as revealed in scripture. I couldn’t process or read much in the hospital, but his words on scripture were a gift to me.

So there you have it, a small list after a crazy year. I’m ready for 2018, not because I have an expectation that it will somehow be easier than 2017. I have lived long enough to know that I have no guarantee of that. But I am reminded again that the God who ministered to me through these resources, who sustained me in the hospital, who brought my son (and me) safely through a life-threatening and complicated delivery, won’t leave me in 2018 either. And that’s a lot to look forward to.