Every year for the past several years I’ve identified a word for the year. I used to only choose a word for our church. Now I choose a word for our church and a word for our family. In the past the word has often been based on a concept or an idea that I couldn’t get off my mind. It usually spawned from lessons The Lord was teaching me the final couple months of the previous year. I’ve always want this word to provide us with a unified sense of purpose and direction for the coming year - in one case for our volunteers and staff, and in the other for my family.
You see, several months after Amanda passed I wrote something in my prayer journal: Lord, if you ever bring me another wife here’s what I ask for, that she loves you more than she loves me, that she loves me, that she loves Weston, and that she loves Amanda.
Last Friday, October 27th, our family stepped into a significant season of this journey. As many of you may have heard, Jalen Watson (one of the men on trial for Amanda’s murder) officially submitted a plea agreement. I purposefully took a little time before I commented on this because unless you’re walking through it it’s impossible to understand what something like this does to you emotionally.
On January 22nd, 2018 my father-in-law, Phil Byars, and I are leading a 9-day tour in Israel. This will be my second trip to Israel. My first was with NewSpring Church and was led by Perry Noble and Brad Cooper. They invited me to go April of 2016, five months after Amanda passed. It was so amazing I decided I had to go back and lead a trip! I’d love to invite you to come with us, but let me first tell you why I’m going back:
You see I truly believe The Lord does something powerful through relationship and connectivity. I believe it’s one of the main ways he shows us He’s in our situation with us. I believe it’s one of the best ways to show us He’s walking through the valley of the shadow of death with us. Although we can’t tangibly see God and not many of us have actually heard his audible voice, He places His representatives—His ambassadors—other Christians with similar stories in our paths to remind us he sees us and knows our situation. He wants us to know He hasn’t left us alone but that he’s working it all out for our good in His master plan.