Do you get giddy over the wide-open spaces and hopeful expectation a gleaming, blank-paged calendar presents each new year? For me, it’s a time to ‘start over,’ if only on paper, and I expect to fill the pages with marks of a life well-lived and well-loved.

Yet, the last two and a half years have been unexpected. They’ve left my spirit longing for the hopeful expectation of newness and life being ‘right.’

Through unexpected loss of finances, the unanticipated death of a friend, sudden role changes in ministry, having two children move to ‘adulthood’ and struggling through physical and mental health challenges, I have been grieving.

This grief brought me face to face with my mortality. Pain collided with ‘my’ plan for life, and it left me spiraling. I pushed people away and retreated into some pretty dark places.

In the last year of just-barely-keeping-my-head-above-water, my soul has craved those gleaming white pages to set goals and see direction.

I’ve moved from the spiraling, dark places of last year to wrestling with “Who am I becoming?”

I realized if I get to live to the age of my grandmothers, I hit half my life this past year! I’m middle-aged and feel like I have no clue who I’m supposed to be!

For years, I’ve embraced my purpose to “Know God and Make Him Known.”

But now…how do I do that in this new season?

About 10 years ago, Isaiah 43:19 illuminated for me. I emerged from a season of abuse and was in a season of newly-married with little kids and bonus-parenting. Then, too, I was trying to figure out, “Who am I becoming?” God’s words to the Israelites resonated with me.

“Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” (NLT)

God had brought the Israelites through the long, hard season of slavery and bondage and once again was doing something new in them.

His path through the wilderness and rivers in the desert would be even greater! God was faithful to defend, provide and care for them. Eventually, He sent His Son to offer the ultimate redemption and restoration for which their (and our) souls were desperate!

Seasons repeat. Life changes and moves on. It can be hard and it’s sometimes not lovely. It hurts. It’s even unexpected. BUT, He doesn’t leave us alone in the hard, the ugly, the hurts or the unexpected!!

He is with us, and if we seek Him, it can leave us with marks of a life well-lived and well-loved.

In the unexpected, we find His hopeful expectancy of who we are becoming.

Look for it. Embrace it. Rest in it.

Meet…Chandalee Chrisman!

Chandalee and Keith have called Stuart Heights Church ‘family’ for almost 20 years. She has served as the Women’s Ministry Director for most of those. They have two young adults in college and one in high school. Chandalee has a passion for Biblical history and equipping women with tools and confidence to study Scripture on their own. Teaching the Bible is her ‘sweet spot,’ and loves that God has given her the opportunity to do that on a regular basis! Chandalee fills her days with books of all genres, writing and exploring new gluten-free recipes!