Year in Review: A Look Back at 2019

**Scroll down for our HGF 2019 reflection pod**

When you think back on 2019, what immediately comes to mind?

CF: There are three answers to this question: The first and most obvious is Milo. His arrival into the world, no question, was the highlight of the year. The second and not as obvious is the phrase, “finished strong“. Granted, this was part of my 2017 answer, but it’s arguably been more applicable this year. Last but not least is the phrase, “hope realized“. As my next post will attest, I can’t recall a year where I felt so spiritually buoyant amidst great uncertainty.

LF: On the surface, one would think everything that happened this year involved situations I’d already experienced. But under the surface, everything that could wrong did go wrong, be it pregnancy, work, ministry, etc. That’s just how the year feels at first glance. Glass-half full, I’d say everything that could be different was different in 2019. The need for grace and deeper trust has rarely been so high from what I can recall.

What were some of the highlights/defining moments?

CF: Apart from Milo, I’d say our anniversary/missions trip to France, starting a TDOT Bible study, getting ordained with Messenger Fellowship, and the transition to Foundation Group round up the top four. Come to think of it, it’s crazy how my former employer fits into half these spots, but this only testifies to God’s brilliant and timely plan. Also, while this fall featured one of the more turbulent stretches we’ve known, the way we came out of it…I’d say was defining for our family as a whole.

LF: France, definitely. Losing two clients due to their need for in-house support. A very challenging pregnancy that impacted every area of life. Frankly, there were many defining moments this year, but most of them were taxing, testing, or both. Quite the opposite from last year.

How would you compare this year of marriage to years prior?

CF: From the onset, I sensed a leap not only in my understanding of intimacy but my appreciation of the little things. Call it a serendipitous surge, I feel 2019 has been our best start-to-finish year from what we were able to grow and persevere through. Obviously, as a newly crowned family of five, quality time and discussion are limited so expectations have to adjust. But this is offset knowing we’re pouring more into our co-workers, clients, and the kids under our care.

LF: This year had some of its sweetest moments for sure, some hard, some adventurous. Really a little bit of everything. All in all, the more life has put on us, the more refreshing the teaming has been despite its twists and turns. Blows my mind we’re almost to seven years already!

What lesson from 2019 are you eager to apply in 2020?

CF: God not only gives us everything we need for goodness and godliness but faith and fearlessness. As I used to tell LEGACYouth, when you abide in Christ, the way to ‘yes’ becomes clear even if the way out isn’t. This is especially true in the midst of great pain or confusion. We may be blindsided by disappointment, but trusting God books our next appointment.

Also, this is more awareness than lesson, but 2019 really exposed the fact I’d rather serve God than be close to Him. My halftime reflection piece unpacks some of this further…

LF: Resting in my weakness and learning not to strive. I had to learn these lessons the hard way this year, but I’m excited to build off them next year. I guess anytime you find yourself wanting to acknowledge weakness in a ‘You got this, God, I don’t‘ sort of way, good things will happen. One more reason to be flex and flow when things don’t go how you want them to go.

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What has surprised you the most?

CF: In few words, the setting of adversity. While it’s no surprise the year had its ups and downs, the places we found support and the places we didn’t were far and away the biggest shock to me. We’ll see how much shaking we experience as a family in 2020. For now, it’s nice to know the two places I spend the most time are places I love to be.

LF: In general, I agree. Perhaps not to that extent, but I see where you’re coming from. I’d also add there were many answered prayers this year, but it’s hard to classify them as surprises when all is said and done.

What do you hope you’ll be saying at this time next year?

CF: “Hello, Davidson county!“, “You have questions about the Charleston Principles? Yes, I can help with that!“, “Welcome, Cameron and Lyssah. We’ve been expecting you.”
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High Priest in a Manger: The Nativity As Seen Through Hebrews 4

‘Tis the season to be jolly…

…or so they say.

To exalt why we exist, to know freedom abundantly…

…yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before.

But if you’re like me these days…drained, disoriented…wondering when and where you are…unsure of most things status and standing…lend an ear.

‘Cause while I don’t have all the answers, I’m also not one to hide what I find. Even if it means going back to certain wells time and time again.

That said, a few weeks ago, I was glancing through Hebrews 4 when it hit me: While verses 14-16 are often attributed to genealogy and lordship, they also hold value in light of Christmas.

Don’t believe me? Well, let’s read together…

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Upon first look, it’s fair to say there’s not much Bethlehem and Messianic prophesy referenced in this passage. Granted, one could say the “great high priest” achieves the latter, but either way, odds are you’re not thinking Luke 2 when reading Hebrews 4.

However, when we take a deeper dive, we begin to see the significance of what “great high priest” means for us today. For instance, after emphasizing Christ as Word and the trust/rest dynamic in v. 14, note the critical turn in v. 15. As the Message translates, “We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.” Rather, He is able to understand our weaknesses and temptations because He not only conquered them but experienced them!

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From here, we begin to see how this passage pertains to Christmas. Before the Son of God could bear our sin in His body, the Son of Man had to be born into it. Before He could redeem us from the curse of the law, He had to establish His plan of grace. Before He could save us through the Cross, He had to love us through the manger. You get the picture.

Yet, even before the manger, Christ had to be our high priest relating to us before the beginning of time. In this way, His sovereign authority could craft a divine pathway for our eternal relationship and our fearless approach beforehand. After all, nothing takes God by surprise.

Of course, the theological layers run deeper, but for now, consider this. When we celebrate Christmas each year, we’re essentially saying…

… “Lord, I’m taking hold of your mercy, I’m entering your rest, I’m accepting your help, I’m renewing my mind…all because you loved us to know our flesh as flesh. And from that relatability, I can receive you in confidence as the center of my ability, humility, stability, tranquility, etc.

I love how the Amplified breaks this down…

Therefore, let us with privilege approach the throne of God’s gracious favor with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy AND find His amazing grace to help in time of need…an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment.”

Ahhh, at the right moment. Isn’t that what we’re always searching for? The right time, a right moment, the right one, even? And yet, so often we miss the fact Jesus is all these things. A perpetual reality punctuated by the incarnation, Jesus was our hope as a high priest before He became hope as a baby. Now we can live with Him in heaven forever all because once upon a time, a hope once deferred became the hope we cling to today.

Accordingly, for all you in despair, in a rut…a funk, whatever it may be, know this: Jesus came at the right moment so He could intervene for you at the right moments. Past, present, future…He never stops being a shining light of David directing our hearts to where His rest lies. As Paul states in Ephesians 2:14, “He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” All the more so, His light could enter, penetrate the darkness, and shatter the mold.

And so…as we wrap up another year, my prayer is that you’ll embrace this season and boldly enter into God’s best, His rest, and His next. For when you see the Cross behind the manger, you understand Christmas; however, when you see the priest in the manger, you’ll know the courage that can be yours as you invite into your weakness. How awesome it is to know Christ made Himself vulnerable so we could be vulnerable back? Not to mention with each other as we share the good news of His love in all we say and do.

Selah.

‘Til next time, may you know the hope that is yours and the breakthrough that will be yours this Christmas season.

Love you guys…

~ Cameron

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Cover photo creds: Renovare