Rachel Jenae

This time last year I was spending time with my grandmother in her last days here on earth.  It was the hardest and sweetest moments wrapped up in one.  Watching her “let go” of this life and watching her family let go of her, watching our family wrestle with the emotions and the reality; with heaven and earth, the seen and unseen, each in their own way, was the most interesting (for lack of a better word) thing to behold that I’ve ever experienced. I felt closer to the heart of God than ever in my life. Closer to His comforting arms, closer to His Fathering hand, closer to His whispering voice, “it is well.” He was and is Emmanuel, God with us.  That was the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014.

Now another year has past I am overwhelmed by the grace and love I feel in this moment reflecting on this year-a grace that God has surrounded my life with.  Grace extended again and again and again.  A tender care that makes me love Him more. It’s His care for the details; the aches, the bruises, the dreams, the unspoken prayers…His love is like no other.  Each year I am amazed at His care for my family and the friends I get to walk through life with. It’s been a year filled with A LOT.  As I began to look back at all this year held I realize how much I’ve already forgotten, Sierra Leone, my dad finding out he had tumors on his liver and then that they were benign, living with family friends, a job and house transition, not to mention world events-ebola in West Africa then coming to Dallas, Isis in the middle east, war in Russia, Syria and other places… 2014 was not a year we will forget quickly.

So in usual fashion I’ve done a lot of reflecting over the past year and putting together what I don’t want to forget.  There were 4 words and passages God gave me for 2014…Favor (Ps. 102:12-13), It’s Time (2 Cor 6:2), Inheritance and Rest (Heb 4). And last, the passage that resonated all throughout the year was Is. 61:1-3. What a year it was! Here is the recap!

We celebrated my beautiful Grandma Foil in early January and I got to spend more time with extended family from all over the country.

Birthday festivities at the end of January were exceptionally grand this year as nearest and dearest friends warmed my heart with their love and joy in celebrating this life!

I continued living with my adopted Texas family-that I’d moved in with in October of 2013-and it was an incredibly peace-filled season overflowing with laughter. I just love these people and can’t say enough about their open door and open hearts. They embraced me 9 years ago, invited me into their lives and have encouraged my life through so many seasons. Every year I meet up with these beautiful JBU college girlfriends and while this year’s trip was shorter than we all liked, being together is always worth the effort.  They fill my bucket as only long, deeply-invested, friendships can.

Following one JBU friend reunion was another, as I helped co-hosted a wedding shower for a dear college friend Leah and soon-to-be husband, Phil.  It was such a fun weekend seeing old faces and celebrating these two incredibly genuine and beautiful people!

Back to Dallas, but March was filled with no shortage of visitors…my younger brother’s fam came to visit, my dear friend from Washington and then the older brother’s fam. 

The end of March I finally got my prayer request to go back to Africa! It was quite possibly the hardest trip I’ve been on to-date. I’ve never been on a trip that caused me to wrestle so much with my inability to bring about change. I fell in love with the children-especially the little boys-something about reading the history of heartache for young boys through the war. To see my American mindset on “fixing” things to make them “better” and how most of the time that just meant making it look American, but not actually changing souls and destinies.  I wanted them to not suffer, rightfully so, but did I want it more than their souls? I wanted to fix all of their problems. I wanted God to and He wasn’t.  At least not at the rate I wanted Him to. (A good sign that you may have patience issues) I saw such wide devastation from politics, to government, to cities, communities and families-there was no escaping it. Ripped apart by a harsh, harsh world.  But I also saw two missionaries laying down their lives year after year for these people. Nothing convenient about it. No quick fix in sight-just truth in action, loving the people, day in-day out. I saw good, good news going forth.  More on all of that here.

Easter weekend at the parentals. 

Spring was delightful in Texas.

My mother came into town for our yearly women’s conference.  

I’ve come to love Father’s Day more than most holidays-simply because I get to go hangout with my dad and it’s just us doing whatever he wants.  Long talks, simplicity, reminded of the country and quiet and stillness he gets to enjoy every day, him showing me what he loves and inviting me into it.  We’re very different, but we’re also very much alike.  My dad is a an incredibly strong man. He’s not loud and entertaining and sharing his thoughts with everyone like I often do, but he has a inner strength, an inner perseverance, a determination like I’ve rarely seen.  He’s always learning and growing. He’s one of the kindest men you’ll ever meet. Genuinely kind. It’s been a big year for my dad as he’s walked through a lot of health related issues and one by one we’ve seen God’s faithfulness to resolve each one!  Bottom line, I love my dad.

Summer.  This summer was quite mild and for that I’m incredibly grateful.  Volleyball, and park concerts were big on the agenda! 

4th of July festivities!

Then in the end of July lots of transition came.  I transitioned from my position at Gateway Church for the last 2 1/2 years in the Media department to The King’s University as a Marketing Project Manager.  It was a hard decision to make, but time nonetheless. 

I also moved into the cutest little home with two new roommates. It was a season full of lots of transition and if I’m honest I’d say it was definitely not my best transition. But I’m grateful for grace. I found a whole new level of gratefulness for gracious people and a reminder that our failings, weaknesses, shortcomings and seasons of life do not define us unless we let them.  Get up and move on.  Be gracious with yourself.

Then it was time for my beautiful friend Leah’s wedding festivities in CO!

Fall. My favorite time of year was finally here. Old things falling away. Colors exploding in the transition. Spending time with dear friends, flag football, and reminders to rest.

One thing this last year held, was a lot of more of worship.  There really is nothing like it. Nothing compares to being in God’s presence. Nothing ever will.  It’s a place of refuge. It’s a place of healing. It’s a place of rest. When we praise Him-choose to lift His name above every other thing in our lives, choose to lay everything down at His feet, choose to look to Him alone…we get a glimpse of what we were truly made for-Him.  To know Him.  To walk with Him as friend, as son and daughter, and so much more! This life was meant to be a great adventure with Him. God opened the door for me to get involved again with worship a little over a year ago and I’ve learned more in this past year than I ever knew I could.  More about sacrificial praise. More about bowing low.  More about His heart for us and how we could never earn His love.  I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity to serve along some incredible worshippers and watch peoples lives changed as we welcome God’s presence.

I made a quick trip home for my youngest niece’s first birthday and we celebrated in style! We are definitely not for lack of personality in the Tankersley family.

I then headed up to my ole alma mater, John Brown University, for homecoming weekend. Lots of rugby was played and Alumni won again!

Before I knew it Gateway Conference was here. The last couple years I have overseen the Ministry Expo and was excited to see it come together new and improved for 2014!  The conference as always was incredible and God showed up to teach, change and transform lives. It’s easily one of my favorite times of the year at our church as friends from all over the world come in for our Bless Weekend (global/missions/outreach recap) and then stay a few days for the conference as well.

A few short weeks later I headed to Illinois for a white Thanksgiving to see my dad’s side of the family.

Then came the season of Christmas festivities!

Then came Christmas break and my entire family headed up to spend Christmas in Winter Park, CO! We spent time in a cute little cabin in the woods and I was reminded of how incredibly dear these moments in time really are.  All together, safe, healthy, enjoying life, laughing, making wonderful memories… it is a beautiful blessing.  Our family is far from perfect, far from sainthood, and there are always things we’re working on, but God’s sweet faithfulness to us year after year is so evident.

In summary this year was about grace and patience.  Receiving it for myself first and foremost.  Letting myself off the hook.  Screwing up again and again and choosing to let it go and try again. Remembering patience is one of the greatest forms of grace we can give ourselves and others. Patience to learn and grow at our own pace.  Patience to endure. Patience to mature. Patience to let others be where they are and still love them fully, walk with them through and remind them this is not where they will always be.  Reminding yourself that.  God’s grace and patience with me this year is hard to measure, but abounding nonetheless. His favor. His favor through all of the hard things to bring about patient endurance.  From beginning to end this year had His favor all over it.  God ended the year whispering a simple reminder, “You’ve been loved well, remember?”  Reminding me to not react as the world would to situations and circumstances, but to first remember what I’ve been given. He who has been forgiven much, loves much. And that’s how I want to enter the next year, with that reminder and asking the question, “do you love MUCH?”

This year was also about remembering. Randomly throughout the year I would hear God ask me, “Remember…” and immediately a memory would come to mind of a season of life. A memory from childhood and that one time I planned to run away and God talked me out of my anger and turned me back home. A memory of a lost best friend, betrayal, heartache and how God mended and softened that heart of stone.  A memory of anxiety, fear and panic and God holding my hand leading me to freedom.  A memory of a broken relationship that I had no vision for getting fixed and God year after year working to restore.  Most people, myself included, look at other’s and the season they’re in and judge it for face value.  Completely forgetting they have a story too. A back story that got them to this point today.  I’ve had this done to me and I know I’ve done it to others, but moving into a new year I want to start asking more questions, listening more and stop assuming and judging the face value of other’s current season of life.  Good or bad I want to never forget my own seasons and how God walked with me through them.  They are the testimony of His faithful love.

So, 2015, while I wasn’t sure I was going to hear much about you, here’s what I’m feeling about ya. Bring it on!

  • Hope is just around the corner. Rom 12:12
  • “And this hope will not disappoint.” Rom 5:5
  • “This is God’s year to Act.” Luke 4:19 MSG
  • Declare praise around your Jericho walls and they will fall.
  • God’s always protecting you in every closed and open door.
  • It’s a year of hope and to hope again.
  • The silence of God was not His displeasure, but His development.
  • 2014 was a year of tests and targeted attack-you can spot God’s favor by the attack on your life.
  • 2015 will be a year of joyous jubilee!

 

 

PAST YEAR’S IN REVIEW: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013