On the first day of 2020, my heart longing for movement found itself at the edge of the woods. I had carried a chair to the end of a long path and sat as the words in me were poured out to God. 

Trees around me screamed winter. I desired the florals of spring, the fruit of summer, and the harvest of fall. I struggled to see the beauty in my own inward winter season.

I was clenched onto hope in Jesus, serving Him constantly, and in a season of preparation. I was no longer letting hurts from the summer hold me. I was prayerful for how the Lord would place me at Liberty in His timing.

“Restoration” was the word branded on my heart for this year. 

While at the woods on January 1st, Isaiah 35:6-7 (CSB) brought clarity to me.

“Then the lame will leap like a deer,

and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy,

for water will gush in the wilderness,

and streams in the desert;

the parched ground will become a pool,

and the thirsty land, springs.

In the haunt of jackals, in their lairs,

there will be grass, reeds, and papyrus.”

Do you desire to see water gush in the wilderness places of your life?

Winter often symbolizes a period of time where room is being made for the next harvest.  I have been learning that seasons of inward rest are necessary if we are going to give God space to enlarge our hearts.

Without sitting with Jesus, His hands will not have the opportunity to change, cleanse, and call us into new things.

As I started my second semester at the community college in January, I quickly realized the need for light in dark places. I had never felt the pain and hurt of others so strongly. My classmates were lost, lonely, looking for hope, and needing to know their imperishable worth.

In a science classroom full of worldly patterns of thinking, the Lord showed me the power of His light. Although I wanted to drop the class, He said, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5 NIV). 

I gained a heart and passion for walking alongside of the lost while leading them to the Light.

Cultivate Girls ministry was thriving. The Lord always provided themes, messages, and food for each monthly event. We had over twenty girls for a sleepover in January! We did real life together and worshipped Jesus. We wanted His breath to be over any dry areas in our lives. He calls dead things to life.

In February my lovely mentor came to my home where all of the Cultivate girls gathered. Mrs. Allison reminded us of the importance of daily having a relationship with Jesus. She also magnified the importance of doing romantic relationships according to the Lord’s standard. His desires and boundaries are never to harm us but to help us receive everything good in His timing.

I had my wisdom teeth removed in March and left school for spring break. Little did I know that I would never return to Pitt for the semester. Covid became visible in the United States. It was not just a phenomenon in other countries that we heard about on the news. The hustle and bustle lifestyle of ours was rocked. Our core values were exposed and our hope could not be in the materialistic things we had placed it in. Along with learning how to limit the amount of toilet paper squares to use, I saw real fear in some of the people I love most. 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)  is a target against the enemy. It boldly declares, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Pastor Aaron Kennedy showed me that God gives three spirits to combat the one of the devil. Our God is always most powerful!

I sought after Jesus in my family’s renovated gameroom. I desired to still lead my Cultivate girls well in the midst of an unexpected season. Where do we turn when there are real outages and everything along with everyone seems to be desperate? Do we still praise God for His abundance in our lack?

Cultivate girls ministry was not stopped. We met more and reached new girls while our efforts were done online.

By the end of the school year, I saw Jesus sustain His children and me in completing 19 credit hours!

Miraculously I witnessed Jesus’ plan unfold in giving me provision for my Liberty journey that would start fall 2020. That was HIS TIMING, the WORK OF GOD ALMIGHTY’S HANDS, and a TESTAMENT OF FAITHFULNESS in my Father answering prayers! My family stood in awe and knew without a doubt that God had a journey at Liberty planned for me in such a time as this.

In the summer, I saw the Lord remove my plan to take summer classes. He continued to bring Cultivate girls back together in person and we rejoiced in seeing God work in a young adults group as well.

Instead of having a calendar full of summer events, I was able to love on my granddaddy. He shocked us all in having a heart attack. The Lord met us in moments of uncertainty, and I was home to spend quality time with granddaddy as he recovered.

One of my favorite memories from this year was my family going out to eat with my granddaddy right before I moved. It was a picture of God’s restoration. The picture above was from his birthday before the heart attack!

August marked the month I moved! I had lived in the same house forever and relied on God for the courage to step into my next calling. 

From my experience, God’s plans are not usually convenient or easy. They stretch us. Our God is larger and more magnificent than our brains can comprehend. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). We are constantly challenged to be stretched while He takes us from glory to glory. I don’t think of glory to glory as an upward series of victories. In my own life, God’s glory has both been seen and magnified in the valleys and mountain tops. 

Jesus desires to carry and lead us in walking through every sort of climate. He loves you when your heart is in full bloom and producing flowers for His Kingdom. He loves you in heat and hard moments where you wonder if you will ever survive. He is the cooling water to your dehydrated moments. In the heart moments of fall, Jesus shows you the beauty of persevering in previous months. He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). In the winter, your Father reminds you that your efforts will fail and He is the sustainer and giver of life. His love is not given more or less based off of how much we produce. He calls us to rest. He delights in our steps as we get close and sit with Him.

I realized the freedom of sitting with Jesus while at Liberty this year. I showed up realizing that every day was a gift and that everyone I met mattered immensely to God.

When impatience sought to destroy me, my Savior showed me His mission for my season. Loving Him and loving people was what He wanted me to do. I was freed from figuring out the future and witnessed God’s beauty in being present with the people He placed round me. 

I experienced daily life with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I cherished every conversation, coffee, prayer, or walk with my dear friends. 

The Lord’s goodness is pursuing you and me, my friend! Are you running or allowing yourself to sit with Him?

No matter what is taken, Jehovah’s love remains. 

No matter what is broken, the Healer can save.

No matter what is dry, His power will not pass you by.

I am thankful for Jesus and you in this 2020 year.

Much love,

Haley Wade

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