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Through "The Basics with Beth," Beth Jones is helping people to live the life they love and love the life they live. Get the basics to live an empowered life!

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8 Lessons I Learned From Our Best and Most Challenging Year

Beth Jones

What does an anniversary, a grand baby, a wedding, an engagement, a blood clot and cancer have in common? They were the ingredients from which the Lord taught me eight big lessons! What did you learn last year? Hope these lessons encourage you...

Lesson #1: I learned that 30 years of marriage is a big deal. 
In August, Jeff and I celebrated 30 years of marriage.  Marriage is a blessing and it’s made up of daily choices to love the person you’ve committed your life to. Some days you feel the euphoria and other days it’s just a choice. Some days you are on the receiving end of that love and some days you are on the giving end--and most days you are on both ends. Marriage is a gift from God to love, to laugh, serve and share your life with another person! Jeff has been one of God’s best gifts to me. I’m glad we still like each other and I’m looking forward to the next 30! 

“The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 18:22

Lesson #2: I learned that EVERYONE thinks being a grandparent is the best thing ever. 
Last summer our daughter Meghan and her husband Brodie surprised us with the good news that we are having our first grandchild, a baby girl—in March 2017! We’ve watched our friends in the grandparent season become giddy, crazy-in-love people! We can't wait to welcome baby Hock and join the giddy, crazy-in-love grandparent club!  We welcome ideas and input on all the cool things we need to do with our grandkids!

“But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children…” Psalm 103:17

Lesson #3: I learned God loves our kids more than we do. 
Our daughter Annie recently got engaged to a great young man, Zack, and they are planning to get married in 2017. I love knowing all the spouses we’ve been praying for over the past twenty-five years! We didn’t know their names would be: Brodie, Kelsey, Alexa and now Zack, but we couldn’t be happier! They are God’s perfect pick for each one of our kids. I am thanking the Lord for the fulfillment of answered prayer.

“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

Lesson #4: I learned we could enjoy and release our kids to the Lord at the same time. 
Our oldest son Luke and his wife Kelsey live in Australia. They are students at Hillsong College and we were able to spend a few weeks with them last summer. Our kids live half-way around the world and we miss them; yet, we are happy to release them to God's plan and see them thriving, growing and maturing in life, in marriage and in ministry. I can’t put into words the deep joy and happiness I feel to see them and all of our kids loving and serving the Lord. All those years of “training them up in the Lord and the way they should go” are paying off now. I have a better understanding of what the Apostle John must have felt when he wrote these words…

“I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.” 3 John 1:4

Lesson #5: I learned the "empty nest" season brings excitement and a twinge. 
In October, our youngest son Eric married sweet Alexa and they are a match made in heaven. When he moved out of our house (for the final time), we got excited for his future (and ours!) and also felt that twinge. The twinge of “wow, the twenty plus years of raising kids is over." The noise, chaos, mess, craziness, motion, demands and activity came to a screeching halt! Will we like it? Will the house be too quiet? How often will the kids come over to hang out? 

Well, I am happy to report that for the most part we like being empty nesters. But sometimes, I do miss all the chaos, noise and people coming and going. To fix that, my husband and I decided we needed to start some new “chaotic” traditions for ourselves. So, we got crazy by playing Rummikub at night and turning Thursdays into date nights. We are also creating our Bucket List. So far, we only have one item: Play golf in every state in the USA…4 states down and 46 states to go! (If you’ve got good ideas on your bucket list, we’d love to hear them!)

“The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.” Proverbs 4:18

Lesson #6: I learned that not quitting is the secret to success and celebrating anniversaries. 
We pioneered Valley Family Church 25 years ago this past September. She has been like our 5th child in many ways––a huge joy and source of incredible satisfaction––while also challenging and demanding, at times. When we celebrated our 25th Anniversary as a church it caused us to think about all the seasons! We were so inexperienced and green when we started and yet full of vision. We made plenty of mistakes, but we did a few things right. We sought to build His Church by seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness––and we didn’t quit. We thought about the people that we’ve had the chance to know, lead, teach, love and pastor. Many have come, some have gone and more have stayed. While we’ve celebrated those whom the Lord sent out to other assignments, we’ve come to appreciate those He called to stay––especially those who didn’t quit. There is something divine about not quitting…just sticking around makes a difference. It's the secret to success and celebrating anniversaries! 

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33

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You can see we had many wonderful celebrations in 2016—two big anniversaries, a grand baby on the way, a wedding and an engagement––and we also experienced a few big trials. Jesus told us that in this world the storms of life come knocking on everyone’s door, but we could be of good cheer because He has overcome the world and given us the victory. 

Here are two more lessons I learned…

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Lesson #7: I learned I could rest in God's peace because God cares about my husband Jeff. 
For two years, Jeff had been dealing with a recurring infection that was more of a nuisance than anything––it didn’t slow him down and by God’s grace he pushed on through each time it flared up. In July, the Lord gave me a dream about an attack on Jeff’s life and at the end of my dream Jeff was the victor. When I woke up, I knew this dream had something to do with his health. 

Long story short, after the Lord led my husband to a particular doctor, he knew what the problem was and scheduled an immediate surgery. Surgery was perfect and the Lord blessed it. Jeff was on the mend with a 6-week recovery until one day he developed blood clots in his leg and a few in his lungs. As you may know, deep vein thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism are no joke. Even in the midst of an ER visit and overnight hospital stay, God’s great peace prevailed along with His joy and laughter and Jeff returned home to recover. Glad to report Jeff has fought the good fight of faith according to Psalm 103 and has been given the all clear from his surgeon! 

“Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!” Psalm 103:1-5

Lesson #8: I learned God loves me and always has my back even before I know I need it.
In October, I had an unexpected surgery for a rogue parathyroid gland. I had no idea what a parathyroid gland was until I found out one of mine was out of control due to spiking calcium levels. The Lord led me to national experts on parathyroid in Tampa, Florida where I had a successful surgery. 

While under, they saw some suspicious cells and also removed half of my thyroid. One week later, the doctor called to say the pathology report showed the thyroid to be cancerous. He felt certain they removed it all and gave me some instructions for follow up. I don’t know about you, but I never thought about how I would feel if I was ever told I had had cancer. When I heard the words, “Oh by the way, you had cancer, but we removed it before you knew you had it. So, no worries!” Let me tell you how I felt. I felt completely engulfed in God’s love. Not one worry. He had my back before I knew I needed His divine intervention. 

Six months prior, the Lord had given me a dream about a storm I would face, so I was able to be at rest and knowing the Lord loves me and had my back. There’s something nice about resting in the Lord and knowing, “It’s not that I loved God, but that He loved me.” I know it and I believe it. Since my surgery, I’ve been doing great––just wearing a lot of turtlenecks for the incision to heal up–-and being led by the Lord for follow up.

“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” 1 John 4:10

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There were a lot of other lessons in 2016. Life lessons. Relationship lessons. Ministry lessons. Church lessons. Family lessons.  All good stuff, but I am looking ahead to 2017 and fully believe it will be my best year yet, with Jesus at the center!

How about you? What lessons have you learned this past year and what are you expecting for 2017?