To be honest, reflection on a whole year is very difficult for me. I am not a big picture kind of person. I'm detail oriented and very compartmentalized. During a year, I will deal with a situation or season in life and then put it behind me. It does not blend into the next thing and to picture a whole year as a whole takes a lot of effort in remembering. In fact, because I put things behind me so completely, I sometimes forget the event altogether.
I do know that 2011 taught me many lessons. Much of it was difficult, but we were very blessed as well. Here I've attempted to list some of what I've learned in my past year.
1. At the beginning of the year last year, I decided my word for the year would be Consistency. I was really trying to develop some discipline in many areas of my life and this was how I was going to focus. Like many resolutions, I did really good until about April. While consistency won't be my focus word this year, it is something I know I still need to add to my life.
2. John's mom passed away in April. There's so much to say on this topic, but there's a lot to learn from watching a spouse go through this kind of loss. There's heartbreak and grief, but also a certainty that she is with her Savior and not in pain any longer. We learned the need to have grace with those around us and also the abounding love that our community has for us. While we were in Kansas several times during this period, our community cleaned our apartment, fed us, encouraged us, loved us and provided for us in ways I could not have even imagined to ask for. Their initiative and caring deeply moved us. At a time when it was difficult to justify living across the country from our families, God used the people in our lives to confirm that we are still where he wants us.
3. A terrible job and resulting unemployment. This summer was a rough one. While John was still grieving his mother, he was working at a most wretched company. I do not use that word lightly. I am still working toward forgiving the people he worked with for how they treated him. It had been bad for a while, but in April/May/June, it became unbearable. I will spare you the details, but in late May the stress started to make him physically ill and we went through a very trying week of praying through what the future held for him. God made it very clear that he should quit, even though there was no hope of another job lined up. John obeyed and was unemployed for June and July. I work part time, so our financial situation was a bit stressful, but I entered a time of relying on God that I had not experienced in a while. In an economy where unemployment could last months or years, God blessed us with John's new job as a Graphic Design/Yearbook teacher at a private Christian school August 1st. There are so many lessons for John in this story, but I'll let him blog about that. For me, it stretched my faith to new limits, deepened my trust in God's provision and allowed me a dependence on Him that normal life does not force me into very often. The worship song Always by Kristian Stanfill was introduced in our church during this time and my heart has sung that song so deeply that it will always have a special meaning for me.
4. Parenting. While Yemi has been one of the best decisions we ever made, this summer was an exceptionally trying time with her. During our stress of unemployment, her behavior was getting out of control and her temper tantrums were beyond what I knew what to do with. Beyond the typical 4 year old tantrums, there was an anger and an out-of-control kind of aspect to it that scared me. I learned so much about parenting, having grace and relying on people in my community who know more than I do. God also allowed John to start working just in time for us to get her into a wonderful preschool, which has given her the social and mental stimulation that she was so desperate for. We came to the other side of this and she is often very pleasant and funny and a joy these days.
5. Women's Retreat. On our annual women's retreat, Angel talked to us about our stories. To keep mine short, it was a wonderful time of God speaking to me and instilling a deep gratitude and appreciation for my own story. For full disclosure, I have often wanted a more “dramatic” story to share, but God let me see the beauty in my own story, that he is the Author and it is exactly as it is meant to be. I am still processing and learning how to share it boldly and use it for his glory.
A very full year for me and mine. I'm sure 2012 will be no different and I'm praying that at the beginning of 2013, I will be able to look back and see how I've become a deeper, wiser, more Christ like woman. Happy New Year!