...yup I am that type. I like that our family has random traditions like having an appetizer/finger food dinner while we open gifts, I like that my home church keeps the Dutch tradition of singing "Glory to God" after the annual Christmas program (we don't sing it in Dutch though, we're good Canadians that way) ...I have my own silly tradition of putting up a "tree" that consists of a couple fake branches in a vase and always has to be topped with a bow, rather than a star... I guess it's the remembering part that I like about traditions. I had a hard time remembering what I did last year for New Year's, but when we keep up our little traditions they bring back memories for me. The tradition of choosing a word for the year helps me to remember in a different way. I guess it's a moment of looking back and looking for some particular way the Lord has led me and is teaching me. Click on the "one word" label at the bottom of this post if you want to see the words I've chosen for past years.
This year's word is simple, and I think of it in two ways:
God is faithful, and as He continues to take over my life I'm realizing in new ways that I can't control my life, I can't do enough to get the results I want, but God is pleased when His children love Him and love others in whatever circumstances they're in. In other words, I just have to be faithful where I'm at. I don't need to figure everything out.
This year, I:
understood my weakness and my need in new ways. When I ended up in the hospital for three days after an infected tooth reacted badly to a root canal, I was left physically weakened so much that I could hardly walk at first. I've never been seriously sick before, so that was a first for me. I was so thankful for the way the Lord showed His care for me through countless small and large kindnesses shown to me by my church, coworkers, friends and family in that time. All year I've been less resilient than I'm used to being. It's hard to remember that for whatever reasons my physical reserve is lacking and I can't push myself. I'm slowly learning to listen to my body and slow down or go to sleep, and emotionally, not to spend too much time alone, to try to make more space for laughter and silliness.
Speaking of laughter, this year I gained a new title: Aunt Lizzi! My niece Lydia made her appearance last January, and she is very beloved by all her family and friends. We are all enraptured by her, and it's so fun to see my little sister and her husband as parents. They are doing such a wonderful job. Lydia reminds me that time passes quickly, which is a bittersweet realization when I am so far from family. My Opa's health problems have been another reminder of this, and I treasure each visit with family knowing in a more tangible way that each time I see them, they have changed. I am so looking forward to meeting three of my cousins' first little ones, who will be 2016 babies :)
This year I also said goodbyes and hellos as two of my roommates and some other good friends moved on to Florida, Michigan, Canada and other places after finishing their schooling here, and new friends have moved into the area. I've also said hello to two roommates I already knew quite well - it's been such a blessing to live with two girls who have been good friends since my first year here.
I asked for help in new ways, taking advantage of working for a great counseling center to get some counseling for myself :) My church has also offered me help in so many ways that have been such a blessing.
I started three new jobs, babysitting & tutoring/homeschooling three sweet kids from last March until I recently started working for an Opthamologist's office... I also started subbing for the front desk at CCEF in addition to my cleaning work there.
I learned that grief and joy are deep and ought to be spoken and shared. This is a little harder to explain, but I have been so comforted by Christ's simultaneous grief, joy, and sovereignty... Personally I think of a number of things that I saw this in, but one that I particularly treasure was our week at Camp Oak Hills with the kids from Rosebud Reservation. I've watched some of these kids grow up, and I was so honored to be able to share our week at camp. Some of them are dealing with such hard things and they were so courageous and vulnerable in sharing their lives with us. I was so privileged to be able to cry with them and yet I know that there is hope for us to be healed and so we can also rejoice like silly idiots because of that hope. I think one of my favorite moments of the year was all the hugs I got from my girls after teaching one evening.
I faced one of my worst fears this year, or came close to it when one of my young friends attempted suicide multiple times. There have been a number of other hard things this year, some very heavy burdens carried by and for people I love very deeply, but it's hard to express how much I fear losing one of my Rosebud friends who is not ready for eternity yet. I love them very deeply and so that shook me, hard. But I thank God that my friend was unsuccessful and is still with us. I was reminded that last year a wise friend of mine told me, in a rather prophetic fashion, that if I loved broken people one day I would lose one of them. He said it would help me to remember that they are not in my control, and in that way it will free me to love them better. Oh, we are all so broken, and so in need of the Healer!
There are other things that stand out from this year but I think these are the ones I want to record for now. Now it's 2016. As I think about this year I am afraid, and I am confident. I dread and I trust. I long for restoration and yet the grace is sufficient because I love and I am loved. I cling to Jesus because where else would I go? He is everything, and I am content.
Photo credit: my talented friend Rachel Heaton
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