Was this my favorite year? No. No it wasn't, thankyouverymuch.
Very likely more than any other day-before-my-birthday I feel older. Logically, I am indeed, "older than I've ever been", right? :)
I hang around a university campus a lot, due to my wild crush on the janitor (I've always been slightly stalker-ish. He doesn't seem to mind). And I swear they let those kids in younger and younger... See, I even SOUND like your grandma.
But here's the thing. While I acknowledge the multiplying gray hairs, the changing metabolism, the babies who call themselves college freshmen (Don't even get me started about kindergartners, AKA infants, they let into the elementary school), while I am realistic about time moving forward, I am for sure not grieving it.
Most significant lessons learned this year:
1) This quote by Lewis ~
So those days when I try to "fix" everything that is making me uncomfortable/inconvenienced/unhappy - and nothing seems to be working? Just taking a moment to say "Ok. Where I live, there's a lot of stuff that's broken. It's temporary." That is huge. That makes a difference in my heart.
And believe me, I am a fixer. I want to fix it and make it better and make it right. That's not bad! I am working in cooperation with a REDEEMING God, so it's from Him. And yet, I am not God. And he is using my present challenging circumstances to bring himself glory and prepare me for eternity with Him.
2) "In quietness and trust is your strength." Isaiah 30:15
Some years, on January 1st, I have a word or phrase I like to identity as my "word for the year". One year it was "Reckless" as I felt a conviction to love extravagantly, with no thought for my own gain. Once it was brave. At the beginning of 2015 I couldn't get "quiet" out of my heart as I contemplated what my word for the year would be.
But really? Because Brave, Reckless Quiet. - Well, that seems a little anticlimactic, no?
No. It doesn't They DO build on one another. And I am so grateful for the guidance that has led me to this understanding. I am getting stronger in alot of ways this year. And I am finding a true strength in quietness. Quieting my heart, quieting my fears, yes, even quieting my mouth. :) By no means am I shrinking down from bravery and boldness. It's a different kind of quiet. Study the word quiet, and study what The Word has to say about it. It is one very courageous characteristic to attain to.
3) You can't worry and worship at the same time.
Kind of piggy backing on number two, it is in the quieting of my heart and the quieting of my fears when I truly experience pure worship. And that pure worship - it is like the most refreshing cup of cool water I have ever experienced. Do you know why? I was created to worship. Therefore, I WILL worship. But what will I worship? Oh how it grieves my heart for lost time when I realize how often I have inadvertently worshiped my worries.... That's a miserable place to be.
I am worrier. I have that down pretty good. So, knowing that worry and worship can not co-exist forces me to choose.
4) My kids are kids. They are not adults. They do not have the ability to process/function/respond like an adult. They need grace.
I don't think I have to really expound on that one much. ;)
5) I am not on earth to feel good. I am not here to set goals that would result in my success, security, exaltation, or ....comfort.
I will be learning this when I am 34. And 35, 36, 37...... 105. But it is starting to really sink in and take root.
6) Grace is so multifaceted that it can never be fathomed or explained in simple terms. And it is everything. It is just everything.
I have been grappling with the definition of grace for years. One day a few weeks ago something finally fell into place in my mind. It may sound really silly to some - but it was my moment of understanding that grace is way bigger than I can humanly "define" it. I was standing at my kitchen window.
"Hmmm. Grace. Grace, grace, grace. Favor? Goodwill? Unmerited, no doubt. Grace. Instructs us? Is for all. Brings salvation. Can not be earned. Hmmm."
How can one "thing" be all that?? And so.much.more.
Because it is. Because God.
So as I peer out my window I see this beautiful stack of wood out by our outdoor wood burner. I mean this thing has been stacked by a perfectionist (who I sometimes stalk..). It's downright pretty. Over the top of it is a tarp. The tarp reaches from one side to the other and drapes over the top. It is enough to protect our wood pile from the elements, but does not cover the front and back. I watch the wind pull on that tarp.
And in my peripheral vision I catch the flickering flame of my black cherry candle. It's been burning for some time, causing a large pooling of wax at the base of the wick. So there's that heart nudging in this moment that says, "Grace... is not like that tarp covering the wood pile. It would be like if you brought a huge ol' burnt candle out there and held it upside down above the wood pile."
So I'm having this vision of copious amounts of hot wax cascading down this wood pile. It doesn't just cover. It layers. it drapes. It covers. It fills in the cracks. It clings. It coats.
And so it is with grace. Maybe wood piles, tarps, and wax don't speak to you - ;) after all, it was "my moment", I am a very visual learner/visionary. But I think you can at least track with me here that this grace thing is a dynamic and significant gift. One we can't quite wrap our human minds around. But wrestling with this gift does help us to become more and more grateful for it.
So, I am recording these things to come back to. I'm grateful for every day, every week, every month that shaped me this year. The milestones, the growing, the building, the sweet togetherness, the friendships grown, the beauty
the kidney stones, the surgery, the battles and the frustrations. While every single thing was not God's perfect will (I will.not.believe that kidney stones were ever a part of the world that God said "it is very good" about) ;), just like He is - just like His character - he has used/is using every single circumstance in my life. And I am grateful!
Adios 33. *clink* (Quick, go get your favorite drink!) You were a great building block.