12 things I have learned about life, love and myself in 12 months
1. The most beautiful way to end the day is to drive down Highway 1 along the Pacific Ocean during sunset.
2. Finding random captured "silly" moments on my phone from my kids make me laugh from those deep places that only they can reach.
3. I have learned how to comfort and be comforted in a whole new way this year.
My security in being who God created me to be means I need to learn how to be comfortable with connection and in being alone. I had the alone thing down being the introvert that I am. But allowing myself to be comforted in connection and to comfort others took risk. It took years to break that wall down in my marriage and this year I also realized I had the same wall up in my connections with others, especially with my friends and my own children. I am not one for choosing a One Word for the year, but looking back on 2014 I think I could sum up my life, relationships, and ministry in one word: COMFORT
Good givers are aware of the feelings and needs of others, and they confidently extend themselves as listeners and comforters. Good receivers are aware of and communicative about their emotions, and they possess the vulnerability to admit their need to others.
How We Love by Milan & Kay Yerkovich
This year community isn't just the city I live in or the neighborhood where I reside. Community to me are those people with a common interest that I trust with the safety of my kids. My church community has been this for a long time. The group of carpooling moms have also been people I trust transporting my kids from here to there. But this year we have added a sports community. The water polo community of families that my children are a part of are those whom I have learned to love, trust and appreciate. We have traveled together, cheered our children on and at times rely on one another to feed our children and get them from point a to point b.
5. That chocolate was first introduced in Europe by the Ancient civilizations of South and Central America during the Renaissance time period
I taught a quarter of 7th grade history in the spring and the curriculum was fascinating. It began with the beginning of the Italian Renaissance, through the Scientific Revolution and into the Ancient Civilizations. My brain had a difficult time with the transition from Europe to the Americas so I had to work hard to find a connection that made sense to me. I found it with chocolate. These early civilizations used the cocoa beans as currency and through missionaries and explorers "chocolate" made it's way to Europe.
6. Running away for 24 hours (with my husband's permission) has some serious rest for a weary soul benefits!
7. Going back to work full time wasn't as bad as I thought it might be.
I did my share of grieving and crying but when you know you are moving in line with God's will in your life everything, no matter how awful it is, seems to work itself out and I have found peace and strength though it all.
8. Warren Buffet is a very wealthy investor.
I had heard the name but had no idea who he was until I had to introduce him through a classroom unit. He lives in Oklahoma, makes lots of money investing, lives in a modest house and employs only a small number of people to work for him. Just something random I learned again through teaching.
9. I have 13 favorite days of the year that I look forward too.
The day I buy myself a new calender for the year and the 12 first days of each month when I get to flip that calender over. I LOVED my Diane Knott Abundant Friendship calender art on my kitchen wall. It was a simple pleasure that brought me joy the whole year.
10. My family was pretty healthy this year when it came to avoiding the common cold and flu but not so much so with more obscure illness such as Bells Palsy, Diverticulitis, and Hand, Foot and Mouth virus.
It was a rough year with illnesses that wiped us out for weeks at a time. I still feel effects of the Bells Palsy with ear pain. My husband's one week hospital stay with diverticulitis was just the beginning of a lifelong battle preventing that type of flare up again. And even though my kids are in the double digits the Hand, Foot and Mouth virus attacked pretty severely, especially my 14 year old. I am hoping for a healthier year with only cold and flu symptoms to deal with!
11. Mark Twain wrote his novel The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County in a little cabin on top of Jackass Hill.
We took the side road and followed the signs until we found the replicated cabin off the beaten path on our last family vacation of the summer. I most enjoy those literary side stops! Below is a picture of the birdhouse on the cabin. You can see the original stone fireplace on the right.
This hasn't come with my own personal losses so much as it has come through ministry and conversations. I have learned grief comes in all sorts of packages and it runs deep. I have learned the importance of working through it. I have seen those with deepest grief who have walked through it and come out with the deepest of joys. I have seen many sit in the pit of grief and allow themselves to feel the pain. Those are the brave ones. I have learned that anger is a wall preventing grief but that once that wall comes crashing down the tears of grief are where healing happens. And that is where #3 comes into play; comfort.
It has been a good year, but a hard year in some ways.
I have learned so much on so many levels both in myself, in curriculum (as a teacher) and in beauty.
Don't forget to reflect on both the good times and hard times of this past year. When viewed as an opportunity to grow closer to the God who orchestrates all things, He will reveal His glory.
That is a promise I hold tight to year after year.