20 Questions for a New Year’s Eve Reflection
1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
John’s finally excited about our adoption and very ready to move forward with the process. This fills my heart with my joy than you could ever imagine! Watching him the past few weeks want to start to get the nursery together, start thinking about buying baby things and really diving into getting ready for our little girl, Hannah Grace, makes all the heartache of 2012 seem more than worth it.
Also, after a trillion setbacks, we’re also almost done with the expanded and revised edition of our book, which will be released in E-book format here soon. Our ministry website’s new look is almost done, too, so that will be launching, as well. 2013 is going to be a great year! I can’t wait!
2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
Which thing? This whole year has been extremely challenging, the most challenging year of my life, to be honest. If I didn’t believe that the Lord is good and sovereign no matter what our circumstances, I would be one hot mess, if not dead by a self-inflected gunshot wound (I’m serious).
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
Becoming friends with Lindsey, someone with whom I have connected extremely easily and quickly in the past 2 months or so. I love her very much and am so thankful for her. If only I would have known her earlier this year when the earth caved in (or so it felt) on me not once but three times.
4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
There were plenty, but if I have to just pick one, I’ll go with getting sick this summer with some crazy super virus, which left me exhausted and sick for 2 months and consequently caused me to have to resign from a job I loved and only had for a few months. I hadn’t been that sick since my double lung transplant 7 years ago. Thankfully, though, there doesn’t seem to be any long-term side effects from it. We’re praying whatever it was never decides to take residence in my body again.
5. Pick three words to describe 2012.
Painful, Trying, Sanctifying
6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2012—don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you. (If you’re not married, have fun guessing the answers from other friends and family, or just skip this question.) Horrible, Sad, Refining
7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2012—again, without asking.
Hard, Sad, Surprising
8. What were the best books you read this year?
The Word — life will inevitably change, but His word thankfully remains the same now and forever.
9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
My husband, John — I can’t tell you how many nights I buried myself into John’s chest and cried myself to sleep, while John prayed over me and asked the Lord to be merciful to us. I have never experienced so much hurt, anger, and sadness in my life than I did this past year.
Our small group — I feel so blessed that John and I have chosen to surround ourselves with others with whom we live in community and share each others’ burdens. I needed them more than ever in 2012.
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
After the events that transpired this past year, I found myself at times becoming very skeptical and cynical of people, a character trait of which I’m not proud and do not want to cultivate in the slightest. I used to be very trusting of people, always giving people the benefit of the doubt, even if they had hurt me before many times. Negatively, it was to the point I was extremely naive and way too trusting of others in some ways, at least according to my husband. Now, after being deeply hurt by the actions of others this year, in some ways I am “smarter” in regards to how I deal with people and in others too cautious. I don’t want to be (nor should I be) anyone’s doormat, but I also don’t want others’ actions to jade me to the point of not allowing myself to see others through Jesus’ eyes instead of a grid that is clouded by past hurts.
11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
I cried more tears this year than I think I have if you combine all the tears from the years I’ve lived before. I don’t know if that counts as ‘growing,’ but it certainly was humbling to be so emotionally feeble. I truly believe I probably had clinical depression (due to circumstances that came out of nowhere) earlier this year, but I’m feeling much more like myself now that some months have separated me from some traumatic life experiences. While I was so emotionally down, the Lord continued to show me that His mercies are new every morning, even when I didn’t think I was going to be able to get out of bed to face the day. Without His help, I don’t think I could have gotten through this year. Yes, it was that bad.
12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
I wish I could say I grew spiritually as much as I would have liked, but I can’t. Though this year was incredibly hard and filled with too many unexpected, horrible circumstances to count, that’s not an excuse for my lack of spiritual growth; at least what seems to me like a lack of growth. Though I lead other women in a weekly Bible study, I’m ashamed to say I wasn’t in the Word as much as I had planned, I wasn’t diligent in my spiritual disciplines as much as I had planned, either. To be honest, I feel like I completely failed in this department this year and am greatly saddened by my lack of progress in my sanctification. Now maybe I grew more than I feel I did and just can’t see that right now but will one day. I’ve seen that before, years after the fact. I hope the same is true this time around, as well. I am, after all, my own worst critic, especially when it comes to measuring my spiritual growth. I have to continually remind myself that the Lord’s love cannot be purchased by a certain number of spiritual acts, that He loves me the same no matter how many hours a day I spent with him. He wants me to delight in serving Him, in spending time with Him; acting out of duty is hardly a sacrifice of praise. That’s not a license to become lazy in my desire to grow closer to Him, but it IS a license to walk in grace and freedom. I’m thankful He asks us to embrace our humanity and all that comes with it (fear, tears, anger, sadness), so that we’re able to see just how desperately we need Him and how desperately He desires to heal us in Jesus’ name. I’ve certainly felt very human and finite this year.
13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
I was pretty good about keeping up with my work-out schedule, so I’m pleased to say that. Something went right this year, at least! Just kidding..sorta. 😉 I’ll be doubling up on things here the first of the year, though, since the last few weeks I’ve done absolutely nothing but eat!
14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
I always try to be very intentional when it comes to my relationships with others, and this year was no different. I now have very close friends with children, so I am working on developing relationships with them and helping their moms as much as I can. It’s been so much fun. I can’t wait until there’s more babies to love on and buy things for! 🙂
I’m learning as you grow older, and life circumstances change, it’s harder and harder to be intentionally connected to as many people as you were able to in the past, at least in my case. I’m extremely social, so naturally I have lots of friends. My inner circle, though, has inevitably shrunk, and I’m learning to be OK with that. Over this next year, I do want to work on doing a better job of keeping up with those living out-of-town and be more intentional when it comes to calling, especially you, Annie!
15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
Professionally — I loved working for a Christian TV station in the Sales department for a few months and greatly appreciated the privilege to do so. It was nice going to work every day viewing my job as a ministry and a privilege instead of dreading the day and feeling like I wasn’t make a difference. I enjoyed my work so much I would have worked the job for free, if time wasn’t money and money wasn’t needed to help pay bills and save for adoption.The change in career was challenging (in a good way), involved interacting with people (instead of working for home, which I did for over 2 years) and was basically my dream job. It was everything I could have ever asked for and more. I guess the Lord had other plans for me, though, so I look back on that time in my life with great joy and still a bit of sadness that time there has come to an end.
Home – Today we’re cleaning out one of our spare bedrooms so we can start working on the nursery, so that’s definitely my highlight of the year home-wise. 🙂
16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
Professionally– Oh, dear. I have too many.
Home – We had a LOT of unexpected expenses this year, so that wasn’t any fun. From having to get a new roof on our sun room, to having our kitchen ceiling cave in from a furnace pipe leak, to needing a new toilet and now a new oven, we’ve seen it all. I’m thankful, though, that we were able to pay for all of them without a problem, just had to take money out of savings which is going toward adoption.
17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
The Internet by far. I spent many months this year unexpectedly unemployed, which meant I had plenty of time during the day where I could have been doing other things than checking Facebook and perusing coupon sites. I definitely want to do a better job of re-prioritizing my time online this next year.
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
I don’t really know. I spent a lot of time praying for our unborn daughter, Hannah, who we’ll, Lord-willing, be adopting sometime this next year. I find that extremely important. I pray that she’ll grow up to be a mighty woman of God, one who is ready and willing to be used by Him however He may choose, that she’ll always know she’s beautiful and special, even when others tell her otherwise.
19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?
It wasn’t anything new, but once again I learned that God’s ways are higher than mine, that His thoughts are not my thoughts, and that ultimately He is STILL good and sovereign, no matter what life throws my way. I wouldn’t have ever dreamed that 2012 would have been as hard as it was, and have no desire whatsoever to go back and relive it, but I never want to forget how the Lord carried me through the storms that, at times, felt like they would flood my soul with too much grief to bear. I know, no matter what 2013 brings, He will remain constant. He will remain true. Even if our adoption falls through, even if ____, even if I have to do it through tears, I will continue to say “it is well, it is well with my soul.”