Friday, December 31, 2010

twenty-ten {and all that happened}

The year Two-thousand and ten is quickly fleeing from calendars all over the world and here I sit reflecting on this amazing, crazy, full year God gave me.
Oh, So much happened. 
To help myself with my reflections, I went back a whole year in my journals, to see exactly where my life was at...
The January 1, 2010 entry in my “dawn after darkness” journal summarizes the year pretty well...
“Well, It’s twenty-ten. The year I move to Slovakia for some months. The year my sister gets married. The year that God has already overcome. =)
I’m nervous and excited. 
I will not waste this year.”
I spent January studying the life of one of my role models, ‘Amma’, or Amy Carmichael. Her testimony has been a huge comfort and encouragement to me, as she served God wherever He brought her and in whatever circumstances surrounded her. I found a place at her feet through books like A Chance to Die, and looked toward where she pointed, at Jesus and the hope of His gospel.
February.... I saw my first Space Shuttle Launch. It was special because the pilot was our very own neighbor and friend Terry Virts! 
Another “Dawn after darkness” snippet says: “Those few minutes of complete sunrise in the dark were totally worth the 40 hours of driving and four days of terrible sleep. It’s been a long haul, but completely spectacular.” Yes, we drove 18ish hours straight both ways, waited up for a scrub at T-13 minutes the first night, and found the, like, only empty hotel room in the whole area to stay in. Sometimes, insanity = fun times!
I visited the “Happiest Place on Earth” with my family and grandparents In March... right after I turned 19. Those are some happy memories, right there... Staying at a resort, visiting Disney World, singing, playing games, cooking, wii, swimming, just being together. We had an absolutely wonderful time and it was only our second road trip to Florida this year! :)
The beginning of April brought on the beginning of non-stop-busy for several months, so we kicked it off with, yup, ANOTHER road trip to Florida! This time, it was to see our OTHER astronaut neighbor (Jim Dutton) pilot the Space Shuttle Discovery. It was a spectacular launch, a day I won’t be forgetting. Oh, and I do believe we had our Easter dinner at The Olive Garden, because we were in Florida waiting for the launch :) April also brought the packing, preparing and pre-travel jitters for me, as my trip to Slovakia drew ever-closer.
As planned, I left my job as  preschool chapel director a little before the school year actually ended, to head out to Slovakia on May 6.
WOW. Finding a place to start is... not easy! I guess before i get going on the summer, I’ll go ahead and insert a special story here: The day after I arrived in Slovakia, a new little bundle of love joined our family. We call this rambunctious, adorable, sweet little character “Allie”. Two years old, and quite the charmer, we’re hoping to adopt her soon after the new year. I cried (tears of joy) when I heard she had come to stay with my family. I got to meet her over Skype (oh, the wonders of technology) and I’m pretty sure she spent the summer thinking that my mom’s computer was named Bethany and could talk to you sometimes... 

Slovakia, *sigh* is where I spent most of May, June, July and August. It was by far the highlight of my year. Basically, I lived with my slovak “family”, the Abrmans, and joined in on whatever they were doing, as well as adding a bit of my own twist. I arrived, not exactly knowing what God had planned, but I was able to teach some Bible-focused English classes for neighborhood children, as well as help with craft classes, church events and preparing for the yearly Summer English Camp. I also had the opportunity to visit a Manna Center in Romania with some Slovak Christians, where we delivered clothes to children and had a story time and gospel presentation. I visited schools, spent hours with old and new friends, sang, traveled, baked cookies, learned (or at least tried) the Slovak language, laughed, cried, lived. It was a summer I will never, EVER forget. 
A snippet from my “Joshua 1:9” journal, “I remember coming, being shy of everything, being scared of doing something wrong, afraid of being real-- not perfect. These friends and experiences taught me oh, so much... I learned to speak love, not language. I learned to speak Slovak, sing it too. I learned (and am still learning) how to smile through pain.
-and to think I came here to teach! oh the irony of life...”
people aren’t missionaries because they have everything figured out already, people are missionaries because they just really, truly care about making a lasting difference in others lives. I pray I did that.
The very end of August brought me back to Friendswood, where I jumped back into the His Kids family, preparing for a new school year. I also jumped into the role of Maid-of-Honor, as we prepared for my dear sister’s October wedding. 
My last month with an older sister in the house, September, FLEW by. I was sick a lot, story of my life. Very quickly, ‘You Are For Me’ by Kari Jobe became my favorite song. “I know that You are for me, I know that You will never forsake me in my weakness...” As things changed so dramatically, I began to feel lonely and needed to ask myself some hard questions. Did I really, Really trust God? Or did I just say that I do. Did I trust that His plans are perfect, and that I could wait on Him? I went back and forth with myself: “I’m alone”, I’d think, “BUT GOD”, i’d know. God is so good. He never left me, and He never will. 
With the beginning of a new school year, I started my fourth year working at a Good News Club in a local public school. It has been incredible to be a part of the same children’s lives, year after year, watching them grow.
October 2 brought happiness and joy, my sister’s wedding day! It was positively the most perfect wedding, gorgeous weather, hundreds of family members and friends, a beautiful bride, a dashing groom. They exchanged vows early in the afternoon, and the celebrations went on for the rest of the day, so, so wonderful!
It’s been strange, not having Emily with me all the time anymore, but I’ve been so blessed to see her at least once a month. I went on a women’s retreat in mid-October to help lead the worship program. God really blessed me in the company of several wonderful women of God, as we spent two days studying the book of Ruth and just being together, encouraging each other. I finished out October in doctor’s offices, trying to discover why I spent two entire months sick. We didn’t really find any answers, but I'm trusting that God knows what He's doing!
November was probably the busiest, low-key month I’ve ever experienced. My mom spent a night in the hospital (don’t worry, she’s doing fine!) which sent our whole house into a “health-makeover”. The whole month was full of normal activities, doctors visits for several of us, as well as a new activity, called “taking it easy”. uhmmm, what else... I painted my room and we celebrated Thanksgiving.
Now it’s December (the 31, to be exact) and it’s been a pretty good one. The His Kid’s Christmas Program, a Michael W. Smith Christmas Concert and a weekend in Brenham are just a few major highlights of the month. Oh, and of course, Christmas! Every year, the story amazes me, of how a Deity, so powerful and perfect would give up his heavenly home and come to earth to be the Savior of all mankind. Jesus’ humility and love are so stunning. you can find my thoughts on Christmas here: 2000 Decembers Ago

As a new year is fixing to roll in, I have NO idea what God has planned, not really even an inkling, but I’m not worried. I do have tentative plans to return to Slovakia, for how long, I’m not sure.  And of course, I’ll continue serving wherever God drops me.
I don’t have any big New Year’s Resolutions. Yes, there are a stack of healthy cookbooks sitting on my floor. True, I’ve got some dreams I’d like to follow. But mostly, as this new year dawns, I’m just taking things a step at a time.
Out of the hundreds of verses I have claimed this year, John 16:33 was my “big picture” verse. I personalized it a little, but here it is:
“...These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In this year, you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome this year.”
He did overcome it. And He has already overcome 2011 as well!

wow that was really long, yet there's so much more I could have shared... If you've gotten this far down in the post, I'm impressed! Thanks for sticking around to check out my year! I hope it's blessed or encouraged you in some way, or maybe reminded you of a memory we share. 
I think that's enough of my own words for a while, so I'll let the Psalmist speak:
 The LORD is gracious and merciful;
         Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. 
    The LORD is good to all,
         And His mercies are over all His works. 
    All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD,
         And Your godly ones shall bless You. 
    They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom
         And talk of Your power; 
    To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts
         And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom. 
    Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
         And Your dominion endures throughout all generations. 
    The LORD sustains all who fall
         And raises up all who are bowed down. 
    The eyes of all look to You,
         And You give them their food in due time. 
    You open Your hand
         And satisfy the desire of every living thing. 
    The LORD is righteous in all His ways
         And kind in all His deeds. 
    The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
         To all who call upon Him in truth. 
    He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
         He will also hear their cry and will save them. 
    The LORD keeps all who love Him,
         But all the wicked He will destroy. 
    My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
         And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.
Psalm 145:8-21

Praying blessings over your New Year,

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