What I’ve Learned

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Gentle Reader,

Sitting here in my sick chair, surrounded by pillows with a dog sitting on my feet, I’m thinking about 2014. I’m trying not to think too deeply about it because thinking deeply while laid up only results in being sucked into a dark vortex of, “Why am I here?” and “What is my purpose?”

Not good.

I do have good stuff to think about. I’ve learned some things this year. In no particular order:

God

This year has tested my faith – but day after day, God has come through for me. Every time I swallowed the nausea, felt pain as the tumor grew, woke up in an anxious sweat or wiped the tears away, He was there. Every day He found new and special ways to reveal Himself to me.

He is real. I have no doubt.

Writing

Twelve months ago I jumped on the “one word” bandwagon – and never thought about it after that post. Throughout the year I flirted with planners and outlines – I printed out several cool-looking calendars and schedules but they sat unused in a folder. I thought about hosting a giveaway of some sort – but money runs tighter around here. I tried to remember that I have a Facebook page just for this blog – and failed.

I’ve learned that I am not a typical blogger. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a word for the year or planning out posts weeks in advance. I just don’t operate that way. I post twice a week, whatever’s on my mind. It works.

After a few false starts and rolling an idea around in the back of my mind for two years, I started writing a novel. It may never get anywhere, but it’s a creative outlet. That’s the most important thing about writing, anyway.

Relationships

I really believe in the truth of James 1:5 –

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (NKJV)

I’m not as smart as I like to think I am sometimes, and so a constant prayer of mine is that God will grant me wisdom, insight and discernment. I learned this year that He truly does grant those things to His children with extreme generosity and often pours them into our souls before we even know to ask.

As a naturally cynical and pessimistic person, I do have to battle myself when it comes to relationships. I have to be careful not to write others off without a second thought. But I also need to pay attention to warning signals. They come from the Spirit.

Family

It’s not perfect. Never will be. But it’s worth the occasional battle. It’s worth working through misunderstandings and personality conflicts. God plopped me into this family for a reason. I’ll stick by them forever.

Work

I love being a library clerk. Seriously. I think that libraries are an important, essential community service. Despite my largely Libertarian political slant, I truly believe that one of the best things that government can do is fund libraries. Nowhere else can you go to find books on any topic imaginable (and if it’s not there, we’ll order it for you), free access to the internet, discussion clubs where you can connect with new people, programs about everything from genealogical research to essential oils.

Libraries are so much more than silent halls full of dusty books. They are community centers. I watch my coworkers pour their hearts into storytime hours for the littles, collecting books for nursing home residents, keeping up with the latest technology. My bosses listen to complaints (sometimes ridiculous ones) and do their best to respond positively.

We work hard. For you.

Marriage

This has been a hard year for Chris and I. We’ve spent months dealing with my health issues. The stupid, broken-down truck that I will hate forever has eaten up huge amounts of money. Chris lost his grandmother unexpectedly. During a men’s retreat he wrecked a four-wheeler and came close to serious injury or worse.

Yet here we are. Tonight we’ll celebrate the 10 years we’ve been together with Chinese food eaten straight out of the cartons because it makes us feel cool and we’ll drink sparkling cider from fancy glasses. He’s my best friend, plain and simple.

I’m not sad to see this year go, but neither do I look back on it with nothing but dismay. And in that, I think, is the biggest thing I’ve learned: Whatever happens, there is plenty to be thankful for. Joy can be found even in the thickest clouds.

My journey to faith. (15)

In 2014

Gentle Reader,

I’ve come across several entries on the interwbes discussing the idea of one word for the new year. While I don’t believe that words carry any kind of mystical power, I do believe that the ideas contained within the lacing together of letters can be impactful. Deeply so. I also believe that God speaks to us through all available avenues, including blogging fads. Thus, I pondered, prayed, and kept arriving at this:

Chalkboard

This word pulls at me. It prompts many questions. When to speak and when to not? When to let the music flow and when to turn it off? When to plunge in with the crowd and when to pull away? When to write about ________ and when to let it go? When to share and when to keep secret?

Silence…I’m good at that. And so maybe the Spirit brought this word to the surface as a reminder that silence is not always golden.

I’ve also seen posts detailing a verse chosen for the new year. Usually, I would roll my eyes. Scripture is deep, complex and fascinating. How can one (or two) verses be enough to ponder for an entire twelve-month cycle?

And then I read this:

Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” – Luke 7:50 (NKJV)

These are the ending words in a fantastic scene involving a self-righteous man, a woman with a bad reputation and an ever-wise Savior. They ring around the corners of my heart. I am often guilty of worrying about whether or not I’m really saved; whether or not God could truly forgive someone like me. I know my failings all too well. And you, dear reader, know all about my incessant anxiety regarding…everything. So, what a pronouncement! “Marie, your faith in Me has saved you. That issue is settled. Walk with Me in peace.”

What this new year holds, I don’t know, but I’m already intrigued by the intersecting of silence, faith and peace. And I have a sense of power, of being uniquely and specifically equipped for the battle I face. Any time fear comes up, I can recall those words. I can remember that Jesus assured that “wicked woman” of her place in Him. I can be sure that the same applies to me.

I don’t know where you are today. I don’t know if you’re glad to see 2013 roll away or if you’re dreading the turning of the calendar. I don’t know if you’re feeling lonely or elated, sad or blessed. But there is one sure thing as we step into 365 sparkling days: God is. God is there. God is good. God is faithful.

God loves you.

My journey to faith. (15)