At first glance, this feels like the most low-key year we've had in several years. We didn't move across the country, change jobs, graduate, get married, or any of our previous big transitions. However, upon further inspection, this was a big year for us, in a bunch of small ways. And it was helpful for me to find all the little indications of God's grace that are so evident after even a moment of reflection. This is a bit of a fly-by, but here's what my year looked like:
Knitting: I tackled challenging and gratifying projects: a sweater and a shawl that challenged my technical knitting skills. I also made a lot of small accessories: mittens, socks, hats, cowls, and shawls, some to keep and some to give away. Overall, I've focused my time on making items that aren't only fun to make, but that will be worthwhile additions to my existing wardrobe. Here, I also wrote about slow fashion and my intention to avoid instant-gratification with what I wear.
Sewing: I made linen pillowcases and a dress
Work: I switched to dayshift at the hospital! I love being awake during the day, and although the shifts can be busy, busy, I like working with all the interdisciplinary teams in person and giving patients the good news that they get to go home when they're discharged. I wrote post on what it's like being a Registered Nurse (from my perspective).
In the kitchen: I've gotten a little braver with my cooking and experimenting with recipes, and I found a few more recipes to add to the "forever favorite" list of recipes. Here is a post about our meal planning.
Beauty: I wore my glasses more than ever, especially at work. And (this is a big one) I figured out how to get along with my hair. The secret is washing it every other day, and if I wear it in a bun the first day, then I have curls the second day with zero work. Win-win. Red lipstick and eye highlighter/brightener are now in my usual makeup rotation, as well.
Favorite music: New material from Vanessa Carlton, Sufjan Stevens, Punch Brothers, Justin Bieber, and The Oh Hellos, plus, revisiting older Gregory Alan Isakov and Sufjan albums. I saw Sufjan and Punch Brothers in concert, which were both so good.
Trips: We visited Minnesota to see Lauren get married, we went to San Antonio when his family visited, we saw our Indiana family in November, and we celebrated an early Christmas in Minnesota with my family.
Visitors: You could say it was the "Year of the Visitors." We loved it. From my mom and Grandma Donna, Karen (mom-in-law), Bob (dad-in-law), to our good friends, Liz, Matt, and Lauren and Julie, seeing visitors leave is hard. So I also wrote a post about loving friends and family from afar and praying scripture over those I love.
Finances & practical lessons: We paid off our student loans! And I realized my addiction to material possessions and also how I don't need to buy new stuff to replace the items I get rid of. In this same theme, I took a six month break from buying clothing and accessories and learned to change my shopping habits significantly. One example: No to excess provides the opportunity for a more desirable & planned yes. Another lesson? We're learning to take a modified approach to minimalism.
Rest: I clearly saw my reluctance to truly practice balance and rest. And, with my Fitbit, I became more aware of how much sleep I actually was (wasn't) getting. Now, sleep is a higher priority and I feel so much better for it.
Questions I asked myself:
- Am I rooted in sincere fidelity and love to Jesus (and not just rooted in routine?)
- Am I looking primarily for joy in the presence of other people, or for joy in the presence of God?
- What to do when it's a bad day?
Lessons for my stubborn heart:
- Balanced and joyful days make me more balanced and joyful
- Share the gospel and my life
- My joy does not come from my circumstances because my joy comes from Jesus.
- It only makes sense for us to respond to life with grace, since as followers of Jesus, we are the recipients of the greatest grace.
- Our hearts will continue to yearn—and not be truly be satisfied by anything—until we know & trust Jesus because our hearts were created to need a love that we cannot get from any person or earthly pursuit.
- Intentional, hard work in the mundane areas of our lives can bring glory to God.
- It's not that God hasn't been working, it's that I haven't taken the time to notice how He works. Sit up & look around. There are miraculous things to be seen in the everyday.
- The biggest danger in provision is forgetting that we are always in need. A full belly, clothed back, and warm home do not diminish my need for Jesus.
- Nostalgia is tricky. Wishing to go back five years is akin to disregarding five years of God's work in our lives. In the same way, I hope Andrea in five years is a new creation and maybe a little wiser, with increased strength to trust Him more.
- I want to live like a thirsty soul who knows where to find refreshment. And when I'm looking to learn about myself, I want to go to Scripture first—to the Person who made me, who has all the details of my heart memorized by heart.
So, I stand corrected. It was a big, wonderful year for me, especially heart-wise. I can't wait to see what work the Lord's gonna do with whatever 2016 brings. For right now, we're celebrating the new year with some friends, good coffee, good conversation, and (of course) knitting.
Have a blessed new year!
Every January, I assemble a blog post of sorts that catalogs our year. Largely organized in list-form, I touch on the big and little things, events and thoughts and experiences that shaped our life over the last year. I do find this incredibly helpful as a sort of reflection, a glance back on the Lord's faithfulness, to show me, time and time again, that He is a good God. And with that mindset, I feel less encumbered as we continue on into the new year, more ready to face a full year of new, fresh days, with the heart attitude that regardless of what the days will hold, mundane or exciting, difficult or good, I can walk into the future with hope and trust in Him. Plus, I do enjoy looking back on a lot of the little details of our life, the ones that make me smile or think, Oh, yes! We loved that! What a little joy in our life.
Now that we're well into January, I'm sitting down to write and glance back at the last year. I'm not much of a resolution-maker (not fundamentally opposed, just not for me), but I do find it's healthiest for my heart and mind to reflect and then continue on into the next year. Like every single year, there are good, hard, and in-between snippets and seasons.
Every year, I find it a bit therapeutic to look back on the last year. I know my heart is bent toward nostalgia, and at times, I wonder if that is one of the reasons I find looking back easier than looking forward. That's something for me to mull over, perhaps. All that said, at the close of a year, I find that it is good heart medicine to ruminate over the good, the hard, and the in-between. To think on the things that are the same, things that are wildly different, what didn't produce joy, and what did.