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Like a painter adding depth and beauty to a scene with highlights and shadows, every year God enriches the masterpiece of our lives with the joys and the trials He brings us through. That is one of the reasons this is one of my favorite posts of the year to write. I love taking the opportunity to look back and see how God has made His big picture plan for my life become a little sharper and more beautiful with the highlights and shadows He sent my way in the past twelve months.  (If you’re interested, you can read 2012’s post here.)

Highlights and Shadows:

This was my first full year of working as a part time assistant at a dental office and I really enjoyed it. The main part of my job consists of cleaning and setting up rooms for procedures like fillings and crowns, but I also learned some fun things like how to take blood pressure, develop and mount x-rays, assist the doctor with giving anesthetic, and take digital photos of teeth. I even got to assist with two resin fillings (which means I got to hand the doctor different instruments and suction water from the patient’s mouth and such)! It amazes me continually how above and beyond my dreams God answered my prayers for a good job and I’m so thankful He put me there.

Towards the end May our family went to Wisconsin, where I was a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding. I was able to see several friends that I hadn’t seen in quite a while, which was great. It was fun to see parts of the country I’ve never seen before, and we even stopped and went exploring in Toledo, Ohio on the way home. We went to a botanical garden, a glass blowing studio, and a little retro candy store.

WI-OH-NY

In July I bought my first car! It’s been a great little car for me so far and I’m happy to have it! And in September it was broken into and my purse was stolen from it while I was hiking with a friend. That was an interesting experience, to say the least. 😛

Car

In August I did something adventurous and got my hair cut short! I was a little apprehensive about doing it, since I’ve had bad experiences with short hair in the past, but I have really liked it so far and am glad I took the plunge and tried something different.

Long to short: a few of my different looks this year

Long to short: a few of my different looks this year

November found me typing like a maniac as I participated in my second NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Halfway through the month I came very close to quitting, but thankfully I did not and God gave me the grace to finish. However, I procrastinated about fifteen minutes too long to validate my novel for an official win, which was disappointing. But I learned a lesson through it and hopefully will improve at not procrastinating in the future!

We had several “cultural” events this year too: We saw the ballet of Cinderella in Portsmouth, NH in early spring, a Big Band concert at PSU’s Silver Hall in the summer, and the best of all, the Phantom of the Opera in Providence, RI in December. It was amazing!!! We also went with a group of people from our church to my aunt’s church in Maine to see a Christmas Spectacular show that they present every year. It was impressive and we had a fun time.

Books/Music I enjoyed in 2013:

Books: I had too much to say about the books I read, so they are getting their own post, which you can read here. 🙂 Although I will say I discovered a new author that I like: Dee Henderson. I had heard about her books before but had never taken the time to read one. I read The Negotiator and liked it a lot. She did a good job weaving the gospel into her story, which is something I find lacking in a lot of Christian fiction.

Music: I bought an mp3 album of the acapella group GLAD called Receive the Glory and learned several worshipful new-to-me songs from it. I’m still really loving the Piano Guys too (got their second cd for Christmas), and Michael Card is another perennial favorite that I enjoyed a lot this past year. I got two new cd’s of his for my birthday and Christmas: Mark and Luke. I’m still becoming acquainted with them, but the cd of Mark especially is already a new favorites. My appreciation for Michael Card’s work just keeps growing as I listen to more of his art, which is clearly an overflow of his love for and knowledge of the Bible.

A Year of Adventure

I gave this year the title of “A Year of Adventure”, and it certainly was that. 2013 started out as a very difficult time for my family, but through the experience we learned much about God’s truth and grace and are very grateful for how He’s helped us grow through it all. It’s hard to explain, but before encountering the various avenues God used to teach me about grace this year, the person of Christ seemed like a mystery to me every time I tried to think about who He is. Granted, He was the most complex Man to ever set foot on the earth, and trying to understand Him is impossible for the human mind, but when I tried to form something of a mental picture of Him all I could come up with was a cloudy idea of lots of hard commands to follow, even though I knew He is the embodiment of love. I still have a long way to go and much to learn, but at least now I feel like I have a foundation on which to build a clearer understanding of Him.

Learning about grace had also led my relationship with God away from one based on fear of Him being mad at me when I do wrong to realizing that God’s love for me is not based on who I am or what I do, it’s based on who He is and has been proven in what He’s done for me (Romans 5:8). I am a very performance-oriented person: when I perform well, I feel good about myself; when I perform poorly, I feel bad about myself. But I am learning to live in God’s grace extended toward me, and also to extend grace to myself and to others.
I am so grateful for the distance God has brought me in life this year and I can’t wait to see what He has in store for 2014!
Question: How was your 2013? What did you learn this year? What are your dreams for 2014?