Diana Nesbitt

Always Go Deeper

Category: Personal

A Letter to My Younger Self on my 25th Birthday

Why, hello there. I remember you. I see you sitting there with your unruly hair, blues eyes that are changing to green rimmed by glasses, sitting there scribbling away in your journal. The words that fly from your pen are all about your schoolwork, friends, snowboarding adventures, love of and longing for music, your frustrations, your inescapable bent towards words, and your questions and dreams about your future.

You wonder about the future so much. Well, I can tell you a little about some of your future, because it is now part of my past. It’s not as grandly adventurous as you’ve always wished it would be – not yet, anyway. But it’s not dull, at least not to you. You’re going to learn a lot – about God, about people, about decision-making, about yourself.  Your hair is going to get curly, and you will finally figure out how to make peace with it – providing the humidity level isn’t too high. You’ll get contacts, but you won’t get your ears pierced just yet, even though you really wanted to for a while.

You’re going to work at a dental office. This has never been on your list of dreams, but it’s going to be an excellent experience for you and you’re going to grow and gain a lot of confidence there. You have some wonderful people coming into your life whose friendships you will treasure so much. You’re going to know you’re supposed to be a writer, but I’m still not sure how you’re going to achieve that. You are going to go to college! At least for a couple of classes, but maybe more.

The hardest times of your life that I can tell you about are still ahead of you, but you will learn so much from them. They are lessons that you wouldn’t trade for anything, about grace and faith and who God really is and how He relates to you. Your faith is going to be tested and battered, and life is going to feel really dark for a long time, but God will revive and transform your faith, and nothing will ever have to be that hard again unless you choose unbelief again.

I started writing this feeling like I would be the older, wiser voice speaking down to the child of my past. But today, as I was thinking about you, I realized that I have to say thank you to you. Thank you for taking your character formation in your growing up years so seriously. Thank you for fighting those battles against bad thought habits and pride, for getting on your knees and begging fiercely for victory. I can tell you now, you got it – you’ll still have more battles to fight, but your perseverance has given me confidence that they can be won. Thank you for putting Jesus first in your life, for those hours you spent praying, those verses you memorized, and for the effort you put into studying God’s word. You have given me a strong foundation to stand on. I would not be who I am today if  you were not who you were yesterday. So thank you. By God’s grace, I’ll try not to screw it all up. 😉

Happy birthday, kid. I’m proud of you.

Journal entry from December 18, 2004 – a few days before I turned 13: “I’ve got to get out of this ‘phase.’ If this is what 13 is going to be like, I’m staying put.” LOL! 

20 Things I’ve Learned from 20 Years with Jesus

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Years I’ve worked at my job: 3. Years I’ve owned a car: 2.5. Years I’ve had a driver’s license: 6. Years since I learned to snowboard: 13. Years since I started playing the piano: 16. Years since I graduated high school: almost 6.
As a 24 year old, there aren’t many things that I can claim to be or have done for more than ten or fifteen years, other than being alive. But there is one significant thing that I have had for twenty years as of this day, the thing that I am most proud and grateful and happy to be, the thing that has shaped me and made me who I am and will one day be more than anything else that I could ever experience: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Twenty years ago today, I stood in my family’s kitchen, swinging my foot over the pattern on the linoleum floor, listening to my brother reason away my irrational fears that I would die immediately and go to heaven if I accepted Jesus as my Savior (not something that a 4-year old relishes the thought of, when it involves leaving Mommy and blankie and Cabbage Patch Kids).

“Diana,” my brother said, turning around from the sink to look at me, “Mommy and Daddy are saved, and they’re not dead. Josh and I are saved, and we’re not dead.”

That was assurance enough for me, and next, with excitement like that of Christmas morning, my family gathered in my parents’ bedroom and we knelt by the bed. With my dad helping me with the words to say, I asked the Lord Jesus to forgive me for my sin and to be my Savior.

Twenty years later, I can safely say I did not die immediately and go to heaven (although, really, wouldn’t life be easier if it worked that way?). 😉 After twenty years of walking with Jesus and spending time in His Word and prayer almost daily, it seems that I should know a lot more than I do and be a lot more spiritually mature than I am; however, with each year that passes I can trace definite growth and mark victories and answers to prayer – in spite of the many shortcomings and failures that I am aware of as well. Thankfully, the Lord is an extremely patient, yet persistent Teacher, and so, I would like to share some of the things that He has taught me over the years.

All the truths shared below have at some point in my walk with Christ come to have meaning to me beyond mere words or a smart sounding maxim; they are truths that have made their way to my heart. Truth can enter your head quite readily, but it will have no effect on your life until it enters your heart as well. Many of them may not sound very deep or profound, but I’m learning that sometimes the simplest truths are the ones that take the longest to really learn.

Here, in no particular order, are twenty things I have learned after spending twenty years of knowing Jesus:

1. Faith is the utter foundation for a genuine walk with Christ. Not only is our salvation not obtained by anything other than faith, but also the extent of our experience of the earthly benefits of salvation is contingent on truly believing God and His Word. Without faith, it is impossible to please God.

2. Prayer changes things.

3. The way to get wisdom is to ask God for it – but you have to ask in faith.

4. God loves you, not because of who you are or what you’ve done, but because of who HE is.

5. You don’t get to serve God because you’re perfect – you get to serve Him because He is merciful and powerful enough to use messed up humans like us for His glory.

6. Nothing drains away joy and strength like unbelief.

7. Prayer and Bible study are vitally important – the only sustainable and reliable way to grow in your relationship with God. If writing this fact alone twenty times over could communicate the absolute importance and necessity of making this a daily habit in your life without rendering my efforts impotent by redundancy, I would do it. Nothing, absolutely nothing else you can do every day will change your life for the better like this will. It is impossible to reach the full potential of your relationship with Christ without making a faithful practice of these two privileges.

8. God will always give you a “yes” to persistent prayers for spiritual growth.

9. Being a Christian is not about how you perform, but about how you relate- with God first, and then with others.

10. True sorrow over sin is never an emotion to be avoided.

11. Giving thanks in everything requires trust.

12. God cares much more about the state of your heart than your wardrobe when you walk into church.

13. There is so much available in Christ that we don’t take hold of. We could have so much MORE if we’d only ask for it and believe Christ to give it.

14. God will ALWAYS provide for your needs. Although we are not promised perfect relationships, health, or physical safety, we are promised that God will meet our needs if we seek His kingdom first.

15. When you see God act in response to a prayer, it becomes easier to trust Him for similar things.

16. Praying for someone else is one of the best ways to love them.

17. The genuineness of your faith is extremely valuable to God. He wants you to believe and trust Him.

18. Sometimes obeying the leadings of the Holy Spirit feels weird and makes your stomach churn, but if you do, you won’t regret it.

19. Even when we can’t see it, God is working, fulfilling His plans for our good and His glory.

20. Grace and truth, like so many other contrasting spiritual elements, MUST be held in balance; damage will result from swaying too far either way, but balance can be found in Jesus.

It has been quite a journey thus far, and as I look back I see anew that my Jesus has been utterly tender and gracious to me. At various times I have resisted Him, yelled at Him, fought Him, disrespected Him, disobeyed Him, questioned Him, and always He has been faithful, forgiving, and oh so very patient. I do not deserve all the good that He has poured out on me, and I hope that the next twenty years are filled with more closeness to Him that results in more glory given to Him because of my life than ever before.

2015 in Review: Adventure Awaits

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The design of the journal I filled last year is all about travel and adventure…during the year I thought cynically a few times how inappropriate such a journal was for me, a girl who has never been south of West Virginia or west of Wisconsin and has never even flown in an airplane. Adventure does not seem to know my address, nor to be willing to pull me beyond the confines of my comfortable life. And yet…2015 did hold adventure of sorts, and maybe more than that, offered the renewed hope of promised adventure in the coming years.
The word I chose for myself at the beginning of 2015 was love. I had a list of about five areas of focus, at the top of which was “Love lavishly, create copiously, trust implicitly.” Well, I have to say that my focus on those things didn’t really last much longer than the time it took me to turn the page in my journal after I wrote them down. That’s not to say I utterly failed at growth in all of those areas, but I certainly didn’t spend much time intentionally working on them like I thought I would.
But then again, that’s part of the adventure. We have our plans, and God has His. (And when they don’t match up, His are always better.)
This year, I think God’s word for me was faith. In fact, I think that’s what it was in 2014 too, but I was too thickheaded to see it. This year, however, I can see the progression of growth in myself, His answer to my cries of “I believe! Help my unbelief!”. In my Bible study time, I went through two inductive Bible study books, one on the book of Romans (Experiencing the Power of Life Changing Faith) and one on 1, 2 & 3 John, Philemon, and James (God’s Love Alive in You). Studying James left me wanting to go deeper into the book, especially with its emphasis on demonstrating genuine faith by works, so I decided to start a Precept Upon Precept study of the book of James. This kind of study is inductive as well, but goes much further in depth with more word studies, cross-referencing, and life application exercises. The homework is supposed to take an hour a day but I just spend as much time as I have on it. It will just take me longer to get through the study. 🙂
At work, due to life changes and unexpected events in different people’s lives,  we were short staffed at the office by about 2-3 people at various points for the greater part of the year (which makes a big difference in an office of 13!), and while it was challenging, it was wonderful to see the way God poured His grace over the whole office and orchestrated everything. Everyone simply pulled together to fill the gaps and support each other as best they could, and one of the empty positions was filled by someone who was already set to come in temporarily the very week the position opened. I spent extra hours in different departments than I usually work, which opened doors for me to deepen my relationships with several of my coworkers with whom I ordinarily never would have interacted as much. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and it allowed me to gain a boatload of experience in many different areas of my workplace! Thus, by the end of summer I was officially working full time- something that I had been praying for a while that God would orchestrate if that’s what He wanted to happen.
2015 held some fun, too. In July, I was able to attend a coworker’s wedding, as well as help with some of the decorating and cleanup. It was the first wedding I had been to in a while, and it was fun to sit around a table with people from the office and not hear anyone say the word “tooth” even a single time (not that any of us mind talking teeth! 😉 ). A week or two later, my parents and I and my brothers and their families went camping together. It was nice to have some time to spend with each other in a different setting.
Watching the game of "Kube" going on

Watching the game of “Kube” going on

Grammie and granddaughter talking

Grammie and granddaughter talking

digging in the sand at the playground

digging in the sand at the playground

In September, Mom, Dad, and I went on a day adventure and drove up Mount Washington. The day was clear, which is apparently quite rare for the mountain, and warm. The views were absolutely stunning.
warning at the bottom: if you have a fear of heights, you might not enjoy this drive!

warning at the bottom: if you have a fear of heights, you might not enjoy this drive!

This, friends, is what a hairpin curve looks like!

This, friends, is what a hairpin curve looks like!

The observatory

The observatory

what a view!

what a view!

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Video presentation telling about the experience of recording the fastest wind speed on record

Video presentation telling about the experience of recording the fastest wind speed on record

The anemometer that recorded the highest wind speed

The anemometer that recorded the highest wind speed

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The following month my aunt and uncle from New York came to visit, and we visited the World War Two museum in Wolfeboro and took a drive to view some of the most brilliant foliage we’ve ever seen. With as warm as it was this fall we weren’t sure how the colors would be, but they were amazingly vibrant.
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“Sweetheart jewelry” at the Wright Museum

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In December, quite outside of my original plans,  I purchased my second car! I had been planning to run my little blue car as long as I could, at least until I could save up for the majority of the cost of my next car; however, one day my coworker said that she was selling her mother’s car for her- a 2007 Toyota Corolla with only 13,047 miles on it.  The price she was asking was extremely reasonable, and the wheels in my head started turning. I began crunching numbers, doing research, and most importantly, praying hard for wisdom about the decision. Long story short, God gave me peace about purchasing it, and there is now a cute little seafoam green car sitting out in the driveway!
Even better, my blue car has already sold. I had prayed, and I know my Mom had too, that it would sell quickly; winter in New Hampshire isn’t exactly the best time to have a car sitting out for sale. Before I had even gotten around to putting the “for sale” signs on it, a lady stopped by asking if it was for sale, as her daughter was looking for a car. We gave her some information and she left, saying her husband might stop by and look at it.
On the first of January, on somewhat of a whim, yet with intention of making my request in belief that God would (not could, but would too often I know in my head that God is capable of doing something, yet in my heart I don’t truly believe that He will) do it if He was pleased to do so, and with the intention of giving Him praise and glory if He chose to grant my request, I asked God to let my old car sell within one week. The next day, the lady’s husband stopped by, and the following day they came over and the young lady test drove it and that night they phoned and said she would take the car. By the following evening, the spot in the driveway that my little blue car had occupied was empty. God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think!
I hope and pray that this testimony to God’s work of giving me grace to believe Him and act on prayer and faith is only a taste of what is to come in this new year. I hold more hope in my heart for a good year than I have dared to dream of in recent times, because the Lord has encouraged my faith. Almost two years ago, I clearly remember sitting on my bed, realizing that I had no real belief that God was actively working on my family’s behalf for our good. Life had never looked darker for as long as it did at that period of time. But slowly, gradually, as I called out to God, kept studying His Word, fought Him and fought my fear of obeying Him and my fear of not obeying Him and fought to gain greater trust in Him (yes, lots of fighting went on!), He gently showed me that He is faithful and trustworthy, and that faith is a prerequisite for seeing God act.I am becoming convinced that what God wants from us, maybe more than anything else, is our faith. He values our faith greatly and will allow us to go through almost anything to strengthen it. He wants to be trusted. And it is those who lack trust in Him, who will not believe Him to act on their behalf, who do not see Him act. Jesus Himself did not perform many miracles in one of the towns He traveled through because of the unbelief of those who lived there.
Living by faith invites much testing, to be sure, but yet it is so much easier on your mind and soul and body to live by faith, to have the tranquility and peace of mind brought by believing God is good and has good things in store. Life is going to come with challenges and hard times no matter what, but if we yield to the work of endurance, and allow it to do its complete work, we will be mature and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:3-4), and we will see God do amazing things.
And that is the best part of the adventure that awaits.
The word that I have chosen for 2016 is finish. I hadn’t planned on choosing a word this year, but I had asked the Lord to give me a simple, yet profound maxim, you could call it, for the year. Something that would help me stay motivated and focused on the things that are important. A few days ago, the word “finish” came into my mind, and it seemed a good word for this year. My goal-setting went down the drain the past couple of years and I have many unfinished projects (for example, I only published 8 blog posts last year, and yet I have 19 rough drafts waiting to be edited!) and goals that it’s time to wrap up, so that I can be ready for whatever adventure life brings next.
Sometimes adventure doesn’t always come in the form of driving up a winding narrow mountain road and standing at the top of the tallest mountain in the northeast….sometimes it comes in the form of unplanned friendships and learning to trust God and be brave enough to obey His voice.
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Old Year, New Mercies

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I know I’m a bit late to the party with my end of the year post, but I enjoy this chance to review some of the highlights and shadows of the year before it slips too far away, so I’m sharing it anyway. 🙂

2014. This year will not go down in history as one of my favorites. As I told someone a few days before the year ended, 2014 was not for sissies- especially ones like me. Things did not go as I expected or hoped many times. I found myself wondering if life would ever get better. Potential joys seemed always overshadowed with the struggles and imperfections brought on by living in a sin-cursed world.

I struggle as I write this post, to know how to memorialize the year 2014. The gloomy, stubborn part of me wants to paint its blackest details in stark relief for all the world to see, so my optimistic, easily forgetting, quickly-moving-on self won’t forget how rotten of a year it was in so many ways. But my conscience pricks me, telling me that to paint such a picture is to be ungrateful for God’s grace, shown to me and my family in so many ways this year. It wouldn’t be doing God justice to say that everything was horrible, simply because I didn’t have eyes to see the good in it and faith to believe that He was working on my family’s behalf.

So, perhaps the solution has just presented itself to me. I will write a thankfulness post.

In 2014, I am thankful…

-God showed me how weak my faith was. And reminded me many months later that a lack of faith is what robs me of my joy.

-I was able to experience going to church on my snowboard on the side of a mountain with Loon Mountain Ministry and spend some time snowboarding with some friends afterward (with a free ticket, no less).

-For the unexpected opportunities that God brought my way in my job. Just as I was beginning to feel a little restless, He answered yet another of the prayers I had prayed back in 2012 when I was searching for a job: that wherever I worked, I’d be able to use my writing abilities. I offered to make a Facebook page for our office, and before I knew it I was writing content and managing our social media marketing! I have no clue what I’m doing most of the time, but I’m having fun learning. 🙂

-He kept my dad safe through an emergency appendectomy in Maine in July.

-He took my Grandma home to be with Him after 99 years and almost 9 months of a vibrant life, quietly, sweetly, without prolonged pain or slow slipping away from us. I am thankful for the box of sheet music that He had my aunt give me after my dad’s appendectomy that had the song “My God and I” in it, a favorite of Grandma’s, and for the time He gave me at the piano the night before she went home to heaven, playing the song and picturing Grandma and Jesus walking together, laughing and jesting as good friends do.

-I was able to get a refund on my plane ticket, since the service for Grandma was the same week as I’d planned to go to Florida for my friend’s graduation from nursing school.

-Mom and I were able to go to the World War 2 museum in Wolfeboro, NH.

-We were able to see a summer theatre presentation of Wind in the Willows in Tamworth, NH.

-For the Sunday nights when my friends came over and we’d eat popcorn and watch movies together.

-For the moment I stepped out into the living room, during a disappointing day wherein we stayed home and missed a Piano Guys concert because of bad weather, and saw the Christmas tree transformed into a twinkling wonder of white, red, and gold.

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-For spending the night of Christmas Eve at my brother’s house with the whole family (including several excited children), having a nice Christmas with all of us together, building giant Angry Birds balloons that looked like flying fish floating through the air, watching White Christmas and napping on the couch, and laughing together at a Tim Hawkins dvd on Christmas night.

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-For the foundational truths I learned and re-learned by doing an inductive Bible study of the book of Romans.

-And for every way that God carried us through 2014 and proved His faithfulness to us. Truly, His mercies are new every day.

And now to the fun part..I love sharing new discoveries of books and music that I made in the previous year.

Books: My biggest reading accomplishment this year was Les Miserables. It wasn’t an easy book to read, and I’ll admit I felt my interest waning at times (I have to say I found the chapters on the sewer system of Paris more interesting than the chapters on slang 😉 ), but it really was a good read. Even though the extensive detail in the book would probably never fly in today’s publishing industry, I appreciated it because it really gave a sense of the grand scale of life, and of this epic story. The character development was incredibly deep, and there were phrases that made me stop and read them over, they were so well-written. One passage in particular that described being lost in an ocean was so vividly written it made me feel like I was bobbing in the waves! This book also broadened my vocabulary- I learned several words, such as epoch, lugubrious, bourgeois, and a host of others I’ll never remember. I was glad to be reading it on my kindle, so I was able to simply tap on a word to find out the definition.

Music: I’m usually about 3 years behind in my pop culture knowledge (it’s so hard to tear myself away from admiring the 1940’s!), so this year I just discovered Ingrid Michaelson- I heard one of her songs at the end of a movie and kind of liked it, despite the fact that her style is pretty different from what I typically go for. But I found that I liked some of her songs, and they’re good for writing music too (although nothing can beat the Piano Guys for writing music. That obsession’s not going away any time soon).

Oceans by Hillsong United is another song that’s not typical of my normal tastes, but I really, really love the words to it. A friend and I both kind of adopted this as our theme song this year. The words are the prayer of my heart!

My mom rediscovered the song For the Longest Time by Billy Joel, which I wasn’t familiar with. It’s a fun song (I love how it’s about an artist becoming re-inspired), and every so often we have to play it and bounce along. 🙂

Looking forward: As I looked ahead to the New Year and prayed about my desires and the Lord’s desires for this year, I boiled them all down to a few phrases:

Love Lavishly
Create Copiously
Write Seriously
Trust Totally
Manage Wisely

I let myself be carried on by the events of life in 2014, and it’s my desire to be more intentional with how I live in 2015. I want to prayerfully set goals for myself and work hard at reaching them. You always get farther if you try than if you don’t!

No matter how 2014 treated you, I hope you are able to look to the future with the confidence that God is good and have faith that no matter what’s going on in your life right now, He is working all things out for His glory and your good.

“Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!”  Lamentations 3:22-23

What ways did you experience God’s grace and mercy in 2014? What hopes do you have for this year?

Why, Hello Again…

Three months and thirteen days. That’s how long it’s been since my last post here. How terrible of me! Yes, I must admit, I have fallen waaayyy off the writing bandwagon the past several weeks. But I’m getting back on again and hoping going to ride longer and farther than ever before with this blogging stretch. So, I thought I’d ease back into things with a little recap of what’s been going on these past three months.

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August, September and October were a blur of busyness. Several times I wished someone would stop the merry-go-round so I could get off. I’m too young for life to be passing me by this quickly! I think that’s part of the reason I look forward so much to fall and winter; it gives my family and I a chance to step back and breath a little after the hectic pace of keeping up with a large garden and lawn. Vegetables and grass wait for no man, and on top of that, we didn’t get a hard frost until well into October, so the gardening lasted longer than usual.
    But God blessed our gardens and gave us a good harvest, so I am grateful for that. You can’t beat the flavor, price, or peace of mind (knowing when you open a jar of beans you won’t find a cigarette butt inside) of your own home grown and preserved food. I did manage to fit in a foliage drive through New Hampshire and Vermont with a couple of friends, a visit to a WW2 museum with my mom (I’ll have to do a separate post on that sometime – it was so interesting!), and a trail walk with my mom, sister-in-law, and two nephews. Those are the pictures you see interspersed throughout this post.
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   In September I decided to take the month to go back and look at my novel for the first time since I finished the second- first draft last year (there are two drafts of my story, one from each NaNoWriMo I have done. However, they are both first drafts because the story changed a bit from the first draft to the second.) There is much work to do to have the story completed, but I was encouraged that the first draft wasn’t as horrible as I had expected!
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   In October I signed up for a 30-day Intentional Blogging challenge from Jeff Goins. One of the first assignments for this challenge was to write the “About Page” for your blog. I decided that I wouldn’t write anything else until that project was done (since I’ve had this blog for two years already and still haven’t written one), which is the main reason you haven’t heard from me for three months and thirteen days. Trying to condense who you are, why you write, and what your reader can expect from your blog into 1,000 words (preferably less), with charm and wit, is no small task. Struggle is the perfect word to describe my attempts at completing this, and I have succeeded at being a master of procrastination with it. “Everything is more important that writing an about page! I’m too tired! I can’t think of anything to write! It’s not coming together! It probably never will!” 
   But eventually, after a few short sessions of word hacking and patching, things are beginning (I think? And hope?) to take shape. I have decided that I can no longer postpone all other writing until this project is done, so I am making my re-entry into the world of writing. My plan is to spend a few minutes at the start of each writing session to work on my about page a bit more, so that way I won’t completely lose track of it, and hopefully in a couple of weeks you will see the finished result!
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   November came, and with it the feeling that always comes after a hot, harried summer: a feeling of re-awakening. Instead of keeping my head down and focusing on the next hurdle in the race, I’m able to look up, slow down (sort of…), and contemplate the scenery and focus on how I’m getting to the finish line. With the gardens tucked away and the lawn raked, I could now dust off my sewing machine and begin making Christmas gifts. Mom and I are trying hard to get our Christmas crafting and shopping done early so that we can focus on other, more important aspects of Christmas this year. I just have one more gift to buy and a lot of things left to make, which I’m hoping to make progress on this week, and then I’m done!!! 😀
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What a difference six years makes in the size of laptops!

 One other recent development that I’m hoping will help me get more writing done is that I got a new laptop! I’ve been planning on it for a while now, since my old laptop (which I purchased 6 years ago with money I earned mowing lawn for someone over the summer) had a dead battery, a dead cord (thankfully I was able to borrow the cords from my parents’ laptops), no software advanced enough to play the movies that my camera takes, and was running out of space. Not to mention that the speakers were dying and it’s HUGE, even compared to laptops of approximately the same age.
Daisy wanted to be in the picture!

Daisy wanted to be in the picture 🙂

To go from my 7 lb (which felt like 10), 16″, Vista-running hulk to this sleek little 4 lb, 13.3″ Windows 8-running touchscreen with a 360* hinge so I can fold it back and use the on-screen keyboard or stand it up and watch videos, is quite a change! Technology is crazy. I can hardly keep up with it! But I am enjoying my new laptop and I’m hoping it’s going to make it easier for me to write since I will have a more portable laptop to work on. That’s what I prayed for anyway!
And there you have it. A brief review of the past three months and thirteen days of my life.
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What has happened to you over the past three months and thirteen days? Share it in the comments below, if you like. I’d love to hear about it!

Highlights and Shadows: 2013 in Review

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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?

 

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