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.
-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.
-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:
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?
Diana, it’s as if you wrote an autobiography of my year. The first part of your post was exactly our year. My family experienced God’s grace and mercy over and over and over as Dad survived impossible odds time and again. We grieved over the unexpected death of my mother-in-law. We celebrated her life. We welcomed our seventh grandchild and fourth grandson on November 14th. Our baby’s Masters graduation and the exciting start to her career. My aunt and uncle celebrating their 60th and Dad being (barely) well enough to attend.
And this year, my hope is to encourage others in their walk and share the promise of Jesus’s Divine Mercy. My hope is for eternal blessing on our son and future daughter-in-law as they enter Holy Matrimony in May and continued blessing on my wife and I as we celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary in July. My hope is to continue writing and publish several books this year. And inspire and enlighten others in the process, as I hope to fulfill the purpose for which God has put me here.
Wow. That was emotionally challenging to write. Thanks, Diana!
Diana Nesbitt says
Wow, what a year you had! The ups and downs of life never cease to amaze me (and sometimes make my head spin). Life is truly a mix of joys and sorrows. But always, God is steady and faithful. Thanks for sharing your comment, Dave! May God bless the work of your hands in 2015.
Diana – it’s not easy to look back on a particular tough season or year and see the good. I feel that way about the late 1990s – my husband was without a job and things were rough. In fact the entire 1990s wasn’t a good decade for us, as he fought two battles of cancer. But now, twenty plus years later, we can look back at the good things from then and seeing God’s hand helping us through each step. Because of adversity, we drew closer to Him. I wouldn’t want to go through it again, but I’m thankful that He took us through it in order to build a closer relationship with HIm.
Diana Nesbitt says
That must have been such a long, trying time for you Joan. Praise the Lord He brought you through it! I’m so thankful that with God, no trial is a senseless struggle- there is always a good purpose for it if we’ve been drawn closer to Him.