It’s been a while. Over two months to be certain. I was talking about the value of a well-timed pivot, encouraging you to seek out new opportunities. Little did I know that I was on a well-timed path for both a quick and dramatic pivot. I entered the Christmas holidays on the heels of a pivot and am just now starting to feel as the the world is returning to a normal pace. Things no longer feel as though they are spinning and order is slowly returning to our home. In the midst of so much change I simply could not write. I was consumed with trying to make sense of all that was occurring (the promise, expectation, and hope) as a challenging year was drawing to a close. The last year brought challenge and loss in ways that I had not anticipated. There is hard and then there is hard. It’s been years since I’ve cried as many tears was I did throughout 2019. I was glad to see it come to an end. Now, in the midst of a new beginning, in the midst of a new decade, I finally feel as though I’ve had a moment to catch my breath. I’ve had a moment to consider not only the last year, but the decade as well. Here is my decade in review.A Decade In Review; the hard stuff, the good stuff, and everything in between. Click To Tweet
Demographics and Geography
In the last decade I’ve come to appreciate the greatest moving company of all time. Perhaps you’ve heard of it – it’s called the church. In the last decade, as a family, we have moved two times. Twice we sent the call out and both times the church showed up – for nothing more than pizza and breadsticks. We rented one house, sold two, and eventually bought the home we currently live in.
I was in the midst of my 12-week maternity leave when we moved in and I couldn’t have been more grateful for the care and attention our church provided. The ladies came and cleaned – scrubbing everything from top to bottom. I remember our worship leader leading the charge of the move in. He stationed my post-pregnancy, hormonal self near the entryway and had me give instructions as each load was brought in.
In this last decade, we fostered our first granddaughter (and became grandparents to four more granddaughters), had our second child (Sofia) when I was 38 and Rob 44, got a new puppy and buried our older one. We relocated from the west side to the other west side, became part of the Lansing Christian School and Christian Education Community, left the church I grew up in (where we met and had lifelong friends) to plant a new church, and participated in several small/life groups.
During this decade we also spent our summers at Gunn Lake, Long Lake , Otsego Lake, Houghton Lake, Long Lake, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and Lake Buena Vista (Florida that is.) We realized we had a “thing for Disney” and made two trips as a family, three more as a couple, and one solo trip for Mom! We’ve also developed a love for the community of Lakeside, Ohio and visit there too often to count.
We’ve made four trips as a couple to the Catalyst Leadership Conference, and I twice attended the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference.
In the last decade, I’ve traveled for work to a myriad of places, including Puerto Rico, Nova Scotia, Calgary, Texas, Florida, DC, Maine, Boston, Georgia, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.
The Hard Stuff
It can hardly be a decade in review without an honest expression of the difficulties we experienced and walked through. There were plenty, large and small, over the last ten years. Some were brought because of our own hands and others outside of our control.
The hard stuff hit us right away as I faced one of the toughest challenges ever as the stepmother to three teenage stepdaughters. I entered the last decade as a wife, mother, and stepmother. I started a new job in a new field, became a foster mother to my granddaughter of a stepdaughter, and learned to become an advocate for a little girl with special needs.
During this same decade my sister was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, I suffered multiple rounds of kidney stones each year (even while pregnant), developed gestational diabetes experienced, post partum depression, developed sepsis after the delivery of my second daughter and was hospitalized, had surgery for stents in each of my kidneys, and had lithotripsy at least two times. I would also detect a lump in my breast, undergo a biopsy (which was negative), be diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism as well as a parathyroid tumor, and have a parathyroidectomy.
During this time I also watched as my spiritual mentor/father moved away and across the country, witnessed the slow and difficult passing of my grandmother and brother-in-law, and grieved as my best friend (for these last 10 years) also moved across the country. I had little time to put the effort and maintenance into friendships in 2018/19 and felt the loss deeply. The decade ended with tremendous feelings of loneliness and by the fall of 2019, I was tired and burned out.
The Good Stuff
While there were some difficult times, the good by far outweighed the bad. And even the most challenging times came from some really good decisions. In the last ten years Rob and I celebrated our 10th year of marriage, witnessed the birth of our second daughter as “older parents,” supported each other as we’ve chased career dreams, opportunities, bucket list items, and God callings. We’ve grown individually, as a couple, and as parents.
We have also moved forward together with a passion for leadership and service – in our homes, our community, and in our church. We are proud of each other and how God is using us for His Kingdom. We have grown as parents, supporting each other and our girls – committed to raising them to live counter culturally, to be leaders with hearts to serve His people and His kingdom.
In the last decade I have run two half marathons, a 10K, and several 5Ks. I’ve felt the strongest physically I have ever felt and the most confident in what I and my body can achieve when we purpose to. I’ve had the privilege to meet and listen to some of my favorite leaders and speakers, often multiple times – from Andy Stanley to Christine Caine; Priscilla Shrier, Shauna Niequist, Lisa Tykeurst, the list goes on and on.
I’ve read great books and learned much about the art of writing. I participated in the Compel Writer’s Training Program and have been a part of the Hope Writer’s Network. I’ve written two book proposals and met with four book publishers and one agent. I’ve also been invited to submit my proposal – twice. I’ve been invited to speak to women’s groups in the tri-county area and have had the privilege of speaking at chapel at my daughters’ school.
I’ve become part of many online communities and had the privilege to meet and support so many. I’ve joined a community of people in praying and fasting for a little girl we’ve never met. We continue to wait in hopeful expectation for God’s complete healing for her and her family.
I started a new career at the beginning of the decade, was promoted three times, and as 2019 drew to a close pivoted to follow an entirely new path. I have a new career, a new work place, and a new group of people to build community with and yet still maintain the friendships and bond from my prior position.
I am entering 2020 with a weight lifted from my shoulders, and ability thus far to come home to my family without the significant stress and burden from work, a blessing which frees me to be more present for them in these important years.
I am entering with an up close and personal understanding of the significance of burn out and the need for rest as well as physical, spiritual and mental self care.
What I’ve Learned
To borrow a phrase from Paul Harvey, I wish I knew “the rest of the story.”
But, I think I’ve finally reached the point of giving up when it comes to guessing or controlling what it is God is going to do next in my life. It never works out the way I think and/or fear it well. In fact, it has always been much better.
There have been innumerable lessons over the last 10 years – but the ones from the last 12 months, more so the last three, stand out the most.
- God is faithful. It is His nature to be so. Do your own decade in review and you will find example after example of His faithfulness.
- God can be trusted. I can trust Him to be in control. I can trust Him to fight my battles. I can trust Him even when I don’t know what comes next. The unknown future cannot change the character or ability of our known God.
- I need Jesus everyday. I need Him to permeate every exchange, every interaction, every thought. Left to my own devices – I will screw things up. I will make choices led by fear, shame, doubt, envy and insecurity. None of those things are a good basis for sound decision making.
- Seek wisdom. I don’t and can’t know it all. I need God gifted wisdom and the Bible tells me that if I ask for it He will provide.
- Grace for myself. Grace for others. Assume the best, not the worst.
- I need to rely on God more than my spouse or my best friend. I need to turn to God before I turn to my spouse or my best friend. Only God can provide the answers, the relief, and the peace I seek.
- I need to be desperate for God. Desperate for relationship with Him, desperate for His Word, desperate to be in prayer and communion with Him.
I am looking forward to find you back here each week – Heaven only knows what 2020 has in store!