the gifts of 2012

Posted: December 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

It has long been a tradition for me to go all reflective at this time of the year.  (With apologies to my vegan friends,) I think of it as sucking the marrow out of the bones of the passing year.  Gotta get all that last goodie…can’t let a single opportunity to learn or celebrate or mark a milestone go by untaken, eh?  2012 has been a banner year – it’s not a matter of focusing hard to drum up a list.  More like trying to pick and choose the Really Really Big Stuff among way too many items from which to choose!  Ahhh.  What a great problem to have…

Answered Prayers – I ended 2011 with a 40 day focused prayer project (led by a book called “Give Me 40 Days” by Freeda Bowers – I recommend it) and had been astonished at how many prayers I documented as *answered* by the end of those 40 days.  Here’s a fun thing:  there were still quite a number of items not yet answered by January 1, 2012, both for myself and for others.  I’ve been in the process of repeating that 40 day project here at the end of 2012, using my last year’s book…which has all last year’s notes in it.  Amazingly, a whole bunch of the stuff that wasn’t answered in 40 days, quietly got answered within the last year, while I wasn’t paying attention at all.  Isn’t it nice that God doesn’t forget or suffer an attention deficit, even if we do?  Just a few of the answered prayers for MYSELF I can report here (as I try not to to tell other people’s news) includes:

  • a place to live – I was living in employer-provided housing at this time last year, having moved back from Chicago/JPUSA in August of 2011; since March, I’m nicely settled in a third floor corner apartment in downtown Davenport, IA that I really love.
  • to know whether I should seek a roommate –  I was really, really struggling with loneliness (note below) at this time last year, as well as financial problems (also note below), both to different degrees related to leaving JPUSA.  Living alone felt downright desolate a whole lot of the time after 9 months wrapped in the solid embrace of intentional community. And I had never been good with money, and a 9 month break from the details of having an income and bills did not improve this character defect of mine. I wondered if a roommate was the solution.  In the end, I didn’t get a roommate.  God took care of both problems in other ways.
  • to manage my money in a sustaining way – this answer came very near the end of 2012 – AFTER I spent 10 pay cycles – 20 WEEKS – overdrafting my bank account.  Every.  Single.  Paycheck.  Apparently I wasn’t ready to surrender until November.  As quickly as I was ready, He was there, guiding me and landing help and resources in my lap in the way that always makes it so clear…this has gotta be God, cuz it ain’t in me!
  • a home church – I was a perpetual church visitor at this time last year, and I was sick to death of it.  I am happily settled in now as a member at Mercy Vineyard Church in Moline, IL…very much at home.
  • deliverance from loneliness/God’s thoughts and desires re: a mate for me (this was 2 separate items) – He did both.  Oh MAN I was wretched for awhile.  Soul-suckingly lonely.  He met me there.  He did much work in me.  And…eventually…He scared the crap out of me by challenging me:  you complain to Me about being single, but you won’t ask Me for a mate.  Truth:  I couldn’t even START to have that discussion, when He first brought it up one Sunday morning in worship.  Better truth:  He brought me to the place of asking without being terrified (after a great tussle and a number of days).  Best truth:  having gotten me to ask, He delivered me an answer in the form of a practically custom-ordered someone who it happens I’d been crazy about for way over a year.  OH MY GOODNESS.
  • an anointing for the ministry I’ve been given – Here’s the thing:  I’m not very amazing.  I’m better on paper than in person.  Nonetheless, I have been doing some specific ministry stuff for which I felt/feel TOTALLY unqualified – one on one mentoring of some much-loved friends.  I won’t go all specific here, but I’ll just say:  despite the fact that I mostly feel like all I ever do is empathize a lot, pray silently a lot, and say, “I don’t know” a lot…I saw some friends experience some pretty miraculous things amidst their struggles this year.  Things I cannot in any way take credit for (how is saying, “I don’t know” a creditable action?!)…so the nearest I can figure is God answered this prayer in His usual over-the-top proportions.  I showed up, willing, and He did all the lifting.

The Great Road Trip – All by myself, I went on a 1500 mile road trip this past spring.  Drove my car (a 2005 model) down to Kentucky to be with my daughter and her hubby.  Crossed through the Appalachians to visit my high school BFF in West Virginia.  Came home through Ohio, stopping to visit a couple who used to be youth group kids when I was helping out with that.  All within about a 12-day span.  It was daunting.  Easy to imagine all that can go wrong, being an unaccompanied woman so far from home.  But it ended up being just flat FUN, not scary, and an experience I’ll always be glad I tried.

Phobia of Heights:  DESTROYED – I have been terrified of heights for as far back as my memory goes.  How high are heights, you ask?  Standing on a chair could make my stomach lurch.  You don’t even want to KNOW what real heights did inside of me.  In 2012, God took it away.  TOOK IT AWAY.  In a way for which I can take exactly zero credit.  All I can say is, HE REMOVED IT.  I am no longer terrified of heights.  I LOVE standing at the edge of a high place now, just to celebrate that terror is no longer allowed to join me on the ledge.  This is nothing short of a supernatural miracle and I want to shout, every time I consider it.

1000+ Bike Miles – I only keep a speedometer on one of my 2 bikes – Wilma.  Wilma has done well over 1000 miles this year.  Lulu…she doesn’t even have a speedometer.  But I know she’d tell you she’s done several hundred at least.  I made several 50 mile rides this year, going down to Cordova, Illinois along the river front bike path.  I commuted to work and back on Lulu a lot of days this year.

The Bix – A friend persuaded me to join her in running the 7 mile Bix race here in Davenport, on the condition that we could walk as much as needed.  Another friend sort of “sponsored” me by paying for awesome new race day duds.  I was reluctant at best, for this adventure.  It turns out to have been one of my coolest accomplishments.  I am so grateful for the experience!

My Last Cornerstone – if you’ve been around long, you know how wrenching the word “last” is when it’s coupled with Cornerstone.  I am so grateful that I got to be there for what appears to have been the last one ever.

University Mom – my son Caleb started at Iowa State University in late 2011.  This has been a year of getting to just be as fully supportive a mom as I am able, on that front.  That’s a big deal to me.  After his big sister went off to college and God turned our entire lives upside down and inside out, the remainder of his childhood years at home with me were, to put it mildly, challenging.  There was A LOT I either couldn’t or didn’t do, that I wished I could or regret that I didn’t.  There was error and ignorance and bad judgment and codependence and all manner of reasons that I can look back and just go, “WOW, I really fell short as a mom for his 7th-12th grade years.”  The boy got hosed, no way around it.  You don’t get a do-over when you spend time as a suck-tastic parent.  But God in His infinite wisdom and mercy HAS given me this little opportunity to make it up a bit (understand this:  my wonderful son expresses regularly that there is nothing to make up and that I needn’t suffer regret from those lost years) and I soak up every chance I get to offer support appropriate to this age and stage of his life.  It’s a neat gift for me (it feels like redemption), and I think for him too.  God is very good.

Enter:  the Grammy Years – a couple of weeks ago, my daughter and her husband welcomed my first grandbaby into the world.  I am head over heels in love with this sweet baby (spent a good portion of Christmas week admiring her up close), and totally believing my other friends who got to grandparenthood before me, who say, “It changes everything.”  Yeah.  YAY!!!

Dinner with the Folks – one of the regular practices I instituted shortly after moving back in 2011 was Monday night visits to have dinner with my parents (this follows my weekly meeting with my prayer partner).  Though I do sometimes miss a week or even a couple of weeks in a row if life gets really crazy, we’ve been pretty faithful to it.  I have NEVER been good about visiting family (or friends either, for that matter).  Weekly dinner with my parents is definitely a gift great enough to make the “big list” for 2012.   Precious and wonderful gift.

Gratitude – My many-years-long practice of writing daily gratitude lists has continued in 2012.  It continues to change and shape who I am.  It continues to be an investment that ALWAYS pays back more than I put into it.  Some friends even chose to follow me into this practice this year, which excites me to no end.  If I could suck every last one of you into my grat list, I would totally do it.  Just had to bang on that drum one more time.  🙂

Sweet Home Chicago – I got to visit JPUSA a few times this year.  When I left there in 2011, I announced repeatedly to friends there that I would visit so much that people would speculate about whether I was actually gone.  Alas, schedules and finances have not allowed that level of visiting.  Nonetheless, I HAVE been able to visit a few times, and every time it is very much a *coming home* experience.  Even new people who have moved in there since I have moved out…feel like family when I arrive for the visit.  My heart lives there, no matter where my body is located.  Happily for me, this is not an unhappy state of being, even now that my Mr. Custom-Ordered Someone and I have connected (it happens that he lives at JPUSA – and it happens that I’m at peace, watching and waiting to see how God works out the dilemma of the miles that separate us.)

Letting God Teach Me to Love My Body – this one is a holdover from 2011 – a project 2 years long thus far, with no end in sight.  I won’t start on what an amazing trip it’s been this year.  I’ll just say, I highly recommend any adventure that starts with a promise of letting God teach one how to do something.  He’s an impossibly awesome teacher.

Aww heck.  I could write easily 2…3…maybe 5 times as much stuff about 2012. It’s been a humdinger of a year.  Hopefully these few highlights have captured it enough that, should I live to see old age, I can enjoy re-reading this summation and remembering how great it was, being 46 and getting continually changed.

So…how about YOUR 2012?  You oughta write me and tell me all about it….

much love



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