Wow! I cannot believe another year of life has come and gone. When 2010 first began, I felt God impress upon me a need for change. Change - to stop doing a few things I had done all my life, and to begin doing some things that I never liked or had the courage to do. Change. It became my word for the year - my year long theme. And boy has this year been full of change.
To kick off this last year, I gave up a long time habit of coffee drinking, and made a commitment to my health. I had been a couch potato long enough, and I was ready to get my heart in shape. I bought a treadmill, began walking and a little running, and a few months later, I signed up for my first ever 5K race. All total this year, I have participated in three 5K's, and it has been great fun! Running was never EVER something I liked to do before, but now, I find it a really great way to spend my time. And, my body feels much better by being in good physical shape.
The kids and I decided early in the year to enter a video contest. Little Man wears an insulin pump, and the company that we bought it from was holding a contest that would include a making a video introducing their new mascot. The kids worked really hard, and their video turned out GREAT! It was put on YouTube for everyone to view and then cast their vote. We didn't win, but our video did come in about 5th place. (We guessed that by looking at the number of votes at the end. I'm not for certain on that, though.)
In February, I stepped up to lead our homeschool group's annual science and social studies fair. That was big for me, because, usually, I prefer to just participate in events like that and not actually lead. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and wasn't nearly as stressful as I thought!
Brient and I have continued with the children's ministry at our church, and we have seen it grow in so many ways. We began teaching children's church on Sunday mornings, instead of Sunday nights, and have watched some great things happen! It was only by God's hand that everything has come together as it has. We spent several weeks cleaning and decorating the children's room, and thanks to my husband and his hard working self, we now have a bright, exciting, fun room for our children to come and worship God. Each Sunday it blesses me to lead them and watch them praise God Almighty and learn of Him in a deeper way.
Over the summer, I agreed to help out for a week of 4th and 5th grade church camp. I have never been a counselor in a setting such as that, and it was WAY out of my comfort zone. Yes, I work with kids every week at church, but I don't usually LIVE with them for a week, eating, playing, and worshiping with them ever single day. After the first night, I began to panic, and wasn't really sure if I was up to the challenge of leading kids at camp. But I stuck it out, and God blessed mightily!
Also, it was the first time Brient and I ever let our kids go to camp. Granted, we were there, but I wasn't able to keep an eye on them the entire time. But I let go of them a little, and let them enjoy the fun of camp. They had a blast. (Hey, even though I wasn't there next to them the whole time, I did know most every leader there, and I knew SOMEBODY was watching them! I still don't trust just anybody with my kids.)
Earlier in June, I had a thought - a fleeting thought, really. I have always loved writing, and I just, on a whim, decided to submit an article to The Old Schoolhouse magazine for consideration to be submitted into their magazine. On their web site, they state that it could take four to six weeks to even hear back from them regarding an article submission. To my absolute amazement, someone wrote me back THE NEXT DAY to discuss printing my article! So in January of 2011, my article will be published in the winter edition of The Old Schoolhouse magazine! That is something I have never had the thought (or would have had the courage) to do, but I am so glad I decided to send in that writing. And I just can't wait for everyone to read about my sweet friend, Kayla, who the article is really about anyway!
This year, we chose to take part in our local homeschool group's co-op. Co-op is a time set aside each week where many families come together to cooperatively teach each others children, and it's something I always felt was too much like a private school for me. I didn't have any desire to have anyone else teach my children. But in the spirit of change, Brient and I decided to give it a try. It has been well worth it - for all of us. Britches and Little Man just love all their classes, and I personally know nearly every one of their teachers, so I don't worry about them all day. And Little Sister and Baby Girl just love to have a day out of the house to go play with some different toys and some other kids their age. And for me, well, I offered to TEACH three different classes at co-op. It has been a challenge, but something very rewarding!
Because I chose to teach co-op classes, I knew there would not be a lot of extra time for me to plan and prepare our own personal homeschool lessons. So I decided to start using a great resource called Download N Go. They offer all inclusive plans for some amazing unit studies, and I just knew this would be a good fit for our family. There was virtually no planning necessary! And they offered some really great topics to learn. Soon after I made the decision to use these unit studies, I read somewhere that they were looking for homeschoolers who would be willing to use and then write reviews for their units. So I signed up to be on the Download N Go Review Team. We have thoroughly enjoyed all the different units we have done so far, and we're looking forward to some really great titles in store for the spring of this new year. I have even made a few new friends through this team.
In November, I decided to take a 25 day challenge put out by my friend, Ray, called The Gratitude Project. For the 25 days leading up to Thanksgiving, I wrote about something for which I am thankful, in an effort to be intentionally grateful. And let me tell you, I had no idea how hard The Gratitude Project would be. After about 10 days, I had already covered all the people and things I was thankful for, and I began to have to LOOK for things. And there were days that I just really didn't want to be thankful. There were some really hard things going on and a lot of uncertainties, and I really just didn't feel like being thankful. But by participating in The Gratitude Project, it caused me to seek out things for which I was grateful, and really focus on those things instead of myself.
At Christmas, I made my first ever fruit cake! My daddy LOVES fruit cake (though really, I still can't understand why!), so I told him that was what I would be giving him this year. He was thrilled. So I got in touch with my friend, Juliann, the one and only other person I know who makes and eats those things, and asked her to please share her recipe. It turned out to be WONDERFUL, or so my daddy tells me! It made three large fruitcakes in loaf pans, and one smaller cake in a pan about half the size of the others. My daddy was thrilled to have a supply to keep in the freezer to enjoy long after the holidays were over.
I'm sure that, to most of you, these things don't really seem like much, because, in truth, they are things that most people would do anyway. But for me, in order to do many of these things, I had to overcome some really challenging obstacles. I had to deal with my complacency, insecurities, down right fear of a few things, and I had to go out of my comfort zone more than I ever have in the past. I won't go into the details of all my fears, because, believe me, you would be laughing your head off at most of them! But just know, the things I have done this year, for me, are no small feat.
Besides all the fun, amazing things I did this year, there have been some great changes made in my heart as well. This has been a year of the greatest ups and the hardest downs for me. God has shown Himself in such mighty, mighty ways through so many things. But all through this year, He has broken me to nothing, and then reshaped me the way He wanted me. And it seemed like, for some reason, I just could not get it right, because soon, He would break me again just to reshape me more. This has happened through the entire course of this year. It has been a source of the greatest hurt and the greatest joy all at the same time. I have learned to trust God with my life and everything in it. I have learned that my timing is rarely ever His timing, and I have learned to sit back and wait on Him. I have learned that, no matter how big of a fit I throw, it will not hurry Him up in the least. It will, in fact, slow Him down as He has to wait on me to finish my tantrum. So I have learned that, even in the uncertainty of things I cannot control, I still must wait on His perfect timing. There have been some BIG issues this year, and My God has handled each and every one in His perfect time and according to His perfect will. I have learned to trust Him, depend on Him, learn from Him, and wait on Him.
Change - it was the perfect word for this year. God placed in my heart a desire for change, and this year has proven to be one big change after another!
And out goes 2010, just like that...