Sunday, January 01, 2006

2005: Year in Review

So I'm a little late with the year-in-review post. What can I say. I do like to spend New Year's Day reviewing the past year of my life, reflecting on what I've learned and where I've been. Buzzing through my blog archives made that a different experience this year. I thought I'd take some time here to recap 2005. It has been a year of overwhelming changes, with exuberant, joyful times sandwiched between dark and discouraging times. But God has been faithful--the same good and gracious God yesterday, today and forever.

When I welcomed 2005, I was in the middle of what can only be described as a "dark night of the soul"--the lowest point thus far of my eight-year spiritual journey. What should have been a joyful and exciting time of my life (I was counting down the months until my wedding) was plagued with a frightening feeling of distance from God--numbness and avoidance mixed with despair anytime I came face to face with where I was spiritually. I was also battling time-management issues (some things never change) and hating my job--in fact, desperately wanting to call it quits--at Project Respect. And the wedding-planning was...well, let's just say it was going less than smoothly.

On the bright side: I was, in fact, preparing to marry the man of my dreams. I was living at home with two wonderful parents and no bills to pay. I was sticking to my 2005 resolution to take control of my terrible eating habits and get in better shape. I was feeling more "at home" at a church than I had in years. I was enjoying a fabulous season of reconnecting with my best friend, sharing dinner with her every week, and I was also enjoying a fantastic Bible study with some of Steve's female family members.

Yet the spiritual darkness persisted. Until God, as He always does, finally broke through. In March, plans for the unexpected blessing of a trip to Denver suddenly came together, and April found me out in Colorado, visiting dear friends. But the trip wasn't just about seeing friends; it was about meeting with God. My mentor Diane took me on a retreat in Estes Park--just the two of us--and it was there that the Holy Spirit began to pour water on the cracked, dry desert of my spirit.

In Denver, God began to shed light on what would become, over the next few months, two major life themes for me. First, He taught me the absolute necessity of remembering His past faithfulness. Then He broke me and started to show me the gravity and ugliness of my pride. All was not suddenly peachy, but it was the beginning of a turnaround. I am still so amazed and thankful at the work God did in my heart on that retreat. (Shortly I'll be putting up some posts I wrote about the little things God was teaching me as He restored my hunger for His Word.)

Soon after that, the whirlwind of major life changes began. Steve received a job offer and we visited Tennessee/Kentucky to check out the area and look for housing. He accepted the job and graduated from college. In the midst of all that, by the grace of God, I finished strong at Project Respect. Though I had many times wanted to quit, God gave me the strength to persevere, and in the end I was so grateful that I'd completed my job and walked away with some wonderful relationships through it.

Of course, July was the big month. In the space of about two weeks, I got married, took a dream honeymoon in Maui, and moved to Tennessee, where Steve started his new job and I learned to take on a new role. (My cooking has come a LONG way in six months.) I also began to learn how God would use marriage as a tool to refine me. It's difficult sometimes, but it's definitely wonderful.

In the fall, I found myself struggling with my role as homemaker and was challenged to be faithful in the small things. Steve and I were hugely blessed in finding a church to call home. God called me back to the basics, and Diane helped me get some perspective on this season of life. But it was easy to forget and I found I still had to preach to myself often. We were also blessed with visits from friends and family and trips home. All of this made the year fly by, despite the fact that I find myself in a much more slow-paced season of life than ever before.

And that was my 2005. It has been a full and difficult and rewarding year. It has been a year of grace.

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