2008 Was Definitely Great

With only two hours left in 2008, I am pausing to reflect on the year soon to be gone. How could I possibly define the year? Perhaps the best description would be a rollercoaster ride of emotions. This year we experienced some of the greatest “highs” in life, and some frustrating “lows”. If we were piling these emotions on a balance, the highs would definitely outweigh the lows.

January through March went by in a blur as we participated in gymnastic meets, Little Dribbler’s Basketball, spring baseball, Girl Scouts, and Cub Scouts. We lost our pastor’s wife, Toni Hagerty, to breast cancer the first week of January. This was a huge jolt to our church family, and we are still all trying to process what happened.

We went to Monster Jam again in February. Deanna, Denise, Lois, and I went to Lifeway Conference Center in Nashville, TN for VBS training. It was a long drive down in bad weather, but a wonderful experience that set the tone for a whole VBS experience!!!!

April and May were filled with end of school activities, baseball, scouts, gymnastics, and softball. We also started making summer plans! Not to mention our house hunting for a bigger place on land. The house hunt was discouraging; as we couldn’t afford anything we liked and didn’t want anything we could afford. Each time an “acceptable” property presented itself, I would hear God say, “Don’t tie yourself down.” I didn’t understand this statement, but by the middle of May it began making sense.

Cameron learned that his best friend Ryan was moving. While Cameron was very upset by this, it presented a unique opportunity to us. While Lily and I were driving home from a gymnastic meet in Arkansas, Chris called me. “You’re not going to believe what I found out today.”

Well, what he “found out” was that Ryan’s family truly was moving. They were currently caretakers of a 90+ acre farm with a pre-Civil War house, cattle, barns, and outbuildings. They lived in a four bedroom caretaker’s house overlooking big fields. “What would you think of looking into their “job” and moving to the farm?”

Well, what I think is it is exactly what we are looking for without the payment! We did a lot of talking about it. We spent time praying about it. We talked about it some more, and managed to talk ourselves out of it. At some point (I’m sure we were aggravated by our cramped living situation) we re-addressed the idea, and Chris called to see if the position had been filled or not.

Long story short, we moved in a few weeks later. In exchange for 40 hours of work each month, we live on the property of our dreams! The first day we “took possession” we bought sandwiches and chips for lunch and sat on our front porch to eat our lunch. I can’t even begin to describe the feelings that overwhelmed me. God provided our dream at no cost to us!!! We have been blessed beyond belief in this situation.

I was asked by furniture deliverer’s what would happen if the owner sold to someone other than us or didn’t need us any more. I responded, “I’m going to love it while we have, and if the day comes we have to let it go I’m going to walk away knowing God has something even better in store for us.”

This property has provided ample opportunities for us to share our testimony with other people. God knew long before us that He was moving us to this farm. I’m so glad we listened when He told us not to settle.

Denise and I went to LifeWay’s Worship Leader’s Conference in Ridgecrest, North Carolina the first week in June. It was an eye opening experience leading me to examine the real process of worship. I learned a lot, and am still learning. Theoretically leading worship sounds easy, but putting it into practice can be a daunting task. As soon as we returned, Lily and I headed to Bates Creek camp for Girl’s Week. It was Lily’s first year at Bible Camp, and it too was a huge blessing. The one night I had to leave camp for my college class, Lillian gave her life to the Lord. I had the blessing of teaching on the subject of “Joy” to each age group of girls that week, and it was an amazingly wonderful experience. After teaching a “subject” in a classroom all year, using my talents to grow God’s children in their faith was a breath of fresh air. If I could figure out how to transform my passion of presenting the gospel in an eye-opening way that kids understand to teaching reading and writing, well, I would be a sought after teacher! I then returned to the daily grind and taught the last two weeks of summer school. That was hard work. A week after Lily and I returned from Bates Creek, Cameron took off for Boy’s Week.

No sooner than he returned, we began promoting Outrigger Island Vacation Bible School. We knocked on doors every Sunday night until VBS. We passed out hundreds of leis to people at the Pilot Knob 4th of July Fireworks Display. We studied, prayed, decorated, and learned music. Before we knew it VBS was upon us. After six days of VBS, we celebrated the conversion of four young people from Cameron’s class!!! It was definitely worth all of the hours of work! We rested on Saturday (kind of) and early Sunday morning Lily and I left for FlipFest (Olympian owned gymnastic camp) in Crossville, TN while Chris and Cameron left for Sho-Me Baseball Camp in Branson, MO. The seven hour drive to Lily’s camp took even longer when the highway got shut down, and by the time I got home I had neck and back issues. I suffered at home while both kids were gone, and Chris worked. When Wednesday arrived I still was no better. I was dreading the return trip to Crossville. Unsure of how I could possibly drive there and back with the crick in my neck, we were blessed by amazing friends (Don & Deanna Campbell) volunteering to drive me to Lily and drive us back home. Chris returned to Branson and watched Cam play a game, and then they drove back home too.

We used another week of July to do laundry, move a little more, and repack. Then we set off on a family vacation to the Sirata Resort at St. Pete Beach, Florida. We spent a full week in a suite with a mini-kitchen right on the beach. While we didn’t do any of the “big” Florida attractions, we had a much needed relaxing week scavengering on the beach. While Chris and the kids swam, collected shells, and hunted for the seemingly elusive whole sand dollar, I relaxed on the beach with many, many books!!! I think we all would have liked to “hide” from our schedules for another week or so!

However, the beginning of a new school year was beckoning, so we ventured back to Missouri. I’m not sure where fall and the holiday season have gone. August found me buried in Curriculum writing…it was a long painful process and I’m sure it caused a few of the gray hairs I’m sporting. Labor Day weekend was full of baby showers for my sister, Lily’s baptism, curriculum writing, and my 30th birthday. I spent my birthday writing curriculum alone in the house. I was very sad that no one did anything “special” for my birthday, but at the same time my curriculum was due the next day. Perhaps the most depressing thing this year happened the week of my birthday. In taking stock of my 1st 30 years I discovered that I have not accomplished any of the things I set out in life to do. I am not simply “feeling old”, just disappointed in myself for not sticking with anything to completion. The week of my birthday was also Freshman Work Week, so I spent the whole week and following weekend hanging out with an amazingly hard-working group of students and parents. We didn’t know it at the time, but that hard work really paid off!

October brought a myriad of activities both stressful and awesome. My niece, Ieva, was born on October 6th. The following week was full of Fall Festival Float Building, a parade, a talent show and awards ceremony. Not to mention Cameron’s birthday and Chris and I’s anniversary was that same week. We took Cam and Lily to Six Flags for Cameron’s birthday the weekend after Fall Festival. The kids had fun, but I was horribly sick through all of it with a MAJOR sinus infection. Halloween came along, I wrote a Christmas play for church, and we began practicing for the church Christmas program. Life was definitely stressful.

Between responsibilities at school, church, and home, November and December disappeared. The church Christmas program became a major event of contention. I spent more time in Bible study and prayer during this process than I probably have in the past few years combined. I don’t think I truly ever thought that Christian people could behave in such an un-Christian manner towards other Christians until this Christmas program. I still don’t understand why God led me into and through that situation, but I know that He intended it for good. I just wish I could see the good. I am really questioning my role in our congregation. Is this God’s way of telling me to move on, or is this God’s way of testing my faith under fire? Perhaps 2009 will tell!

Last Tuesday I crashed my car twice on the ice. It has been out of commission since, but Chris thinks he has it mobile again today. I had a CAT Scan that same day, ant the results were a cyst in my sinus cavity. I met with the ENT today, and I will be having surgery in a couple weeks to totally clean out all of my sinus cavities.

This, the last day of the year, has brought forth another blessing. I still haven’t sorted this one out, but a couple gave us a car today. I don’t do good with stuff like this. This vehicle could have helped this couple out in more ways than one. Yet for some reason, they seem intent on giving it to us. I’m not really “ok” with a gift like that. I don’t want to steal someone’s blessings by refusing something they want to give, but I also don’t understand why they want to give it to us. I’m not sure how to handle this situation…“thank you” doesn’t seem to cover it.

I am truly thankful for all the people and things that God brought into our life this year. After typing all of this, it is easy to see that the “highs” majorly outweigh the “lows”. I am almost sad to say goodbye to this year, but I am sure God has just as many blessings in store for 2009 if we have our eyes open, looking for them. I pray that you too can say God has bless you in 2008, and I am prayerfully looking forward to all He has in store for 2009.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

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