A Year of Good Things ; January 15, 2013

Ah, 2012... The past year held exciting new experiences and joys, and new challenges as well as familiar routines. Most importantly, it was a year of spiritual, intellectual, and relational growth for me.

It started with studying abroad in Ecuador. A radically new environment that challenged and stretched me, but also filled me with love for people and delight in the endless variety of people and places. Looking back now, those 3 1/2 months were the first time I knew without a doubt that I was exactly where God wanted me to be. He had many purposes for me being there: It was a foretaste of my possible life as a missionary... it was an opportunity for me to serve... and it brought up some issues that had to be resolved. Specifically, the way I interact with others... how I think of myself and how I think of others... and how my beliefs must affect the way I live. In Ecuador, I glimpsed how my life and the limited skills I can offer might fit into God's great plan of winning in-love worshipers from every tribe, tongue, and nation.

Then, I came home for the summer. It was hard to come back to the familiar after such an exciting semester. But the Lord also had things in store for me back home as I worked at my summer job. The "theme" of my summer was the importance of family and how important families are to God. I read through the book of Genesis during the summer, and what really stood out to me was how completely devoted God was to the family line of Abraham. And how could I think, knowing the character of God the Father, that He is less devoted to my own family, who have been grafted into Abraham's line through Jesus? No, He cares just as much about my family—and all of His families. Also, the Holy Spirit brought up some things I needed to work on, that I am obviously still learning: Compassion, mercy, patience, and endurance, to name a few. I also spent a huge amount of my free time working on a novel that I haven't touched since August, and I don't know when or if I'll ever get back to it.

And then, it was back to JBU for my final semester. I don't know what to say about it, except that it was, in many ways, my favorite/best semester at JBU, but also my most difficult and trying semester! I love living in an apartment with 3 friends. Definitely a high point. But after coming back from studying abroad, I felt oddly like my circle of friends had shrunk. That was okay, because the friendships I did have grew stronger. But it was hard to get used to not seeing people I knew all the time. Many wonderful things happened during the semester though... I spoke in the student-led chapel (a very stretching experience!), made new friends, conquered textbooks, learned to cook all of my own food, visited my brother and sister-in-law for fall break, wrote the longest paper I've ever written (42 pages!!), connected more at my church, went to the midnight showing of The Hobbit (yes, that is important!), and graduated!

Then I was home for a lovely white Christmas, and then I went to IHOP-KC's Onething Conference. The three days full of worship and teachings were well worth the 9-hour drive to and from Kansas City. I learned a lot at the conference, about God's grace and how it empowers us to live righteously before Him. God's grace is how we can live out the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Of course, that was only one thing that stood out to me from the conference, because it was like drinking from a fire hose! I may say more about it in another post.

So now it's a new year! And I'm actually done with college. People keep asking me how it feels. I say, I don't really know because it feels like I'm just on an extended Christmas break! But while my friends are buying textbooks, going back to class, and doing homework, I'm working on job applications. And reading books for fun... like The Hobbit. :)

Yes, I am grateful for this past year of my life. I'm thankful for God's gifts and for how He has worked in my life! He is so faithful and good.

In other news: I am working on a new design and layout for this website, so stay tuned. I hope to make it live in a few days.

7:29 PM  |  

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