I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions. The New Year will have enough in it for me without my making a to-do list!
However, now that the last few days of 2017 are coming into focus, I pause to take a look back at this year and ponder what the new year may have in store for me.
I did something a little different yesterday from anything I’ve ever done as I consider the ending of one page in my life and the beginning of a new one. I pulled out my journals from this past year and began reading, remembering the year and my written thoughts from each day, beginning with New Year’s Day. Some of my journal entries weren’t terribly impressive or interesting at first glance, but then something happened while turning the pages from one day to the next. I began noticing the emergence of a handful of themes, as I read my own words and musings from day to day. I began to jot down main topics of my writing, discovering that there were a few things that seemed to stay on my mind, or in its recesses, throughout the year. Interesting!
And now, I will share these with you, my dear readers and friends.
Spiritually, it was a year of growth for me. Early in the year, I wrote that I felt off-balance and not sure where I was heading. I had a premonition of challenges and struggles in my future, which weighed heavily on me during the winter months. Then, one day after listing the things I was grateful for, I ended the entry with, “I love God!!” With spring, came the unexpected death of a dear friend, and I also watched helplessly as some of my favorite little farm animals died, one right after another, without cause or reason, it seemed to me. I wrote about “the ebb and flow of life.” It was a time of sadness and loss, and I found myself turning to God and prayer for comfort and understanding. Gratitude remained an ongoing theme, along with God’s grace. With these losses tearing at my heart the way they did, I began seeking to make a difference through my own life and in my writing. I wrote about fear versus faith, knowing that my faith could overcome any fear I had. It was an epiphany, hearing God’s voice in my heart and recording His message in my journal, “I will take care of you. You have nothing to fear.”
Professionally, and as a by-product – financially – 2017 was a year of insecurity. Early in the year I learned that my job wasn’t secure, and I began wondering if retirement was approaching more quickly than I was prepared for. Money, or the lack of it, took a prominent place in my journal where I fretted about being poor and worried about the future and my financial status. I rode that choppy wave until the end of July, when my position was finally terminated. During this time of waiting for the ax to fall, I coined a new mantra for myself, sharing with my prayer posse girlfriends that my immediate goal was to just “relax and let life happen.” It was much easier said than done, especially when panic would overcome me, and I’d forget momentarily about God’s promise to take care of me. I applied for a newly created position at the same place that let me go, wondering if I wanted to go back there to work if they offered the job to me, or if I might perhaps be ready to retire, regardless of my income.
So, what did I do? In August, I went on a road trip with my cousin! We headed north to Maine, then meandered our way back, exploring back roads and picturesque towns, staying in obscure places, meeting fascinating people, reuniting with old friends, laughing, crying, talking, and soaking in this beautiful part of our country. It was in a gift shop in Amish country that I found a plaque that read, “A ship at harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are for,” which I bought. In my journal entries during this trip, spirituality and faith took a front seat, as well as this new mantra about ships. I decided my ship is not ready to stay in the harbor. My ship is still at sea! While on the road trip, I received an invitation to interview for the new position opening, and soon after returning home, I was back where I had left two months earlier. God was at work in my life. I had a new job, which was exactly like the one I was terminated from, but with a higher pay grade and better benefits. Again, my journal pages were dotted with thoughts and prayers of gratitude.
Another theme of my year was that of yearning for a circle of close friends, and in particular for someone who might join me on my life path, someone who would understand the heart and soul of a writer.This was the year that “Jennie’s Girls” became an official group, and I wrote about my love for these delightful young women who took me in as their adopted mom / big sister, and who have placed my heart tenderly into their hands. They have taught me how to live in the present and not obsess over the vague and unknown future. Again, the word “gratitude” found its way onto my journal pages. I also noted that I was beginning to feel more like a part of the “prayer posse” of women I meet with on a weekly basis. I had felt very much on the fringes of this group when the year began, but as it progressed, my writing clearly expressed that this was becoming my circle of friends. As for finding someone who might join me on my life path, I am hopeful. We’ll just have to wait and see what I write about in 2018 regarding this!
So it is that I bid farewell to 2017 and all that it brought my way. It was a year where I often felt like I was not treading on a solid surface, but on a wobbly one at times, and one where I was tested with loss and sadness, often coming at me from many directions and in various forms. But through the year I came to realize that indeed my house is built on a firm foundation, and that God is keeping His promise to me. I was also reminded that faith is stronger than fear, good friends are in my circle, and that my ship is still at sea. I am looking forward to 2018 with joyful anticipation of whatever is out there waiting for me.
Goodbye 2017, and thank you!