Happy almost New Year!
I’m sitting down with a bowl of ice cream (mistake #1) because I decided to start potty training today (mistake #2) even after weighing being terminally pregnant and having a husband who’s out of commission due to sickness. But nap time felt like the moment to review my first year overseas, so here goes my tired brain!
As this post has rolled around in my mind for weeks/months, I’ve struggled with how to write this because I fear coming off overly complainy, especially when my heart isn’t one of ungratefulness for this year.
Can I just say, WHAT. A. YEAR.
LIKE. WHAT. A. YEAR.
I won’t recount to you every crazy thing that happened right now (you can check my instagram for all that) but I’ve frequently thought: “Jesus, if I had known in advance all that would have happened this year, I probably would have never followed you here” (actually I’m 90% confident I would have driven back to Rockford and lived out my days at Chick-fil-a) and “I remember when I thought the most annoying part of missionary life was going to be washing every dish by hand” 🤦🏻♀️😏 (Oh naive missionary Karri Woolley… and all veteran missionaries roll their eyes. But moving on…)
Have you ever seen the movie “The Way Back”? I watched it quite a while ago, and basically Siberian prisoners escape and walk all the way from snowy, (awful cold) Siberia to India, and then back again to get their families.
That has in many ways felt like my/our year. (this has my husband laughing/nodding/shaking his head… I don’t know if he agrees or not)
So I know, it sounds super dramatic… I mean, I am super dramatic…. and it’s not that it’s been a hellacious walk… it hasn’t been cancer or an affair or the likewise. It’s just been a long, long walk of following Jesus. Truthfully, I’ve been confident throughout this year that he knows the way, he is the only guide I trust, but man, can we quit walking now? Have we arrived? Can we get to the place where it feels convenient and easy and just isn’t SO FREAKING HARD?
BUNNY TRAIL: Speaking of convenience, here’s another one of my frequent thoughts (basically this whole post is all of my reoccurring thoughts of the past year), but I often wondered what I ever complained about in my life in the USA?! I don’t say this to guilt any and all of my North American friends - but really, after thinking about how we used to have a car (TWO cars), and walmart and the ability to speak english all the time and Chipotle, and TOTAL CONVENIENCE everywhere, I don’t know what I was ever annoyed by 😆 If we could have one of those things back in our lives it may feel like we’ve died and gone to heaven. YES, WALMART OF NORTH AMERICA NOW EQUALS HEAVEN! Please go to your local Walmart and kiss the greeter and the potentially rude check-out person because YOU’RE IN HEAVEN.
This year has been stretching, and yet good. I don’t at all feel like “screw you 2018!” (am I allowed to say “screw" as a missionary…? ummmmm replace with acceptable christian word version—I’m sure Jon Crist has a video or something addressing this already. BUNNY TRAIL: I think he’s annoying).
In not completely hating 2018 though, do you want to know what my number 1, strongest, most common thought this entire year has been?
It’s easily been, “I DO NOT LIKE TRUSTING IN JESUS THIS MUCH”. And I think that’s true for all Christians, we don’t like only having Jesus to trust in. I’ve definitely been in different trials in my life but it seemed like they lifted easier. Yet this has been a year of quoting scripture for months, and still feeling the same exact way after. Of hanging on to a promise or a word I know I’ve heard from the Lord, and things still go on unchanged for daysssss/months. And over and over in my heart, I’ve thought, “well, literally all I have is to completely throw this at Jesus, but I really don’t like having to only trust in him”.
I’ve lived - unknowingly - the majority of my life being able to half trust Jesus and lean into my family and my close friends, half trust Jesus and trust in my abilities, half trust Jesus but really, really trust in doctors and hospitals and good healthcare etc etc. And because of the craziness of the year, it’s been more apparent that all those things are just rugs that can be slipped out from under me—and all that’s left is Jesus, who is walking a really long path and continually invites me to follow him.
I wish that the “footprints in the sand” poem was how I felt my year was… because that’s what I want, is to be carried in a romanticized version of my faith. But that hasn’t been my 2018. My year started with a pregnancy and then a miscarriage, and then a Jesus who saw the giant waves around me and still asked me to get out of the boat, to trust him and to walk behind him. And then at some point I feel like we quit walking on water and have been walking through (awful cold) Siberia, or middle earth, or some other wilderness for quite a while.
YET YET YET, somehow in God’s upside down economy, the sweetest thing is I’ve spent more time with Jesus this year than ever before. I’ve heard him speak more than ever before. And so, I’m thankful for our walk. I honestly wish it was through something prettier and smoother, like target, or we had the ability to stop and get cake shakes on the way - and even more candidly I’m pretty tired of walking and trusting…
but I don’t know how to describe it or that it will make sense, but everything is just better - in all this, I’ve seen my marriage to my favorite person become even sweeter, even way more fun, even deeper and more intimate. I think I’ve become a better mom (especially once Betty and I didn’t have to live in a 100 sq ft hotel room together 😬) and maybe even a bit more dedicated to Jesus.
Still a lot of room to grow. Still a lot of attitudes I need to adjust. Still a lot of trust I need to surrender. Still a lot.
But be it miscarriages, explosions, culture shock, hugely failed expectations or robberies, I can honestly say, 2018 you were so good FOR us.
The huz and I are believing in 2019 for God to show His redemption over single thing the enemy tried to steal - because Satan, you were a fool to try and steal our joy!
I conclude by saying thank you, thank you, thank you Jesus. You are our Emmanuel, God amongst us, WALKING WITH US.
THROUGH. IT. ALL.
Happy New Year my sweet friends! May you continue to follow closely behind Jesus in your own life where he chooses to lead this year.