I realize we are well into January, but life threw me a curve ball that caused me to start the new year slower than expected. That being said, I am a traditionalist. New Years means time for reflection, dreaming, and planning.
So, if you will indulge me, I want to use the next two posts to reflect on 2016 and set the stage for 2017.
2016 | A Year in Review
2016 was a complicated year. Most people I know bid it farewell with glee. Welcome 2017! Yet, with all the challenges 2016 held, I want to remember and treasure it.
Overall, 2016 was a bittersweet year full of life change and life lessons. In every moment God reminded me that He is good (to me) (all the time). That simple statement assures me I can trust God to be God.
My mother-in-law and I spent most of January in Greece serving alongside Euro Relief and Hellenic Ministries. I saw the plight of refugees pouring into Greece’s borders. I witnessed first hand how God is at work in the middle of an unimaginable human crisis.
I discovered a land, a people, a culture, and a cause that both breaks my heart and brings me to life. I gained undeniable confidence that teaching and story telling is my calling. I learned that I am much more competent and capable than I ever imagined.
On top of that, my time in Greece collided with Andy’s time in Greece!
January was beautiful.
I spent February recovering from sinus surgery. Although my recovery was slower and harder than expected, the results were better anticipated.
I learned that good doctors make all the difference. I breathe better than ever and experience fewer sinus induced migraines.
The bonus: I got to spend two weeks with my mom while I recovered!
John and I traveled to Guatemala to take part in Keighty’s Parent Vision Trip. Seeing Keighty after 9 months was a treat. She changed so much, I almost didn’t recognize her- almost.
During our trip I participated in a ministry called Beauty For Ashes. It was as though God gifted me with a tool that uses all of my passions and gifts in a single format.
We came home and moved in a matter of days! Our new house is more home than the house we lived in the previous 11 years.
I spent April preparing for Keighty to come home, for Blake to leave, and for Andy to get married.
Oh, and I started working part-time at Pier 1 Imports– a surprise blessing in the middle of life’s craziness.
Blake left to work at Fuge Camps for 6 weeks in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. John traveled a lot for work. The house was empty.
Then, in one day, Andy came home; Blake came home; John came home, and Keighty came home! We spent the weekend celebrating all God did over the past year.
Then just as quickly, Andy and Blake left again… and so did my 17-year-old cat, Franklin.
Franklin was an indoor cat who never ventured outside until we moved. He loved sitting in the sun on the back stoop of our fenced-in yard. I don’t know what happened. I can only guess that I unknowingly locked him out one evening. I looked everywhere, called everyone, and posted on every site I could think of until I accepted and grieved that Franklin was gone.
June started rough. I got a crazy stomach bug the doctors think I picked up from Keighty. Then Sadie, our 8-year-old goof of a lab, started showing signs of a brain tumor or nerve degeneration.
I got better. Sadie got worse.
The night before Andy’s rehearsal dinner we had to say goodbye to our sweet pup. Losing two pets in a matter of weeks was devastating.
Two days later, Andy married his high school sweetheart, Kayle. The wedding was beautiful, wonderful, full of love and family. It was everything a wedding should be.
Afterwards, John and I laid in front of the TV for days like a couple of zombies. When we recovered we noticed the house was too quiet. John mentioned getting a new dog. I said no.
A few days later, we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, and wouldn’t you know it we got a dog! A lively and not altogether obedient rescue we named Cobalt.
John and I officially celebrated our anniversary in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. It was lovely, beautiful, wonderful, and hot. I soaked up every single moment.
Miracles still happen. Seven weeks after disappearing, our local animal control found Franklin in a window well on our street! Grief undone is a complex emotion.
We picked up Franklin, who had dwindled down to 5 pounds, and began the process of nursing him back to health and keeping him away from our overly excited husky.
John and I helped Blake pack his bag and move to South Carolina to attend North Greenville University. He is studying youth ministry and loving this new adventure. Letting go is never easy, but knowing this transition was both best and right made it a celebration instead of a loss.
John stepped into a surprising vacancy at our church and started serving as the interim student pastor… again. We love the students like crazy, but the last time John served in this capacity God revealed that student ministry is not John’s area of calling. So, he serves with joy while we pray diligently for the one God has called.
A few weeks later, John and I attended a vibrant conference at Adventures in Missions called Awakening. We left energized and ready to step into the next season of our lives. We treasured getting to reconnect and worship with our Adventures family. The weekend was exactly what we needed.
Pier 1 transitioned into Christmas, and I discovered I love transitions- not the crazy schedule, just the work. As I said, Pier 1 turned into a most surprising blessing. From the work to the women I work with and for to the women I serve- it is a delight.
I worked a lot. In fact, I think my friends thought I moved into Pier 1. However, in the middle of my crazy schedule, I took a long weekend and traveled to Adventures home office in Georgia where I trained and became certified to lead Beauty For Ashes retreats.
This process reaffirmed my affection for the ministry and reminded me of dreams God placed in my heart years ago.
Although Franklin’s return was a miracle, it was not without struggle. He gained the weight back and eventually his meow-ey personality. Unfortunately, his kidney’s never got back on track. John gave me all the time I needed to prepare for a final goodbye. The week before Thanksgiving I stepped into that space and let go one more time. Letting go of things returned is sometimes harder than letting go the first time.
The year ended as beautifully as it started. Our hearts and home were full.
We celebrated Christmas with Katie and Blake. Then late Christmas day, Andy and Kayle came home; so we celebrated all over again. It was a week of delight that we knew how to enjoy.
We focused on the moments instead of the impending future. We focused on each other because we know time is precious. Most of all we focused on God’s goodness because after all He is good (to me) (all the time).
And so, I’ve learned that amidst all the chaos that is our world, I can hang on for dear life to the unfailing fact that I can trust God to be God.
Here’s to a year we will never forget.
Amy, John, and our not so obedient but completely delightful pup, Cobalt
*Lysa Terkeurst’s book Uninvited gave me the language for this year’s big lesson: God is good (to me) (all the time); therefore, I can trust God to be God. Thank you, Lysa, for this gift and words of wisdom. I am forever grateful.