As I have been writing this post, the title, an old song from the '50s, kept playing in my head... I realize the song is actually about the difference "a DAY" makes, but for my purposes here we'll stick with "a year". I began writing the paragrahs below a few days before 2009 came to a close, but it has been hard to find time to write over the last few days. What a year it has been, in so many ways. The media has talked a lot about all of the negative things that 2009 brought, and how 2010 will be better. And that's certainly true, I hope, for our economy, and our nation, and our world. For me, it has been a year of changes, and a year of growth; last year I had no idea how much my life would change in the next 365 days- in both big and small ways, but all have been very important.
At Christmas-time last year, my relationship with my husband was seemingly fine on the surface, but in retrospect it is easy to see just how very fractured it was - two very independent people who were not communicating, and leading totally separate lives in the same home. There's no need to go into a lot of detail, but on Christmas last year we separated and planned to divorce. Why would I even go there in this post? Only to say that things have turned around in an amazing way, and one that only God could make happen. The time apart was beneficial, for both of us; we both realized that we did want to work things out and stay married. We went through couples counseling for several months, and learned a lot about each other and ourselves, and how we best communicate. Things aren't perfect, but they are so much better, and I know we are both committed to working together and continuing to strengthen our relationship.
Financially, 2009 was a BIG year for me/us, and not because we hit the lottery (although wouldn't that be sweet!). Like many people, the economy had us concerned about debt, retirement and more. And then a simple conversation in mid-summer of this year (It started when I emailed Dave an article about getting out of credit card debt, and he replied back with a link to Dave Ramsey and said a coworker was going through the program) rocketed us into a whole new way of looking at our money and financial situation. We've made paying off debt a priority - downsizing to less expensive vehicles, stopping the frivolous day-to-day spending, and really controlling our finances instead of letting them control us. We bought the DVD kit for Financial Peace, and then also went through the 13-week class at a local church this summer/fall. Now we're helping to facilitate the same DVD series at our own church, starting in January.
Another area of personal growth for me this past year resulted from a decision to NOT do something. My family and a few close friends were aware that late this summer I was considering going back to school, to get my nursing degree/license. I have a Masters in Healthcare Administration, have been in my job in women's health for about eight years, and I love it. But I don't have a clinical background, which is a first for this position. The prior directors in my job have all been nurses. It really has been something of concern for me, although my boss has told me regularly that she thinks I worry way too much about it; that I bring so much to the job and I don't need to worry that I'm not a nurse.
Truth be told, I know these feelings run much deeper than nurse vs. non-nurse; I am constantly thinking about what I need to do to make myself "good enough"... never satisfied with what and who I am and think the way to improve is to volunteer for more, or get more education under my belt, or accrue more awards, or whatever else it is that will make me "better". And a nursing license was the thing that would boost me to that next level. So, off I went, gathering information on what it would take to go back to school. When I learned what it would take, my first thought was "I can do that"; but then I really started thinking, and praying about it. I know and believe I could do it - continue working and go to school for the next two years - but at what cost? Jace is 11, and I would be too immersed in school/work to really be there for him. Dave and I have worked on our relationship, but this would definitely rachet up the stress level. So when I made the decision that I am not going back to school, it was with a sense of peace, and knowledge that this IS the best thing for me, and my family. And I've definitely not regretted or second-guessed myself about it... it feels so GOOD to not do that.
This past year I've been busy in the kitchen, for the first time ever; learning to cook has been so fun for me, and something I'm really proud of! I've blogged about it quite a bit, both the humorous part of it (how my family can't believe I can actually cook!) and the emotional part of it (my mom and what a great cook she was)and I'm looking forward to learning more this year. One thing that I need to focus on is some healthy but yummy meals; my BIL Luke got me a couple of great cookbooks for Christmas, so that's where I'll start.
Those are some of the things that have made 2009 such a transitional year for me. Honestly, I think I've changed more this year, at age 38, than I have in any other year in my adult life. I told my boss the other day that I'm not sure what has changed in me this year, but that I've seen a shift in SO many parts of my life that it can't be a coincidence. I'm looking at things at work differently than I used to, and seeing different and better results because of it. I've seen similar things in my efforts at home, and in my relationships.
It would be easy to chalk these changes up to a growing maturity on my part, but that's not the main or only answer. A big part of the changes this year have been a change in my heart, and in opening myself up to what God wants for me, instead of thinking that I have all the answers and all of the control. I've been a Christian all my life, and have gone to church, and prayed, and said that I believe in God's hand in my life, but I've never really felt like I've seen it at work. But this year, I gradually started realizing that this was part of the change I was seeing. And the more I was open to it, the more change I saw, and the more PEACE and growth I felt. I was in a training at church for leading small groups a few weeks ago, and one of the assistant pastors talked about his experience years before and how he had waited for God to speak to him, and thought it would be some BIG thing... but he discovered that it isn't, that God talking to us is often just that small voice, that nudge, that thing that we often chalk up to coincidence. As I listened to what he said, even though I've heard that before, it was so true for me - I've seen God at work in my life this year, and it is so exciting to me that I want to see more.
So I begin this new year with both peace and excitement in my heart, and a focus on life that I've never truly had before. My prayer is that I continue to be open to what God wants in my life, for me, my husband, and my family. I don't know what all that will entail, but I'm looking forward to the journey.
We are in Florida right now, enjoying some time with the kids and my sis Ann and her hubby Matt. It was a quiet New Year's Eve, very nice. Will post pics soon, we are going out to the beach in a few minutes to let Jace get in the water on the boogie board for just a FEW minutes. He's been dying to get out there, even though it is chilly while we are here. Happy New Year! More soon on some new year resolutions!