January and February are re-set months in my life – not because they are the beginning of a new year, but because the Museum where I work is only open four days a week, rather than the seven days that it’s open the other ten months of the year. This gives us time for the deep cleaning, serious reorganizing, and helpful structure-building projects. It also means that all my friends get the same two days off each week which is unheard of during the rest of the year.
Last week alone I went to friend’s houses for supper five different nights, plus had overnight guests at my house. Over my weekend (Sunday and Monday) I was able to go out-of-town to visit family. Yesterday I finished my seventh and eighth books of the year.
It’s the growth, rejuvenation, planning, relationships, and structure I build into this season of the year that tides me over when the crazy re-starts in March. That means that I have to be very intentional during these eight blessed weeks. I have a list of 31 things I want to accomplish during this quiet season. I have a page full of names of people I want to invite over. Then I realize that I’m still working forty hours a week – they’re just more condensed hours instead of spread out over the course of seven days. I also am allowing myself to rest when I need to rest, and to let go and simply take time to breathe.
Last year was a lot. I created a new position at work and was blessed to be able to set up a new system – it was stretching and fun and overwhelming all at once. I had more responsibility than I’d ever imagined someone handing me and there was a period of time when every time I went to bed worst-case scenarios would play over and over in my mind making me wonder what in the world I was doing. I eventually learned how to give the Scary to God and rest in His goodness, even when I felt stressed. When I was right in the middle of the crazy with that – literally sitting in a room surrounded by eighteen hundred uniform pants that had just arrived – my adopted dad who lives in Ohio had a stroke and my life was flipped around again.
Cue the next season of my life. I counted it up once and I either woke up or went to sleep in Ohio (I live in Kentucky) 22 out of 30 days, all while keeping up a 40 hour a week schedule at work (although they graciously let me work at my own pace, so sometimes I worked 58 hours in one week, and 12 the next). It was during this time that I had several people who meant a lot to me die, and my best friend had a baby who’s birth I missed by just forty minutes.
I was also trying to learn how to be a homeowner which wasn’t going exceedingly well. The yard was consistently overgrown and there were days when I wanted to simply cry in frustration when it came to keeping my little home in order. My pride kept popping up and I felt like if my yard wasn’t properly mowed then I was failing at life in general. One reason I bought the house was so that seasonal girls from work would have a place to live, so during the first year I lived in my house I had four different girls live with me – that was in and of itself a huge learning experience.
My kitchen sink was broken for three months. Two of my closest friends from work left and moved out-of-state. My adopted dad’s recovery is still in progress and I went and stayed with them every week for five months and then every other week for the last two months.
Life felt crazy, unpredictable, and unstable.
And yet, in the midst of it all, I felt incredibly blessed.
This last year was one where I felt so much community, love, and care. While I struggled to balance my responsibilities and figure out what step was most important to take next I had people come alongside me and help carry the load. I felt like I was constantly letting people down because how could I do everything important in life? And yet through it all I didn’t feel any condemnation from anyone – not at work, family, or with my friends. Instead of adding to what I was carrying people lightened my load. There were people who stayed late at work when I was pulling long days and helped me with my tasks. When I left in a rush for the hospital right after my adopted dad had his stroke I didn’t take anything with me. A teammate/friend went to my house and gathered my clothes, thyroid medicine, and Bible then drove the two hours to the hospital to drop that and my computer off for me so the weeks I spent there and in the rehab center wouldn’t feel so long. I had people ask me over and over again what they could do to help. People who prayed, cared, and loved.
It was a long year. A year where I felt like I was simply going from the most important task to the most important task without much time to grow or be intentional in anything except staying ahead of the crazy. And yet I know that last year set into motion a wealth of learning that I can use as a foundation to help me grow this year.
I am thankful for last year. For all the love and care that people showed me. For the ways I was able to support others, and the way that other people supported me. I am thankful for the grace people extended towards me, for how they showed their care even when I felt like I was in a fog.
Twenty-twenty-one was a year of deep-down growth and I am thankful for how God sustained me during it all.