Completion

It is finished–seminary!

Technically Aaron has two days of classes left, but he is done with all his homework and projects, so that makes it all a lot more pleasant. Graduation is next Monday. Then he’ll study for his classis exams–oral examination by pastors/denominational reps in GR–which are in a few weeks, on his birthday.

I wouldn’t say the past three years have been a breeze–more like gale force winds with occasional hurricane-strength gusts. We’ve experienced fearful uncertainty, overwhelming anxiety, forehead-banging frustration, and periods of zombie-like survival mode. We’ve also shared a special solidarity with brothers in arms, true neighbor-love, tear-flowing laughter, and heart-healing prayer. And we’ve swapped sticks of butter and cups of milk, kitchen utensils, beers by the grill, stories around the bonfire, and turns making sure no kids launch themselves or others off the Big Slide of Dropoff Doom.

It would be impossible to catalog all that Aaron has learned, or to prove that the most important wisdom came from the classroom.

We’re glad to be done, but we will also be saying sad goodbyes to a lot of good things and dear people. I don’t think that has hit me yet, although sitting here waxing nostalgic brings it closer.

I am glad to have my husband “back.” He has done a great job staying connected and helping out with family life in the midst of all the pressures and projects. Seriously. Haven’t I bragged about my dinner prep guy? But still, many many evenings (well, after he did the dishes–I know!) he would study and I would wrangle AJ to bed and then work or multitask with the TV on (or proofread stinkin’ seminary papers! It got us both!). You grow used to, too used to, this upstairs-downstairs life after a time, but it’s not a habit I want to hold. That’s territory we’ll have to fight for in the future, I know, as ministry life has a way of creeping into all the nooks and crannies as well.

But this weekend–oh bliss!–he could play with Anna in the afternoon! He could put her to bed! He could be interrupted! When he said he could take AJ to her eye doctor appointment tomorrow so I didn’t have to miss work, I was almost confused. You still work here? Yippee!

Oh yes: completion = satisfaction!

So Resolved

Like half the interwebz, I made some resolutions/goals for 2012 and feel strangely compelled to share them here. I was inspired by this great printable sheet from Thirty Handmade Days:

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The “one word” concept has been gaining popularity over the last few years. The idea is that you choose a word that you feel God is laying on your heart and/or that you want to focus on or be guided by for the next year. My word for 2012 is:

PREPARE

I don’t know what this year may hold, but I know God is moving us toward the next thing he has for us, whether that be a time of waiting or busy full-time ministry or something else unexpected. It rings in my ear and heart how our pastor has talked with us about having a strong spiritual life to get you through the struggles of ministry. And I know that life never slows down, it only goes faster and faster, and so I want to start now to cultivate the habits that will build the life I want to live. I want to PREPARE: spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, financially.

Here are some of my goals in the other areas:

What I really want in 2012 is:

  • to blog and journal regularly
  • to read for pleasure

What I really need in 2012 is:

  • to keep the checkbook & budget in order
  • to be consistent in parenting/discipline
  • to read Scripture daily
  • to limit my internet/social media with a reward approach
  • to floss my teeth

What I will share in 2012 is:

  • call/connect with friends I’m thinking of
  • be available for seminary friends & wives
  • practice hospitality in our home

In 2012 I will succeed at:

  • acquiring a new author
  • exercising 180 times
  • finishing seminary with no credit card debt/with savings
  • reading at least the entire New Testament

So (since it’s the end of January already) how’s all that working out for me? Well, mixed results, but moving in the right direction, I’d say. I’m on the way with some of my Needs and Succeeds: reading Scripture at breakfast, getting on the treadmill or busting out my wicked (ugly) Wii dance moves 2 or 3 times a week (despite determining I have plantar fascitis!), wielding the hammer of parental justice swiftly and calmly, and yes, I was even able to tell the hygenist honestly that I’ve recently taken up flossing from time to time. Obviously I have a ways to go on making writing/blogging a habit again! But I’m hopeful that as I get better at working these Need habits into my life, they will begin to yield the space and energy needed to do better in some of the Want and Share areas–although I need to stay intentional about those things too.

And while I’m oversharing and enjoying this blogging time, here’s another way (via the Dalai Mama) to look forward and back:

Things I Think Will Happen This Year—Aaron will freak out about graduating. Aaron will graduate anyway. Aaron will freak out about not getting a job. Aaron will get a job anyway—or if he doesn’t this year, he’ll still have plenty of reason to trust that he will, in time. I will freak out about moving. Moving will work out anyway. Anna will be ready for kindergarten, love it, and start reading. I’ll keep unofficially taking on more responsibility at work.

Stuff I Would Like To See In My Life—More discipline by me to allow more time for the things that are good for me and that I need and enjoy—reading, spiritual life, exercise, writing. More obedience with less attitude from AJ (it’s on me to make this happen). My husband using his many gifts in a place we love. Old friends. The ocean.

Things I Regret—I regret dwelling on regrets… Not being as close with some friends this year. Not recognizing the help some friends needed. Letting savings slip away.

Things I Am Proud Of—Our daughter and our family as a whole are awesome (toot toot goes my horn). Coming up on 15 years of marriage. Knowing my strengths.

One month in, how are your resolutions going, if you made some? What would be your one word?

Way Back in 2011…

Before we get to the new year and its routines and resolutions . . . a quick December recap:

  • Holy cow, I got a full month out of AJ’s box braids! I did them at Thanksgiving and made them last until Christmas Eve with a couple partial rebraids here and there. (Not saying they looked great by then…)
  • AJ turned five! We celebrated a little on her day, and then, because I am a moron a glutton for punishment always forgetting the December is an insane month a fun-loving happy-making theme-crafting mom, we had a Muppets themed birthday party. Photos of the Rainbow Connection cake to come!
  • After Christmas, we finally got to the movies to see The Muppets. It was AJ’s first non-drive-in movie experience, part of her birthday present, and she loved it. My brother and sister-in-law came too. AJ sang along. I cried, of course.  (Here is a great NPR interview about it.)
  • Aaron’s semester finished up with crazy amounts of work but good grades resulting, as usual.
  • Aaron was called upon on short notice to preach on Christmas Day because our pastor was really sick. He did a fantastic job! It was nice to go to church on Christmas too, although it made the day start early and go long. We actually didn’t go anywhere on Christmas Eve, just stayed home and enjoyed that…
  • THE LIONS ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS! And overshadowed by yesterday’s stinker of a last game is that Matthew Stafford has been incredible this year with over 5000 yards and 41 touchdowns. The future is bright!

More soon on birthday, Christmas, and my one thing for the new year . . .

We Love a Parade!

AJ and I went downtown tonight for the annual Parade of Lights to kick off the Christmas season in Tuliptown. Weathermen were threatening a rain/snow mix, but it was nothing but chilly, so we bundled up and skipped the few blocks down the street to join the crowd. This parade features many random local businesses, marching bands, etc., covered in or wearing Christmas lights in whatever fashion possible. My favorite two years ago was a well-lit tanning bed.

bellsonbobcatsringAJ liked the Grinch, the sled dogs, the marching band, Santa and his fake snow machine, and anyone with candy. I liked the hot air balloon flame-shooter, the Bobcat with reindeer extending 30 feet in front of it, and the motorized buggy advertising the “Amish Warehouse.”

But mostly I love that my little girl loves to go do things with me and is always up for a celebration. She was sweeter than the hot cocoa we shared tonight!

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