Saturday, January 5, 2013

quiet + good

After blogging for nearly five years, it is no surprise that I would be reviewing 2012 partway through 2013.

Not only am I a chronically late blogger I am also a slow writer and even slower processor, and I can't seem to move on to a new year before first unpacking the year we leave behind.

Three years ago my word of the year was Love and two years ago it was Plow. Last year I chose the word seed as my word of the year.

Looking back the word Seed seems appropriate as this was the quietest, calmest year our family has experienced. We didn't move or have a baby, Jim didn't change jobs, there was very little transition, we didn't even travel this year. Everyone began to mostly sleep through the night, life became slowly steadier and more predictable and I felt very much the stillness of a seed; small, mostly dormant, rooting downward.

We surprised Jim for his 40th with two of his friends flying in for a guys weekend. 
It was so much fun to plan and we are so thankful for John and Tim and their families.

I'll be honest- the year was even a little boring. I find a certain restlessness in me when life is quiet for too long- isn't it about time for some kind of major life change? The word seed reminds me to be still, rooted in place, aware of my smallness, to choose the descending way.

In March we celebrated Josie turning two.
I believe the month of March is in need of a weekend-long party every year.

I wanted this year to focus on the heart of things- the smallest, most basic part that determines what a plant will become- my thoughts.
At no time of day or night are we not thinking about something. The only real question is, What is it? What do I choose to ruminate about in the interstices of the day, in the dark quiet of the night? Where does my mind go when there is nowhere specific defined for it to go?The question is an important one because its answer defines the kind of person we are choosing to become. ..  The fact is that we become what we think about. What we seed in our souls grows in us, forms us, becomes what drives us from moment to moment.  from The Breath of the Soul by Joan Chittester
I have a long way to go in this but I was helped along the way this fall by a women's Bible Study with our church as we studied Living Free by Beth Moore.

The goal of the study is the practice of "breathing Scripture" to find freedom in Christ. I could go on and on about the things God taught me.

Just as meaningful as the study itself was the weekly time spent with other women. One of the challenges of being a stay at home mom is that we spend so much time alone, in our own mind. I didn't realize how much I was craving- starving- for spiritual conversation. It was in this small group of women that I experienced grace spoken over me in powerful and life-giving ways.

This leads me to the very best of my 2012: people. The thing I am most thankful for every year is people, but this year glows with the gifts of beautiful friends, new and old.

I am thankful for my church family. I love our pastors, and my pastor-friend Nan is one of the most prayerful, genuine Jesus freaks I have ever met. I love the women of our church, young and old; so much wisdom and goodness gathered in one little church. I love the diversity, and the respect, and the way that Sunday School is spent asking questions, and that our children sit with us in church and are welcomed and known and loved on as a necessary part of the body. I love the grace I find in this community, the delicate blend of spirit + truth where art can safely bloom.

I loved getting to know these ladies at our women's retreat this spring.

I love our homeschool community, I don't know what I would do without them. We all look forward to getting together, it is so good to not be doing this alone.

I love the friends we have made in the neighborhood who I can drink tea with for hours while our kids swarm around us, foodie friends who have introduced us to some of Cleveland's culinary best while making lists of more left to try. I love our friends Jo and Larry, one of the unexpected gifts of blogging are these IRL friends of ours, who happened to move to Cleveland a few months ahead of us.

I love old friends who are life friends, I don't get to see them nearly enough but when we do it is always  so good good good. I love my friends who are family or who I think of as family, and the new members we keep adding to the family, the new sister-in-law I will be getting this spring.

I love the friends who I visit now only through their blogs or facebook, and those friends who were in my life only for a season but still a part of me. Truly, once again this year I look around and find that I am crazy-rich

When I count my richest blessings it has always been and will always be the people I know or have known.  I am crazy-rich. I have been thinking about how much these friends have blessed and continue to bless my life, of the ways that they unknowingly make me better or stronger . .. quiet, unsuspecting people who are simply living authentically and humbly, the best they can, before God . . . I have seen God and love Him more because of them.

And then there are the friends that are books. My favorite book this year was Gilead, and Marilynne Robinson became a much-admired friend.
I have been thinking about existence lately.  In fact, I have been so full of admiration for existence that I have hardly been able to enjoy it properly. . . .
I feel sometimes as if I were a child who opens its eyes on a world once and sees amazing things it will never know any names for and then has to close its eyes again.  I know this is all mere apparition compared to what awaits us, but it is only lovelier for that.  There is a human beauty in it.  And I can't believe that, when we have all been changed and put on incorruptibility, we will forget our fantastic condition of mortality and impermanence, the great bright dream of procreating and perishing that meant the world to us.  In eternity this world will be Troy, I believe, and all that has passed here will be the epic of the universe, the ballad they sing in the streets.  Because I don't imagine any reality putting this one in the shade entirely, and I think piety forbids me to try. 
Also in 2012 . . ..

I began to write a novel and then quit writing. It was a seed planted, and I am opening the file again this year with the intention to keep planting, even if it never is published and takes fifty years.

stepped carefully back into technology after taking three months off.

I blogged about pms and what is annoying me and what is saving me; crayons and onions and mom bodies.

We decided to homeschool.

Hope seems to be a theme this year as I wrote about hopea lot.

Heaviest this year were the one two three funerals within the space of four months as we buried three grandparents. Each life allowed us to think hard about life and death and what we will do with this one wild and precious life. I think of this verse:
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:24-25
My favorite quote this year:

We are at Jesus’ disposal. If he wants you to be sick in bed, if he wants you to proclaim His work in the street, if he wants you to clean the toilets all day, that’s alright, everything is alright. We must say, “I belong to you. You can do whatever you like.” 
And this … is our strength, and this is the joy of the Lord.
~ Mother Theresa

And of course I am deeply grateful for my little family, who put up with me and wear me out and make me laugh, who give me a thousand reasons a day to smile.

2012 was a quiet, good year. God is faithful and God is with us. I am humbled and thankful.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful... so beautiful. Thank you for writing.

Brandee Shafer said...

God bless, Dear Jessica. You have a quiet sort of roar to you and are more powerful, I think, than you know. I'm always glad to have stopped by.