As a teacher I tend to keep time from school year to school year instead of year to year. Despite being in the throngs of another school year, today I pause and look back at what I know for so many was a year of ups and downs. For me personally, this year held some very definitive moments in my story thus far.
This year started with me in a place I did not think I would find myself and ends with a new beginning I did not expect. Throughout this year I found myself in places I never saw coming. Being recognized as district Teacher of the Year, some public speaking, lobbying, writing, and preparing for a new adventure at the first public Montessori school in the state of Oklahoma this fall are circumstances I never anticipated.
This year I found myself on many adventures, some planned some just because why not? I ventured to the north and the south to see family frequently. We said goodbye to my Meemaw with laughter through tears, my favorite emotion. I spent valuable time watching my niece and nephew continue to grow up. Seriously, I fear that if I have children they will not be as cute of smart as these two. No joke.
I went to New York City twice because I think it’s safe to say I have fallen in love with a city. Once in a blizzard with my parents in March. I made a snow angel in Central Park and saw Times Square without a lot of people. Still don’t get Times Square, but to each his own. I returned in the heat of July with my sister. I sweat so much it looked like I wet my pants as I zigzagged shamelessly from W 116th street to King’s Theatre. My first round of Broadway plays blew me away and left me wanting more!
I ended up on a bus as a Young Life Leader for a week at camp in Colorado. I got to walk alongside high school students for the best week of our lives in the mountains. We did the rope course, rode horses in the mountains, played wiffle ball, walked through the clouds and did not get attacked by bears. I had the humbling honor to see Jesus move in mighty ways in the hearts of many young high school girls. We built ebenezers of God’s faithfulness in the mountains. I love the mountains.
I got to laugh with friends and eat the most incredible corn and cookies on our traditional pilgrimage to the Minnesota State Fair. I had the privilege of seeing two amazing people whom I miss daily in Portland. This year more than ever, I am grateful for friends who create a space where we push and challenge each other and our views of the world as we know it. Each of them provides a safe space where we can each grow and yet we constantly challenge each other to think broader and wider. They challenge me to use my voice and seek truth in the midst of uncertainty.
As I look to the year 2018, I take a deep breath. This year felt a little like a drunk girl in the bathroom at a bar. She goes in and out of the stall not sure if she will throw up. She teeters between tears and laughter. You are not sure what she will say or do next. She needs friends who will just take her home. You offer her help, but there is nothing you can do for her but get her water and let her wait it out.
So 2017, I am glad to have waited it out with you despite all of your drunk mood swings. The uncertainty and overwhelming emotions you made me feel I will not miss.
But I will miss all of the beautiful goodness tucked in the mucky mess. The beautiful moments of laughing with coworkers over the entertaining and sometimes dumbfounding moments of our days. The moments of a seeing some of my most challenging students thrive. The moments of my whole family in a room around the table trying to plan something. The sweet flashes of kindness and grace that can seem so fleeting at times. The rolling laughter of two young children playing in the snow. I will cherish the life giving conversations and people who push me to be vulnerable.
2017, you were a lot. But you also held so much beauty amidst the mess.
As I look to 2018, I see many of the changes coming towards me which feels rare and uncharted. I see the end of my time at the school I’ve known and worked at for a decade. I see some of the impending plans and adventures that await me. And I move towards this new year with boldness and grace.
For the first time in a long time I look towards an actual new year (not a new school year) with such hope and anticipation. I know twists and turns I can’t see await us all. I know ups and downs loom throughout the new year. But let’s all take a deep breath and relish the new beginning that awaits us. We each take something learned from this year with us into the new year. Let’s each commit to applying that knowledge and wisdom to 2018 with kindness and grace. Praying for each of us to continue to grow and seek The Lord above all else in the new year.
Proverbs 3 (NASB)
3 My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
2 For length of days and years of life
And peace they will add to you.
3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.
9 Honor the Lord from your wealth
And from the first of all your produce;
10 So your barns will be filled with plenty
And your vats will overflow with new wine.
11 My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord
Or loathe His reproof,
12 For whom the Lord loves He reproves,
Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.
13 How blessed is the man who finds wisdom
And the man who gains understanding.
14 For her profit is better than the profit of silver
And her gain better than fine gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels;
And nothing you desire compares with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
In her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways
And all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who hold her fast.
19 The Lord by wisdom founded the earth,
By understanding He established the heavens.
20 By His knowledge the deeps were broken up
And the skies drip with dew.
21 My son, let them not vanish from your sight;
Keep sound wisdom and discretion,
22 So they will be life to your soul
And adornment to your neck.
23 Then you will walk in your way securely
And your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden fear
Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes;
26 For the Lord will be your confidence
And will keep your foot from being caught.
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in your power to do it.
28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give it,”
When you have it with you.
29 Do not devise harm against your neighbor,
While he lives securely beside you.
30 Do not contend with a man without cause,
If he has done you no harm.
31 Do not envy a man of violence
And do not choose any of his ways.
32 For the devious are an abomination to the Lord;
But He is intimate with the upright.
33 The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
34 Though He scoffs at the scoffers,
Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.
35 The wise will inherit honor,
But fools display dishonor.
*Italics are my own personal emphasis.