This may sound awful and it's not meant to belittle Grandmother's life, but out of the deaths I've experienced in my immediate family, Grandmother's was the least jarring of all. Maybe because she was 94 and lived such an amazing life, and my other family members died so young or with many years left to live. Grandmother's death is still sad to me and makes me grieve, especially since I've spent 35 years of my life with her alive and always just assumed she'd be there. It's hard to say goodbye to such a large life such as hers. Yet as my sadness flows in, it quickly draws back because I remember the blessing I was given to spend a week with her before she died.
Even the "downs" of this past year still have an "up" to them, if I choose to see them.
When I look back at this year, the overall sense I get is a warm glow. I am blessed to have this feeling, since I know some people's 2009 has been a void of despair. But I know that the years in my past that have been voids of despair were also years of tremendous personal growth. They brought me to where I am today, and gave me the ability to see hope in the midst of deep pain. It doesn't mean I'm putting blinders on and ignoring the negative, it just means that I'm choosing to see the silver lining more than the cloud.
There were some definite joys for me this year, and I want to take those joys and keep running with them in 2010. For example, I connected so deeply with my extended family on my father's side during the week with Grandmother, at her funeral, and also during our family reunion in July. I want 2010 to bring a deeper bond with my family, especially since my original family nucleus is gone. (Well, except for you, Mary. Ha, ha!)
I also want to continue growing my faith in 2010. My leap of faith on Good Friday and my baptism in June were just the beginning. In just the last month, God has shown me in so many ways that I am on the right path. And, more than that, He's shown me that I'm exactly where I need to be right now. He's calming my urge to just jump forward to the end of the story and challenging me to stay in the moment.
At our church's Thanksgiving Experience at the end of November, we were challenged to give a gift to Jesus this Advent season. The gift I decided to give was a promise to speak more openly about my faith to people IN PERSON, which has been a fear for me. The very next day, an opportunity presented itself and I felt God's nudging to speak unabashedly about His new presence in my life. And since then? I've been continually presented with chances to start speaking openly about my relationship with Jesus. At parties. At a girls' weekend away. At our weekly Advent Conspiracy small groups. And for the first time in my life, I haven't felt embarrassed. I've actually felt more like me, like I'm finally claiming my birthright. I get goosebumps just writing about it, y'all!
So, to recap, I am so looking forward to 2010. I think I am on the cusp of some pretty amazing experiences. Last weekend when Dan drove me through a local park to take snow photos, we were talking about our hopes and dreams for our kids. I told him how excited I am for the kids to be old enough to do some new things with us like camping and traveling. There are so many amazing things I can't wait to show my kids. And then I said, "Do you think God feels that way about us? That maybe He thinks, 'Elizabeth, I love you so much and I can't wait to show you what I have in store for you. It is so cool! I have something so big for you just around the corner.'"
I can't wait either, and I'm looking forward with breathless anticipation.
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