Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Brief Reflection on the Brink of a New Year

As may be the case with others, I am often driven to extended periods of reflection during the holidays. As Christmas quickly approached just as I was getting over the Thanksgiving rush, my days were filled with shopping when I wasn't working, thinking of what I needed to shop for when I was working, and making sure I didn't leave a loved one out in my stack of stamped envelopes and Christmas cards. Then, just as I was getting a taste of the sweet Christmas traditions and celebrations, seemingly seconds later, I was sitting on my couch Sunday night eating apple pie and silently wishing my dear friends near and far a very Happy New Year...So what is my reflection this year? What about the year left behind just days ago am I most mindful of? In thinking on this very question, I have been reminded of just how scattered I've been in designating quiet, still moments to read, write, and simply give thanks to the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. In years past, I have filled the pages of journals with Scripture, thoughts, prayers, etc., while this past year had chunks of time for which nothing was recorded. I was a little discouraged upon this realization until something else occurred. I was transporting necessary dates and information into my crisp, new 2007 planner (one of my random little highs in life)which gave me time to look back on all that occurred in 2006. Had I not been sitting here at work I would have exclaimed aloud, "Well no wonder I didn't take more time to stop and reflect!" Not that a busy schedule is any excuse for not resting--it should be all the MORE reason to designate times of much-needed stillness. But here is a brief glimpse at the month-to-month events which summed up this past year:
  • January-- 1) joined small group at church; 2) attended the Tuberous Sclerosis conference where I was observed by a team of medical doctors and given the official diagnosis of my condition; 3) had my first CT scan and ultrasound of the brain, chest and kidneys
  • February-- 1) spent much of the month in a daze with the realization that the CT scan revealed a tuber and a couple of other minor calcium deposits; 2) also in a daze due to the $2500 medical bill sitting on my desk at home
  • March--became an official member at Immanuel (the same day as my boyfriend)
  • April-- 1) my brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer; 2) I discovered that I owed the IRS $800 due to work status as a contract worker; 3) involved in my first car accident which was completely my fault, on my birthday, and on Easter Sunday; 4) all in one week I received a letter from the hospital saying that a scholarship had paid my entire medical bill, and also received the letter announcing that I had received one of the six Women's Auxiliary Scholarships at school
  • May-- 1) MRI of my brain--further confirmation and better detail of the tuber previously found in the CT scan; 2) my brother had a successful surgery the exact same day as my MRI to remove the tumor--all further tests showed no further spreading of the cancer
  • June-- 1) much-needed trip to Texas to visit my dearest friends; 2) my little Sheltie arrived from her breeder in Missouri at all of 8 weeks old, the little miss I named "Maia" (and who is affectionately referred to as "Maia Moo"); 3) given full-time status at work including benefits and all other perks
  • July-- 1) moved out of my campus apartment and into a much older one in an old, cozy neighborhood--complete with hardwood floors; 2) my mother came to visit and accompanied me to the Tuberous Sclerosis Clinic in Cincinnati where I met with a team of excellent doctors; 3) my boyfriend had to make a last-minute trip to Texas when his grandfather's health took a turn for the worse--thankfully, it was only a scare and he is doing better
  • August/September-- school resumed with the calendar consisting primarily of typical classwork and other weekly events
  • October-- still a fairly quiet month with the exception of Fall Break--what my boyfriend and I tagged as "A Week of Sharks and Stars" due to our visiting the aquarium in Newport and planetarium at University of Louisville
  • November-- 1) sang the National Anthem at an on-campus basketball game; 2) began singing with the worship team at Immanuel; 3) another trip to Texas, this time for a family visit for the Thanksgiving holiday
  • December-- 1) finished the semester with a gladly-accepted cumulative GPA of 3.38; 2) my dad came up for a nice Christmas, complete with Christmas Eve dinner at my small group leaders' home and Christmas morning spent with him and my boyfriend
    December: GPA 3.38 after semester, Dad in town for Christmas

I don't mention all of the above for any other reason than to follow it with what I know after such a rollercoaster year. I know now more than ever that the Lord is faithful, that He is near in our darkest hours, and that His precious Son Jesus Christ is to be exalted for suffering on the cross for His Father's glory and for predestined life and salvation. I know that He appointed each person in my life, family and friends alike, as the instruments they are in ministering His grace and truth. The love and respect and admiration I hold deep for my boyfriend as increased as he has not wavered in holding my hand through all of the ups and downs, spurring me on and continually encouraging me to keep my gaze fixed on Jesus Christ. I know that I could never believe anything apart from the Truth of His Word, that nothing is outside of His sovereign plan. Such truths and the deep threads of hope and promise He penetrates the heart with through His Word are more real to me after this year than they have ever been before. We read so much in Scripture, as well as from great fathers of the faith, on trials and valleys, of the Lord's sustaining power and steadfast love during such seasons. The pastor at Immanuel summed it up well in just a few short words last week during prayer before the morning worship service: "Here lately, I've been reading rich truths in the Word, and not only reading them, but reading them and then saying aloud, 'and it's true!'" In the midst of the scattered, seemingly endless months I went through this past year, I was able to declare with assurance, even though I was so weak, "He promises this...He says this in His Word... and - it's - true!"

Well, what was intended as a brief summary of the past year as apparently turned into a mini-novel. These are my reflections on this past year--a year wrought with moments when I felt like I was crying out to the Lord in a dark closet--a year in which I have grown and become more thankful than ever before. A year in which I count Jesus Christ as my greatest joy...I am incapable of counting anyone or anything as any greater.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your past calendar. That was fun to read it all in a synopsis format. BTW, I get a high filling in new calendars, too!! We ARE Geeks! I still have to fill mine in so I still get the WHOLE anticipation of it all. HA! XXOO

Gretchen said...

Grace -- it was good to get to know you better through this post and through our lunch the other day. You have had a huge year! It puts it in perspective to write it all out like that, doesn't it? I think doing so causes us to reflect on how amazing God's grace has been in the meantime. How excellent to be able to look at your past year and say "Blessed be Your Name!"

Anonymous said...

It's January 10th, you aren't even in school and your last post is from.......the 2nd!!! Please get it in gear, young lady. ; ) XXOO