Saturday, December 31, 2011

In Retrospect....

”The years teach much which the days never know.

I can’t help myself. I always have so much excitement about the beginning of a new year. I just love the feel of 365 days of possibility lying before you, just waiting to be experienced. It’s like and adventure – and I love adventure!

To be sure, some adventures are laden with more adversity and hardship than others. And, if I’m honest, 2011 was one of those “hardship” years. It’s not that it wasn’t a good year, because it was. But, if it has to fall in one category or the other – it was just a hard year….but it had some really sweet moments thrown in.

I guess I would classify it as a hard year because it was year of “goodbyes.” I began January 2011, knowing that it would be the year when I once again got to set eyes on my beloved Mozambique. But, I also knew that meant saying goodbye to so many other things that I loved as well.

I said goodbye to being the Children’s Ministry Director at FFC. That was a job I loved! I loved planning events and working with the volunteers. I loved the hugs and smiles of all the children that I came to think of as “mine.” It was bittersweet to walk away from all of that.

I said goodbye to Florida – my home for nearly 5 years. Florida was a place that I swore was “two years and no more.” But, I found out God had so much more planned for me and I found a church that challenged my faith and friends that are more like family. Saying goodbye to all of that was almost enough to make me reconsider Mozambique.

I welcomed my nephew, Isaac into this world. We had prayed for him for so long, that the day of his birth seemed almost surreal. But, I realized with great sadness, too, that I would miss many milestones in his life. Mostly, I am thankful that I got to be there at his birth, to hold him, and share so many wonderful memories with my sister.

I watched my relationship with my sister bloom into the kind of relationship I had always wanted with her. That was a really sweet spot in my year. There is nothing in this world quite like a sister, and I got the best of them.

I watched my mom get remarried. In many ways, this is a good thing. My mom has been by herself since my dad died 14 years ago. My siblings and I are grown with lives of our own. It is good that she has someone and I enjoyed watching her joy. However, it happened fast – the kind of whirlwind that makes you stop and ask, “Did that really happen?” And, as any of you who have watched your parents date or marry someone else will understand, it is not easy – no matter how good it is. It was so devastating when we lost my dad, and then it was like it solidified us as a group – we had lost this person we loved and that grief bonded us in a way nothing else could. And, now, my mom brought someone else into the picture. Greg is a good guy, and I like him – a lot. He makes her happy.  But her marriage to Greg was like the final nail in the coffin. It’s not like I thought my dad was coming back, but this new chapter closed the old one with my Dad with a finality that left me unprepared for the grief I felt. So, that too, was a bittersweet day.

And then, in a flurry of activity, I visited friends for the last time, packed a few belongings and got ready to say goodbye to everyone and everything familiar for a really long time. I didn’t expect it to be so hard to go to Mozambique. After all, it’s the one thing I had consistently talked about for nearly 6 years. But, as I stood in the kitchen with my 91 year old grandmother, thinking that this might just be the last time I saw her it nearly broke me. Those last few days at home, I could hardly eat or enjoy the things I was doing. Goodbye seemed too hard – and too costly.

I didn’t want to think about the fact that I would be just a distant memory to my friends kids when I returned. I didn’t want to think about missing out on the adoption of a really good friend. I didn’t want to think about all the moments I would miss. I couldn’t think about the fact that the next time I saw my nephew he would be a little boy – and he might even have a brother or sister. I hated to think that I would miss out on getting to know my mom’s new husband. This question loomed over my head, “What is it like to step out of your life for 3 years, and then step back into it?”

Now that I’m here, I’m ever so glad that I came. I know I am supposed to be here. I know that I will look back with such gratefulness that I got to be here and love these little guys – that I got to be the one to kiss the booboos, and praise their artwork, and play ball with them. I will be eternally grateful that I got to share Jesus with them. This is where I am supposed to be.

Even still, it is hard for me to think back to all those goodbyes without tearing up. They were hard days that will one day be rewarded. So, as I look to 2012, I am so hoping that it will be a year of “hellos.” I am hoping it will be a year of great rejoicing, and laughter, and fewer tears.

But, whatever it holds, I know that He will be there and I will be richer for having walked through it with him. See that’s the thing about walking with Jesus, it’s not always pleasant or what you would have chosen, but in the end you know you’ve gained this depth of soul that you would not trade one teardrop for.

So, bring on 2012, I can’t wait!


Melissa Whitten said...

Oh Jenn , I too can't wait for 2012 and what it brings. And just so you know, you wil never be just a distant memory to my kids , they love you way to much to forget you:)

Miss you bunches,

Beth said...

My dear sister and best friend...i am just now reading this, and i have to say, it brought me to tears. I can't look at the upcoming year and what it may hold and not be tearful about you not being hurts, but I know you are where the Lord wants you, and you are fulfilling your purpose...that brings me joy. The relationship that the Lord has blossomed in us both makes me being absent from so much is hard, but being so close now, in some ways, makes it easier...knowing we spent so much time together actully enjoying each others company. In some ways it makes it harder...if we didnt have this close relationship, it probably wouldn't hurt as much... still, i wouldn't trade it. I am forever grateful for you and the sister and friend i have found in you. I love you very much!