The last year has been... predictable and unpredictable all at the same time. It's been as expected, yet so very unexpected. It's been hard at times, so unrealistically easy at others, and always good.
I finished up my time in Colorado, and said those bittersweet goodbyes to the people I grew to love so much. It was unexpectedly hard, and unexpectedly wonderful too. There's something beautiful about seeing so many people you love sent out to do the work God's called them to. And then there was this summer, which was nothing I could have ever expected. Losing Gideon will be something that I will never forget, and always be changed by. I learned to love a little deeper, care a little more, and hope a little higher. I learned that sometimes we can't see it, but God is always good. And I spend most of the summer fundraising for France, which at times was fun, exciting, encouraging, and faith-building. But at other times it was hard, discouraging, frustrating, faith-testing, and grace-growing. I can't say I'd want to repeat that process in a hurry, but I'm glad I went through it. And then there was France. It's been hard. It's been an adventure. It's tested my faith and grown my love. It's caused me to stop looking so much at the things I always depend on and instead to look at Him. I expected all those things, but it doesn't make them any easier when you're actually going through them. I've come face to face with idols in my heart I didn't know existed, and I've had decisions placed in front of me every day that challenge my faith, my belief, my love for God. It's the same as when I'm in the USA, really, except for there's something about being in France that just gives you a different perspective.
And right now? How am I starting the New Year? Not in France, but at home, in New Mexico, with family. I've been here two weeks now, and I head back to France tomorrow. It's been two weeks of rest. Two weeks of time with family. Two weeks of my own culture, which is a much bigger deal than one ever realizes until they're in another.
I'm thankful that God gave me this year. I'm thankful that He's given me opportunites every single day to experience Him, to love Him more, to be loved by Him. I'm thankful for the hard times and the easy times. I'm thankful that He's never left me. I'm thankful that He's guided my every step. And now? Now I look forward to what He's got planned this year. I now know from experience that He'll guide me, that He'll love me, that He'll be there with me. I'm eager to meet the people He'll bring across my path, to learn the lessons He has in store for me, to receive His gifts, to accept the challenges He puts in front of me. It's the most wonderful thing in the world, knowing that I can trust Him even when I don't understand, knowing He's in control when I'm not, that He has grace and mercy and that He never changes.
I'm learning more and more about Him, and the more I know, the more I like Him. Twenty twelve. Wow. It's going to be better than 2011, and I'm looking forward to it.