Friday, January 2, 2015

What I Learned in 2014



I have wanted to write this post for over a week, so when Emily posted a 'What I Learned in 2014' with a link-up, I was Thankful for the motivation to actually get it done ;)

1) I am stronger: 2014 began with the first lifting of a long fog, the first break of dawn after a long night, the great hope of somehow finding myself again in the year. Coming through these things, I believe, more than ever, God does not waste the tiniest moment of our pain, grief, or testing, all of it is working something beautiful.

2) The way to hope can surprise you: There have been many surprises in the path I have been on towards renewed hope. The craziest part, for me, came through what I write in this post, this series, and how it wouldn't have been as real, if I hadn't spoken it out loud ;)



3) God writes the story: 2014 held many gifts related to story. In the end, stories remain very shallow, misunderstood, and are lost in busyness or distraction unless we surrender to God's writing and eternal purposes in them.

4) It really is amazing to 'Let {It} Go': I couldn't resist the reference to the FROZEN song, my little two year-old son loves to sing. It is catchy. But, the truth of when we really let go is profound, exhilarating, glorious and hilarious. There is no replacing the simple and yet oh-so-hard act of letting go.

5) True community is a heart choice with great freedom: So much of the hard leading into 2014 came through all of the transitions and their spinning displacement and ripping up of roots. I stayed in the dark as my idea of true community (and home) became bound in location, nationality, real-life, and was compounded as dear friends moved away. It has brought such freedom to embrace community, virtual or face-to-face, Hungarian, Spanish or American, long-time or brand new with a heart choice of what God always wants to give.

6) God's heart for my kids is so much bigger than mine: My three kids have been uprooted right with us, been the solitary Americans/English speakers in school, work and play, and have struggled to understand why the family they love is so far away. As we returned to the States for our first furlough, they amazed me. I saw how confident they were in every new situation. My daughter kept saying, 'Mom, there's a whole group of kids and they ALL speak English.' Then she fearlessly ran to play with them. They made new friends with ease, instantaneously renewed relationships with cousins, and didn't lose their Hungarian. In this crazy life, God is taking care of them.

7) No one else can pursue your dreams for you, or even, with you. This is one that will roll right into 2015. The past few months I have found the courage and confidence to live as the writer God has made me to be. The calling has always, always been there. The affirmation from others too. But, at the end of the day, I am the only one who can pursue the God-sized dreams I have been given.

8) There is not a single success that can bring true rest. Even if God is in the center of the risk, the courageous, bold dream and brings it all to pass, we do not find real rest in the success. It is actually the opposite. We often find our greatest anxieties and fears come to life at the heights of reaching what we have set out to do, and this is how it must be, because, in the end, God is our only true rest.

9) I need to pay attention to my tears. This comes from Emily's book 'A Million Little Ways' and it is a powerful book about our desires, and the art God uniquely gives us to do. So many quotes, but the balm to my soul remaining is how God speaks to us through our tears. It's been a treasure to embrace this.

10) Beauty will save the world. This quote from Dostoyevsky's 'the Idiot' is of the stop-me-in-my-tracks kind. I have always loved it, but this year, it's sealed something to my heart about what it is for me to write. The most common response I receive related to my writing is that it is 'beautiful'. It is the gut reaction. And I don't ever want to lose that or think it is somehow not enough. More than a principle or a truth, I want people to interact with the heart of my writing and leave with a greater sense of Beauty.

11) I am still a girl without too much common sense. This truth is in every hilarious, frustrating yet lovable story from my life. I am a head-in-the-clouds kind of girl who has to work on common sense. This is why the thing I have loved longest, the gift earliest known, is only now at 40 defining how I uniquely live the art God has given me.

12) It is hard to write 80,000 words of fresh prose;) In early September I began a memoir. I am now 24 chapters in and I think it was about chapter 7 I thought I had exhausted every unique way of saying anything ;) Even more crazy is how I realized part way into the process I have two 70-80,000 memoirs to write. 'Lord, help me!' is all I can say :)

13) You have to be a little crazy to stay sane. This is a 'family quote' passed down to me through my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. If I could just remember to live a little of this each day, I think I can face just about anything. These women did and were unbeatable survivors.

14) My bright blonde children are called 'sour cream blonde' in Hungarian. Our oldest began Hungarian school in September. When his teacher saw our little blonde troop, she mussed their hair and called them this. It made me smile. They love sour cream here...and our kids.

15) Neither Rome nor anything lasting was built in a day. Or a year, even ten years. This perspective has helped me so much, especially as I navigate writing, home, marriage, kids, on-going ministry, a still new language and culture. It is all going to take time and I have got to overcome my every tendency to want instant results and become discouraged when I don't miraculously wake up with the Superpowers to do everything.

16) Prayerfully Pick Your Battles. Not only in parenting, but in ministry, relationships. What is really my fight? I am quick to put the fists up, not to fight somebody, but to fight FOR them and a cause, but I have burnout, and will again, if I don't really wait on God to show me what to surrender and what He is calling me to fight for. This is a great path to learn how to pray without ceasing.

17) It is so very good to learn to take yourself LESS seriously. This seems even more important as the stakes rise, ministry and dreams grow, responsibility, etc. It's a humbling thing to lead and there will be lots of failure...God is always BIGGER.

18) Twenty Minutes is Time Enough. If nothing else productive, spiritual, planned, intended happens in a day. Take a break. For me this has meant I walk the hill in my neighborhood EVERY.DAY. It's my non-negotiable and has been life-giving many times over.

19) God's story, His words, are the BEST. As I write and read more, my soul is hungrier than ever for the perfect Beauty of God's Word. It's become like a song I always want to be hearing, so I study it. Meditate on it as I walk the hill. Even when it doesn't seem like I am really grasping, I don't lose heart, I let it drive me to prayer, life, relationships...see it become the yeast in the dough :)

20) God is Big Enough. He is big enough to draw us into His heart and through this touch the world. He is big enough to give an open door to a school for our son as we pray and seek Him and then do more than we could ever imagine in giving him friends, security, confidence. He is big enough to provide a heart friend for our daughter. He is big enough to risk greatly for the right things. He is big enough and it frees me up to be His, embrace who I am, and watch Him do beautiful, transforming things through living this out, both in my life and others.

Extra :: I have THE most amazing, supportive, encouraging, loving husband in the whole wide world and NOTHING can change my opinion on that :) 


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