If you know me – or have read my blog in the past – you know what time of year this is in my mind: it’s a German phrase “zwichen den Jahren,” which means BETWEEN THE YEARS. 2019 is exiting quickly, and 2020 stands before the door. Christmas is over – and the new year is wide open ahead full of – God willing – new opportunities, new goals and hopes for something better, maybe.
While 2019 has held so many good things, good times, and things to be thankful for, 2019 has also had some very hard moments. One thing I have loved about blogging in the past is that now I can go back and read some of the low – and high – lights of the situations that we have faced along this journey – ordinary days, special events like the birth of an unexpected but very longed for baby, and the devastation of losing a job and unemployment and the on-going consequences of it that linger just a little even now, 7 years later.
7 years … around this time, our anniversary, December 2012, we were looking at Northwest Arkansas and considering a job here for my husband. NEVER in a million billion years would I have thought I’d live here … and actually like it here. It still isn’t where I hope to die and be buried on this old planet, but for the interim, it is quite okay.
Moving here didn’t solve all our problems. My husband is – in my opinion – still seriously underemployed. The wheels and politics of the Veterans Administration that he works for move in mysterious ways that we still haven’t quite figured out. Our debt still is there, mocking us sometimes by lingering … but it is significantly less than it was, thanks only to God and some minor miracles along the way. Provision – daily bread.
It is in the kids that I see the most progress. Of course, they are all 7 years older – Andrew is 21 now, facing his last semester of college! Anna left high school behind 1 1/2 years ago (good riddance!) and is loving eight 2 1/2 to 3-year-olds as a lead teacher at a child care center. Miriam just turned 10 and is beginning to show signs of pre-teen-ager-ism.
And, me, I still struggle on the daily, quite honestly. I am thankful for my job, although I’d love to work less and be home more. I feel a slight mother-guilt for not being there for Miriam, especially at times like this when she is home on school break, and I can’t be there. She is fine, I know. We currently can still juggle other family members’ schedules to have someone home with her instead. I pray often that God would provide a job where I could work less hours or maybe work from home … but in the last 7 years, there have been no open doors. I wake up daily and accept that this is the way it has to be.
I miss my blog … It was my voice. As an introvert, and someone who feels like I lead such an incredibly different life than most of the people I know or work with, I do much less talking and much more listening. I can tell you so much about each of my co-workers, for example, but I am not so sure they can tell you as much about me!
And yet, I have opinions (not as strong as seemingly many other’s) and ideas (occasionally irrational) and my own deep thoughts to share (which sometimes causes the few I tell to look confused and either change the subject or end the conversation?!). I think that’s why I like being alone in my own company, or at least, safely at home with those who know me best and understand what our lives have been … I miss having a sounding board.
I don’t want to let the past define me, and yet, the consequences of it have dictated the unconventional position we are in. Don’t get me wrong – I have a few friends here; my co-workers are caring people; my boss is a good, Christian business owner; and we are slowly reconciling ourselves to our little church where God has so clearly led us. It is a good life; it just isn’t the path I thought we’d follow.
So, as 2020 looms ahead – right now, in the “days between the years,” I feel like if I want the new year to go by as disjointed as this year has, then I need to continue to wallow in my self-absorbed thoughts. BUT if I want 2020 to be BETTER, I have to change some things. You may know one definition of FUTILITY: doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. It doesn’t work. Something’s gotta give!
- My heart feels cold….hardened. I am not mad at God, by any means, I think I’ve sort of given up on Him. I have forgotten that He is always at work. Our Christmas sermon was about “Emmanuel: God with us” – and how we forget He is STILL with us, always with us, daily with us. He dwells where we can talk to Him and listen to Him.
- Budgeting is something I hate so very much. Oh, I can write up an amazing zero-balance budget … and then overspend it in a day. Often, it isn’t even my fault – there just always seems to be something that comes up – an unexpected expense. Christendom’s financial guru of today, Dave Ramsey’s baby step 1 is to have an emergency fund, but one can’t save up for one if you need to use it simultaneously … However, there has to be a way to achieve it, and I am cinching my proverbial money belt tighter, if possible!
- My attitude. The statement, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t no body happy” rings so very true in our household. And it’s not that I’m UNhappy, I just spend my days often so very irritated and frustrated. It trickles down in sarcastic remarks and biting commentary. It’s got to change, and a lot of that relates back to step 1.
- Health. My husband was diagnosed as pre-diabetic this year. To avoid daily medication, he has determined to manage his blood sugar by diet and exercise. And so far, he’s lost about 27 lbs by making small changes. His doctor is so pleased, she has confirmed that he doesn’t need medication right now. I need to follow his example. I can’t do radical diets or follow strict plans, but I can make small changes too.
These are my thoughts for the days between the years … and perhaps, if I do continue to blog, I can look back and see that I made some changes (with God’s help!) in 2020. As goofballish as it sounds, 2020 is a blank page … clear, no mistakes in it, ready for a new story to be written. I hope and pray to make it a good one!