Happy Old Year!

I have a ritual that I do in early January, sort of an Old Year tradition. Rather than looking ahead to the coming year, it involves looking back at the one I just finished. Instead of tossing my old day planner when I buy its replacement, I carve out some time to reflect over the past 12 months.

With steaming coffee in hand, and a pen and journal next
to me, I start in January and work my way through the days,
weeks, and months. I’m reminiscing, observing patterns,
watching dreams and friendships unfold.

Most of what is scribbled on the pages is ordinary – the stuff of everyday living:
soccer practices and dance classes; pay days and ‘pay bills’ days; dentist appointments,
play dates and writing deadlines; Bible verses referenced in margins.

Some things are noteworthy: the blizzard of 2011 and subsequent snow days, my oldest daughter getting braces, family camp, and our trip to Mexico in the summer.

And a few things are extraordinary – monumental, life-changing events─some we have chosen and some we have not. In 2011 we attended two weddings and a funeral. Our dear friends moved to Colorado (what’s so great about Colorado anyway, besides the mountains and the great climate?). My niece gave birth to a daughter. We got a puppy. A whole page of my planner is filled with names we considered, like Flo, Taffy, Chica, and Nola. We finally agreed on Lila. Did I mention that some decisions turn out to be more life-altering than you originally thought?

I made some fun observations: My oldest daughter, Katelyn, wrote me several notes throughout the year, thanking me for being her “chauffeur” and telling me, “Mom, you rock!” Seeing the frequency of her encouraging notes reminds me how important words are to her. This is why my husband and I still write thoughts for her on her white board every night before she goes to sleep. Words are the way she likes to give and receive love.

My first-grade daughter started writing notes too, but they were different in nature. Some said, “I love you, Mommy” but others revealed how important quality time is to her. On November 9th, she wrote, “Spend time together with Brenna.” And on November 23rd, “Pante Brenna’s nails. Brad Brenna’s hair.” This, of course, was the day before Thanksgiving, when we were preparing for a houseful of out-of-town guests. She wrote herself into my schedule because I kept saying, “Maybe later…”

My middle daughter, Claire, doesn’t write notes, but I see her all over the pages of my planner, in the “What’s for Dinner?” sections. She has half-joked that food is her love language, and will often say that dinner is the highlight of her day.

I was shocked to see how often we had Pesto Pizza, with Rachael Ray’s Mile High Lasagna a close second.

Scattered throughout my weeks are intentional “me” moments. Coffee with a friend. Weekly bible study. Time with my husband. Time alone. Exercising. I took a class at Harper college and attended a 4-day writers’ conference. Time for growing, serving, developing friendships, working and resting.

On my 2012 calendar, some things will continue and others will end. Pesto pizza is on the menu again tonight - a double batch - one for us and one to share with another family. But our Almblad Taco Salad Nights will be few and far between with our friends now living half-way across the country. And I plan to stay as far away from my physical therapist as possible in 2012. Our days will be filled with ordinary moments, extraordinary moments, and most likely a few surprises – joyful and painful. Only God knows what this year will bring, and I can say, like David, “But I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands.” Psalm 31:14-15b

How about you? When you look over the last year, what are you especially thankful for? What do you want to continue? What do you want to change? What do you need more or less of? Is your heart at peace because you are trusting in Him, knowing that your times are in His hands?