I work in a university setting, so often I hear our students being told to be more reflective. Think about how it went, and what you might want to change for the next time. The act of reflecting helps to refine our skill – as teachers, as mentors, as partners, as spouses, as children, and as Christians. In my own life I’ve spent plenty of time reflecting, and with some guided exercises learned from my counselor, I can both reflect and refine, and move forward with a clear and healthy plan.
This time last year, I set some personal goals. Some I met – go me!!! and some I did not. But I did some pretty awesome things, and I think it’s worth reflecting on the year and looking at what still needs some refining.
January 2017 – I made the choice to not hide behind a veil of political correctness, and instead show my Faith to the world – I shared and forwarded things that spoke to me about God, prayer, peace, and my Faith. I was surrounded by friends and Baptized by my pastor and dear friend Erica at our little Presbyterian church in Bovill. I began the practice of a daily devotional reading each morning guided by some wonderful books I received as gifts from my friends in the congregation.
February 2017 – This month I sat for the final sitting on my MRKH tattoo – getting the color added and everything finished up. The words Courage, Strength, and Faith permanently emblazoned on my skin as a reminder to myself of my journey…and my commitment to guide and mentor my MRKH sisters. For my birthday this year, my dear friend Karen bought be a lovely cross that I wear everyday, as another visible statement and testament to my Faith. It was also during this month that I approached Erica about starting a women’s ministry group at church. I was yearning for a more purpose filled outlet, a more deliberate walk of faith, a way to bring more fellowship to the community.
March 2017 – Our first Ladies’ Night In – Faith, Friendship, Fellowship and bible study. It was lovely! I also attended the memorial service for my Gram this month. It was bittersweet – such a lovely outpouring of love as we formalized the goodbye to her. I also decided that for Lent, I would write a letter each day to a woman in my life who has touched my life in some way. Love notes – short and simple. It was a wonderful practice for me, to show gratitude – and obviously, they were well received.
April 2017 – My first opportunity to fully participate in Holy Week. Attending and participating in Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and just the active participation of a Faith – filled week. April always has a few craft shows, and lots going on at the university as the spring semester wraps up, so it’s a busy month – but Ladies’ Night was fun with some flower pot decorating and then planting. I also hit a deer, and totaled my car. I was fine, the zombie deer was dead for about 20 minutes before getting up out of the ditch where it lay dead and wandered off into the twilight. Seriously…you can’t make this stuff up.
May 2017 – more craft shows, a Ladies’ Night In that I couldn’t attend (boo!), and the start of moving process for my in-laws. Several quick trips over the next couple of months where my father-in-law would load truck and trailer, and bonsai drive from Colorado to Idaho with a load of stuff to drop off. Drop said stuff, rest a couple of days and head back to Colorado. I got a new to me car this month – after much searching and prayers for guidance and to not get the Saturn…lol. I’m not sure when exactly, but a niggling idea started forming in my head.
June 2017 – continued trips as the in-laws prepared to move, and my niece prepared to graduate from high school. Another Ladies Night, and a few carefully timed messages to women around the country. I had an idea, but I needed help. After a bunch of back and forth conversations, among friends, and with God – I took that proverbial leap of Faith – and started a Facebook group. MRKH Journey through Faith was born. A place where mostly Christian women who also happened to have MRKH could join together for distinctly Faith-filled support.
July 2017 – More trips with the in-laws, with a closing set for the end of the month. Ladies Night continues to grow and prosper. And I get the horrible text from one of my best friends. “Cancer. I have an appointment with the oncologist tomorrow.” The sucker punch of all sucker punches. I still catch my breath when I think about it. What followed in the next few weeks set the tone for much of the following few months. Highs and Lows, and many hours in prayer. Consultations, appointments, plans. At the same time, there were also plans being made to attend the next MRKH conference in Seattle. To say it was a month of conflicting emotions would be an understatement.
August 2017 – The final trip up from Colorado, and my in-laws were officially moved in. To my house. In my spare room. Consequently, I left for the weekend! I went to Seattle to meet up with some MRKH sisters and attend the conference in Seattle. It was a wonderful weekend, fun sight-seeing adventures, wonderful bonding time with beautiful friends and sisters. A super strong cementing of faith with one sister, and a chance to speak and tell my story, and the Courageous project story to my MRKH sisters at the conference. I feel like I grew a lot in my faith this month. Listening, trusting, mentoring, sharing.
September 2017 – Cancer surgery for one friend, In-patient drug rehab for another. It was an emotionally draining start to the month. Ladies’ Night and a long conversation with Erica about taking time to refuel spiritually when we are caring so deeply for others. We have to make a point to rest and trust. September also was when I loaded up the last of my goats, sent them off to their new homes, and closed that particular chapter of my life. This is also when I first learned about Stephen Ministry and began prayerfully considering some options…and I was ordained and installed as a Deacon.
October 2017 – Ladies Night, and some time to consider and research more Stephen Ministry details, which ended with me being invited to participate in the training series. I started that training on the 17th, had a craft show the end of the month, and I finally got a phone call from my friend in treatment.
November 2017 – November started off with a bang as I was visiting a church member in the hospital, and right then and there he coded right in front of me. Twice. He went to emergency surgery and 6 long hours later he was miraculously still alive. I was with the family the whole time, and felt truly at home in the prayer and care-giving situation I was pushed into. I had the support, and I prayed like a crazy woman. It was exhausting, but….I don’t know the right word…fulfilling maybe? I was right exactly where I needed to be, doing what I needed to do to get through the situation. My Faith was strong and deep in those moments. I spent time visiting at the hospital over the course of the first few weeks in November, and was thrilled when he was able to go home before Thanksgiving. Additionally, my hubby and I made a quick trip over the mountains to attend my parents 50th wedding anniversary party the first weekend.
December 2017 – was much less dramatic than November, except for the fact that work finally began on the remodel of the house my in-laws bought. Construction demolition has to be one of the messiest projects to undertake! By the time Christmas day rolled around, the house was stripped down to 4 walls and a roof, and the rebuilding started. Kind of appropriate don’t you think?
As you can see, this was a big year for me. Full of challenges and a multitude of blessings! I’m much stronger in my Faith, and I feel like I continue to grow each day. I don’t regret at all making the choice to make my Faith a priority, and to be public about it. I’m on the downhill side of my Stephen Ministry training. I’m an ordained Deacon at church. I’ve walked the path of medical crisis with 2 very special friends. I’ve watched our local women’s ministry efforts flourish and make a real difference for the women in our community. And our MRKH Journey through Faith group has taken off more than I ever hoped. All of these things, while benefiting different groups around me – the underlying current is that they have all had a part in making my growth as a Christian woman even stronger.
I pray that 2018 is a powerful and Faith-filled year as well.