word of the year: normal \ˈnȯr-məl\ a.) conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern b.) occurring naturally
2012 has been one for the record books, but I’m starting to feel like I say that at the end of every year. As I think back on the four years that Jake and I have been married, each year has brought us something new. Something that has altered our perception of “normal” and changed the way we’ve always done things. When all is said and done though, I always find myself thinking, “Hasn’t it always been this way?” That’s the nature of newness though, I suppose, and I always like to take time at the end of each year to reflect upon the things that have become our “new normal.” To update the people we love about what exactly we’ve been up to.
I was reminded this past year, more than a few times, that Jake and I have different perceptions of “normal” as he continues to drag me out of the cozy comfort zone I create for myself. We spent three weeks in West Africa in June—an experience that is hard to put into a brief summary. For us, it was a great glimpse of the beauty and hospitality and love that exists in a place with little hope. A place where people consider you family after a 10 minute conversation and will spend what very little they have to make you feel at home. We are beyond thankful to have been able to write the experience into our own story.
A week after we got back from Africa, we traveled to New Orleans to work on staff at the Evangelical Free Church’s national youth conference: Challenge (in which I think Jake was slightly pulled out of HIS comfort zone). We spent a week with walkie-talkies glued to our ears as we helped keep track of thousands of high school students. It was quite a different vibe than our three weeks in Africa. J
This fall, Jake started his second year at Des Moines University. He’s still busy studying for test after test and looks forward to the rotation phase which comes next year. Everyone wants to know he’s going to specialize in, but the jury’s still out on that one. I know that once he decides, I’ll nod my head as though there was never any other option.
I’m enjoying my third year teaching 9th grade English in Ankeny. Each year becomes a little easier in the swing of things, and I’m thankful to have a job that allows me to do so many things that I love all at once. I wouldn’t choose anything different.
And then there’s the issue of the third stocking that hangs by our Christmas tree. The stocking that’s a bit smaller than the other two and reminds us daily that this normal isn’t going to stick around. The new normal hits in June when a baby arrives to shake things up a bit. Are we excited? Totally.
That’s 2012 in a nutshell. From world travelers (did I mention we also got to stand underneath the Eiffel Tower?) to parents in a 12 month span. Change is always the constant, and we continue to be thankful to serve a God who stays the same. Who promises to meet us wherever the new normal takes us. Who calls us to love above all other things.
May that love reach you and your families this Christmas season!
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. Psalm 73: 23-28
In case you were wondering, Ginny's doing fine too.