Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thank You For the Lessons, 2009!!

2009 wasn't really my favorite year. Most people who know me understand why. I won't go into grave detail, but here are some keywords you might see if my life was a blog: death, cancer, chemo, murder, baby, marriage, travel, spiritual conversations, stress, anxiety, counseling... Well, as you can see, not all of those are bad things.

I certainly was not expecting my uncle to pass away from cancer. God told me everything was going to be alright. I actually was almost speechless when I got the text at 5 am that he passed the night before.

I didn't really know how to feel when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. God is a healer, yes, but the ugly thing called cancer is what killed my uncle. A lot of fear steps in when thinking about that. God is VERY patient with me when I need it!

When I heard that my friend's sister was murdered (Elisabeth - from what I know of her, she was AMAZING and so sweet), I was rocked. I had never met her, no. But what I know of her sister, she's incredible. My life was shaken; how can a person trust after knowing that someone so sweet was taken advantage of and conned? Life is not pretty.

And adjusting to the fact that so many of my friends got married this year...whew. It's totally an adjustment!! I am happy for all of them, but, wow.

This year is like a rainbow . . . I hope you're not too lost by that statement! In order to get a rainbow, a storm must pass through. One of the most beautiful things the human eye can see only comes through a rough period. It's a mixture of the remnants of the storm (the rain droplets, the mist) and the sun shining through. There is beauty when we get through the storms in our life; beauty that we can only see when we open our eyes. And boy, is there beauty in the storm that has been my life this year!

When I first thought about 2009, I hated my thoughts. Well, I hated the year. The first half was okay. The second half was jarring. But then I listened to a podcast that had only people's testimonies. Different people, for a half hour, shared stories of how God has been faithful to them. And that changed my perspective. I realized how much I have to be thankful for!

* Laura and Andy's wedding - watching how God brought them together was really an honor for me to watch and be a part of!

* Sara-Marie and Joshua's wedding - it was fantastic being with them. I really bonded with Stephanie Hupp (hey BFFL!)
* Liz and Mark's wedding - I'm proud of them for waiting until they could honor God appropriately. Liz is an amazing woman and Mark is a great man. Together they'll be an unstoppable husband and wife.
* Juice and Katie's wedding - I got to see a great man get married to a woman who I hear is as wonderful. I also got to hang out with my old youth group friends, which was AWESOME!
* Hanging out with my old friend Ben - I LOVED talking to him after Juice's wedding. It was encouraging to see how he has changed over the past 6 years that we haven't necessarily been in contact with one another.
* Steve and Ashley's wedding - I got to go to the reception and catch up with people there. Most of the people were older when I was a freshman, so I don't see them very often. It was worth driving two hours to be able to celebrate with them.
* Hanging out with Eric after Laura's wedding, on the 4th of July (with Jenny), and after Christmas in Midland
* Being up at the cabin for Independence Day - one morning, me and Jenny sat in front of the sun rising over the lake and sang songs to the Lord
* Getting closer to the girls in my graduate program and the CAC group generally
* Watching my roommate see value in herself and move on from a painful and hurtful relationship.
* Kim got to travel around the world. God was there. Though I missed her, I am so proud of how she has let the Lord really take care of her heart and change her perspective. I've seen so much growth!
* I have a job that pays for my tuition (all I have to pay is fees). That's great! It's nice to not have to completely stress out over finances in that least right now.
* I bought a car! Totally awesome! Little Stacey Elisabeth.
* I got to serve people in their weddings. I mean, not a lot of people can say that they've been in a wedding. But I was in two just this year. That rocks, completely. There's nothing like being in the wedding party! And the fact that I could fly up to go to so many weddings - I am blessed beyond belief!
* I got to be at Craig's graduation. That was pretty excellent. My geek crush, the inventor of Google, AKA "the Google Guy", was the speaker. Um...soul mate! hehe. Not really, but we all know how much I love Google. I was in geek heaven!
* I joined
Summit Waterford's multi-site. I am soooo pumped about it!
* I got to go to more shows than usual - RENT, the Color Purple, Chris Tomlin, Brandon Heath, Aaron Shust, Chris Sligh, Francesca Battistelli, a fashion show in Winter park, the Chocolate Nutcracker. It's been really exciting to be able to get back into those things.
*NiceSERVE with Summit was really amazing. Got to cut down some trees and do some physical labor. Very exciting. I really enjoyed it!
* I got a passport! Now I can go out of the country (legally, too!)!
* I got to observe school counselors in a high school. It was great to really jump back into high schools and see and understand the opportunities that kids have these days. Which are a lot...for sure.
* I spent some good time at the pool in Longboat Key in Sarasota. It gave me a different way to connect with God - laying on my back, floating in the pool. I pretty much loved my time there...even though taking care of little kids (even cousins) is not always the easiest thing.
* I have gone to counseling and been able to figure out where some of my views of God come from. With that, I've been able to replace them with Truth and know Him more.
* And the biggest thing I am thankful for?? The lessons learned. I have learned that I can make it. I will make it. Through heartache and strife. Through grief and pain. When things aren't pretty, God never leaves. And He cares more for me than I have imagined.

That lesson carries me into 2010 with hope. There may be more ugliness in the world (and the Bible says more is to come) but I can handle it. I can make it. So, goodbye to 2009 and hello 2010! I say hello, nervous and excited for what may come, but knowing that God will be with me and guide me through it.

Alright, I'm off to go and ring in the new year at church. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Testimonies of 2009

2009 is quickly coming to an end. If your year was anything like mine, it wasn't necessarily cosy or pretty. But even in the muck and the disorder, God has done great things! And that's what I want to hear about. I want to hear about what Christ has done this year. So, if you have any story of God's faithfulness, of how God used hardship to shape you, etc. please post it in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you!


Look out for my 2009 in review blog. It'll be posted in the next few days and I look forward to it.