About 2014

Most years I’ve been the one saying ‘I can’t believe it’s already [year]!

With the appropriate reference like ‘I’m still writing [previous year] on my [thing not as outdated as checks]!

Cross it out, y’all. (via)

But this year?

Oh baby. Not this year. Six days into 2015 and 2014 feels light years away, and that’s the grace of God. Feels like settling in for a long drive, but knowing that you’re heading home.

I’m late to the ‘year-in-review’ posts (and the Christmas posts and the New Year’s posts and the all the posts okay) so let me just say this:

2014 was the worst. It was the best, but it was the worst. It really was, and I’m allowed to say it. I was at my worst and my best in it. Six days into the new year, with 2014 ever growing smaller in the rearview, I can say that I’m grateful for last year, stone-cold hard-truth grateful. And also that I welcome every day of 2015 that takes me further away from it.

We’re nearing the end of the heady wintry combo of Christmas-New Year’s-anniversary– 1 year of marriage in five days!!!–and so Nate and I have been interjecting ‘remember when’s’ throughout the days since January 1. They’ve run the range from the fun

(‘remember when we took our wedding cake to the hotel room and it melted so we drank it from the champagne glasses that the hotel sent up’)

to the mundane

(‘remember that this time last year we were skyping and you were in the Tokyo airport and I had just gotten back to Daegu’)

to the please-shall-we-forget-that-bit

(‘remember when we had a giant fight on Valentine’s Day because of a miscommunication via text message’).

But aside from hilarious-to-us conversations I’ve been prompted to ruminate on the past year and on its highs and its many lows.

Highs:

Last year was stable professionally. We have good jobs and didn’t have to worry about them. We could afford the many hospital and doctor visits. We could afford the juicer we ended up buying (on sale, with gift cards) which happened to contribute to the decrease of said hospital visits. One of my little brothers got married and another little brother became a dad for the first time. I made this blog. Nate made a blog. Nate began the ordination process. We decided to move to California. New friendships sprouted and old ones bloomed.

And of course, I married Nathan.

and he grew This Beard. #bless #plaid #yea #amen
and he grew This Beard. #bless #plaid #yea #amen

I can’t explain how much God has used him in my life, and how much it’s meant to grow with him. I’m addicted. Marriage has been the setting for some of my worst moments this year/ever, but that’s meant that it’s also been the setting for God’s greatest redemptive work in me. Our first year has tested our vows in some very literal ways. Better and worse and sickness and health. You guys, my husband– he’s incredible. So patient. So faithful. So funny, and so sweet. And biceps for dayyyyyz. #slay

Even just writing that paragraph has distracted me from the lows of the year, which is no small feat.

Lows:

2014 was the Year We Got Sick. Because listen.

I had mutant canker sores for weeks that reduced me to eating frozen bananas because it was all I could tolerate. Nothing helped, until a combination of brushing five times a day and alternating rinses of hydrogen peroxide and Listerine healed it all up. Now, nine months later, I still get the occasional canker sore more frequently than I used to, but nothing as bad as that initial festerfest. Then, Nate had UTIs. UTIs that eventually landed us in a Korean emergency room with our pastor and her husband in the middle of the night, UTIs that eventually got diagnosed as chronic prostatitis. In a healthy young man who was barely 30. Which was treated with drugs that gave him such awful reactions that we decided diet change and hoping were better than drugs and misery. Thank God, dietary changes he made have made a huge difference, and he hasn’t had an episode or a hospital visit in months now. Then there were the series of colds and coughs and Nate-threw-out-his-back LITERALLY  when we were heading out the door to church.

Then there was early summer, when I caught what we thought was food poisoning, wherein I was incapable of being out of bed for more than a few hours at a time and couldn’t eat anything but popsicles, and this went on for weeks, until my 27th birthday.  A Wednesday night, when I stared at 3 positive pregnancy tests and texted a picture to Nate at work. Followed by a Thursday of progressing from panic to joy to plans for the future. Followed by an early Friday morning cab ride to that same emergency room, a transfer to a different hospital, and a three-day stay before the minor surgery that removed the remaining traces of what had been.

Mutant Canker Sores and Prostatitis and Miscarriage.

I have so many posts written and unpublished about the miscarriage, and maybe one day I will share them, but the nutshell is that God is good, good, good. And He took very good care of us, and that counts as a high, even in the low of it.

Aside from physical sickness, 2014 was the year God knocked away every single thing I relied on or thought I could trust that wasn’t founded on Him. This was the Big Stuff, the stuff that hurt worse than any illness. The repercussions that linger long past aches and pains.  It was an everything-must-go sort of year. Relationships I’d built up for years were uprooted. Self-image completely dismantled. Beliefs overturned and revealed to be false. Wounds. Betrayals, even. Hurt like I did not know was possible.

I have seen that even the lows glorify God. In the midst of turmoil this year–physical, spiritual, emotional– I’ve learned to take the tumult to the Throne of God. Because this year knocked me out. Dragged me down low, took me places no one at all could reach me, including Nate, no one at all but Jesus.

Which is why I will remember 2014 as a year of Mercy over Judgment.

Mercy in the form of nurses who spoke English and slipped us encouraging notes when they saw us grieving.

In a husband who sacrificed himself to ease my mind in the midst of his own pain and hurt. Who repaid good for evil and patience for selfishness. In friends and family who prayed and fought for us when we couldn’t fight for ourselves.

Mercy in the words of Scripture that spoke the pain I couldn’t articulate. Mercy in the love of Christ to press me to the lowest point so that I could see how much I need Him. Mercy when I deserved to be condemned and abandoned and everything around me reinforced the idea that I would be. Mercy in the upward glimpses that come so often now.

At the end of it I’m so glad for 2014. So glad I am learning to put my hand in Christ’s and let Him lead the way into what’s ahead, no matter what it is.

One Year From Now

Gyeongsan Station

So we’re going to San Francisco, which i still can’t spell for the first three tries. Swapping KTX lines for highways and Golden Gates. (That’s Gyeongsan Station above, from a summer weekend trip to Seoul.)

We’re planning to be there for good.

I haven’t even accepted that thought into my brain. I haven’t tried to yet, I haven’t thought about it.  I haven’t thought about why God is calling us to California, because I’ve learned that the kinds of answers I would want would likely not be given (questions with lots of ‘how exactly‘s and ‘what if___’s). And because we’ve been preoccupied by other things. Things like midsummer hospitalizations, and upheaval in personal relationships. Things like juice fasts, and mutant canker sores. Things like taking a lone free day and cramming it full of cuddling on our single bed and walking around our fledgling neighborhood and justifying a limited amount of junk food and talking about important things in the Word.

But then I try it on, the one-year-from-now. I test the fit and the give and the make of it, and when I do, I’m immediately overwhelmed.

Things I’ve said in passing as jokes start assuming shapes of fears, real tragedies in the mind of a scared little girl, wanting to hold on to everything she has and not wanting to let any of it go.

“My kids are gonna be Californians.” (some of my best friends on earth are from CA, it should be noted, in fairness.)

“This will be my last real winter for a while!”

“Oh, it’ll be great, unless we get shot in a gang war or the Earth crumbles into the sea beneath us.”

As glib commentary, these do pretty well. As thoughts I think to myself, alone in the apartment on a Wednesday, officially 1 year away from when our visas expire and we are ready-or-not booted out of Korea (it most likely won’t come to that)…they start to spiral and morph. Suddenly I’m ten years down the road and half of my children have beachy waves (nice!) and do nothing but smoke weed and surf all the time and also they call me ‘bruh’ which is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE I am their MOTHER. Also why do these children have weed in the kitchen. or anywhere. The other half have had plastic surgery and keep telling me they’re in ‘The industry’ and THEN then there’s an earthquake and a gang war AND–we become ‘Niners fans.

I talked to my best friend about this and she said: ‘It’s NORTHERN CALIFORNIA. They’re gonna be in Northface in 65 degree weather talking about fair trade coffee.’

EVEN WORSE.

I’m still joking because that’s what happens when I’m uncomfortable. ‘But I’m excited about the Move!’  I cry, truthfully. Because I am. It’s an amazing adventure and a dream fulfilled and it’s so exciting–

but parts of it are scary and uncomfortable. I’m not going to build snow forts with my kids on their Christmas break? They’ll never know the joys of a snow day or even a 2-hour delay? They won’t care about the Red Sox vs. Yankees? And forget the Hypothetical Future Pagaards: I won’t ever get to feel that magical season-shift again? Do the leaves change color and have they ever even heard of clam chowder or apple cider? (Why are all of these related to weather and food?)

How do I trust when my only frame of reference comes from The Rock and Full House?

What is the most trivial thing in the world to one is monumental to another, and for me, these silly, joke-questions are tough to swallow. Even tougher? the Other Questions that hang out in the back while the sillier ones are hogging time in the front. Questions like ‘What will we do?’ about money. About jobs. About kids. About RAISING kids.  Questions like ‘When we have kids…if Nate’s pastoring, I’ll have to work full time. Am I gonna miss everything?’ ‘Will we have to live in a bad neighborhood?’

‘Are we gonna be safe?’

‘Will it be beautiful?’

I can qualify this easily enough. Of course I know that where He leads, we follow. Where we are called, we go, and we make no demands on what that going might entail. To paraphrase one of my favorite bloggers, Shannan Martin, ‘Going’ has only a very little bit to do with your geographical location, and every bit to do with people. We are and we aren’t going for us. When you follow Christ, disobedience is death: in that way, we’re going for us. We can’t stay where we are. For death can look like a long, comfortable life spent country hopping from teaching job to teaching job. Death can look like a lot of things. But so can Life. We go to find Life, and we go to share the Giver of Life.

Knowing that, and knowing that I’m being a Big Giant Baby, ought to make it easier to know that I have ZERO idea what the rest of my life is going to look like. And it does, most of the time. Which is why in general I have always avoided thinking about the future. I knew two (now three) things: I will walk with the Lord and I will always have my family. Add Nate. That’s three, and that’s got me covered.

I don’t really think through what that first item means, sometimes.

I will walk with the Lord. The going, the not knowing, are on purpose, and so will be the loss and the gain and the broken assumptions I didn’t know I made. So if that means that all three of those not-jokes are super true, then that’s the truest, most, onl-iest plan I could ever dream for my future. For my family. For ever.

Posts from the past

Just a lil note to mention that over the next few months (maybe! no promises! I have commitment problems!) you’ll see posts written this past summer, mostly in July, whilst we were Thinking and Planning about the Blog rather than actually, you know, Blogging.

That was a beast of a sentence and it could have been worse.

SO if/when you see something posted with a weird old timey date on it, fear not. No time traveling was involved. Just delayed posts that were pressing or important enough for me to write, but not ready to post on the Interwebz for all to see.

And a quick Life Update: I’m about to head out the door to spend the next two days nannying for our sweet friends and their Lil Manchild. I’ll be posting on those adventures in the days to come!