And, honestly, when I look back, I keep thinking, "This was a tough year." Don't get me wrong, it was a also a great year, but I would be lying if I said it was rainbows and unicorns - and I love unicorns. But it really was a hard year, with lots of lessons learned.
So what did we learn?
Well, I personally learned (and am still learning) a lot about contentment, as you can read about here. This was our toughest year financially. No family "vacation" was taken, there was the start of paying for my grad school, there were more major unexpected financial burdens than usual, and a large portion of the year was spent on "extreme budget lockdown." But I learned that all of our needs are met. And I've learned to live on less. And I think that will be invaluable in the future. Our victory in this area came from me completely paying off my undergraduate student loans. And hopefully, this year, we will make some major headway on Mark's loan. (-:
I learned that going to school full time and working full time is really hard, and also really rewarding. I love both of these things, but sometimes it seems as though there just aren't enough hours in the day. Sometimes I feel like I get up (late), go to work, drive home, do homework, go to bed (late) and start all over again. Sometimes I think my poor husband is getting the raw end of the deal. But then I think about how during football season this whole entire fall he got to watch every game to his heart's content while I worked on sermon outlines, and then I don't feel so bad. (-:
I learned that I'm not as cut out for foreign missions as other people are. I want to share the Gospel, but maybe not perhaps in places where there are tarantulas in my shower and you have to pour water in a toilet to get it to flush - that is, unless I know without a doubt the Lord is calling me to that. (-: But I also saw the hospitality and generosity of people who were incredibly poor, and was reminded not to take anything for granted.
I am still learning about friendships. I reconciled with someone from years ago, and understand even more fully how important it is to be open and honest with those you love before it gets to the point of no return. I learned the incredible value of seeking to be objective. I've learned lots in this area, but not without some wounds that are still hemorrhaging.
I've learned about family. Family is not defined by blood - but by love and support. And as I sit looking at my family and thinking about the obstacles we've overcome in a year, and the encouragement, love and support we've given, I'm overwhelmed. And I all-too-clearly know that some people won't understand it and they don't have to. But I know I'm blessed.
We learned through some home-improvement projects gone bad that gender roles really don't do anything but cause problems. And that whatever the problem is, we can either fix it together, or play to each other's strengths. (-:
So it's been a tough year. But it's also been a great year. We got our sweet puppy Boo in January and he is such a blessing. I successfully maintained my gym membership for a year and can say I am much more fit today than I was a year ago. Mark learned a lot in his new job and I love him more today than I did a year ago. It's so nice to be married to your best friend. Seriously. Karlie had a great first semester at OBU and got a 4.0! We are so proud of her. I finished my first semester of grad school with a 3.33 and am 20% finished!
The good, bad, and the ugly, that was our 2011.
How was yours?
Happy New Year from the Johnson Family!