Another year begins! [Note to readers: this list was written on my birthday – almost 2 months ago; it’s just taken me awhile to post this list. A friend of mine started this tradition on her mom’s 50th birthday – and it’s a good exercise to count our blessings on our birthdays.]
As I celebrate the start of my 34th year of life, let’s count out 34 things that I have been so grateful for this year:
2) Marriage to Dan – thankful for the calling to be husband and wife
3) My parents
4) My in-laws (in-love)
5) My brother
6) My siblings-in-love, and my nephews and niece
7) God’s abundant and gracious goodness
8) My faith – being Catholic and the lesson of “both/and”
9) St. Thomas More/Newman Center
10) Ministry opportunities
11) My job
12) Dan’s job
13) My preceptors – past, present, and future
14) Anne Marie
16) Dan’s students (judging team kids)
17) God’s provision of our house
18) Jerry – our neighbor, knowledgeable about everything, second-dad
19) Rosary Runs
20) God’s faithfulness to never give up on me
21) Sister Elizabeth
22) Father Don
23) Barb, Steve, and Joe
24) Quiet afternoons in the sunshine
25) My co-workers – that my co-workers are my friends
26) Pool parties
27) Lisa, Jina and Lindsay
28) Amy, Jason and the Z-boys
29) Larry & PJ
30) My aunts, uncles and cousins
31) My foundation of faith: Jesus, ancestors, my grandparents, my parents and the tree I’m grafted into and their faith
32) Good conversations with students!
33) Inquiry & Jerry Meyer
34) Dan and our life in Tucson – our Tucson friends, his co-workers, and our growing community
As you see, this year definitely has a Tucson bend to it. One of the recurring themes from Inquiry (a session that I help lead for people with questions about Catholicism) that Jerry, our leader, continually mentions is that in many areas, Catholicism is “both/and” – not either/or, and usually not black or white. This approach to “both/and” has really helped me embrace life here in Tucson in the past year.
I don’t know that it’s in any secret that I didn’t love it here. We moved 2,000 miles from most of my family (so thankful to have an aunt, here!) and friends…into a foreign land. Sure, it’s still the USA – but spend 3-4 weeks here and you’ll know this is not Iowa, or the Midwest, anymore, Toto. Everything is different. A year after we’d lived here, I travelled back to the Minneapolis/River Falls, WI area for a conference in late June. About 20 miles outside of the Minneapolis airport, I was bawling hysterically. I had gotten used to the landscape of Arizona – the brown mountains, the expanse of light brown dirt/scrubby trees. Suddenly, my senses were affronted with the green and I remembered just how far from home I was.
This year, I have embraced the “both/and” of life. I realize that January can be both 68 and –8. I realize that fall can be pumpkin patches/apple orchards…and quiet rejoicing for temps in the upper 80s instead of the upper 90s while the season SLOWLY and SUBTLELY enters. …and, really, I realize that “home” can be both Iowa, Michigan, and Arizona. Being happy in one place does not mean that I have rejected the other.
So, these are my lessons learned from year 33/year 2013. Here’s to seeing what 2014 will bring!