Today I join Emily P. Freeman of Chatting at the Sky to share things I’ve learned in 2014.
I thought it was going to be just things learned in December. Thinking through the whole year was harder. But here are a few of many, many things learned:
1. Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s daily Bible reading calendar is both helpful and profitable. It has you reading in four different spots in your Bible every day, to read once through the OT and twice through the NT and Psalms in the course of a year. I downloaded and printed the bookmark-calendar from this site, and that was really helpful.
2. I actually like teaching 8:00 am classes. I like driving to work in the fresh part of the morning. I like the extra effort it takes to greet eight o’clock students. I like noticing who was up early and who barely got up for class, and seeing how those are different people on different days.
3. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield’s story of how the Lord drew her to himself is moving and challenging, and the book in which she tells her story The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith is well worth reading. Here’s one gem among many from the book: “I know that I don’t choose. God chooses. He rules and he overrules. We walk in faith and (at times) terror, but we walk nonetheless.”
4. Having consistent friends in my life whom I see regularly and who love the Lord and challenge me to love Him more is a wonderful thing. I love my Clinton community!
5. Taking a month of 5-days-a-week summer classes can be a treat.
6. And linguistics is cool.
7. It is possible to be at the latter end of your twenties, possessing a Master’s degree and having taught college courses for three and a half years, and still to be consistently assumed to be in your first year or two of college.
8. Nabeel Qureshi’s story of how the Lord drew him to himself is also moving and challenging, and proved particularly helpful to me in making me recognize that people who are Muslim are still and always people first. Read my review of his book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity, here.
9. My baby brother is getting married this weekend. Contrary to what one sometimes hears, having my baby brother get married does not make me feel old; it just makes me feel that my baby brother is getting married at an impossibly young age. (Which he actually isn’t.)
10. Numbering my days: I’m grateful for the ways God’s been teaching me to do this and reminding me that this life doesn’t belong to me.
11. Sometimes, when it looks like God might say “yes” to a long asking, it seems maybe scarier than the idea of Him never saying “yes.”
12. I can make and survive solo road trips on roads I’ve never travelled through states I’ve never visited. I still like to have maps in the car, but the GPS also became my friend in 2014.
13. I seem to have visited and revisited, here and in my journal, the idea that life is full of frightening things, and that we are told, over and over, “do not fear.”
14. Teaching American and British lit surveys during the same semester is fun because of the way I can start making connections for myself, drawing all the small pictures into one larger picture.
15. ISIS. Ferguson. Malaysia Airlines. Boko Haram. Gaza. Yazidis.
It’s been a year of learning about hurting.
16. #BringBackOurGirls #BlackLivesMatter #YesAllWomen
But I’m not sure that hashtags effectively help the hurts.
17. Saudi Arabians typically have two simultaneous and elaborate parties at their weddings: one for men and one for women. (I’ve never been to a Saudi wedding, but I’ve learned about them.)
18. It is hard to get a squirrel out of the courtyard of a three-story brick building when once it has got in. But a squirrel can survive a flying leap from a third-story balcony onto an iron table and a brick pavement.
19. People in Taiwan celebrate the New Year twice: once in the Western style with a countdown and a ball dropping, and again, a month or so later, at the Chinese New Year in the Chinese style with gifts and family visits and lots of red decorations.
20. Years have ways of always overturning my expectations and being better and harder and more surprising than I could imagine. But the Mighty One has done and continues to do great things. Here at the end of another year, my soul magnifies His name. He is good.
©2014 by Stacy Nott