In 2013 blessed lessons learned planning

13 Lessons Learned in 2013

1.) You adapt to survive.
In January I was working night shifts at the Amazon warehouse in Lexington, coming home to sleep a couple hours, then taking care of my 9 month old the whole day. We needed me to be working, and I needed Jace to not be in daycare, so my body adjusted. As I look back I'm not entirely sure how I functioned on 3 or 4 hours sleep each day, but somehow I did.

2.) Hard choices have to be made.
When February hit I had been working at Amazon for four months on night shifts, including weeks of mandatory overtime resulting in 60 hour workweeks. I honestly believed that my body had adapted and held out as long as it could, so it came time to make a choice. Either I could continue working and earn extra money, or I could leave, knowing I would not have employment again until at least April, and adhere to a strict budget. Leaving for weeks without income was terrifying, but in the end it was so clearly the right choice.

3.) You never know what cause you'll end up an advocate for.
When we adopted Luna at the end of February, I would never have predicted that by March I would be the person advocating for pit bull owner rights and to end the discrimination. The fact that landlords can refuse to rent to you because of the breed of dog you own, cities like Denver, CO could create and uphold a pit bull ban, and that pit bulls have even less chance than other dogs to walk back out of a shelter sickens me because of Luna.

4.) Babies grow up faster than you'd ever believe.
 I was in shock when Jace blew out his birthday candle, announcing that a full year of his life with us had passed. I was so glad that I had made the choices to be home with him as much as possible so I didn't miss many of his first year milestones. He only gets one childhood, and I want it to be one filled with happiness and love.

5.) Overcoming the odds is possible.
 Nathan walked the stage to receive his Bachelor's degree in history this May. Why is that against the odds? Well, here's the short list of reasons:
- He had to go part time his first semester because of health issues.
- He found out he was going to be a father late summer before his junior year
- He got married while in his junior year, about a week before finals.
- And his senior year was spend being a student, a husband, and a father.

6.) Sometimes home surprises you.
When Nathan and I talked about the future, we had always talked about moving further south. In fact, in March we had met up with a realtor in North Carolina to look at homes. But, after Nathan's graduation, we realized just how much Berea had grown on us. We thought about what we would be leaving behind, we thought about what we had learned here and how much we had grown, and we realized that somehow, Berea had become home.

7.) When you enjoy your work, it reflects in your life.
I loved managing the pool this summer. Completely, absolutely loved it. Although it did not utilize my degree, it challenged me, grew me, and improved my skills in public relations, lifeguarding, and management. That joy of going to work reflected in the rest of my life: I was happy. I made new friends, laughed, swam, and ,with the other manager, saw the pool through a successful 2013 season. Even when it was busy, or stressful, the genuine contentment that I felt at my job carried over to the rest of my mindset.

8.) Your friends are still your friends, even if you see them twice a year.
This August I was able to go home to see one of my childhood friends get married in a beautiful ceremony filled with love. The group that was present that day was part of a group that had been friends since middle school. Some moved away, some stayed close by, and some I only see once or twice a year. But we're still friends. They are still the people I would call if something went wrong, the ones who would be there for me the same way I would for them.

9.) Get back to your passions and talents, they fill your life with joy.
In high school, I was a choir nerd, on and off through college I was part of a choir. I love to sing, can usually carry a tune, and love the sense of community that comes with singing. So I auditioned to join the worship team at church. Now every other week I am at practice learning new songs and singing excitedly alongside new friends.

10.) To have a good marriage, you have to work for it.
This fall our church offered life groups, one of which was titled "Real Marriage: the truth about sex, friendship, and life together." The group work and discussions were based on the book and workbook series by Mark and Grace Driscoll and I would highly recommend it. While not everything in it may apply to your relationship, it really gave Nathan and I a new appreciation for each other as well as a very refreshed attitude toward our marriage and each other.

11.) God provides in unexpected, amazing ways. 
 In November, while still living in the land of "what if," I was offered my full time position with the ACA. It was surprising, greatly needed, and has given us the gift to breathe a little as we provide for our family and think about continuing to grow.

12.) Sometimes you have to say no.
This year, for the first time, Nathan and I were not able to go up to Ohio either during or right after Christmas. We looked at our budget first, then still tried to make it work to the point where we would have spent more time driving than with any of our families.
So, we had to say no.
And, even though we did miss our families, we had an amazing Christmas with just us and our little one. We were able to enjoy time together, which became very precious when Nathan and I's schedules changed, and relax.

Bonus Lesson
13.) Plans change. And when you look back, you'll see why they ended up being better.
We planned to move to NC, planned to buy a house in McKee, planned for me to go to grad school, etc.
Not one of those plans actually happened, and when I look back on it now, I can see why. I am so convinced that where I am now is exactly where I'm supposed to be.

So what was 2013 like for you? What lessons did you learn and changes did you make?


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