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Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve 2010

The sun is setting on the last day of 2010.  I feel content.  The year that has gone has been a special year for us with incredible travel experiences, time to nurture our marriage in a variety of ways and the love and warmth of our home, dog and church here in Stockholm.  We have no big plans for tonight as most of our friends are out of town and Doug's leg is still on the tender side.  He has begun to walk without the cast and we're hoping to see progress each day, but it's slow.  We'll cook dinner at home, enjoy an early drink with some friends and likely wander out to the streets to watch the multitude of fireworks being blown off.  Tanner hates this night so we'll snuggle him up in his crate, pack towels around him to try to muffle the explosions and hope that he doesn't completely freak out from the noise.
I recently went back through this blog to view what I found worthy of writing about.  It was great fun for me to review the photos, spark the memories and consider some of more thoughtful things that I wrote about.  There were so many amazing things that unfolded in our life this year, I just feel filled with joy and peace today.
Books always play such a large role in my life and so I'd like to share with you the books that I feel should really be read!  My favorite read from the year was Little Bee.  Thoughtful, provocative, stirring, this story of a Nigerian refugee trying to make it in England tears at your heart and causes you to consider how we could make life easier for people who are seeking to create something new and special for themselves.  Mennonite in A Little Black Dress was very meaningful for me as I watched a young woman wrestle with her strict Mennonite upbringing, seek to break free from it, make some sad choices in life and ultimately find solace with the community in which she was raised.  If you grew up in a religious environment and have struggled to find a new way of having faith while cherishing your childhood learning, you will greatly appreciate this read.  Same Kind of Different As Me is a stunning portrayal of how three totally disconnected lives connect to change one another forever.  It's a true story and I loved it.  Wait 'Til Next Year delighted me because of the resonance I felt with my own life.  Change the author's Brooklyn, Dodgers for my California Angels and the stories are pretty similar.  Except the Angels didn't win the World Series until 2002!  My Life in France by Julia Child held deep surprises as it is a story that is much more complex than I thought.  I suppose because I am an American living overseas, I resonated with much of what she shared and getting a glimpse of the ex-patriot lifestyle post WWII was also very special.  On a lighter note, Lunch in Paris is another account of an American seeking to adjust to life in Paris with her French husband and includes wonderful recipes at the end of each chapter to boot!  I'm sure there were many, many more but this gives you a peek at what held my rapt attention!  I am going to take the plunge and get a Kindle electronic reader and I do look forward to being able to get books at the touch of a button and not having to lug them across the ocean with me on my journeys!
Of course, the year had some hard things as well and the hard things were really hard.  3 family members struggling with various stages of different types of cancer, and another struggling with the effects from an unexpected stroke have been a source of deep concern and sadness for us.  These concerns are present with us every day and cause the future to feel fragile and precious.  We live far away from our beloved families and yet feel we are living into God's calling for us here in Stockholm as well.  We are grateful that we have resources that allow us trips back and opportunities to talk on the phone, connect electronically, and just generally keep in touch as best we can when continents divide.  Uncertainty in the future looms, and yet, we take joy that in this present moment, there are reasons to rejoice and be thankful.  And so we try to do just that.
And so dear readers of this blog, wherever you are in life, I pray that in the midst of that which is hard and painful, you too will find joy in the calling that God has granted you and that you will find the grace to live into His calling for you in spite of the things that wear you down.
I wish you a Blessed and Happy New Year filled with comfort for your pain and anticipation for the joy that will inevitably unfold in the coming months.