Good Morning, 2020!

It’s January 1st.  A new day, new year, new decade.  We awoke this morning to a world blanketed in white with puffy snowflakes peacefully falling to the ground and the luxury of staying at home.  I love the way the world looks with fresh snow – glistening perfection, undisturbed and covering the dull brown of winter.  I looked out my window and thought, “Good Morning, 2020!”

New snow is like a fresh notebook without a mark in it, or a stack of fabric waiting for the perfect project.  It’s full of promise and potential.  The perfectionist in me is sometimes intimidated by the blank canvas these new starts offer; I’m afraid to make the first mistake.  The funny thing is, I make mistakes no matter what, so why hesitate to dive in?

Really, there’s nothing special about January first.  Any day – every day – is the day to make a change.  Still, it’s fun to change the calendar and start a new year and I want to dive in the way my children race out into the snow, excited to leave tracks all over and see what kind of adventure they can create.  I like the sound of “twenty-twenty”.  It reminds me of perfect vision, and the phrase “hindsight is 20/20.”  The idea of taking everything I’ve learned from 2019, even from the last decade, and putting it to work in 2020 has me excited.  So I really mean it:  Good Morning, 2020!

Last year I tried, with limited success, to sew for 15 minutes a day.  I noticed I felt happier and more productive in general when I was doing it. In the last few weeks I’ve only looked longingly at my sewing machine as the holiday season commanded my attention.  I have goals for 2020 in several areas, but my creative goal is one I’m really excited about.

I’m calling it “20 in 20” and it’s a goal to spend twenty minutes sewing every day (Monday – Friday, at least) in 2020.  I’ve got a master plan for it, and my official start date is Monday January 6th. That’s the day everyone goes back to school at my house.  We’re going to enjoy vacation mode for a few more days as a family.

I’ll be back here on Monday to share the details of my “20 in 20” challenge.  I have a great feeling about the new year.  Good morning, 2020!

Wishing 2019 Goodbye

The sun is shining today, a welcome sight after yesterday’s snow and gray skies.  From all appearances, it’s a day like any other.  It is, and it isn’t.  It’s December 31st, New Year’s Eve, the last day of the year – the last day of the decade.  And I find myself thinking about that like it’s a big deal, and yet it’s not.  After all the ups and downs, I feel tenderhearted as I’m wishing 2019 goodbye.

2019 cracked me wide open.  It cracked me open in January and for a lot of months I had no idea what things would look like going forward.  I will never forget this year.  It’s been the hardest, scariest, most lived by faith and most full of miracles year of my life.  There have been heartbreaking lows and long, dark weeks followed by sweet blessings that really matter.  Eleven months ago I might have said I couldn’t wait for this year to end and that it was the worst year ever, but as I stand today on the edge of 2020 I have to say it was a good growing year.  We learned that nothing is impossible for God.  I’m different, and I intend to stay changed.

Additionally, every member of my large family experienced a major life transition or challenge in 2019, which meant that I experienced them too.  We learned more about being a strong and supportive family.  We’re slower to judge and quicker to empathize.  Hard as it was, 2019 has made us better people.

Five years ago a chain of events cracked me open and left me reeling with pain.  I got through it, but I closed up creatively and couldn’t bring myself to sew a thing for months.  This time around I handled it better.  I let my sewing nourish me instead of clamming up.

It’s been a good year for quilt making.  I blogged about almost 20 finished quilts, Christmas tree skirts, and mini quilts.  I have another half dozen projects finished, just waiting to have their picture taken so I can share them here.  In spite of resolutions to finish all my unfinished projects, I still have several waiting in the wings and some quilt tops to quilt.  Still, I made progress in this area!  And during an incredibly intense period for my family, the Lone Star Tree Skirt Sew Along was a success.  I’m grateful that sewing and creativity were threads that helped keep life together in 2019.

I’m excited about 2020; about the next ten years.  But 2019 and I still have some unfinished business.  Most of it involves writing, but we need healing too.  And more sewing; I’m so excited about what’s ahead with making quilts!

Tonight I’m wishing 2019 goodbye, knowing it will never really leave me.  And I’m looking to 2020 with confidence and a heart full of stories to tell.  I hope to tell them in words and in quilts, and I hope you’ll come along.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my goals for 2020.  Tomorrow, a new year.  A new decade.  A day like any other, yet different.  Life is good; we’re lucky to be here.  Let’s make the most of it!

 

Hiking Half Way

This is a story about hiking half way.  Which also means it’s a story about failure… or is it?  Several months ago I went on a hike I wasn’t prepared for.  I had a partially healed sprained ankle that was still considerably swollen.  My foot wasn’t fitting properly in any shoes so I also had blisters and scabs on my heel.  The trail we chose is steep:  an average grade of 19% (or 11 degrees).

I was worried about my ankle.  I knew it wasn’t ready.  But I stood in my kitchen as my family got ready to leave and felt sick about staying behind.   All my talk with my teenagers about grit floated through my mind so I decided to go.

The mountain was beautiful and covered in sunflowers.  As I hiked I watched the moon rise and the evening light bathe everything in its golden glow.  Everything felt perfect; everything, that is, except my foot.

The steep incline of the trail forced my foot to flex at an angle I hadn’t been able to move it to for weeks.  Good therapy, perhaps, but the pain quickly grew until my ankle was throbbing and I fell behind in my climb.  My kids would stop at lookout points to wait for me and then scramble ahead again on the path as the sun began to set.  I felt embarrassed at my slow pace, and worried about my throbbing ankle.

Eventually I decided to stop half way.  I wanted my family to reach the top before dark and waiting for me to catch up would prevent that.  I also wanted to make it back down safely on an ankle growing more wobbly with each step.  So I sent them along and sat, alone, at a lookout point to watch the sun finish setting.

I felt like a failure.  I only hiked half way up a trail that wasn’t all that long.  As I blinked back hot tears of shame I focused on the sunset.  My halfway hike gave me this view. Had I really failed?  Perhaps.  Had I tried?  Yes.  What would my family think of me?

The darkness continued to gather and I began my descent, gingerly making my way down the trail with my flashlight and the quiet crunch of my footsteps while the sounds of insects grew louder in proportion to the darkness.  Darkness is a funny thing – we tend to think in terms of all dark or all light, but really there are so many degrees of darkness as night falls.  I pondered as I walked.

Then it happened.

Movement in the bushes just a few yards off the trail, up the incline from where I walked.  I stopped in my tracks and held still, straining to see.

There, in the darkness not ten yards away from me, perfectly silhouetted against the dark blue sky, stood a magnificent 5 point buck.  He stopped too, and we both stood in silence and regarded each other.  

I don’t know how many seconds passed.  It was a beautiful moment of perfect stillness.  I breathed as slowly and quietly as possible, not wanting to break the spell.  Then he moved, walked down the incline and crossed the trail ahead of me.  A few seconds  more and he was lost in the now-black face of the mountain.

I stood in awe.  Was my hike a failure?  If I’d made it to the top, I would have missed this moment.  If I’d been hiking with my family we would have been too loud to hear the rustle in the bushes.  Had I been anywhere else on the mountain, I would not have seen that majestic sight.  I considered the possibility that I was exactly where I should have been at that moment.

It felt like a gift, a just-for-me gift from a loving Heavenly Father who had something to teach me about hiking half way.

As this year draws to a close, I look back at my goals and hopes from twelve months ago.  Some I’ve accomplished.  Others were temporarily set aside as life demanded unexpected things from me.  And some of them are like my half way hike.  Better to have climbed and done something than to have done nothing at all.

If you feel like you’re just hiking half way in life right now, take heart.  There are gifts all over the mountain, not just at the top.  And the hikes most worth finishing allow second chances.

All my love as we hike into the new year, even, or especially, for the half way hikes.  May we have eyes to see the gifts God has placed in our path, wherever we are on life’s mountain.

Happy New Year!
Jennifer

 

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