The end of 2013AD draws nigh. A year of ups and downs. Of good memories and things I'd prefer to forget. But isn't every year that way? As I look back, I can choose to focus on the bad or the good, the regrets or the lessons.
The boys and I embarked on an adventurous camping trip during spring break when we still had snow on the ground at home. The entire family took trips to the Trumper family reunion in Pana, Illinois; to Eagle River, Wisconsin; and various state parks for camping. We attended the weddings of a niece and a nephew; my sister gave birth to twins. My wife did a bit of traveling for her studies/work (including to Iceland!) and finished up her coursework--she's now halfway done on her doctorate. We spent time at Bible Camp--including Anders' first full week. We saw a lot of family and friends, near and far, old and new. We did a bit of biking, swimming, sledding, painting, drawing, playing board games, playing lawn games, going to outdoor concerts, and having fun. Anders started violin lessons. Both boys had new teachers this year in school (they keep their teachers for three years typically in Montessori). And there's probably a lot of stuff I'm forgetting that happened.
I learned that in the winter I need to exercise more (when it's difficult to bike and near impossible to swim outside), so we've been doing a YMCA membership in the cold months.
I learned I need to journal more. I also learned that I need to be more conscientious about being grateful (which goes along with journaling sometimes). Both things help me reflect and keep focused on God's sovereignty.
I learned that publishing a book is rarely a money-making job. (I also learned that I'm not good at marketing or networking and could put more time into learning how to do both well.)
I learned to say no a little more to some commitments and say yes a little more to relationships.
I learned that being a father and a husband are jobs not to slack off on--that there is plenty of work to do and things to learn with both.
I learned to seize the moments as they come and not have regrets of "I wish I had..." Or I learned to seize the moment during last year's spring break and take do something I normally wouldn't do.
I am reminded to be more forgiving and gracious, less resentful, kinder, more patient, and more loving.
I don't know what 2014 will hold. Some things are pretty certain, I suppose:
Likely some ups, some downs (that seems fairly consistent). Plenty of mistakes. Opportunities. Challenges. Sadness. Joy. Times with family and friends. Things I'll be proud of; things I'll regret.
No matter how the year progresses, I have the potential to make it a great year. I can learn from my mistakes, but I don't need to dwell on them or beat myself up over them. I can look on the positive side of things ("always look on the bright side of life" as the Life of Brian reminds us). I can be hopeful and not fearful. I can learn to give thanks in all circumstances. I can be mindful of God's continuous loving presence with me. I can help my family to grow and take on new challenges.
As 2013 closes, I give thanks. I thank God for bringing me through another year. I thank Him for the opportunities we had: beaches to swim at, outdoor concerts to attend, friends we hung out with, camping and hiking trips, seeing the beauty of God's creation, the free cultural venues in the Twin Cities, moments with family, biking along the river and around lakes, playing together, laughing together, and sharing love with family and friends. I thank God for His grace and forgiveness, His mercy and love.
May God bless you in the New Year!