We've been in the United States for nine days. We've been sick for eight of those days. To say that's not exactly how I expected our time back with family and friends to have rolled out would be an understatement of epic proportion.
Completely and utterly not what we were expecting and certainly not what we were planning.
And yet as I sit here click clacking away on this keyboard I'm forced to smile as I think of how perfectly a "quirky," "life-of-its-own" Christmas break sums up 2010.
As I think back to this time last year, I have to laugh, dig my fingers through my wild curly mane, find my head and scratch it.
I'm sure I was busy making plans, looking ahead, and dreaming of all the "new" and "good" 2010 would hold.
It's only now that I see the humor and can laugh at myself.
It's fun sometimes to sit indian style, knee to knee with the truth and look it right in the face.
The truth whose knees I touch has told me this...on the eve of 2010 I had no way of knowing that we'd stick a for sale sign in the yard of our dream house. This was the home we were going to grow old in. The house we had bought with sweat and hard work as we flipped house after house, moved several times with small children (nightmare!) to finally attain the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood.
Who would have known that 2010 would be the year God pried my death grip off my dreams?
At the starting line of 2010 I had no idea that I'd have to put my stuff in boxes, stuff I loved. My favorite hand painted furniture, the rocking chairs I nursed every one of my babies in, the school table where my boys colored, painted, and sat learning about molecules and Martin Luther King Jr.
Who knew that 2010 was going to be the year the Lord stood over me and declared "freedom" as I cried and cried and cried while I packed up my wooden crates, my beloved quilts, not knowing when I'd ever see them again or have a home that felt like home.
On December 31st I was not aware that we'd have to kiss the faces of the ones we love...sob...and say good-bye to our tight, ever so tightly knit community.
Right after Christmas last year I could have never known that what 2010 had hiding behind the curtain was a move to another country. If we had played "Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader" on New Year's Eve and the question was, "Haiti sits nearest to what continent?" I would have probably said, "Africa" proving that fifth graders are indeed smarter than I am.
I had no way of knowing about the mountains of fear I would face this year. Fear that my kids would die. Fear of earthquakes, malaria, all the multiple opportunities Haiti generously offers a family to kick the bucket. That fear woke me up sweaty in the middle of the night, causing my sheets to smell like Doritos. I would pant out the "What if this"..."What if thats..." This time last year I was completely oblivious to the hard cold truth...I did not trust that God was God. I did not trust Him at all.
As I was putting away the Christmas tree last year I could have never imagined, nope...not in a hundred years that 2010 would give us the label "missionary family." I had never contemplated moving to another country. Not ever. Not once. To be a missionary you have to have clear skin, enjoy camping, never complain, never worry, be care-free...easy-going, and trust and know Jesus in ways that the rest of the world only wishes they did. I'm thirty four years old, have six...count them....six zits on my face right this second, hate camping, am a control freak, am not at all go with the flow and doubt Jesus is real some times on a weekly basis.
I'm realizing that I could have planned all I wanted, and those plans would have never included one fraction of the beauty, pain, and joy that this year actually brought.
2010 seemed to bring a surprise every other day.
I sit here today a recovering planner, admitting that God is weird yet holds all of our days in His capable hands. He writes words like "Haiti", "Heartline," "Freedom," "Healing," and "Faith" into our story when we're too cowardly and faithless to do it ourselves. He upholds friendships. He maintains them. He weaves new people into our souls and makes beautiful additions.
I have nothing to say for 2011. I confess that I can't predict what this year will bring.
As I say good-bye to 2010 I will hug it hard...that slow, stand there for awhile, let it linger and allow our eyes to fill up with tears kind of hug. Not because I will miss it. I won't. But because 2010 brought so much healing. It was hard and kind at the same time. It patiently and gently taught me the most meaningful lesson.
God already has a plan for this new year. He had a plan for last year too. His plan for 2010 was way better than mine...and not because it was easier or more comfortable than what I was busy planning. It was better for reasons that words can't describe. Just cries and groans and smiles can speak to the struggles and strength that were handed to our family this year.
I sit here with a baby napping, big kids roaming this farm, my hot tea and this computer in my lap...waiting with expectation as I think about what God has on His agenda for 2011. Surprisingly I feel eager to open each one of those gifts knowing some will be lovely and some will surely be wrapped in painfully ugly paper...but 2010 has taught me that even those are blessings. Each one...a gracious gift.
Because I love you...each one of you...the lurkers, the dear friends, the people God has lovingly wrapped up in our story...my wish for your 2011 is this one...
May it be unexpected. Richly and wildly unexpected. May God write fantastic words into your story this year. Words that would terrify you if you heard them today...words He is powerful enough to speak into existence and powerful enough to sustain.