What I Learned in January

At the end of each month, Emily over at Chatting at the Sky looks back at what she learned over those four weeks. It’s a valuable practice, one that encourages introspection and thought, one that results in a list of lessons that can be referenced time and time again, and so today I am joining her in this discipline.

What I Learned in January 2015, in no particular order:

1. I am my worst self in the middle of the night. It should be obvious, I suppose, but after months of interrupted sleep, I have come to the realization that my true character is revealed at 2 AM, that this is when my selfishness and my lack of patience and my desperate need for redemption are most evident. If anyone believes they are without sin, perhaps they should try living with a non-sleeping infant for a few months and see how that goes for them.

2. Parenthood might be worth watching. I know, I know, I’m way late to the game on this one, but after many recommendations and after seeing the world bemoan the fact that the show ended this week, Jonathan and I finally watched the pilot last night and we are intrigued enough to give it a go.

3. Writing I have submitted can be rejected and it isn’t the end of the world. I received three rejection letters in January, and was turned down for a writing position I hoped to receive, and I survived! I won’t lie and say I wasn’t disappointed; I was, and each time I moped a bit before looking for the positives. But the disappointment doesn’t outweigh the drive to get published, and I am determined to submit and submit and submit, regardless of how many “no, thanks” letters I receive.

4. My husband supports my dreams and goals, and this means everything to me. Our old laptop is on its last legs, and so, at Jonathan’s insistence, we stopped by a Best Buy recently and picked up a new Surface. I was unsure of using our savings in this way, but he wanted me to have something nice and reliable for writing, and so persuaded me to splurge in this way. When I didn’t get the writing position I hoped for, he commiserated and gave me a hug. Then, for the next several days, whenever that publication was mentioned, he loudly proclaimed it was no good anyway, that nobody in their right mind would read anything they printed. (He was kidding, of course). He supports this writing dream of mine, and I cannot express how much this means to me.

5. Understanding personality types is not just for psychologists. I studied engineering in school, and so I must admit that this lesson is a hard one for me; as a STEM student, I tended to think psychology was a fluffy major. In recent months, though, I’ve realized that personality type information is valuable, not for categorizing and putting people in boxes, but for gaining insight into the thoughts and motivations of those around me, thereby helping me relate to and communicate with them better.

6. Leviticus is not as deathly boring as I thought it was. I am participating in my local Bible Study Fellowship’s study of the life of Moses this year, and January brought us to Leviticus. While I’ve always known there is rich symbolism and foreshadowing in the Torah, it has never come to life for me in the way it has through the BSF discussions, study notes, and lectures. Now if they can only do the same thing for Numbers, I’ll be really impressed.

7. Sometimes, though you might know something is true, it takes hearing it from someone in authority for it to really sink in. This probably merits its own post, which I may try to write in the near future, but in the past several months, I have been wrestling with vocation. More specifically, I’ve been wondering whether what I’m doing right now – caring for Katie, tending our home, writing when I make the time for it – is “enough”. Of course, I know that homemaking and child rearing are of great value. Of course, I know that God can and does use us wherever we are, that serving Him does not require that we move to foreign lands or preach to millions or even work in “full-time ministry”. Still, I wrestle, and so this sermon – “Faith is as Faith Does” – hit me hard (it starts at 24:36, though you should listen to my talented brother-in-law lead worship, too). He talked long about how God has the right to ask anything and everything of us, but at the end, wrapped it up with saying that often, what he asks of us is mundane, everyday, normal – to be a good spouse, a good parent, a good employee. I must admit, when He said God might ask me to be a good mommy (around 1:10), it brought tears to my eyes.

8. Timing is everything. We were in Southern California for a wedding and stayed with my sister and brother-in-law for the weekend, which is the only reason we were at Foothill Church for that sermon. But that one sermon was what I needed at that moment in my life. I needed it.

9. Expending time and money and effort to be with those I love is wDCM_7075orth it. In the middle of the month, we flew to Southern California to be at the wedding of a dear friend and had the added bonus of spending a few days with my sister and her family. Two days after we returned from that trip, we flew across the country to spend a week in Vermont with Jonathan’s family. I must admit, I wasn’t really sure about all this travel. It was costly, and I was concerned about how Katie (who already wasn’t sleeping well) would handle it all, and a large part of me just wanted to stay home. And though we are still recovering and unpacking, and though two of the three of us came home with hacking coughs, it was worth it. I’m grateful for all of the sweet memories we created. (Plus, there was sledding!)

10. Life is short. I knew this already, of course, but was reminded of it ever more clearly this month. Two gracious, wonderful women – Jonathan’s maternal grandmother and a dear family friend – both passed away within the last few weeks, and they will both be sorely missed. Reflecting on their lives inspires me to spend my time well, to love others, to cherish the precious hours I am given.

How about you? What did you learn in January?

This Thing Called Life

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7 Responses to What I Learned in January

  1. Emily says:

    I’m so glad you came to Vermont. I enjoy you so much and it was a great to get to spend some time with you and Jonathan and Katie!

  2. I’m so glad to be your neighbor today at Chatting at the Sky. Remembering those 2 a.m. feedings brought back mixed emotions and I smiled when I read your thoughts on Leviticus. I had the same reaction when I studied it last year. There are some really powerful truths in there. Who knew?

    • Jenn says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Tarissa. It’s always fun to find new people in the blogosphere. 🙂 I love the title of your blog … I can so relate!

  3. Linda Hohns says:

    Jenn, I love your post and your honesty. I am so glad you are able to go to BSF. My first study there was The Life of Moses, and I was so amazed what the Lord taught me through that. It was so rich a time to study the Old Testament.

    As for me, January, was a month the Lord impressed upon my heart that time is fleeting. Something about passing the age of 50, having a husband that is 60, and being part of a journey of watching my friend come to the Lord during the last few months of her life, after a 2-year battle with cancer, which has made me ever more mindful of my own mortality and how I spend my time. You are too young yet to realize this, but as your sweet girl grows, and you put away the infant clothes and then the toddler clothes, you truly will start grasping how fast time passes.

    Thus, I have committed to quit simply talking about my values and ideals and do something about them. One of my studies, “The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife,” that I am doing with a friend via the phone, has impressed this upon me. Virtues Require Action. Values Don’t. I want to live a virtuous life, not just think about it. I believe in part that God has brought me to Idaho to bring me ever more dependent on Him. Nothing like being stripped of everything you knew for the past 22 years — beloved friends and a beloved town and all of the connections that entails — to bring you closer to the Lord.

    So … I have taken one great step in placing priority on this time with Katherine. We have committed to doing a study called “Reflecting God,” by Kay Smith. We are reading a portion each night, will answer the questions separately, and come together to share. We do this during a time, we dubbed “P.S. I Love You Time,” which we started when she was little — a time of sharing, prayer, silliness, reading, and maybe even games. But as years wore on and busyness ensued, I allowed my priorities to be misplaced. God has been tapping me on the shoulder regarding resumption of these priorities. It is good. We are to live for what is eternal, and I want to decrease that which is not.

    The Lord is also pressing on me to pray, with a heaviness of heart and more compassion for others, also knowing that I need to shine His light for others to see.

    I did not meant to make your blog my own mini blog, Jenn — forgive me.

    I just wanted to share a bit, since you asked, but I also want to share my joy for you that you have this beautiful time to choose how you want to spend your time best. It is wonderful to contemplate what the Lord would have for you. I read today that the Lord will not set before us two stepping stones in our path at once; but rather, as we step out in faith, it will then be that he Lights the path to the next step He sets before us. You are doing well, young friend, In following His path. The Lord’s blessings be upon you. HUGS!

    • Jenn says:

      Wow! Thanks for your comment, Linda. I’m glad you shared what’s been on your heart and your mind lately. There are good lessons here.

      Thank you, too, for your kind words and your encouragement. I am always humbled and grateful when others take the time to read my words.

      • Linda Hohns says:

        I will enjoy reading your blog, Jenn, not to mention I will be certain to profit from it. Blessings to you and your family.

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