As I reflect back on this past year, here’s 7 lessons learned in ’17:
- Appreciate the perspective – During Kaleb’s month-long work trip to Iowa this year, I kept the perspective in mind of when my Dad was also gone for multiple weeks for a job nearly 25 years ago. While Kaleb was gone, I had to pick up the slack and not only take the garbage out but also shovel the sidewalk myself! Despite being over 1,000 miles apart, we were able to talk and text daily, and the USPS was able to deliver care packages in less than a week. In my Mom’s day, not only did she have to take out the garbage but also was responsible for feeding and caring for two small children and 200+ cows. Mom didn’t have the opportunity to call and text throughout the day, but instead hoped she would be able to get a call from Dad in the evening (when long distance rates kicked in and the day was done) while he waited his turn to use the one bunkhouse phone that all seven guys on the job shared. It was only then that she got his over the phone help on how to thaw the water tanks or troubleshoot why the well wasn’t working. I hope one day I’m as tough and perseverant as my mom.
- The law is easy, grace is hard – How relatively easy it is for me to tithe; 10% of our income is pretty easy to calculate and write a check for. How relatively easy it is for me to make it to church on Sunday. It’s relatively easy to carve out three to five minutes in the evening to do a marriage devotional and check that off the list. But forgive my husband 70 x 7 for the clothes on the floor? Love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me? Glory in sufferings? Daily demonstrate patience to the lady who is perpetually late? That for which there is no formula is much more difficult. That for which can only be developed through seeking the Lord in humility, prayer, and the Holy Spirit within me, ah, how much more challenging that is!
- Intentionality is necessary – How quickly the days, weeks, and years pass us by. If I want to visit Fairmont or the Izaak Walton with my husband, that will require actually scheduling days off. If I want to read more real books, that will require limiting social media. If I want to encourage others, I need to intentionally make phone calls and invite people over for dinner. If I wait until things slow down at work, we’re caught up on the ranch, and the house is clean before I pursue that which I want to do, the days, weeks, and years will only continue to pass me by.
- Talk about blessings more than burdens – How easy it is to grumble, complain, or gossip. Complaining requires no intellect or effort; it’s merely an effortless way to perhaps find common ground with someone without having to share anything personal. After the weather, it’s an easy catch all topic. But how different would things look if I instead testified to the Lord’s blessings and abstained from that which brings no fruit?
- Embrace the tough – I am aware of how soft my life is. I work in a relatively climate controlled environment, earn a regular paycheck with insurance to boot, and enjoy a warm house with indoor plumbing and a freezer full of beef. I naturally gravitate towards what’s easy, but I realize I instead need to embrace the tough for that is what provides a foundation for the future. The University’s tenure process didn’t worry me this past year as I knew I’d made it through graduate school at the University of Nebraska. The long days during calving and AI’ing have made my evening and weekend work for Extension not nearly as traumatic as for some people. Tough times make tough people, and I am consciously aware that I need to embrace the tough conversations, tough work, and tough times to continue to grow and mature.
- Organization is beautiful – As if struck by a disease this fall, I purged and organized my office. I introduced order to my cupboards and drawers and added notecards detailing what goes on which shelf to ensure order is maintained. I separated the knives from the spatulas from the serving spoons at church. It’s amazing how something so relatively easy can continue to bring satisfaction day after day!
- Be grateful for today – We assume we will have tomorrow, and that tomorrow will be like today. But so many of our friends and neighbors have experienced dramatic wildfires, hurricanes, and droughts this past year. May we thank the Lord daily for that which He has blessed us with, and trust that His ways are higher than our ways and through it all He will remain faithful.