I am a sucker for those “Year in Review” shows that come out at the end of each year. It really doesn’t matter what station it’s on what subject they are reviewing. I usually know a little something about everything thanks to all the time I waste on Huffington Post at three in the morning when I can’t fall back to sleep after our lovely neighbor decides to put the pipe down and start working on his junker out front. Eh. Anyway, these shows are always fun for me even if it’s “Year in Review: Goriest Shark Attacks” or “Year in Review: Shades of Kim Kardashian’s Lip Balm in 2010” or even better “Year in Review: Larry King and His Many-Patterned Suspenders.”
Just this morning I saw an advertisement for “2010’s Best Celebrity Freak Outs,” which seems kind of juxtaposed to me. Best celebrity freak outs? Are they ever good? I guess I stared in awe along with everyone else when Lindsay Lohan went to rehab for the 11th time in a month or when Tiger Woods got his car bashed in with his golf clubs by his seemingly out-of-control wife (who turned out to be the normal one of the two--poor lady). When I watch these shows I often find myself viewing this year through the lens of the media. We saw politicians rise and fall. We watched stories of celebrity infidelity unfold. We stayed glued to our televisions and watched natural disasters wreak havoc on our world. We helplessly watched a war that seems like it will never end.
It’s easy to think of this past year as a list of strange events and tragedies, allowing ourselves to view our world through such a narrow lens. I suppose I sometimes look at my year as events that have happened to me rather than moments I participated in. When I reflect on 2010 in terms of the latter my memories are much richer; more meaningful. So I have made a list of these moments maybe not for the reader, but for me to enjoy and steep in. Here is The JJ & Katy Vancil Year in Review:
1. We joyfully welcomed our first Snuggie into our home. While many see this item as purely meme, I have truly enjoyed and am currently enjoying our super-plush blanket with sleeves. OK onto the real list.
2. I was pregnant. My pregnancy was not textbook in any way. If I hadn’t taken a pregnancy test, I might have not known I was pregnant until I was about 20 weeks along. I wasn’t sick and other than being really tired, I had a fairly easy pregnancy. We had a bump in the road when I began heavily bleeding and was placed on bed rest for two weeks. We were always on edge thinking that at any moment, we could lose the baby, but God was faithful and the bleeding stopped eventually. Although the doctors could never find the source of the bleeding, I ended up having a heart-shaped placenta (which for those who are not experts on placentae, it’s not supposed to be heart-shaped) which could have meant that the placenta was not fully attached. That could have been a big problem, but it wasn’t in the end. All in all, I had a great pregnancy and if I could have one like that every time (minus the bleeding) I would maybe have 30 or so kids. Growing this life inside of me was what I call a unifying experience. It connected me to the earth (yes, the earth--is that New Agey? Oh well). it connected me to my ancestors, it connected me to myself, and best of all it helped me recognize God in everything I did, thought, and said.
3. JJ and I began praying for our future in a new way. We opened ourselves up to God to do something new in our lives and guess what happened? He did. JJ was asked to interview at a few new jobs and we started to realize that there would be big changes in our future.Over the last few years, our lives have become more globalized I guess one could say. We have had bigger, newer, and fresher ideas that it seems God is growing in us and God wanted to give us the opportunity to move on those ideas. So we started looking for new opportunities both in career and relationship.
4. We went to Romania. I often think back on this experience and wonder if it actually happened. It was so perfectly orchestrated and executed that only God could have been the master designer of that trip. We reconnected with friends from Germany, made new friends from all over Europe, and fell in love with a place we had never even considered visiting. We also had the pleasure of spending a day in Budapest which was not the highlight of the trip to be sure, but it was such a special treat and a lovely way to end our time there.
5. I graduated from graduate school and could officially call myself a counselor. What I love about my education is that I have never once had buyer’s remorse. I can’t say that about many things as I am the Queen of Second Guessing Myself. I enjoyed school, I did really well, I am done, but I don’t have a job. I have been subbing and I love that, but it is difficult and my new prayer for this next year is that I will be given a .5 position so I can stay at home with Owen most of the time.
6. JJ got a new job with YFC. We had a difficult time leaving the kids at Shiloh, but they and we understood that God’s call is bigger than to a church. Many people at Shiloh have been wonderful in supporting God’s call on our lives and those friends of ours have continued to encourage us and even volunteer sometimes. They continue to love us and to love little Owen which does our hearts a lot of good. We are thankful to have friends who get what God is doing in the world and are OK with us doing it some other place than Shiloh. JJ feels great at YFC and our hearts have been opened to a new group of people in a really tough place. We feel a little bit like visitors there, but we know that we are slowly becoming family not only with the kids and leaders, but with JJ’s incredible co-workers whom we love so much.
7. A few of our favorite people got married and we were blessed to be a part of these ceremonies. We love weddings. I love them mostly for the wedding cake, but we love them because we get to participate in God’s plan for someone’s life. Joel & Jeannie, Jake & Kellie, Emily & Jason, and Emily & Alex have been a huge influence on us and we are so happy to be a part of their lives. Those first three weddings mentioned dilated me to a good four centimeters and Owen was just a few weeks old at the last wedding--his first flight and trip to Colorado!
8. We had a baby. Crazy. We often (like maybe ten times a day) look at Owen and say to each other, “Do we really have a son?” It feels surreal and lovely and terrifying all at once. Giving birth to him was amazing and each day our love for him grows. I have thought this crazy thought before that if God loves me half as much as I love Owen, then I am deeply, madly, crazily loved. What’s amazing is that my love for Owen is a fraction of how much God loves me and all of us. Sometimes I have to stop thinking about Owen because my heart feels too full. Just now I am crying even expressing my love for him. I wish there was another word than love to describe my feelings about our son because love doesn’t even seem to do it justice. He is the best part of us and we cherish being a family.
9. We went to Hawai’i. Many of you know, our honeymoon was not good. It was kind of a nightmare and the stuff of legends, if you really want to know. I wish I had taken photographic evidence of what we endured when we weren’t escaping from our miseries on the beach (that part was good), but I’m hoping that the lack of proof will someday help me forget. So, when JJ was asked to perform his cousin’s wedding on Kaua’i, we decided to make it a second honeymoon of sorts. Granted, there were no lazy afternoons drinking margaritas out of fishbowls (I had a baby to nurse!) and we were old enough to rent a car this time (no more chicken trucks into town!), it was still the vacation we always wanted. We spent time loving each other, loving Owen, and LOVING Kaua’i. On these cold winter days, JJ will look off into the distance and whisper, “I miss Kaua’i.” He even said last week that he thinks we have to live there someday. OK, if you twist my arm.
10. We started going to a new church. We are learning, growing, and feeling challenged every day. We have said to each other, “I wish today was Sunday,” because we are excited to go to church and learn, worship, and pause for a minute. We feel like we are able to take what we participate in on Sunday as we go through Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and that’s all we’ve ever wanted.
11. My final favorite memory for this year is that we are celebrating Advent through the Epiphany by doing readings from theologians. Our favorites (no surprise here) have been, Karl Barth, Brennan Manning, and C.S. Lewis. We have loved this time of pausing and reflecting together every day, so we will be starting My Utmost for His Highest in the new year.
There you have it. I know there are many more things that happened in the year, but these are the ones that stick out as “Year in Review” worthy material. One final thought: JJ and I were talking a couple of days ago about what we want this new year to be about. We realized in this conversation that if we want it to be about something, we need to make that happen. It’s not just going to happen to us. We need to be active participants in our lives this year and make it be about what we want it to be about. So, we are excited to see where that takes us in the new year. We feel like God is doing huge things and we look forward to being caught up in that.