It is hard to believe that it is a new year. It seems like just yesterday it was 2011 😉
Anyways, I cannot believe what a year 2011 was. I wanted to take some time a really think of all that 2011 brought my way…the good and the bad.
In January, the usual resolutions failed like in years past. Although I wasn’t sure if I was going back to school, somehow (by God’s grace) I was able to go back…which led to amazing events that transpired. Oh yeah, and the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl 🙂 My friend invited me to watch the game at a church she went to…and since I didn’t have anywhere else to watch it, I joined her. Even though the pastors wore Viking’s jerseys (yuck!), something told me that I was meant to be at this church.
February came and I finally gave into my friends recurring invitation to attend Chi Alpha at the Edge Church (where I watch the Packers win the Super Bowl–WOOT WOOT!). I first attended on February 17th, 2011. Something that night clicked within me and I knew this was where I belonged.
On March 17th, I made official a pledge that I had wanted to for years…I signed a purity pledge. It was something that I knew I wanted for years, but didn’t know how to talk about it…or if my friends would understand. But here at Chi Alpha, I knew that I wasn’t the only one that respected my body or my future spouse. I knew that my friends would understand because they signed them too! I was finally surrounded by people that not only understood me, but who had similar morals. This was a big breakthrough for me. Additionally, I was beginning to find my place when I started to attend a small group. March was the beginning of the solidification of my faith.
I will never forget April, 2011. On April 2, the men of Winona State’s campus ministries came together to host, Dinner for the Ladies. This is a semi-formal dinner/dance event that amazing men of God put together to show girls what God’s love is like. They have valet parking, escort us to our tables, bring us our food, and teach us to dance! They do everything including decorate, cook, and clean up! They did a tremendous job! This was a big sign for me…God loves me and He is preparing for me an amazing husband! In high school, I really didn’t like boys because they were rude and selfish–but God completely changed my heart on this night. Additionally, on April 3, I began a spiritual journal. This journal has since become my “best friend.” I say it with quotes because it’s not literally my best friend…but sometimes, I tell my journal more than I tell my friends. Through writing, God has calmed my worries and shown His grace. I recently celebrated my 8-month anniversary with this journal and used it for reflection. I couldn’t believe the silly things that I worried about….but nonetheless, God provided. April was a very good month for me.
When May arrived, it was time for me to head home for summer vacation. Not soon after I began vacation, God definitely began to challenge me. But my journal helped me to turn to God and seek Him. Somehow…stuff seemed to work out. By the end of May, I headed out to camp to begin my calling. Oh, and I also got my first tattoo in May:
In June, I learned the important lesson that: God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. While at camp, I had to pass an exam to become a certified first responder. In a post on June 5, I shared the relief I felt after God proved that He would qualify me. Soon after that, we welcomed our first group of campers and my summer was off to a great start!
But when July rolled around, God flipped our lives upside down when we discovered someone in my family had cancer. It was the scariest time of my life. I didn’t know what to do…God had been so good to us and then He does this? I didn’t know what to do…so I prayed. Thankfully it was discovered early and was removed. God used this as a challenge for me…would I lean on Him in rough times? Would I run to Him or away? Again, my journal and amazing friends helped keep me going.
I had another decision to make in August when it came time to go back to school. I didn’t know if I should leave my family to go to school when a family member was going to be going through chemo. Who would take care of my siblings? Who would pack their lunches? I wanted to take time to stay home with them and then go back to school…but my family and friends didn’t like that idea very much. They wanted me to go to school, they wanted me to better myself. It was hard, but God made it clear that He wanted me in Winona. He would be the one to provide for my family when I couldn’t be there. He would…not me. Again, He told me not to worry (which I know is easier said than done).
Before I knew it, it was my favorite month of the year, September (partly because it’s my birthday month!). I headed back to school where I was now a co-leader for a small group. It was something that I prayed about ALL summer long. I wasn’t sure if I ‘had what it took’ to be a leader. Looking around at the other leaders, I couldn’t even begin to imagine that I was now a leader too. But I soon realized that I wasn’t in this alone; God blessed be with an amazing co-leader. She has been an amazing mentor to me and I look up to her more than she probably knows. She is one of the first people that I go with [what I think are] ‘silly’ questions or dilemmas. In addition to her, I have grown closer to so many other friends this year…partly due to a ‘conference’ that my campus ministries group attended towards the end of the month in Rochester, Minnesota. Dubbed “The Gathering,” it was an amazing weekend experience where we got together with other Chi Alpha groups and an amazing speaker. BEST WEEKEND EVER. I mean, look at these people…I wouldn’t expect anything other than epic!
But then, everything crumbled apart in October. On Friday the 21st, I got a call at 11:00am…it wasn’t good. My youngest sister, Kailey, suddenly passed away. We don’t know why. It hurst so much when I recall it all. I recently published a post on Christmas Eve about losing her…please read it. With the holiday season it was hard to fathom the idea of her not being present with us anymore. It is one of those things that you know, but you can’t wrap your head around enough to believe. I still see her dolls and her blankets and her wheelchair…they are still sitting where she last placed them. Even though losing her has been the hardest thing that I have ever experienced in my entire life, I know that God has her know. I found 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 comforting:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
So, I got my second tattoo in her memory:
That was the most comforting thing to know. By God’s grace alone, I was able to find some understanding. She loved Jesus so much and shared His word to all who would listen to her talk and talk and talk–and NOW she gets to spend an eternity with Him! She was such a blessing while she was here. I miss her.
That is why THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO MY LITTLE ANGLE, KAILEY ROSE ZMUDA (8/28/99–10/21/11).
After taking two weeks off from school and life in general, I headed back to school in November. It was a struggle. Luckily my professors were more than understanding. But even with a lightened course-load, I was overwhelmed with stuff to get done. But, God was my rock. I leaned on Him and He stretched my time immensely. Even though I didn’t think I could do it, God knew I could. With that, I took it day by day. And when the semester was done, I was so proud of my self for sticking to it…God was amazing.
And now…December. God helped me finish up my fall semester better than I’ve ever done before. But more importantly, I had finally found my place in Winona. My friends and I have grown so much closer this year, and I believe that is mostly because during times of struggle, God shined through them. We have a bond that is unbreakable. We understand each other. We respect each other. Oh yeah, and we always manage to have a great time together!
HOW EPIC WAS THAT! All year long, God was present–even before I knew it! Not a dry spell at all! This time of year is always a great time to reflect on the year past–how has God work in/through YOU in 2011? Think about it! He is always there for you: in your darkest times and in your greatest moments. Take time to think about it for yourself. I pray that God is with you all during this new year to come. I cannot wait to see how God works in me, through me, and for me in 2012.
Thank you all for sticking through this long post to the end. You are all amazing and I am so glad that I am able to share my 2011 experience with you all! God bless 🙂