Well the jokes on you if you think a year can be reviewed in three easy steps :). But it can be reviewed, rejoiced over, and reminded of the small mercies upon mercies that were extended even when was sprinkled with band-aid ripping moments.

Being courageous started with announcing I had resigned and was stepping into my own River Jordan. I just reread the post and this line jumped out: The number one question in the last two weeks has been: what’s next? A year later and slowly a plan is coming together, but I still don’t have a clear title or job to point to. Parts of this fall and transition didn’t play out the way I thought they would. But pieces are in play and maybe by next year I’ll have a clear job title :). Until then, splash, that’s some Jordan River water on you!

I visited Ankgor Wat and had all sense of scale blown OUT THE WINDOW — even now a year later I can’t help but use all caps. And I wrote: Visit place of scale when coming up to a major life transition because it helps put things in perspective.

I was reminded I’m a leaper and not a list maker when it comes to decisions.  Remember this charming conversation:

“Did you know that Amy?”

Did I know what? How cool I’d look?

“Did you know that the education degree was a five year program, not four?” One of my parents asked.

Well, I know it now, that’s got to count for something right?

In March one of my sisters brought two of her daughters to visit me in China!! What a gesture towards this monumental shift and a conscious effort to make memories that will live far into the future. In preparation for her taking some precious items back to America I wrote/videoed about my books. Turns out if my books are settled, I feel settled. When it was time to dismantle my book shelf, I knew that I really was moving. Thus, the quivering voice. I still miss you, beloved book shelves! I am most definitely a pre-griever (though kudos to you post-grievers).

Courage also looks a lot like mundane, normal life … sprinkled with extraordinary moments. I almost missed having these girls in my life because I was busy and hosting exhausts me. Or let fear keep me from contacting author Adele Ahlberg Calhoun and interview her about her book Invitations from God. Love her answers!

I was beyond blessed to get to deliver the commencement speech at my dear Isabel’s high school graduation and shared what I sad in three blog posts: How many women are in the Bible?Two things I know for sure when it comes to high school graduates, and Beware the voices that whisper to you …. Cour_ge, I hate this part, also involves letting people fly out of our lives.

Moving day came and I shared how I knew I was committed to China (hint, it has to do with furniture). The last night in China, a friend and I went on a walk and stumbled on a blessing ceremony. The announcer said for anyone to come forward and for only 20 kuai (about $3.25) you too could be blessed and given a golden chain. We were in the presence of raw longing. It was disturbing. Cour_age also involves walking away when there is more to do. There will always be more to do, but that doesn’t mean it is mine (or yours) to do.

So I boarded a plane and walked away from who I was to stay me. Gut wrenching yet softened by these words long faded on my wall. When I arrived a niece turned towards me putting her hands on my face and looking straight into my eyes asked:

“Aunt Amy are you home for a long time?”

Yes, a long time.

“At least 365 days?”

Most likely!

Reassured she turned.

I see myself reflected in her, longing to put my hands on the face of God and say, “OK, what exactly is the plan?” Double check this hasn’t been a bait and switch. Aunt Amy, you said you were coming home, that’s still the plan, right? God you said it was time to leave, that’s still the plan right?

And I started the long process of sorting out who is China Amy, American Amy, and Just AmyBig goodbyes rarely come all in one fell swoop. Graciously (painfully?) they are often comprised of stepping stones and the day came when I stepped on my last stone. But endings also create beginnings and I got to go to the Minnesota State Fair and spend time with my sister!!

endings create beginnings (Small)

My courageous act of October was to blog every day on 31 Reminders from Eden. November was the launch of a dream as Velvet Ashes became a reality after months of behind the scenes work with the other editors.

In December I wrote a post that required cour_ge. China had become so intertwined with my identity it became the most prominent adjective describing me. Oh you’re the China daughter. The aunt who lives in China. The college friend in China. The foreign teacher in China. The sister in China. What word is used over and over and over? Not daughter, aunt, friend, teacher or sister. China.

This is my greatest fear. What if China is what makes me and the story of my life interesting and without her, I’m dull. I fear that I may not matter and people only listened to me because I was a bit exotic.

I used to think having a word for the year was a bit of a shtick and a little too gimmicky for me. But I was wrong. Instead, in conjunction with God, choosing a word became a centering prayer and refrain for the year. Lived out in the day to day trenches. Thanks for walking these paths with me. Together I look forward to 2014 and a year of ______(tune in next time).

Fondly, Amy

P.S. What posts stood out to you this year? Any good book recommendations for 2014?

Leave A Comment

  1. Patti Woodward December 30, 2013 at 8:53 am - Reply

    The Amy I know is not the China Amy. You are the caring, fun, intelligent, hard-working, loving, introspective, book-loving, number-loving Amy who lived in China. Of course, there are many other words I could use to describe you. Woman who is loved by God and is available to be used by Him holds the most importance. I love your posts and I love you.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy December 30, 2013 at 4:20 pm - Reply

      Patti, that you would take time to comment … you have no idea what a gift that is. Thank you. xoxo Amy

  2. Martha Lester December 30, 2013 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    I confess, as usual, I need more time to think about your post because they often are so deeply, thought-provoking to me. Thank you for this post which actually has many threads that God is using to prompt me to reflect (a good thing to do on this last day of the year, or any day really).

    I still remember some book recommendations you gave me years ago and the books on my shelves to this day.
    One recommended read for you for 2014 would be “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert” (an english professor’s journey into christian faith).

    Love to the China, American, Just, Only Amy!
    Shalom & Cour*ge,

  3. Michelle January 1, 2014 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Thank you for this post! I felt the same way about the one word that you described but as I thought about it a word came to me. I am going to focus on honor; to God, to my parents, to all others, and numerous other ways I have no idea about yet!
    I think this year will be full of big decisions for our family; we know it will work out well but we are praying it will fulfill the desires of our hearts as well. Glad I found my way here; now I do not have to lose touch with you!
    Love and Blessings,

  4. bluecottonmemory January 1, 2014 at 6:57 pm - Reply

    Isn’t that fear kind of the fear every “mom” has – that we will be defined forever as “Barrett’s mom” – and we loose our holistic identity – that we are that and so much more? But then, I trust – and one step at a time – He breathes wholeness into Maryleigh:) What an awesome journey – Did you become more than you ever thought possible? Was it like the prayer of Jabez and He expanded your boundaries? And you are richer? I am excited for your courage and your journey.

    He gives me a word – not always in January – but when it’s time to close the lesson book on the old word and begin a new study – It started in July with Improved Communication with my Boys (deeper, more meaningful) to Empowering Communication that Establishes Healthy Boundaries!

    Wishing you blessing this year – and sweet surprises in the journey!

  5. Holly January 1, 2014 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    I would like to just say, “what Patti said”, on this one :) Seriously, it’s all true, what she said. And I’ve loved seeing pieces of your journey through your writing, newsletters and posts. I look forward to seeing where the Lord takes you next, I’m sure you do too!

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