I felt honored by those of you who took the time and effort to answer my survey questions last week. I got to know a few readers better and was introduced to some I had never met. Thank you!
I noticed common themes. A number of people have experienced the loss of loved ones this year. Some are facing health issues in themselves or their family members. Some, like me, are planning a momentous overseas trip for 2018, or have taken one in the year just past. Some desire to have children of their own or to see their family members do so, and a few are excited about little ones already on the way. Many people mentioned the importance of relationships and their efforts to improve them.
That emphasis on relationships reminds me of something my dad said at my great uncle Jake’s funeral several days ago—Yes, I, too, experienced an unexpected death this year when Jake died on the last day of December, just before the new year. Even though I cared about him, I saw him very seldom, and for me it was a happy surprise when I heard that he was gone. He was ninety and frustrated with the ineptness of his own body, had wanted to go for a long time. I imagine him now, back to his old independent farmer self with all the sorrows of his life forgotten, spending his new year with Jesus and Great Aunt Lydia.
Dad preached at his funeral. “There is only one thing you can take to heaven with you,” he said (in paraphrase). “The only thing you can take with you from this earth is your relationships. Wherever you are in your relationship with Jesus, and wherever you are in your relationships with your loved ones, that is where you will be when you get to the other side.”
Quite a thought, isn’t it? It really makes me think about where I invest my time and energy and where that investment will take me.
Now, for my answers to Survey 2018. For those of you who haven’t read the questions, check out last week’s blog post.
#1. A surprising event. Maybe I should call 2017 my year of good fortune, because my big surprises are all happy ones. I published not ONE book this year, as I thought I would, but TWO. Anything But Simple with Herald Press and The Arrowhead with Christian Light Publications. I also unexpectedly befriended a Chinese couple, a good fortune that turned into even greater opportunity when my brother Chad and I planned a trip to visit them in 2018. And just several weeks ago, I was asked if I was interested in writing a column for Mennonite World Review, an unexpected but exciting opportunity. My first column will come out the same day two of my brothers have a birthday, January 29th.
#2. A positive step. I am not sure that all readers will agree this is a positive step, BUT…ahem…when I updated computers several weeks ago, I made the choice to try a Mac instead of a PC this time. I kept expenses low by buying it refurbished from Tanga. Thank you to all you readers who gave an opinion on this momentous decision. If you see your input reflected in my choice, that is not a coincidence.
#3. A goal for 2018. I plan to once again revisit Turtle Heart, my story of a friendship with an older lady from this community, and rework it until I know it is right.
#4. A hope for 2018. This year, I hope that the friendships which I have begun to build will grow and deepen. Relationships hurt sometimes, and when that happens, I hope and intend to choose love instead of resentment, friendship instead of self-pity. I hope that my love and friendship will make a difference in someone else’s life this year.