Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in Review and Looking Forward

2009 has been an interesting year. I've grown a lot personally and spiritually. I've seen new places, met new people and experienced things words can't adequately describe.

I made a commitment at the close of 2008 to spend 2009 reading through the entire Bible. As of this morning, I finished. It's been an amazing process to see God's sovereign hand throughout Scripture. From the first of creation to His promised return, He is supreme! It is amazing to see how He brought the Israelites (sometimes kicking and screaming) to the exact place He wanted them to be. Regardless of their disobedience, He never left them without a plan of redemption. I think it is incredibly thought-provoking to see how He still guides us, His fallen people in the same manner. While we don't have the burning bushes of Genesis, He does still provide us with people like the prophets who help guide us back to the path of righteousness when we wander off to try and make it on our own.

God also guided me to my life verses early in 2009. Psalm 62:5-8 speak to me in such a strong, powerful way. "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." These verses just speak to me where I am right now. He and He alone is my refuge, I can find rest in Him. What power lies in those verses...He knows the future, He knows where my next job is, He knows the deepest desires of my heart. I don't have to worry or struggle. Not easy by any stretch but powerful nonetheless.
(I also have the benefit that Aaron Keyes put it to music so I can sing my life verses too. :-))

Summer brought probably the biggest stretching experience of my life. I got on a plane and spent 15.5 hours in it flying to South Africa. Me, the person who doesn't like flying and hates not being in control, willingly got on a plane for that long. I had an amazing time seeing God move in powerful ways in the slums of South Africa. I saw poverty like I've never seen before but saw a joy in people's hearts that I haven't experienced often in the US. I actually hope to go back to Africa at some point - there is so much work to be done there and I want to be a part of it at least on a small scale.

God also taught me a lot about His provision. I had numerous monetary needs pop up throughout 2009 from routine bills to trips to medical expenses and through God's sovereign hand, the money was always there. I had tutoring jobs come up, my department "found" money to pay a small stipend through the summer, a training session came up, and a Christmas bonus came along. God is good!!

Looking forward, I am excited about 2010. My church is embarking on the Radical Experiment as a faith family. We will all read through the Bible (chronologically this time), hear David preach through the Bible from start to finish (bonus!!), we will be saving together as a church and as individuals, praying for the whole world and focus on spending at least 2% of our time in another context spreading the Gospel. I can't wait to see who God will change us as individuals and as a faith family. I'm praying revival will break out in Birmingham and around the world as a result of our prayers. May God be glorified in what we do!!

I'm also excited about a few spreadsheets I'm using in 2010. One will simply keep track of my savings when buying groceries, household items, etc. Another will keep track of my spending. This one should help me eliminate wasteful spending. Having to write it all down leads to accountability. Hopefully I can use these two together and at the end of each quarter, can use the savings and cutbacks in spending
to make donations to organizations like Compassion International.

The final spreadsheet will just simply be for my interest and I may use it for blog posts here and there. I've decided to keep track of the books I read this year. I am a voracious reader who usually has two or three books going at a time. Someone once asked me how many books I read in a year and I honestly didn't know. So, for 2010, I'm going to keep track and I'll probably review a few on here every now and then.

Most excitedly for 2010, I am finishing my dissertation. This will hopefully happen in the early part of 2010. Woo-hoo!!!

That's all for now. I'm off to work on that dissertation so I can spend tomorrow watching football!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

What I Want for Christmas

Had one more thought to share...I have an unadopted Compassion child that desperately needs a sponsor family. Her name is Julia; she is 7 and lives in Guatemala. Sponsorship through Compassion costs $38/month and provides life-changing care for Julia and other children like her. We spend more than $38 a month eating out. Compassion makes their money go as far as humanly possible and is completely above-board as charities go.

If you are interested in sponsoring Julia, please let me know and I'll get you her info.

Life Update

It's been a while. Life has been very busy and I haven't had time to do much more than work, work on my dissertation and keep my apartment from becoming a health hazard. There have been several times I've been ready to update and something popped up to prevent it.

I am around 2 months or so from being finished with a seven-year journey. That thought still seems surreal. I have submitted a draft of my dissertation and gotten feedback. Mom read it to in order to check for "what were you thinking" mistakes and I've got hear feedback as well. I'll submit another draft in two weeks and then we'll meet as a committee on 1/5/10 to go over that draft and set a date for the final defense. Wow, can't believe I'm to that point.

It finally feels like Christmas around Birmingham. We even had snow this morning. Now it wasn't anything worth writing home about but it's WAY early in the season for us to have even threats of snow. Hopefully this won't be the last snow appearance of the year.

I spent today cleaning like a mad woman. I have felt for the last few weeks that my apartment was closing in on me. There was so much paper around, I felt like a library threw up. I also wanted to clean out some "stuff" that has just been laying around collecting dust. I'm trying to simplify, thin out my stuff and avoid buying more stuff. I want a cleaner apartment but I also want to respond in obedience to God's call to share with those less fortunate than I am. My stuff could benefit someone else so I'm giving it up. There will be more to come because I didn't finish the kitchen or some of the living room.

My plan for 2010 is to evaluate every purchase except those that are absolute emergencies or are necessary for staying healthy. I've really started trying to remember to ask myself "how many children could this money feed?" Asking that has helped me decide on some nights to come home and have a sandwich instead of taking the easy, eat-out option. David Platt encouraged us all to develop a "Radical Experiment" plan for our lives. This is the first part of mine. I know God is going to do radical things with the money and time Brook Hillians sacrifice for His glory in 2010. Can't wait to see it!!

Off to buy chickens and such for Christmas presents...