If you missed Part 1, here’s the link: The ABCs of my 2013 – Part 1.
Continuing my theme of remembering a blessing or special moment from 2013, using each letter of the alphabet, here’s my next set…
I – Introvert: When I was a kid, I almost never heard this word and, when I did, it was often used to describe people who were shy or reserved. Several years ago, a friend who works as a professional counselor explained the actual (and now generally better-understood) difference between introverts and extroverts. It finally made sense to me. I instinctively knew I was an introvert but couldn’t reconcile that with the facts that (a) I make friends very easily and (b) I am comfortable with public speaking. With so many quotes, quizzes and quips about introverts now making their rounds on the Internet, most people now know that introversion and extroversion have more to do with where we find our energy and where we put our attention and less to do with whether we’re outgoing or shy.
Why is this important? I think it has helped many of us, especially introverts, to relax and stop apologizing for the fact that we prefer to hole up at home with a book or a hobby rather than go out and party. As more people understand that we’re not being anti-social but that we desperately need quiet time alone, it becomes easier to say “no” to activities we’re just not comfortable with. I wrote a bit more about being “pro-solitude” and not antisocial in a blog post on October 3. You can find it here.
J – Jesus: How could I possibly choose anything else for this letter? (Even if both my parents’ names start with J!) And yet I hardly know where to start when it comes to talking about Jesus and my relationship with Him. Those of you who know Him, too, don’t need me to say anything to understand how He’s everything to me. Those of you who don’t…I’m not sure I could ever say enough to show you how real and wonderful He is. But I will say this: My relationship with Jesus is not about religion. It’s not about a political position. It’s not about me being better or holier or more blessed than anyone else. It’s not about condemning non-believers to hell. It’s simply this: Believing that God loved me (and you) so much that He was willing to come to earth in the form of a human being just like me (and you) and sacrifice His own life so that I (and you!) could escape the punishment for sin: eternal death. Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world to hell but to save us from hell.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)
I’m not sure why so many people are so resistant toward this love. They believe that Jesus will bring oppression and misery into their lives when it’s actually the opposite. If you’ve been avoiding Jesus, I present you with this challenge for 2014: Read about Him. Find out for yourself who He really is and what He said and did. Don’t reject Him based on the opinions of others. You owe this to yourself!
K – “Keep It Alive”: For nearly six years, I’ve served on the board of Canadian Baptist Women of Ontario & Quebec. Every two years, CBWOQ chooses a new theme and, for 2013-15, it was “Keep It Alive,” based on Romans 12:11-12, which says:
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
Of all the past themes we’ve had, this one has stuck with me the most and, I believe, has had a great impact on many other women. The phrase that has been the most meaningful for me is “patient in affliction” — not because I suffer many afflictions, although I had a few big challenges in 2013, but because I’ve seen this principle exemplified in so many people around me. I was especially moved by the spirits of long-suffering that I witnessed while in Armenia this past summer. I had the privilege of writing a feature story about this for the March 2014 issue of InTouch. Please keep an eye out for that if you subscribe to the magazine. Since it’s available online, too, I’ll post a link when that issue is posted.
L – Lilit: When my sweet friend Lilit Mantashyan, who lives in Yerevan, Armenia, read Part 1 of this post, she commented on Facebook:
Great idea. I love it! I am waiting for the other letters. I hope you will have something extraordinary for L 🙂 such as Lilit or something else. 😀
Well…I had thought I’d write something about Madeleine L‘Engle, since I finally got around to reading one of her books this fall (A Wrinkle in Time) but I couldn’t resist Lilit’s innocent request. I know I am going to completely embarrass her with this post but I think she’s secretly going to love it, too. 😉
A couple of years ago, my father decided to make our family’s various ministries a little more official by launching a website and identifying our projects and resources. We decided that we wanted to include Lilit on our team’s roster because she has been an invaluable help to us with translation (between English and Eastern Armenian) and also as a contact person in Yerevan. You can read her short bio on our “Who We Are” page.
What’s special about Lilit is that, although she is about half my age, she has become a dear friend and sister to me. She is smart, funny and overflowing with love. Finally meeting her when I went to Armenia in August was definitely a high point of my year.
There you go, Lilit. You’re famous now. 😉
M – Merida: I really wish I had seen Brave in the movie theatre. Even though I’m a grown-up now and don’t even have the excuse of taking my children to see them, I’ve been loving some of the Disney / Pixar animated movies in recent years. My favourites have included Up!, Despicable Me (both), Brave and this winter’s Frozen.
The reason I chose “Merida” for my “M” post is because I noticed that, since seeing the movie, I’ve been using “Merida” as a sign-up name on websites or online games when I don’t need to use my real name for official purposes. I guess it’s a name that, for me, has subconsciously become synonymous with bravery, and being brave (or braver) has always been something I’ve aspired to. I was generally rather timid as a child and, even in adulthood, I sometimes find myself intimidated by people or situations. If I could choose a secret super-hero name for myself, it would probably be Merida. 😀
N- Nashville: One of the great things about being a member of the Evangelical Press Association is that the annual conference moves from city to city and, thus, I get to see different parts of the United States every spring. So far, I’ve attended conferences in Minneapolis, Chicago (twice), Portland (Oregon), Orlando, Dallas, Colorado Springs and, in 2013, Nashville.
I’d be lying if I said that Nashville is at the top of my “places I’d like to see again” list but I really did have a great time there (especially since I got to hang out with my friend Patti, who lives in California and I only get to see once a year) and it was a memorable trip. I got to see the gorgeous Opryland Hotel, visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, attend a concert at the Grand Ole Opry (the highlight for me was hearing Kathy Mattea live), try out delicious Cracker Barrel food for the first time and just enjoy the friendly and warm Southern hospitality of the locals.
Other treats were having the biggest breakfast of my life at Monell‘s and, during our conference, hearing the Annie Moses Band for the first time. Finally, it was pretty special to be able to sit 20 feet away from Jars of Clay as they performed (also during the conference). If you can believe it, they sound even better live!
O – Orthodoxy: This will be a short post because I haven’t finished the book yet but I’m finally reading Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesteron (thanks to a friend giving me her copy). It’s brilliant! You should read it! That’s all I can say at this point.
P – Portuguese: Portuguese? What could I possibly have to say about Portuguese? This: In February, I discovered that my book, Truth & Dare, had been translated into Portuguese and is being sold in Brazil. I wrote a wee blog post about Verdades Para Meninas on my website. So, if you know any tween girls in Brazil, now you know that you can get them a copy of my devotional!
Thank you for visiting and reading my blog. In a few days I’ll post the rest of my 2013 highlights, from Q to Z. (I still have to figure out V and Z!)
In the meantime, I wish you a very Happy New Year and many, many blessings in the coming months.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)