Thursday, December 17, 2015

Looking Back On 2015 (Part I)

     The Brick and I have been taking it a bit easy -- partly because we just had a big blizzard, partly because we're still in vacation mode (sort of)...and partly because we narrowly escaped heading into the Land of the Flu. I'm putting piles away and getting chores done. (Sort of.) He's doing...well, something. But it's been quiet around here. 

Which leads me to thinking. Why not start planning goals now, instead of waiting until January? But a review first: 

     The year 2014 seemed to attack the people we loved. The Mama's heart surgery, for example -- she is still not completely recovered. (Here, too.) Watching family members and friends struggle with various issues, while I was forced to spend 2 1/2 months away from home, taking care of the Mama between teaching gigs. Watching the Brick do his best to help those family and friends, while I was helpless to do much, several states away.




     In 2015, the Powers That Be went straight for the jugular: US.

I have never had a time in my life when I was so consistently belittled, questioned, berated and attacked. Sadly, going after me was often done for other reasons on personal agendas. If I had returned the favor, it would not only have been unprofessional, but unethical.
     If I tried to defend myself, then I was pegged as self-serving, evil, weak and/or stupid...or just ignored altogether. When I refused to join the fray anymore, I was silent because I 'knew' I was guilty. (Or so I was told. Scared, yes. Knowing I was innocent, yes. Guilty, no.)

     It took months to get through this period. It involved determination, patience, discipline, a great deal of sacrifice, personally and financially -- and the most important thing: prayer. Lots of it. (Psalm 7 has been a special source of comfort ever since.)
     A few people took a risk and spoke up on my behalf, knowing that they would probably be attacked for doing so. (I am forever grateful to you, friends...you know who you are.) Friends here at home consistently encouraged and comforted, particularly when it got nasty. (And it did.) They continued to believe in me, no matter what the accusations said. Our daughters, whose opinions I hold especially dear, never hesitated to support me.

     The worst of this period is over -- thanks to God's grace. And it's generally okay now. But I emerged with a new set of scar tissue. A growing cynicism. (Which I'm trying to rein back.) Plus an increasing awareness that people who say they're your friends...well, they may be. And they may not. On the other hand, there are others you think could care less...and come to your aid. Go figure.

While I was enduring this, the Brick was going through increasingly difficult times of his own. The work atmosphere at his office grew worse and worse, until finally he began talking seriously about retiring. Thankfully, he was eligible, even though he had talked about holding off for another year or two, and building up his pension.
    But retiring would mean going back to a budget considerably under his current paycheck. We'd planned that my work would augment his...but my income had been practically nonexistent for some time, thanks to the year's struggles.

    Could we do it?

    Once again, thanks to God's grace, we have. I'm still not sure how. Cutting back on our expenses has helped. (We did it before, we'll do it again.) Getting more work (for me) and occasional work (for the Brick) has helped, too. But we should be in a much more difficult position than we are. All bills are paid...with a surplus. Again, due to God's grace, and the work and encouragers He sent our way, we are hanging in there.
     The Brick has his own scar tissue. And he's had to make sacrifices, too, some for my sake, and some for his own. But he has had a chance to rest, which he desperately needed. He's been able to cross off household tasks he's wanted to do for years. He's been able to think.
     Best of all, we are finally able to make plans for the future...places we've wanted to visit, work opportunities he's wanted to try. Most probably, this will mean a move by the end of 2016. But then again, we'd planned to do this in a year or so, anyways.

     So what did I learn from this year's experience?

That's the subject of Part II...



When life gives you lemons, make...

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