And the New Year is here! I hope you and yours have had a wonderful season of celebration and that you enjoyed ringing in the new year.
This past year was full, eventful, and sometimes resembled a roller coaster. We traveled, traveled, and traveled some more: we saw family in Miami, Philadelphia, Charleston, Asheville, and Greenville; I chaperoned 60 eighth graders on a field trip to Washington, D.C. and then applied for our visas in the same city a couple of months later (I'll let you guess which trip to D.C. was more relaxing...). We moved to Alcalá de Henares, Spain in the fall and since then have managed to travel to other cities in Spain, including Ávila, Cuenca, Valencia, Barcelona, and Aranjuez. And because Europe is in our backyard, we've taken long weekend trips to Munich, Rome, and Brussels. We are so grateful for this time to explore and venture out and to hear new languages and taste new foods together. I've had to pinch myself more than a few times to remind myself that yes, we are in [insert city].
It hasn't been all kicks and giggles, though. Being a first year teacher kicked my rear. I've always known it, but I was reminded that teaching is so under-appreciated as a career and it involves much planning and thinking about the big picture and the details, usually at the same time. I learned more about my gifts and perhaps more importantly, about my limits. We celebrated our first anniversary in the city where we married and I was more thankful than ever to have my closest friend and confidant with me during a particularly hard season of changes and growing up. I got some wise counsel from some people in Charlotte that helped me see the bigger picture (and if you're reading this, you know who you are!). And we stepped out of our comfort zones, packed up our apartment, gave away our furry little friends, and waved goodbye to our families at the airport.
Stepping out of American life has been refreshing: living more simply is a necessity, we naturally spend more time together because we have the same jobs, and we don't have a TV (by choice). We read more, talk more, and walk more.
We miss our friends and family. We miss Trader Joe's and easy access to frozen fruit, coconut flour, chocolate chips, peanut butter, and brussels sprouts (that's all I can think of at the moment, but I assure you: there is more). There are times that my Honda CRV would really come in handy, because living overseas without a car is great and I get to walk a lot and blah blah blah, but sometimes I seriously underestimate how much I just purchased at Carrefour and the walk home is nothing short of painful.
But we are grateful for the past year and know without a doubt that God has purposefully placed us here in Spain. We've made some sweet friends who share our jobs, which allows for great conversation (and let's be real, commiseration at times!). We are thankful to serve a God who takes our desires, loves, and interests and uses them in His plans and purposes for us.
And we are looking forward to what 2015 holds, looking forward with hope. Happy, happy New Year!