Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010: The Year in Review

2010 has come to an end, but what a great year it was. It's almost hard for me to let go of it! As I look back over the year, I feel overwhelmingly grateful, especially when I compare how I was feeling at the end of 2009 with how I feel at the end of 2010. 2009 was a difficult year filled with lots of uncertainty and questioning on my part. At the very end of November, Estith and I had moved out of the apartment where we had lived for three years (ever since getting married) and moved in with my parents while we began searching for a home to buy. I wondered if we were doing the right thing in buying a home. At the same time, I was working hard at both my company and my writing and a lot of times it simply felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. I wondered if I was spinning my wheels, if it wouldn't be easier or more productive to give up and do something else. I struggled on a daily basis with all of these questions and more -- and I didn't feel much peace.

Then at the very end of December, Estith and I had the opportunity to attend Urbana, a missions conference held every three years in Missouri. This was an incredible experience afforded to us by our church, and I think it got the year off to a great start. We rang in New Years Eve through awesome praise and worship in an electric environment filled with the hope and promise of all that God is doing in the world. It's not to say that after that everything was just a cup of tea throughout the year, but somehow this year God took all of my doubts and fears, my sadness and frustration, and replaced them with joy and peace. This is the attitude I bring into 2011, and I am so grateful for it. Of course, I feel that the happiness and success that I've experienced this year would not have been possible without the difficult days of the year before. And so that leads to some more of the lessons I learned this year.

Lesson 4: The dry seasons of life have their purpose, even though as we go through them we may not be able to understand it or fathom what it could be. If nothing else, the dry seasons teach us to appreciate the seasons of abundance that much more.

Lesson 5: True happiness/joy is not circumstantial. I must learn to be content whatever the season knowing that God is working out His purposes in me. (As I look back, I had so little to complain about or feel frustrated about when I was feeling unhappy, but in that time, it was the only way I could feel about my situation. I have vowed that if another dry season comes and with it the unhappy feelings, I will not succumb to it, but rather remember the lessons I have learned and remind myself that each season has its reason. Easier said than done, but I hope that I can stick to it!)

At any rate, here is my year in review:

  • Began rehearsals for the film "Flight to India," the first film project undertaken by World of Difference, Ltd. which I wrote and starred in.
  • Shot the film "Flight to India"
  • Closed on and moved into our first home! (The feelings of uncertainty give way to deep gratitude and peace that we are in the right place! Thank You, Lord!)
  • Began working with the After-school Program at Stan Hywet which has been an incredible blessing to me both personally and professionally
  • Stayed busy as I started performing "The Monkey and the Crocodile" at all 27 branches of the Cuyahoga County Public Library from March thru May. Too many wonderful stories of great experiences to share!
  • Wrote the sequel to my children's book, Lily and the City of Light. This story, entitled "Lily and the Return to Htrae," came to me in the same way the first story did, completely out of the blue while praying one day. Had never even considered writing a sequel for Lily, so I knew it must be the Lord at work. Hoping the publisher will pick it up so I can share with others as I now find Lily's story incomplete without it!
  • Celebrated my 30th birthday -- no qualms about turning 30 at all. Felt great!
  • Participated and performed in Youth Councils for the Salvation Army and had the experience of seeing my group of drama students do an awesome job on a challenging sketch. God opened many doors for me to share my sketch-writing and showed me how it could be a blessing to others.
  • Won a trip to Haiti after entering a writing contest that I saw advertised at Urbana. Traveled there with an amazing team of people from all over the country and Canada. Saw firsthand the strength and courage of a people who have not let adversity stand in the way of their faith and made life-long friends in the process.
June, July, August:
  • Began my summer tour with World of Difference, Ltd. visiting venues in Ohio, New York, and Michigan and performing over 50 shows in a 60 day period. Shared the folktale "Papa Dieux's Well: A folktale from Haiti" with numerous audiences raising awareness about the lack of access to clean water that many people face daily.
  • Taught acting at the TAM Conservatory in New York again forging incredible relationships and a deeper love of my craft!
  • My husband Estith becomes a citizen of the United States!
  • I finish editing my 300 page novel -- a feat that felt akin to running a marathon. (I'm hoping to begin looking for a publisher for this novel which is about a children's home in Paraguay in 2011.)
  • Perform my show "Godmother Death" for diverse audiences, including high school students
  • Write my first grant (which I would later receive!)
  • Premier of the film "Turning Point" in which I play the role of Carla
  • My first children's book "Lily and the City of Light" is officially released. This puts me in touch with many wonderful people whom I haven't heard from in a long time.
  • Estith and I celebrate 4 years of marriage. I'm still totally in love with this man who has made much of the above highlights of my year possible through his love and support!
  • My second children's book, "'Twas the Year Christ Left Christmas" is released
  • Perform "Babushka: A Russian Christmas Tale" at a number of wonderful venues
  • Get my dog Blitzen for Christmas
And as if this weren't enough, many wonderful people came into my life this year in quite random ways -- from a couple we met at Estith's citizenship ceremony, to a program evaluator (and her husband) trying to pick up some forms at my Stan Hywet show, to a woman I met while attending a grant-writing workshop. The randomness of it gives me no doubt that God hears and answers prayers!

There are probably many other things I could mention, but the list is already quite long, so I'll leave it at as it is.

I now look forward to 2011 and all that it holds in store, and I hope you do too! I also hope that you would be encouraged knowing that whatever season you are in right now there is a purpose for it. Just wait and see!

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