January 3, 2012
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850
I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the year’s.
To My Dear Friends and Family,
The year began with the good news of my good friend from college, Ariana’s baptism- YAY, Piedmont!- and a three-week fast with the Athens congregation about all topics under the sun. In brief, I prayed for direction, the campus ministry prayed for depth, and my parents prayed for a home in the country.
From January to April, I worked as an intern with the Athens Church of Christ Campus Ministry and was in constant learning mode: learning better how to study the Bible with others, practicing sharing my faith with a variety of people, learning to lead other women, building closer friendships… It was a very special few months. To those of you who fought battles with me, prayed with me, gave your hearts to me- thank you. You know who you are. To Cathy, Whitney, Anna, Cali, Emma…I am so grateful we are now sisters. We had struggles and we saw victories, and I thank God that I was able – after college- to experience both as a part of a campus ministry.
During these months, the Sawhill family prepared our house of eight years for market, and I proceeded to clean out and pack my things for my inevitable though indiscriminate move out. My brother Jeff made plans to transfer to SCAD Atlanta to study animation, and Chris continued to plug away in Exercise and Sports Science at UGA. The house sold in May, and we moved into an apartment near to the mall in June.
April-July: I played Rosalind in As You Like It with the Rose Theatre of Athens, a truly wonderful company with a lot of heart. This show was a joy because the people were a joy- and to all of you- I miss you and hope we’ll get to work together again- or at very least further our acquaintance and conversations by what means we have.
July-August: We hosted the ICMC (International Campus Ministry Conference) “DEEPER” in Athens, and as I was a part of the planning and worship teams, I was honored to see the fruition of so many prayers and so much hard work when it “went off” with the power and impact only God can enact. I left with a yearning in my heart to discover what deeper step of faith God was calling me to take. Not even a month later, my year long prayer for a “strong leaning” about where to go was answered in the two minutes it took for the elders to announce intentions to plant a church in Wilmington, NC.
Meanwhile on the professional front, Byron Thompson finished editing my one-woman show, Last Nights of the King, which he had filmed at the end of 2010. With DVD in hand, deliberations began on how to proceed, and a whole host of amazingly supportive people from Athens to New York assisted with their thoughts and encouragement. I built a website (without knowing what I was getting into!), made writing plans for supplementary devotional material, printed business cards, and made plans to attend the 2011 Arts and Entertainment conference in Atlanta. I also drafted, with the considerable help of my parents, an itinerary for a month long trip through LA, New York, and Chicago (And also San Fran, costal Cali, and Eugene Oregon as it turned out), which I fondly nicknamed the “Tour for Vision.”
While traveling, I experienced God’s provision through people — particularly through the friendship of Jessica, my travel-buddy, and the hospitality I was honored to enjoy constantly. To all of you who took me in though I was a stranger to you and you to me, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You shared meals (and nice meals at that), free tours, gifts, and most importantly, your personalities, time, stories, knowledge and advice, and friendship. Counting it up, let’s see… I owe no less than thirty-two people my sincerest thanks for taking care of my physical needs and then a good twenty more at least for helping with everything else. I am truly very rich indeed.
Thank you also to all of you who shared in conversation with me in airports, subways, trains, and in other random locations or situations. It was interacting with you that made each day of my travels exciting, and I am very grateful that we are still in contact, even if that contact is only occasional. When I review the list I made of people I have met this year, I am dumbfounded as to why I should have been so privileged to meet so many and so varied persons willing to share themselves with me in return for however brief our time speaking may have been.
Less than two weeks after the Tour, I hopped in the car and drove to Wilmington to interview for a part-time musical theatre teaching job. I got the job that day and stayed, enjoying more hospitality — this time on account of Lindsey, Erika, and Olivia, the three college girls who have been the planting up to this point and who have set wonderful examples for everyone around them of what it means to love each other. The following weekend I moved into an apartment, and the long string of events that is learning a new place and getting established began to unfold in rapid succession. Despite the minor ups and downs associated with transition, I have never in my life seen God’s provision more clearly or felt more certain that I’m where I need to be at this particular time. For this I am very grateful.
I auditioned for a show again in mid September and was honored to be cast as Maria in Sound of Music with the Thalian Association. Now through teaching and the play, I’ve met quite a lot of people and am feeling a little more “established” in the sense that helps one be purposeful.
Back in GA my parents bought the farmhouse (!!!) and moved in right before Thanksgiving, we believe in response to a prayer from the beginning of the year that we would all be in the house for the holiday. By Christmas most of the boxes were unpacked and the settling into had more thoroughly begun. The joy and peace the country brings my parents makes me so happy. And it’s no downer to now come home to pretty land under starry skies for family times, either! The Sawhills moved a total of seven times this year- including my brothers’ moves- and I think that’s a record for us we’re all hoping not to top.
And the good news continues, but this letter is intended for brevity (“Ah, well,” she says 3 pages later…) Suffice it to say, God is alive, moving, and increasing the faith of those who ask! 2012 is going to be quite a year, and I’m excited.
Thanks again to you all for being a part of my life. I pray the New Year brings new life, new conviction, new purpose, new perspective, and new vision to all of us.