By Joe Rector

The New Year is here. I have listened to talk show hosts spout their resolutions for the coming months. I’ve read plenty of the same thing on social media sites. Well, I’m not promising anything to myself. Instead, I’m going to follow the lead Reverend Larry Dial presented during his sermon on Sunday. My goal is to try to remember what I’ve learned over the past year.

First, I learned that I can once again live in the same house with someone other than my dear wife. My son Dallas returned to Knoxville after 15 years in Chattanooga. He decided a job change was in order and found a position and opportunity with an excellent company.

For now, he’s living with us. Little by little, Dallas is emptying his condo in Chattanooga, and before long, the place will be ready for the market. Dallas will then find his own new home. Until then, he will stay here with his dog Harvey. I am working on patience and flexibility, although my son might say I’m more invested in griping and demanding.

Another lesson deals with Amy’s job. The last few years have been a roller coaster for her. She’s worked temporary jobs and permanent ones, but until now, they’ve been poor fits for her. Now she is with a company that values her skills and experience. I’ve witnessed just how much life’s pressures ease when Amy is comfortable in her work. She is a happier and more grateful person. I know now just how important it is to me that my best friend’s life is in good shape.

I’ve also learned to adapt to my own work situation. For a year and a half, I taught English at a vocational school. The job ended when those in charge axed the program. So, I returned to substitute teaching. Yes, I know at one time I declared I’d never take such a job, but I’ve found many advantages. Among them are the abilities to set my own work schedule and work sites. The best thing about the job is that I’ve made new friends at the schools where I work. In fact, they’ve welcomed me and made me feel as if I were one of them.

In 2018, I learned a hard lesson. I’m not able to do what I used to do. That means I can’t work outside all day without being exhausted. Now, I’m good for about a half a day before places start to ache and rest is required. Projects take much longer to complete, and I’m not nearly so “picky” about the little things involved in them. Of more interest are such things as sitting by the pool, reading a book, or zoning out while watching the television.

One thing I have re-learned is that God is certainly good. Through all the ups and downs of life, He is there just waiting for relationship. The good lord has led Amy and me through some of the toughest times in our 44-year marriage. On occasion, I’ve been madder than a hornet with Him, but that hasn’t kept God from keeping me safe and leading me in the direction that is best for my life. I realize even more than before that the more faith I have, the more my life aligns itself with positive things and experiences. It’s comforting.

I am curious what this year will teach me. My job is to be alert and receptive to those lessons and to understand the importance of them. I suppose I’m saying that all of life is filled with teaching moments, but they click only when we open our minds and hearts to them.