I’ve spent some time reflecting on the year that we’ll be putting behind us. Wondering where the time has gone, checking our location to see how close or far off from our desired destination we’ve landed.
No matter how official or specific the process is, I find it helpful to spend a bit of time reviewing the past year. I journeyed into this activity in 2017 (you can take a look here) and am so grateful to be back here this year to do it again.
Let’s get started!
1. What makes this year unforgettable?
I got married Y’all!
“Never again” I’d told myself. And actually believed it too.
Not because I didn’t want to be married, but because I didn’t believe I deserved to be.
Attempting to reconcile what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage to what God has been whispering into my soul and spirit since March of 2015, I’ve had to let a lot go and simply receive this amazing blessing from God. From a woman who’s been married twice before (widowed, then divorced), I’ve never experienced anything like it.
The quiet peace that I experienced as I stood alone waiting for our first looks was the most assuring, faith-building experience I’d had next to giving natural childbirth to my son. All that I can say is that God does deliver good things to those who love Him; in spite of ourselves.
We experienced a small, intimate wedding far outside of the city on a chilly Texas afternoon. I was freezing in my vintage dress but was warmed with pure joy. You can read more about our special day over here. Please forgive the typos – it was a hurried, emotional post that I’ve re-read but have not edited; you’ll get my heart.
Marrying my Mister (what I called him when I prayed for him before I knew he was real + what I still call him sometimes now) was the highlight of 2018!
2. What did you enjoy doing this year?
I so enjoyed rekindling my love for baking.
It was such a surprise! I don’t really remember being as romantically involved with baking good and lovely treats as I became this year. Let me explain!
There are many things I enjoyed being able to do this year because well, I’d buried them and learned that the creative things in me were only permitted long after I’d produced the important things to people I worked for. Their stuff seemed more important than the gifts, talents, and creativity God has placed within me.
With hardly any room for writing – my most consistent creative outlet – taking time to bake seemed even ridiculous to pursue. But after quitting my job in March, I had more time to mine my soul and ask myself what I really enjoyed doing.
I started baking weekly treats for our small group Bible study and it was like I’d found a long lost love. I was having fun and even had friends come and join me to make treats in our cozy kitchen. It is a connecting, serving kind of activity. I get to tailor treats to themes, preferences and to the people I love and want to encourage.
Let me also say this – I have a lot to learn, but I’m a pretty good baker. It makes sense to me and is something I enjoy. It allows me to produce something yummy and beautiful and think, learn and be giddy inside myself knowing that I’m exercising a God-given gift.
It must also be said that I also very much enjoy the gadgets that come with baking!
3. What/who is the one thing/person you’re grateful for?
I’m most grateful for Jesus and His perfect love for me.
His never-ending, overcoming, pure pursuit of my heart and soul is just something I can not fully understand but have deep gratitude for.
Through His virgin birth and His pure sacrifice, I am able to have a relationship with God that is reliant upon His love for me and nothing else. Not the good stuff I do or try to do and not the bad stuff that threatens to keep me captive in shame.
His perfect love and powerful grace have been constant in my life through so much pain, loss and stupid (mine and the stupid of others). I want to proclaim and share Him with more people in the way I live my life between church services; prayerfully authentic, vulnerable and transformed for His glory.
4. What’s your biggest win this year?
There were a lot of wins this year, but I suppose the biggest was officially launching my 19yo son into young adulthood.
Y’all, my son is my favorite young adult on the planet. I love him and I like him.
He was slower to launch than a lot of people his age. And that’s not bad – the path and timing we journeyed were exactly right for us in this. I’d heard so much of what it should, could or would be like and it was a mixture of all the things.
At the end of the day, even though a small part of my heart had felt like it’d been put in a processor, I knew it was where we were supposed to be on this road; me veering left in love and him right in independence. So much work, so many conversations…it was time for me to let him go.
He moved out of our cozy apartment home in August of this year with two older, mature young men who also love Jesus only 15 minutes from our home. He continues in his college endeavors, works part-time as a barista helping people get their coffee orders just right and learning how to walk through this season without his dad to help guide him through the milestones of “adulting” for the first time.
It’s been hard to watch, but he’s doing it.
I’m so proud of him. He’s not getting it all right every day. At times he struggles with the weight of putting his childhood behind him and stepping into the responsibility of God’s mission and path for him, but we’re still bonded. We’re friends.
(Tears as I type this) My son’s heart hurts from a loss that I never endured as a young child and while I’ve wanted to keep him close and tied to me to help ease the pain, I fought it in favor of raising him to be able to navigate the big world.
Victories come at a price mamas. At some point, we must accept that letting go is the win.
5. What did you read/watch/listen to that made the most impact this year?
I took a lot in during this huge transition year, but the resource I most put on repeat was the “Planted, Not Buried” series from Transformation Church in Oklahoma.
You can find all of the sermons here on my Resources Page.
I started some fabulous chapters but it brought the need to reckon with the hurt that comes with closing some chapters. It was difficult for me to get a hold on some thoughts about myself and how God views me after allowing the voices of people in positions of authority to be louder than His voice and love for me. Listening to this series while folding laundry, cleaning up the kitchen or sipping coffee helped me shake loose some of the mismatched thinking in favor of more godly peace.
6. What did you worry about most and how did it turn out?
One day – and I feel the tide turning – I will care less and less about what people think of me. One day…
But this year, I worried about this in the area of quitting my job at the church I attended and how it would impact my relationships and honestly, my favor.
This is comical in the rearview mirror as I can now see that my perceived favor was conditional and that I was the fool in the game. The proverbial bus was heading onto new highways and into new speeds that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with and be a new godly, present wife. Additionally, I had to deal with my desire to please man above listening to and obeying the sweet whispers of the Holy Spirit in me.
It was clear that my stop had come many, many, many exits before this March.
Y’all. I’m embarrassed. I knew I’d missed my stop, but instead of yanking the cord and stepping off at the right place (God had already told me where to get off a year before), I rode the bus round and round growing more frustrated and frustrating those I worked with. I became more misunderstood, felt more alienated and grew bitter.
In my worry, I became consumed with proving myself. And it was disastrous.
I had to wait to be humiliated in my area of experience in front of a large group of people to get that I’d been consumed with the wrong thing: worrying about and seeking the approval of people. It took about eight months of repeatedly returning to God repeatedly to see my role and responsibility in it (which came after I focused on forgiveness).
It’s better now but I look back considering all of the heartaches I could have saved myself and others had I set worrying and impressing people aside and stepped off the bus faithfully where God had originally told me to.
7. What was your biggest regret and why?
I regret inviting about one-quarter of the people that I did at our wedding.
It was intimate and beautiful, but there were people who came and mocked it. It was too far to drive. It wasn’t a booming city. There was only one small restaurant in the little town that was closed (which shouldn’t have been an issue since we were feeding you). They sat clumped together, enjoying their own company rather than mingling and engaging the people who made it possible for us to get to this point.
I was so disappointed with myself. Obligation over relationship never works; a lesson I thought I’d learned.
There are so many friends who I’ve come back into doing life with and had to choke back tears because I never extended them an invitation to be present, witness our union and to be there cheering for us.
Regrettably, it was a beautiful day sullied by a few.
8. What’s the one thing that you changed about yourself?
There’s little change that I can make happen without the help of God. So I’ll answer this with more of the focus on what I’ve accepted about myself this year.
I’m still exploring what this looks like as a gift/strength from God and still accepting that’s it a good thing put in me and about 20 percent of the rest of the population. I’m reading and studying and learning about it, and moving from shirking beyond my sensitivities to sharing them more openly with others; I’ve begun proclaiming it.
No more flogging myself for being “too sensitive”. This year, Lord willing, I’m going to step further into understanding and living out this gift of burden bearing for the glory of God.
9. What surprised you the most this year?
I hate to admit this, but that my recovery from this year’s surgery has been amazingly awesome.
Last year, I had invasive surgery to remove a lot of women parts. My OBGYN let me keep my left ovary to help with natural hormone production but in October, we discovered a large cyst had grown on it. Both needed to be removed.
Another surgery in one year and a month. I was terrified. I’d started having conversations with friends and family about the care of my husband and son if I didn’t make it through. It just seemed that I was done, that we’d been overly blessed and old thinking (waiting for darkness and loss to prevail again) grew inside me.
I’d stopped dreaming and planning for 2019 and overexerted myself in serving and giving and baking because well, what if it would be my last.
It was surprising how annoyed I was with other people’s faithfulness that everything would be alright. Which it has been. I was shocked to admit that I was afraid to be hopeful, faithful, and excited for what was next. Fearful of clarifying what I’d been dreaming and hoping for in the coming year.
Evidently, I get to do some more growing in this area. I’m so very grateful for the consistent, firm voices of so many who let me lean on their faith when mine was less sure.
10. If you could go back to last January 1, what suggestions would you give your past self?
I would suggest that my January 1st self be ready and open to living the life and having the marriage, friendships and desires I’d longed for. Say “yes” more often and walk away as soon as you hear the invitation within the depths of your soul. Be bold. Be real. Be you. And buckle up. This year is going to exceed the limits you’ve accepted from others.
Here are 99 snapshots of some of those very things.
2018 truly was a bold, busy, bright year!
How was your 2018? What are you readying yourself for in 2019?