One of my favorite things to do before the New Year is to reflect on the past year. Looking back on 2016, it is clear that it was a year for growth – physically (turning the big 30), emotionally, and growth for our family as we added a brother-in-law.
My sister’s wedding
From April to November, life was a bit of whirlwind. My sister said YES to her handsome groom, and wedding planning began. Having the incredible privilege of being matron of honor, I planned a brunch and bubbly bridal shower, bachelorette party, and assisted in any way I could to relieve her stress. I loved being an integral part of her wedding prep, but my biggest praise was seeing her on November 19th as she stood by her new husband’s side. She wasn’t caught up in any wedding details or worry, she was peaceful and overwhelmed with joy. Knowing that I did everything I could to support, encourage, and love on my big sis as she prepared for her day makes her wedding one of my biggest successes of 2016.
Turning 30 years old was nothing short of monumental. Kicking off the celebration with a 1920s birthday party, I basked in the success of a joy-filled soiree and thought – best way to enter my 30s! That was until one morning on a family trip to CA, I yanked tissue paper out of a gift bag to find Ellen sweatpants with a note that read, “What better way to celebrate your 30th birthday than to get your dance party on…” I still can’t believe it; I went to the Ellen show!!!!
5 years of marriage
I can vividly remember sitting with our pastor going through pre-marital counseling and answering the question, “where do you see yourselves in 5 years.” And there’s no way I could’ve predicted where we are today. The Lord gave me immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine in my husband. I love him more than I did when we said our vows, and our friendship continues to grow deeper. Being able to celebrate this milestone together and look back with joy on our special day was a significant highlight of 2016.
Wild and Free
If you haven’t read Wild and Free, it’s a book that you must add to your reading list for 2017. Reading and studying Wild and Free with a friend this past summer, I was really challenged in my understanding of how wild God’s love is for us. Realizing that his love is not an "if, then" kind of love helped me to understand that in Christ, I am secure, and I am free. Embracing my excitement about the freedom I have knowing that my identity comes solely from Christ, I did something I’ve been too chicken to do for awhile – I owned my wild and free, and dyed my hair grey. It was such a fun step of courage and challenged me to ground myself in the knowledge that I am not defined by my hair color, my identity is in Christ.
Community has been a struggle for me over the past couple years, but this summer especially. Craving depth, I found myself feeling disappointed in my community. Reading Wild and Free and spending time in scripture the Lord taught me that He is the only one who can love me perfectly. Recognizing that He is my best friend and that He alone fully exceeds expectations, I stopped being so critical of my community and started seeing it as the beautiful blessing that it is. Re-defining my idea of community I started to embrace a new network called The Rising Tide Society and my existent one through Instagram. It’s been really awesome to see how the Lord has blessed steps in those directions. I’ve met some really amazing women like Devyn Mollica, and Alex Good – and I can’t wait to see how God continues to grow and re-shape my idea of community in 2017.
Although there were seasons in 2016 where I didn’t get to write as much as I would’ve liked, I have much to be thankful for as the Lord has given me some incredible milestones.
- I had the opportunity to be a part of Thryve Magazine’s first-time fully free issue, Mended. It was amazing to hear how the Lord called the Thryve team to release the issue for free, and a blessing to know that so many women were being reached in His name.
- Being featured on (in)courage, an online publication whose goal is to encourage the hearts of women, is one of my proudest writing moments thus far. I was honored to share the webpage with incredible writers like Liz Curtis Higgs, and be able to connect with readers who commented on my piece. Knowing that the words the Lord gave me were an encouragement to many women was an extreme affirmation in my call as writer.
- Ann Swindell, an amazing woman of God, writer, author, and professor, (who I met through the Influence Network) started a course called Writing with Grace and I had the pleasure of being in the maiden voyage of both the original Writing with Grace and the Writing with Grace: Memoir course. I have been challenged in my writing, exposed to editors like Crystal Stine from (in)courage and been encouraged to dig deeper into where God is calling me in my writing. Much thanks to Ann and her guidance, Lord willing, my hope and goal for 2017 is to write the book that is written on my heart.
Using scripture to combat anxiety
The most poignant theme in 2016 has been the way that God has taught me to use scripture to battle the evil one. Part of my process of reflecting on the past year is to look at the blog posts I’ve written. In doing so, I found a constant thread of sharing how God was teaching me to claim His words in scripture and use them to instill peace, crush my anxiety, and demolish the evil one (Memorizing Truth, ).
This lesson is my biggest growth and success of 2016. There is nothing comparable to the power that we have through the Word of God and this understanding is something I need to carry with me into each year that follows. In 2017 I want to sharpen my sword, memorizing scripture, so I can more swiftly destroy the evil one.
Taking the time to think about highs and lows, I’m so thankful for the lessons learned and the common themes that have sprung up. It hasn’t been the easiest year, but it’s also been incredibly fulfilling and jam-packed with celebration. I cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for 2017.