It’s the end of the year and there is all sorts of buzz happening around words of the year, planning new goals, and figuring out what the new year could look like. I’m not a stranger to any of this. I actually DELIGHT in it. The time spent at the end of a year reflecting for me has oftentimes presented itself like a well that I keep dipping into to gain more insight, knowledge, and reflection from the year before to catapult me to the year ahead.
As 2018 closes, I’m not that sad about it. Some years I’ve wrestled with a new page being turned, but this year, a new year sounds like freedom.
At the end of every year, I count the fruit. This is just a simple act of going back through my photos, my journals, and my calendar to count up the “fruit” or ways that I saw God move in the year or blessings that we saw. And as I did that this year, there were so many, but there were also whole months where I had to search really hard for some goodness.
We started 2018 awake. I was ready for restoration of the immense anxiety that I’d been enduring for over a year. I was really blessed to get somewhat of a relief from anxiety for about six months of this year which was HUGE. In the beginning of the year, I spent tons of time with friends, with our student ministries kiddos, celebrating Ryan’s birthday, celebrating our anniversary, and then vacationing! We visited Nashville and North Carolina and loved our time together! Now that my anxiety wasn’t so intense, we were able to travel without tons of fear- which made it SO enjoyable!
In the spring, I continued working on goals- like starting a small group in our home! My friend, Megan, said yes to joining me and we started our first small group of women from the Fox Valley! I attended a Beth Moore conference with my mom that got cancelled partway through due to a couple feet of snow that we got. I watched Ryan teach in big church for the first time and was so thankful to the Lord for using Ryan’s gifts well! In May, I was chosen as a blog post writer for Noonday Collection and finished my first year at Foster Charter School!
So why am I ready for the New Year? Probably and absolutely because the months that we experienced in “summer” felt like a deep winter. We were really hurt by some decisions made that didn’t feel fair. Our faith was tested as we were asked to “wait” on more than one thing. Quite honestly, if it wasn’t for the Lord’s grace, I may have wanted to give up on having faith in any situation. Ryan traveled a lot and I missed him terribly. I went looking through my summer pictures and there were some really great pictures, but almost all of those happy and exciting moments had some aspect of hard in them. Whether it was the conversation on the way to get there where I shared how I was feeling or whether it was in the tears that were cried before or after. I struggled with being a good wife. I was exhausted, drained, ….faithless.
And those feelings, friends, they haven’t completely subsided, but we’ve learned a lot. My anxiety came back- but I had tools (thank goodness for great counseling!). I was alone, a lot. But I felt brave in that. We asked the Lord deeper questions to deal with our deep hurts and felt like we got real peace and answers. And amidst all of the trying things, I qualified for a Noonday Collection Artisan trip in 2019! I found a great dance studio to go to that has literally been a saving grace to me most days. We spent time with family and prayed over friendships. Although many of the things we “wanted” in 2018 maybe didn’t happen, so many greater things did happen. Maybe they weren’t what we expected- or we didn’t get to cross off certain goals from last year, but we experienced goodness. 2018 was a year of disappointment in many ways, but maybe that’s why 2019 feels so freeing.
My word for 2019: expectant. We are expecting things to move and change and grow- and I can’t wait! Join me in the next few weeks as I share the goals I’m setting forward for next year. Goals on moving from disappointment to expectant. 2019, we’re ready.