30 December 2016

Reflecting on 2016

2016 is quickly coming to a close. It's been one of the greatest and most challenging years to date. I learned everything is temporary. Moments, feelings, people, and circumstances. I learned losing someone you love makes you feel extremely vulnerable. And vulnerability can actually be a beautiful thing. 

I learned all things come in twos: peaks and valleys, life and death, joy and pain, sunshine and rain.

I learned keeping perspective is EVERYTHING. It shapes who we become and of course, where we are going. I learned to let go of some of the trivial things that don't matter in the long run. I learned God is more interested in my heart than in my rules or my way of life.

I learned no matter what happens in life, we must never give up hope. Hope is not blind optimism but rather having confidence in what is to come. I learned love requires action. I learned trials are meant to sanctify us, deepen our dependence on God, and teach us compassion. I learned I am never really alone.

I learned marriage takes work and must be made a priority. I learned life is too short to be mad. I learned sometimes being brave simply means getting up the next day and trying again. I learned the person who apologizes first, is often the most courageous.

I learned the days can seem long but life is really short. I learned to take nothing for granted. I learned at 46, I have a lot more to learn about life and love.

In 2016, due to a series of events, I faced my own mortality for the first time. I wish I could say I took it all in stride but I spent more days afraid than I'd like to admit. Not afraid of where I was going but afraid for the people I'd leave behind. Sometimes, loving someone so much makes you feel desperate to hang on to them. I spent months in what seemed like a battle, trying really hard to hold my thoughts captive before they boarded a freight train going nowhere. Through every high and low, I cried out to God and clung to His promises.

As the months continued, I eventually loosened my grip on trying to control my life by surrendering and trusting in God's plan for me- whatever that may be. Slowly, He delivered me from my fears. Both physically and spiritually. I wish I could say I handled things well (or even differently) but the truth is, you never know how you're going to handle something until you're actually faced with it.

We all want an easy, comfortable, anxiety-free life but these trials, I'm learning they can shape us into brave, vulnerable women with broken yet beautiful stories. Stories of how we came to a deeper faith, a greater appreciation and understanding, and ultimately, experienced an ever bigger, more Sovereign God through it all. Apparently, He's not done with me yet. He has a specific calling for me (as He does for you).

Maybe you're into setting goals or making resolutions this time of year? Believe me, I get that. I have a few changes and desires I'd like to incorporate in 2017, too. There's a big part of me that absolutely loves the thought of a new beginning, a fresh start, and an exciting new bucket list. Resolutions and goals serve a purpose but ultimately, all of my striving becomes meaningless if it doesn't align with God's will. And what a perfect will it is.

In 2017, I pray God would give me the courage to boldly live out my purpose and calling. Even if it's scary, even if it's hard. Because in the end, I want what He wants. If God is anything, He is faithful, friends. These last couple of years, He's been working on me and my issues with trust and control. Because you see, I can't be all in for His purposes if I don't trust Him wholly. Yet in His word He promises...

Did you catch that? The beauty of trusting the Lord?

No FEAR, no WORRY, and NEVER FAILING to bear fruit.

I want to be like that tree. I want to be planted, firmly, by the roots, unwavering in seasons of change and uncertainty, because my hope and faith is in the One who loves me, died for me, and provides and sustains my every need.

This is ultimately my prayer for 2017 and every day beyond.

May we stand firm, hope big, and bear much fruit for Him.

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