Every year I take some time to reflect on the previous year, and this year is no exception. Two-thousand sixteen was a decent year and I want to take some time to remember the good things about the 12 months of this past year as well as the challenges that came my way.
I started off my 2016 with the desire to be more like Jesus. That is always where I begin. Sometimes in my daily walk, I succeed in that pursuit, sometimes I do not. The thing that I have realized this year is, regardless of my efforts or success, He still loves me. It was a recurring them from January 1 through December 31.
Looking back on some of my social media posts from this past year, I came across this quote from Beth Moore, and I think it is worth repeating.
"We can draw joy from Jesus. Relief. Laughter. We can gulp down hope when a moment is hard to swallow. We can draw buckets from the bottomless well of His love so we can have something to give people in our lives who drain us dry. We can also draw something for ourselves when we've ground or own encouragers to dust."
I am thankful for His grace, even when I don't accept it fully. My prayer this past year was to love better. Love everyone....better. Again, I didn't fail completely but it was not easy either. I started off the year feeling like I had a great concept of God's love and how much He loves me, and ended the year wondering if it was even possible that He could love someone like me. What I do know is that God created me, He protected me and brought me out of a painful childhood, and He has a great plan for my life. He speaks to me when I least expect it and also when I am seeking Him the most. He sent His only Son so that I would not have to pay the price for the trash in my life. That is love. A love that is unconditional and unfailing.
I started the beginning of the year going through the Bible with Angie Smith in her Bible study, Seamless. It was life changing. I learned details and things I never knew and had never been in a study where you go through the entire Bible. It was wonderful. I then went to Hebrews and did a self-guided podcast study through Jen Wilkin. This might be one of my all time top 3 favorite studies that I have ever done! It was AMAZING!!! I learned so much and could not wait to get up and dig in to the Word each morning. A little while after starting Hebrews, our ladies at church started 1 Peter by Jen Wilkin so I did both at the same time and loved them both.
On February 24th, I lost my precious Aunt Donna. She was like a mother to me and she was my biggest fan. It was one of the hardest deaths I have ever experienced and I miss her so so much.
I read a few books last year. One of them was Nobody's Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankle and it is one of my favorites. Here is a good quote from that:
"The truth is, we need our friends. I mean, we need Jesus to truly complete us, but we absolutely need our girlfriends, because no man wants to listen to all the words we have to say in the course of a day."
I also read Looking For Lovely by Annie Downs which was also very good! One of my favorites of the year was Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson. It was so so so good!!!!! I even bought several copies for my friends to read it!
I voted in my first primary election in March. And then voted again in November. The elections results were quite surprising and what I know is that God is in control and still on His throne. While it was a surprise to me, it certainly wasn't to Him.
I went to a few conferences this year. The first one was in March with Stephanie for her birthday to Waco to see Beth Moore. It was wonderful. We even took a minute to see the silos at Magnolia Market. I went to a conference in Frisco at the end of the year and it was one of the best I have ever been to.
We took a few trips this past year. In March, Lauren and I took off for Little Rock (Conway) to go to Sarah's wedding. It was a sweet weekend for just the two of us. I also got to see my mom that weekend...more about that later. In April, I was able to take a girls' trip to Bossier City, LA with Sara and Rachel to see Carrie Underwood. It was just about some of the greatest fun I had in a long time!! In June, we set out for a LONG road trip to the beach!!! Our first family vacation of the year was to Gulf Shores, Alabama and we spent a week at a beach house with some of our friends. It was so much fun!! Then, our big family trip came just two weeks ago when we went back to Disney World for 5 days and a Disney Cruise for 4 days. It was one of the best trips we have ever taken and I will blog about that later!
I was able to go to LOTS of Ranger games!!! It really was one of my favorite things that I did last year. It didn't matter if they won or lost (okay, maybe it did matter a little), but the games were just fun!!! I was able to see the Razorbacks defeat TCU at the Hornfrogs stadium in amazing seats and that was AWESOME!!!!! I went to my first professional hockey (Stars) game with some friends and co-workers and had the best time!!!!!
Work was quite eventful in the year 2016! It was quite possibly the most successful year I have ever had at a job. In June, I spoke at the Stroke Symposium about social work/discharge planning in front of about 150 people. It was maybe the most nervous I have ever been but it went well. That actually prompted another speaking opportunity, so I also spoke at the DVT Symposium a few months later. I was nominated for a GREAT Award in January and then actually was chosen for a GREAT Award in November. In August, I started probably the most influential thing I have ever done in my professional career: Emerging Leaders Program. It was honor to be nominated, a greater honor to be chosen, and now I am a graduate of the program. I will forever be grateful for the things I learned from that program, and I am excited to see where my profession takes me next. I had a great yearly evaluation and a nice merit increase. I have never thrived more in a job than at Methodist Dallas. It is a great place to work!
Time with friends in 2016 was so precious to me. My prayer was that last year would be a year that I would not seek for MORE friends, necessarily, but that the friendships that I do have would grow. That prayer was answered in such a wonderful way. We celebrated birthdays, went out for girls' nights, painted, solved puzzles in order to get out of rooms in an hour, and just shared life. I do not have many close friends, but the ones I have are so incredibly special to me. God has blessed me with wonderful friends and for that, I am grateful.
In June, I decided to seek out professional counseling for the first time. It was scary and I was nervous but it was needed. I am still doing that now and the growth I have seen in my life has been monumental because of those therapy sessions. I was diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder with anxiety. Working through things with someone unrelated to my life has proven to be very helpful. My anxiety has gotten better and I feel better about life in general most days. She has given me many tools to deal with everyday life and anxiety.
God was really good to us this year financially and I am thankful. I got a new car!!! :) My husband's job is thriving and we are seeing the fruits from that. I am so proud of him. We celebrated our 12th anniversary in August. This man puts up with a lot from me and this past year was no different. We had some rough patches but I love him more than ever!
In November, my mom received her sentence for vehicular manslaughter that occurred in August 2015. This has been one of the hardest things I have ever dealt with. God is faithful. The main prayer during this time was that my mom would know the love of Christ and He was very firm in letting me know that part of that love was to be through me. I have learned how to love my mom fully and better through Christ alone. While she serves her jail sentence, I pray that she continues to see and feel the work of God in her life. As this information floods your minds when you read, please remember that in these types of situations, if you do not have all of the information, you cannot fully understand. I have such a different train of thought about stuff I hear and read and I am a little less quick to make a judgment because of this situation.
My Hannah turned 5, Lauren turned 7, and Rachel is 10 and almost as big as me. A few weeks ago, I turned 36 and I have never been more blessed!
Our church also called a new pastor who will start this week. We spent the year learning from and listening to Dr. Tommy Kiker and I will forever be thankful to him and his family. Pastor Shawn and his family will be a blessing to us (already have) and I cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for Inglewood in 2017 and the years to come!
It has not been an easy year. It has had ups and downs and everything in between, but one thing will always remain: GOD IS FAITHFUL!!! HE REMAINS ON HIS THRONE and it's time for my 2017 goals.
1. To live more intentionally...in all areas of my life
2. Think before speaking/typing and think about how I make others feel
3. Pursue a more personal and real relationship with Christ daily
4. Spend more time living in the moment and enjoying my children
I will continue asking God to continue to allow me to be filled with His love and have a greater understanding of what that means.
Happy New Year!! May you all feel God's goodness this year, regardless of what happens. He is good. He is faithful!