I had no intention of writing a “year in review post.” I didn’t really even want to relive this year. I wanted to write quick little post about the five-year journal I finished and be done with 2018.
But then I saw so many people posting pictures of their 2018 year in review, and it got me thinking about my year.
When I think of 2018, my immediate thought is: “This was the hardest year of my entire life.” But then comes the power of writing things down. Writing and remembering and feeling gratitude.
So, I made a list of my year. I started in January and wrote down big and small milestones and life events. From trips to goals to little happy moments to celebrations and everything in between.
I’m not sharing it to boast or brag — I’m sharing it to remind you to look at the beautiful parts of life when the darkness tries to overshadow the light.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
I could look at people all around me and up and down my social media feeds to compare my accomplishments to theirs. I could wish for their houses and vacations and jobs. I could write this off as an overall bad year because of the darkness I faced — but it really wasn’t. It was remarkable. And the best part is that I made eternal impacts in my own lives and the lives of others. And not by my own strength — trust me — but by the strength and grace of my God.
I met people at conferences and airports and on mission trips and in every day life at coffee shops and malls and restaurants. I grew closer to God and did my best to help others do the same — THAT is the mark of a good year.
So, as you read this list, keep in mind that I walked through a very deep, dark depression in the same year that some of the best things happened in my life. That’s no coincidence. The enemy tried to distract and destroy me. But He can’t. And He never will. I have the victory of Jesus living inside of me and overflowing out of me. And oh I can feel it in my bones that He is going to MOVE like never before in 2019.
And what the enemy meant for harm this year, oh God used it for good. He used it to grow me and stretch me and teach me. He didn’t let a single hard thing happen in vain.
My word for 2018 was content. I thought I failed at it because I haven’t conquered contentment like I wanted to. But God reminded me that progress is success and my perfection is not necessary. I’m finishing 2018 more content with my life than I was at the beginning, and that counts for something.
My word for 2019 is discipline. I tried to give myself the word flourish. What a gorgeous word! I’m going to flourish in 2019!
After I picked my word, the Lord said, “Hi, you didn’t ask me for the word.” And then, in the shower, where I do the most thinking, He said “DISCIPLINE.” And I said, out loud, “No I don’t want that!” (I’m sure my husband thinks I’m crazy for the things I say in the shower, but I’m always talking to Jesus.) But He was persistent and didn’t let me turn the faucet off without knowing that is, in fact, my word for this year.
I thought it made sense because of a few of my goals: To wake up at the same time each day to spend time with God, to give up shopping for an entire year, to train for a marathon, and to write another book. ALL of those things take intense discipline.
But so does my walk with God.
I think more than anything God wants me to discipline my mind to be grateful. He wants me to discipline my heart to seek after Him alone. And He is desperate for a discipline of love for myself and for all the people around me.
So, I’m beginning my discipline for 2019 on the last day of 2018 by training my mind and heart to celebrate the highs AND the lows of 2018. And I’m celebrating the small disciplines I have shown over the past five years!
I received a Five-Year Journal for Christmas five years ago. I never thought I’d keep up with it for all these years. Five years is quite a long time to me! And I am the least consistent person I know. (I’m working on it.) So, to realize that today I finished a five-year long task is a BIG deal in my life. The little journal has rips and tears and a big stain from when I would sit my hot tea on it at night. And it’s full of so many memories. I was consistent in finding a bright spot in each of my days over the last over the last 1,826 of them. Even when it was so painfully hard. The answers to the “questions of the day” in that journal are not always pretty, but they always caused me to reflect. And that brings joy.
And that little journal inspired this list. This list that looks back over what I branded the worst year of my life. This list that reveals the worst AND best 365 days I’ve ever experienced simultaneously. Your life doesn’t have to be an OR life. It can be and AND life. You can put your phone down to be present AND share goodness on social media. You can be healthy AND drink a milkshake sometimes. You can rest AND be productive. My counselor encourages me to stop having such an “all or nothing” mindset, and my online mentor Jessica Honegger is all about this “AND” lifestyle. So, here’s a look at my “AND” year full of many ups and many downs.
- 21 days of prayer and fasting with my church – I ACTUALLY did the Daniel Fast (only The Holy Spirit could’ve helped me give up queso)
- Fulfilled a lifelong dream and started Mizpah Card Co. greeting card company with my best friend!
- Attended a life-changing Silent Writing Retreat
- Spoke at my first women’s conference!!!! Thank you, Lean Into Jesus Ministries
- Took a NASA trip to DC
- Spoke at another women’s event
- Spent our first wedding anniversary at the Eiffel Tower
- Went on a mission trip to Naples, Italy that CHANGED OUR LIVES and brought us lifelong friends
- Preached and wept at a church in Italy
- First Major League Baseball Stadium on mine and my husband’s list – Atlanta Braves
- She Speaks Conference in North Carolina
- Words Conference in North Carolina with my college bestie
- Started Highlands College
- Became Dream Team coaches for the Info Team at church with my husband
- Met Jessica Honegger at her magical book tour stop in Franklin
- A beautiful birthday celebration with all my favorite people
- Started Writing Workshops at the Downtown Rescue Mission
- Second Major League Stadium – St. Louis (best trip of the year with my husband)
- My best friend of 26 years got married to the love of her life
- Watched a super intense, incredible Auburn game with my favorite Auburn fan
- My first nephew was born and I fell in love
- Took the most FUN trip to Boston with my best friend
- Watched the Red Sox win the World Series IN Boston
- Started a new job and found a work family
- Ran a 10K without stopping to walk
- Yearly girls trip to TN with my mom to spend time with family
- Thanksgiving + Black Friday fun
- Submitted a book proposal with my mentor and dear friend
- Finished my first semester of ministry school at Highlands College
- Published my first book!!!
- Had the best Christmas of my life
- Ended the year with a shopping day with my favorite people
- Spent a cozy NYE with my husband and his delicious cooking
This year, I made new friends (hi Leslie, Rachel, Jessica, Alex, Jana, etc.), saw amazing new places, ate delicious food, read good books, wrote A LOT, learned about marriage, started seeing a counselor, grew so much closer to God, learned about finances, made lots of mistakes, walked through depression, spent entire days in tears, spent entire days laughing, gained new perspectives, became a better version of myself, watched friends become parents, saw tragedy happen all around me, made eternal impacts as often as I could, and prayed like crazy.
I didn’t think I would make it to the end of this year. I don’t say that lightly. I mean it. I really could not see the light at the end of this tunnel. But I’m here. I made it. And I can say with 100% of my being that God carried me through the wilderness and gave me the manna I would need all along the way. My manna was His Word, His love, the people He surrounded me with, and my own faith in what I knew He would do.
If you can’t see the light right now, please believe me when I tell you it’s there. It might be dark right now, but what if you are being buried right now so you can BLOOM like crazy soon? What if your darkest nights pave the way for your brightest days? I’m serious, friends. His power is real. I would not be writing these words right now if it wasn’t. Feel it. Believe it. Claim it over this next year.
And look. Don’t feel like you have to make a bunch of goals and promises today that you start tomorrow. Definitely write down things you believe God wants you to do. But DO NOT beat yourself up for not being perfect. Let His Word guide your steps and light up your path. He believes in you and so do I.
I’m fully believing 2019 is going to be a light year after such a heavy one. And even better things are in store for all of us. Let’s keep God number one on our list this year. I’m serious. Don’t let Him fall to the bottom this time. Keep Him first and watch how beautifully the rest of the list falls right into place. That’s not cliche — it’s real.
And hey. Let’s make gratitude lists all the time. Not just once a year. I just ordered this “One Line a Day” five-year memory book to start this year. And you could even pair it with a good book that helps you take back the narrative of your life… like maybe my book “Not from God” perhaps? Shameless plug. Sorry. Order it here though.
To 2018, thank you for the darkness. It reminded me of the Light. And to 2019, I’m ready for more Light.