I know, this is going to sound incredibly cliche, but how is Christmas next week and how is 2023 almost finished? Yeah, I have no answers for you, but I will acknowledge this year was full of changes, goodness, hard conversations, and celebrations – but it also went so quickly. Am I going to say this every year? Probably. But here we are. Almost Christmas. Almost 2024.
Earlier this month, I participated in Anchored Women’s annual Reflect & Refresh Challenge. It’s one of my favorite social media traditions. I thought for the sake of documenting life, I’d share my answers here too. On Instagram and Facebook, these prompts and reflections were shared over eight days, although real life interfered and I didn’t share on eight consecutive days as originally intended.
One thing you’re grateful for
Is it cheating if I say I’m grateful for my own book?! I don’t say that in a conceited way, but I say it because the book – the actual pages and the process – really sums up what I’m grateful for this year.
The longer answer is this: My community of people is among the greatest blessings in my life, and I’ve seen that so clearly this year.
I had the idea to write a book about biblical friendship. I had no idea I’d love the process of studying friends in the Bible as much as I did. God was so good to keep leading me to different stories and truth. Sermons echoed what I was learning. My real-life friendships were enhanced and I became keenly aware of the importance of friendship – both with God and others – in my own life.
My dear friends & pastor Katie & Kory Cunningham wrote the foreward, Mandy Roberson and her fantastic team at Market Refined Media helped bring my book to a beautiful reality, and so many friends shared their stories in the pages. The whole researching, writing, and publishing experience was wonderful.
Since I published “Created for Communion” in September, I’ve been in the trenches of a dear friendship in my life shifting in ways that are both part of life and hard to accept. My teenagers have walked through their own friendship tensions. And our family has been in a hard season this fall that I haven’t been able to share publicly yet those in our everyday life know details and have walked alongside us so beautifully.
In a year of changes and shifts, I’m grateful not to be alone and see the goodness of God.
Best new discovery
I love to haul around a sort of big bag (aka purse) so I can have all the things with me in the car, but I don’t want to haul that bag into stores or short errands. I had a Lululemon crossbody bag that was about the size of a fanny bag that I loved, but it was pale pink and always looked dirty. This year I discovered an off-brand crossbody bag on Amazon that is even better than the Lululemon AND IT’S $20. And it’s so easy to just throw in my big bad when I don’t have it slung over my shoulder.
(I did share other favorite things in a recent post.)
One book that impacted your year
“The Power of Place: Choosing Stability in a Restless Age” by Daniel Grothe. I posted about this book before, but I read it on a whim after hearing someone reference its theme on a podcast. And I loved it so much. It echoed so much of what God has been teaching me in my small-town life. The tenth chapter — Stability in Friendship — is basically a summary of my book, “Created for Communion.”
I don’t read a ton of non-fiction, but when I do the messages tend to matter in my life, and this book is no exception. “The Power of Place” is one that will encourage me for many days to come.
Something that went really well
Spring Break 2023 was the first time we vacationed with friends. We all boarded Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas for a week of sunshine and fun. It was such a great time – so much so we hope to do another cruise with the same friends in 2024.
Something that was a challenge
I love having older kids, but our family encountered a challenge this year for one child as adoption trauma, genetics, hormones, school stress, and medicine side effects collided for a perfect storm of mental health challenges. We’re still sorting through it all, waiting for an appointment that we hope brings direction for the next steps, and taking it one day at a time.
We are forever grateful for our everyday friends who have walked alongside us so well. This challenge has interrupted many things, but we’ve also learned a lot about ourselves. One of the greatest joys is knowing my three kids with different personalities and preferences as individuals, and this challenge has magnified that and reminded me how blessed we are, even on the hard days.
One thing you’re saying yes to in 2024
As I think about transitioning into the new year, I am committing to saying yes to God, my family, my church, and my closest friends. Everything else is up for debate. Saying yes to the nearest and dearest is most important to me. When I say yes to my kids’ schedules and needs, that means saying no to other things, but I’ve learned these priorities are what keep me present in this season, right now, with a husband of more than two decades, a 16-year-old who drives herself places, a 14-year-old boy, and an 8-year-old girl. The seasons change quickly, so I want to say yes to this one, right here where God has me.
One thing you’re saying no to in 2024
I told someone in the comments of the previous post: The nos are easier when the yeses are clear.
Several years ago, my counselor encouraged me to list every little and big thing I spend time doing and then let go of some things. I’m not at that same place in life right now, but what I learned from that experience has stuck with me. When my priorities are clear – and they are with family, church, and closest friends, in that order – then I’m able to let go when something isn’t a good fit right now. I don’t know what specific things will fall in the “no” category in the new year, but I’m confident God will lead me as He has done faithfully this year, which was full of plenty of interruptions, readjustments, and shifts.
One big dream for 2024
My dream for 2024 is relief from the things that were challenges this year. I hope my family and I have learned in ways that lead us to seek after God more intimately and consistently. I don’t know what that looks like, but I trust God will continue this work He began.
I’d love to hear about your reflections about any of these prompts in the comments.