Looking Back on 2015

2015 was a year of both aftermath and beginnings. 2014 was a year of loss for me; 2015 was the year of grieving those losses. But at the same time, the sorrow I felt was mixed with great joy as I followed the Lord into new territory. Today, I’m looking back (and looking forward).

What I Did In 2015:

  • Worked four jobs at once and left them to follow God’s call to full-time ministry.
  • Planned to move to another city and then saw God redirect me.
  • Accepted a job offer with Revive Our Hearts as an editorial services assistant and began building a team of financial and prayer supporters. 
  • Traveled (a lot):
    • Two trips to Niles, Michigan for a job interview and training at Life Action Ministries
    • Flew and then drove cross-country to help my grandmother move from New Jersey
    • A two-week fundraising trip to Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin
    • Returned to Michigan for Seek Week, Life Action’s staff revival week
    • Traveled to Little Rock for prison chaplaincy volunteer training
    • Served with the Revive Our Hearts team at their women’s ministry leader conference, Revive ’15: Women Teaching Women, in Indianapolis
    • Took another trip in October to Michigan, where I shared my testimony and presented the ministry to two women’s Bible studies at my childhood church.
    • Took two trips to McPherson Women’s Prison in Arkansas, once in August to help with a Bible retreat and once in December to play music, visit in the barracks, and help with Christmas distribution of t-shirts, socks, and treats to 1100 inmates.
  • Created a personal purpose statement.
  • Read 41 books (I am planning to post on my favorite 2015 reads soon).
  • Renewed several old friendships; lost a few others.
  • Joined my church in covenant membership.
  • Spent nearly two months in bed and in doctors’ offices, during which God taught me to better rely on and trust Him. Although I am still dealing with health issues, I am grateful for His mercy towards me.
  • Completed my first Whole30.

Things I Learned With God in 2015:

  • God has wired and called me to be a writer. Although I have always wanted to write and it is like breathing to me, I was afraid to believe I could be a writer. (This book challenged me to embrace the desire God had put in my heart.) When He overcame my objections, I was able to say “yes” to using my writing skills in full-time ministry.
  • Being a writer means He calls me to write about the hard things. This year it is going to happen . . . with lots of prayer.
  • God provides in ways I do not expect or can see. In the journey of raising my financial support for the ministry, God has used many people to provide for my needs. I am thankful for His sovereign hand working behind the scenes.
  • Hospitality is beautiful (no matter what form it takes), and it’s also a two-way street. In most of my traveling this year, I was staying in others’ homes. I even stayed with a couple I had never met before! Each family approached hosting differently, but each shared what they had and treated me like family. As a guest, I learned how to appreciate and accept God’s love working through them. They showed me the Savior by providing practically and sharing their everyday rhythms.
  • Lessons about God’s grace working through my weaknesses:
    • Something can be a permanent part of your story without being a permanent part of your identity.
    • Every open wound is also a door for God’s grace to walk through.
    • To be truly broken before God means not hiding my weaknesses, sin, and struggles from other people.
    • Being vulnerable about my struggles with sin may be the path to healing for someone else.
  • God’s love doesn’t call me to a cupcake life of sprinkles and frosting, but a cross-carrying life of blood and tears. But God is my help and is with me every step of the way. More about that lesson can be found here.
  • To live simply. I am learning to clean out the clutter in every area of my life and focus on what and who are most important.
  • Faith does not always look extraordinary. Instead, it is found in the mundane, ordinary obedience of every day.
  • Singleness can be an idol just as much as marriage. (Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ testimony broke me.)
  • A truly beautiful covenant community is one that loves Christ and loves people. I joined a new church this year, and I couldn’t ask for a better fellowship to travel with in this season of unknowns. My church is not perfect, but in our imperfection, God’s grace always shows up. I love that.
  • Even though some Christian leaders will fail me, there is always a remnant that seeks to follow the Lord faithfully. The past two years, I have seen many pastors and teachers fail, including a few close to me. The godly, caring leadership of the ministry I am joining and my local church has helped to heal the broken places left behind in the storm. I see Jesus in their successes and their weaknesses, and that vision encourages me to stay the course of faith.
  • I should seek God’s Kingdom and build relationships where I’m placed, instead of always pursuing the next thing. I have a tendency to live in the future and forget that God has put me in this moment and this place to serve Him. He is sovereign over tomorrow, and He is also sovereign over today. I should live like I believe it.
  • Lessons about relationships:
    • When a friendship ends, it is not always my fault. Some people will forget or leave me, and that is ok.
    • I do not have to be everything to everyone – God has given me certain responsibilities and relationships to fulfill faithfully in different ways.
    • Not everyone will understand everything that I’m struggling with, but God can still speak truth into my life through them.

Other Things I Learned:

  • I do not like the taste of alcohol.
  • To choose clothes that suit me.
  • To use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Enneagram as tools in understanding how God has wired me, seeing areas to grow in, and relating to others. I learned I’m an INTJ and Enneagram Type 4 (it is an unusual combination, but it explains me well).
  • To build and code my own website (and resurrect it after I crashed it!).
  • To use a bullet journal to keep my days organized and document my year.
  • To use Instagram and MailChimp to connect with people.
  • To make my own beauty products and home remedies.
  • To play the guitar (enough to get by).
  • I love songwriting.
  • Routine and structure is good for my heart.
  • I don’t need access to everything all the time. My iPhone got significantly “dumbed-down” this year. Although I still use a lot of apps daily, social media and the browser have all been removed. I’ve chosen not to check my email on my phone either. The quiet has been healthy and needed.
  • I need fiction and memoirs in my reading diet. They’ve done more to show me excellence in writing than anything else.

5 Things I’m Looking Forward To in 2016:

  • Finishing building my ministry partner team, moving to Michigan and beginning work at Revive Our Hearts (if you would like to help, you can donate or become a monthly ministry partner here!).
  • Blogging weekly and starting to write about hard things.
  • Doing the Visual Theology Reading Challenge.
  • Focusing on deepening my prayer life.
  • Following God into the adventure of turning 25.

I will be sharing my favorite reads from this year next week, but in the meantime, have you taken time to reflect on and thank God for 2015? Remember this as you move forward: the grace that kept His people last year is the same grace that calls us into new territory this year. With His help, we survived; with His help, we will run into a new year with hope.