Reflection & Hopes. (Alternatively Titled: Just Another New Year's Post)

IMG_8152 I've spent the last 24 hours curled up with a heating pad and muscle relaxing cream, because on the second day of the new year, I sneezed and threw out my back. Yep. I sneezed. I feel very betrayed by nose. However, it's given me a lot of time to reflect on 2015 & imagine about what 2016 could possibly look like, & I think I've reached a point where I'm ready to hit pause on Netflix long enough to write this post.

To kick it off, I'll be honest - I love the feeling of a new year. I know technically nothing changes, it's just another year, blah blah blah - but I love fresh, new beginnings, and it's that fresh, new feeling that the changing of the year brings.

In 2015, I fell in love with one particular Bible story. It's in Genesis 32, and it's the story of Jacob, who wrestles with an angel of God late one evening. As the angel is leaving, Jacob asks for a blessing, and his name is changed. The angel says, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome."

2015 was the struggle & the fight; I'm praying that 2016 will be the overcoming.

I went through 2015 fighting with God. I lived in survival mode and acted quite half-heartedly all around. When I finally stopped fighting with God and started praying, I was trying to add a "PS" onto every prayer. I bartered with God - a lot. I prayed that my hands would stay open to what he wanted to put in them and that they'd be open to let go of what needed to be let go. But then when he tried to remove my grip on something, I'd clench on harder; and when he gave me something I didn't like, I'd shut my hands really fast. I lost two family members in two weeks, and I spent a lot of time looking for answers as to why that had to happen on YouTube, in Christian songs. I had some pretty major anxiety about graduation. I held onto things I needed to let go of.

I named 2015 the year of growth, because I wanted to grow in so many different ways. Mainly I wanted to grow taller, but that didn't happen. (; I don't think I grew in a way that is apparent to me, but I learned so much in 2015. I'm hoping 2016 will be less of a struggle and more of an overcoming. Of putting all of the lessons learned in 2015 into practice in 2016. 2016 is thriving mode. Which feels bold to proclaim, because I don't know what life holds for me after April 30.

Anyways - let's get to it. 2015 in review & hopes for 2016 lists below!

2015 - In reflection: 

  • I named 2015 as the Year of Growth. I don't know if I grew, but I think maybe one day, I'll see the growth clearer than I do now. I think 2015 ended up being the year of learning: I learned a lot about myself & a lot about Jesus & a lot about others.
  • I did some things I was scared of: I got a tattoo, I ran in elections, I started moving forward on some plans for my life post-graduation.
  • successfully gave up three coffee chains (Second Cup, Tim Hortons, and Starbucks) in favour of local coffee shops for the whole year! Partially because there is a Starbucks, Tim Hortons, or Second Cup on every block in Toronto, partially because I believe in buying local, partially because I needed to save money. & it worked for a whole year! (Well, almost the whole year, just minus the last three days, because the Jarvis slash Ancaster area is not as big a proponent of local coffee shops as downtown Hamilton and Toronto are).
  • I bombed & was way behind on things I shouldn't have been behind on.
  • I lost some people that meant a lot to me - people who now live safely tucked away in my heart.
  • I learned about birds and patience and the idea of going bird by bird. Did I put those lessons into practice? No. But I learned them! So maybe putting patience into practice will magically happen in 2016! We can hope.
  • I learned that Jesus saves the best for last (John 2:10b). Not only do I love that Jesus flat out turns water into wine in this story, but I love that He saves the best wine for last. "But you have saved the best til now."
  • I didn't find a community that rivals Calvary CRC. Calvary is still where my home and heart is, & I have zero complaints about that. (Except when they post bad selfies of me on Facebook. Then I complain.)
  • I learned how to say no. Did I say it often enough? No. Can I learn how to say it more in 2016? You betcha!
  • I stopped stressin' & started honestly saying, "I don't know" when I didn't know what I was going to do after school. (But a vision is forming and I feel really excited about options & the doors that are opening!)
  • I got close to climbing two mountains in my life: becoming a morning person & liking yogurt.
    • My keys to successful mornings: going to bed around 11 pm & setting a coffee pot to start running at the same time as I wake up
    • My keys to liking yogurt: putting it in smoothies. Not at the point where I'm ready to eat it solo, sorry squad.
  • I played some pretty intensive tug of war with God. When I say that 2015 was a fight, I mean that there were some hard times, for sure. But more than that, I mean that I went into 2015 fighting with God, thinking, "I'm not where I want to be & you're not moving me there. I'm not cool with that." Then, when I finally gave up fighting, it was a fight to re-engage. 2015 just felt like a fight.
  • In music: The Oh Hellos and Adele came out with new music, finnaaaalllly. I saw Mumford & Sons, The Weepies, & Taylor Swift live in concert. My life will never be the same.
  • I got back into praying and learned how to breathe out, "Thy Will Be Done" when I didn't have a lot of other words to say.
  • I also learned how to add PS. to Thy Will Be Done & asked God to stop opening doors that would make me uncomfortable.
  • I was sometimes brave and strong and courageous, even when I was filled with fear.
  • I read and got back into writing, which felt reaaaalllly good.
  • I learned that adventures are good, but sometimes staying can be an even grander adventure

2016 - In Hopes:

  • I've named this year as the year of grace. I don't know what that quite means yet, or what that will look like. But the word "grace" kept popping up in December, & I figure it can't hurt to learn about grace -  learning what grace actually means beyond singing it in church songs and what that looks like in my life when I put it into practice.
  • I'm working on reading the full Bible in a year - I've always wanted to do this, and I put it off every year, saying that I needed someone to do it with me, etc etc. But those are just excuses, so I'm doing it this year. #noexcuses. I also bought a Shauna Niequist 365 devotional I'm excited to. . . savor. (;
    • (the devotional is called Savor, that's why that is a witty joke.)
  • GRADUATION. I am going to walk across that stage in 155 days & in my head, confetti cannons will be going off. (If anyone wants to bring an actual confetti cannon, I'm open to it.)
  • I set an intention to get 30 minutes of activity each day, and if I don't, I have to donate $1 to charity. & here's why. (we're going sub bullets for this one.)
    • I am the queen of excuses when it comes to finding reasons to not engage my body in physical activity. & they're not even good excuses, because I actually like moving my body.
    • I really need to start taking care of myself because I only have one body & I treat it like total crap. I don't think that's a good thing.
    • So it's time to take it seriously & invoke #noexcuses.
    • On that note, I always give up things for a year & I'm saying bye bye to Coca Cola again.
  • Really want to get intentional about social media usage. Over the summer, I wouldn't check my social media until noon - I'm thinking a strategy like not checking it after 9 pm would be really good for school. I'm still feeling this one out.
  • I'm toying with the idea of putting out a weekly newsletter that operates like a blog, so you read some words from me once a week. Newsletters seem quite popular these days. However, the idea isn't quite fleshed out, so I'm holding off on that & putting it on here so I don't forget about it.
  • Learn how to budget! Y'all, I'm total garbage with my finances, & with graduation & the subsequent crushing debt looming, its time to set and stick to a budget & track my finances.
  • When people ask how I'm doing or what I'm up to, I want to change my immediate answer from "crying in the fetal position" to "chasing my passions with joy." I'm interested to see what power that small change will have in thinking about my life.
  • I want to live my life in a way that reflects the words of my tattoo:
    • "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come to me and pray to me, & I will listen to you. You will seek me & find me when you seek me with your whole heart."
    • As opposed to the way I'm living right now, which is to specify what plans I'd like to see happen in my life, without actually calling, coming, or praying to God.
  • & finally - my prayer for 2016: "God, open my hands to receive what I need to receive & let go of what I need to let go of." (It feels very scary to pray that without adding a ps onto it, but here we are.)

& my biggest hope is this: I hope that 2016 finds you chasing your joy, anchoring yourself with the people who fill your heart with love, serving others, finding yourself, losing yourself, falling down, learning to get back up, doing some things that scare you, and flexing your muscles of courage.