that’s a wrap, twenty-fourteen.

It’s the fresh, raw hours of 2015. What excitement and adventures await this year!

Before I dive headfirst into a brand new 365 days, I have some reflecting to do. I’ve been thinking about the poem I wrote a year ago. Let me refresh you:

 

Less crying, no more fear

Living right now and right here

Slow to speak and quick to hear

That’s how I will be this year

Far less judgment; far more love

Live what I’ve been dreaming of

Face disappointments with a smile

Knowing they last but a while

Much more God-time, and more prayer

Always on Him casting cares

Study more and worry less

Give everything my very best

Recognize that things are things

And usually don’t matter in eternity

Don’t be jealous; don’t be proud

Don’t be afraid to love out loud

Make new friends; let others go

Be forgiving; let it show

Be confident; don’t hold a grudge

Always share with everyone

Most of all: pursue Christ

Remembering I owe Him my life

Tons more smiles; banish fear

Live and love; be of good cheer

Remember God is always near

That’s how I will be this year.

 

Well, I’ve been thinking: Did I fulfill my “resolutions” from the beginning of 2014? Here we go: ways I conquered my resolution, lessons learned, and how I’ll continue to live out those lessons in 2015.

 

“Less crying, no more fear”

Unfortunately…I didn’t do so well with the less crying part. In fact, I may have cried more. It was an emotional year. Stripped from home with a guitar, two suitcases, and a backpack, to live someplace where I knew nobody for 6 months? Meeting beautiful people and having the time of my life? Having to come back home and make some life-changing changes and try to find my place in this world called the USA again? Yeah. It was a lot to handle. But no more fear…we’re making progress. I DID leave everything to go to a country about 2000 miles away. I DID face nights of just laying awake crying. I DID have to make a choice to either embrace the culture or shy away. I DID have to decide to stick it out instead of run home (which I wanted to do several times during the first month I was there). I’ve faced many fears over the past year, and I am so thankful God has helped me through them–and continues to help me.

 

“Living right now and right here”

Yep. God showed me this in Jeremiah 29 (you can read the post about that on here, titled “In their footsteps.”) during the first few weeks of my trip. He wanted me to THRIVE. To LIVE. To not let my mind wander to past mistakes or future concerns. To fully BE wherever I am: both in body and mind.

 

“Slow to speak and quick to hear”

This was a challenge. I complained A LOT, and did not listen as much. But as I began to put the previous line into practice, I found that it was better to not say as much, and to just listen. Sometimes I literally have to bite my lip to keep from saying something, but it is usually for the best.

 

“Far less judgment, far more love”

I had no idea what Grenadians were like, honestly. Yes, I had been on two previous missions trips there, but it really pales in comparison to living WITH them. I made some incorrect assumptions about various people or situations, and my roommate would have to explain to me why I was wrong. In the end, it’s always better to ignore the judgments and internal criticism that rises up, and to just love.

 

“Live what I’ve been dreaming of”

I travelled. I flew on TWELVE different flights this past year. TWELVE! I was in Miami 4 times, Grenada of course, Barbados for a week, with a stop in Trinidad (except I wasn’t able to get off the plane). I had always wanted to live in a different country for an extended period, to soak up the culture, collect stories, and make a difference. I’m not sure how much of a difference I made, but I certainly obtained a tremendous amount of culture and stories. Grateful.

 

“Face disappointments with a smile, knowing they last but a while”

I should have had this taped to my refrigerator in my apartment in Grenada. At some point in the past year, I’ve adopted the phrase “life is not an emergency,” because it’s not. Many things that seemed such a big deal at the time, were in reality not a deal at all. So what if I overslept a little? I can get a bus and make it there eventually. (Island time is a blessing…) So what if they cut in line in front of me at the grocery store? Maybe they’re having a rough day.

 

“Much more God-time and more prayer, always on Him casting cares”

Understatement of the year: I could not have made it through those six months–the past year really–were it not for my Redeemer. I have read more and marked up more in my Bible in the past year than I have probably in the past five year. Some of my favorite moments from 2014 are mornings when I (somehow) got up earlier than needed, and sat on my front porch reading scriptures; or turning out all the apartment lights and playing my guitar under the starry sky, singing “I am redeemed!” to the One who set me free. Some days were spent sobbing on my bed or in a basement room at the church, crying out to God that I would never make it. But I did. And some of my darkest times are some of my best times, because He is there.

 

“Study more and worry less”

Ooh, procrastination confession here. I wasn’t always prepared for my guitar lessons. I didn’t always find multiple scriptures for Bible Club. But, while I tried (and am trying) to be better about that, there is still no use freaking out over it when it gets down to the wire. Learn my lesson, and carry on. (Easier said than done!)

 

“Give everything my very best”

Ditto to living in the moment. Don’t do things half-hearted or distractedly. Relax and focus.

 

“Recognize that things are things, and usually don’t matter in eternity”

As I mentioned before, I was limited with what I could take with me to Grenada. And even more limited with what I could take back since of course I had souvenirs and gifts from my dear church folk. So I left a lot there. Flip-flops I can by for a quarter of the Grenadian price back home. Clothes I may never wear again. Nail polish I can get more of. Things that I can easily discard or replace are expensive on the Isle of Spice, so I left them there. And I haven’t regretted it for a minute. And since getting home, I’ve been trying to adopt a “less is more” mentality. I don’t need all these clothes or jewelry or purses. I don’t need 25 different eye shadow palettes.

 

“Don’t be jealous, don’t be proud”

Jealousy? Yep. Pride? Yep. It happens, more often than I’d care to admit. I’ve learned that when I feel these things rising up inside me, I must call on the name of Jesus. If I try to pretend like it isn’t there, or rationalize my feeling that way, it will take root in my heart.

 

“Don’t be afraid to love out loud”

I’m not talking about romantic love. I’m not even talking about loving people you like. I’m talking about sitting on the curb next to the smelly, dirty, not very nice man I passed every day in town, and asking him about his family and what he needs. I’m talking about pulling my car over to get out and ask a young mother pushing a stroller in 30* weather if she needs a ride. People you might never speak to again, who just need to see that someone cares. Try it sometime. It’ll change your life, even if it doesn’t necessarily change theirs.

 

“Make new friends; let others go”

Wow. Talk about a huge answer to prayer. This past year, I have met dozens–possibly hundreds–of magnificent people, all with different stories, different talents, different struggles. It’s been one of my favorite things. I have met some of the most amazing humans in the world. Some of them I may never see again this side of Heaven. But they inspired me. And letting others go…sometimes you need to make a choice to send them away, even if it’s hard. Even if it doesn’t always “feel” right. Even if I still “feel” like I need them…feelings come and go. God’s divine will does not change, and when His Holy Spirit makes something clear to you, you need to act on it without questioning.

 

“Be forgiving; let it show . . . don’t hold a grudge”

Reconciliation is a beautiful thing. Thankful for the forgiveness that I have been able to give, and receive.

 

“Be confident”

“You can convince anyone of anything–if you’re confident enough.” 🙂 Sometimes I just have to act confident long enough to get through a situation–like taking public transportation. Ask me about that in person sometime.

 

“Always share with everyone”

Grenadians are community-oriented. Everything is passed around and given away to be given back. Children offered me something from their meager lunches, or coins to get a Busta. I want to be more like that.

 

“Most of all, pursue Christ, remembering I owe Him my life”

This past year, a song surfaced that has etched its words on my heart: “You do not owe me one thing, Father . . . You have already given everything . . . I owe it all.” We sang it several times at my favorite weekend this year: High Point. And what a reminder. Jesus gave EVERYTHING. What’s six months. What’s a handful of cash in the offering plate. What’s buying a meal for the woman you see on the corner. What’s five minutes of prayer and Bible reading before bed. I owe Him my all. That’s the very least I can give.

 

“Tons more smiles”

Oh you better believe there has been tons of smiles this past year! Sunny days at the beach, new friends, happy reunions, birthday parties, late night laughter, holiday traditions, and sweet memories.

 

“Banish fear”

This. This spills into 2015, as I read Rand Hummel’s Fear Not; as our church theme this year is “The Church Victorious.” I am a conqueror, not a coward. Jesus has already overcome the world–if our God is for us, than what can stand against us?

 

“Live and love; be of good cheer”

To sum it all up. There is always a positive side, and there is always room to love more. Always.

 

“Remember God is always near”

Yes. He is. It’s hard to remember sometimes though, you know? We get so caught up in our own life, our own happenings, even the struggles and problems of those around us, when the whole time I imagine God up in Heaven just waiting. The Bible says in Psalm 116:2: “Because He hath inclined His ear unto me, therefore will I call upon Hias long as I live.” He wants to hear from us. He is already near.

 

Thanks for reading about my year. Again, just super overwhelming grateful for the blessings God has given me, and the challenges He has helped me overcome. Here’s to another year of adventuring and story-gathering.

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