2016: a year of abundance

Since 2012, I have chosen a new word each year to focus on. The words come from the Holy Spirit’s direction, guiding me in ways He would have me grow. And I have definitely grown.

Last year’s word was abundance. In so many ways, it was a year of growth and maturity. We prayed hard about direction and guidance for two years, and then within a month my husband had accepted a new job within his company and we moved for the first time since our oldest was born. This was an answer to many prayers. It was also an answer to many unprayed prayers.

During the transition, I wrecked our van. My husband had just bought a car. The area we moved to has a higher cost of living than we were used to. Our budget grew slightly but stretched to its limits and then some. So we buckled down. Our budget does not have any wiggle room, but our spending has never been more frugal. Maturity stinks sometimes.

However. The city we moved to just so happens to also be home to a friend of mine I met online. Who, with her husband, had started a church plant not even a mile from our new house in January. We began attending services in May, but it wasn’t until August, when they started small groups, that we really began to feel at home. And now, after two years of transitioning and attending different churches, our family finally has a new church home.

{And after several years of searching for friendship in ministry and in life, we have found lifelong friends in our pastor and his wife. Who just so happen to be friends I met online several years ago. God is so good.}

At the beginning of December, my husband preached his first sermon in over a year and a half. In it, he talked about how expectations don’t always pan out the way we think they will. And he courageously shared our story, the good and the bad and the unexpected ways that God has worked in our lives. That evening, I told him that I finally understood the line from The Velveteen Rabbit about being real. In telling our story, he had made us both more real. And while I felt raw and exposed and vulnerable, I also began to feel like nothing could take away this new acceptance I had for myself.

While I still have a ways to go in accepting who God has made me, huge strides were made last year. I realized that certain people will always see me a certain way, whether that’s true or not. But that’s okay. I also realized that I can be myself, warts and all, and the people who really care about me will make space for me. I’m still practicing both of these, and I probably always will, but progress is being made.

Let me sum up the year of abundance this way: abundance does not come from money or things; it comes from following God’s leading even when it doesn’t make sense. It comes from fellowship and friendship and a willingness to be vulnerable with others. It comes from taking risks, saying yes when it’s easier to hide, and focusing daily on the tasks set before us.

While it’s easy to say that I’m glad that 2016 is over because it was hard, I’m sad that it’s gone. These years of learning and growth are hard, no doubt, but they always lead me to a better version of myself. {Also, I’m a little terrified of this year’s word. It promises to be a doozy.}

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