Wrapping Up a Decade

Earlier this year, I started a blog series intending to recap each year from my twenties. I got through 2012 and then I just…stopped.

This year has proved to be one for the books, and I’ve had a hard time sitting down and processing previous years because of all that we’ve gone through this year. It’s like unpacking for a trip. Suddenly the task of taking everything out and putting it all away just seems impossible.

So we are going to settle for one post to wrap up the decade.

I started the decade as a nineteen-year-old college student and am ending the decade as a twenty-nine-year-old woman who is a wife, dog mom, aunt, teacher, and author.

If you would’ve shown me glimpses of 2019 me to 2010 me, there would’ve been parts of this journey that would’ve thrilled me to the inmost part of my heart. And there would’ve been parts that would’ve broken my heart in a million pieces.

But God in his mercy does not do this, because he knows we could not handle it. Oddly enough, I’m reminded of a quote from “The Horse and His Boy,” by C.S. Lewis. I’ve found some touchstones lately in the Narnia series, and this one is no exception.

“Child,’ said the Lion, ‘I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

You only get to know your story, not other people’s stories. And beyond that, God only tells you your story one day at a time, no skipping ahead to other chapters. We would either not know how to handle the victories, or we wouldn’t survive the heartbreak.

If I could sum up what I’ve learned this decade (but most definitely am still learning) it’s trusting God with those future chapters of my story.

I learned to trust Him through wonderful chapters like meeting my future husband, all the trips I would take, the excitement of publishing books, and other work opportunities.

But I also I learned to trust Him through painful chapters like the death of grandparents, broken relationships, infertility, and other heartaches.

Luckily for us, His previous bestsellers speak to His prowess as the author and finisher of our faith. More than ever, I don’t know what the future holds and I never will. But we walk with the one who does. My future chapters are safe with Him indeed.

As we close out 2019 and look ahead to 2020, I leave you with an excerpt from one of my favorite poems in “Streams in the Desert.”

“He was better to me than all my hopes;
He was better than all my fears;

He made a bridge of my broken works,
And a rainbow of my tears.

He emptied my hands of my treasured store,
And His covenant love revealed,
There was not a wound in my aching heart,
But the balm of His breath hath healed.

He guided by paths that I could not see,
By ways that I have not known;

The crooked was straight, and the rough was plain
As I followed the Lord alone.
I praise Him still for the pleasant palms,
And the water-springs by the way,
For the glowing pillar of flame by night,
And the sheltering cloud by day.

Never a watch on the dreariest halt,
But some promise of love endears;
I read from the past, that my future shall be
Far better than all my fears.

Like the golden pot, of the wilderness bread,
Laid up with the blossoming rod,
All safe in the ark, with the law of the Lord,
Is the, covenant care of my God.”

Streams in the Desert, September 25

Happy New Year from my family to yours.

2012: Harvest

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”
Psalm 126:3

I turned twenty-two in 2012.

If 2011 was a list of traumatic events, 2012 was a bumper crop of blessings.

In April, I was accepted into an internship program at a publishing house.

In May, I graduated from college and found out two of my devotions were set to publish in the fall.

In June, Kurtis and I got engaged.

In October, I became a published author.

In November, Kurtis and I got married.

From the outside looking in, these events seemed to happen in quick succession, but they were the result of seeds that had been planted months, even years prior. But remember the high cost of sacrifice I talked about in my previous post? This harvest was costly because of what went into it.

And a costly harvest should be celebrated and enjoyed. That year, I believe I did that to the best of my ability, and it serves as a continuing reminder that God gives us permission to celebrate right where we are. We can fully embrace the present because that is where HE is.

Yet even as I relished in the bounty and praised the giver of good things, already new seeds were being planted for a new harvest that hasn’t been reaped yet. Diligence in marriage, new nourishing relationships, new career ideas, new journeys with the Lord, and dreams of a family.

I await with an expectant heart to see the next harvest in my life.

2011: Trial By Fire

“Amidst my list of blessings infinite, stands this foremost, that my heart has bled…” —Streams in the Desert, October 1

I turned twenty-one in 2011.

When I reflect on this year, I am humbled when I remember what our family went through. Like the above quote from Streams in the Desert, our hearts indeed bled profusely that year.

From April 2011 to October 2011, there were six life-changing events, of varying degrees.

In April, I broke up with my boyfriend, and while God supernaturally protected my heart, it was still emotional and upsetting at the time.

In June, my brother’s back injury reached a crisis moment that forged the faith of our family.

In July, my Grandpa committed suicide.

In August, my brother moved away to college, so for the first time in 18 years, we weren’t living under the same roof.

I also met my future husband (!!!)

And I began my senior year of college.

In October, one of my friends was killed in a car accident.

That is A LOT to process in a six-month time, and honestly, I’m still dealing with emotional wounds from that season eight years later.

But oh how did the Lord pour out his spirit on us during that time. All of those events, particularly my grandpa’s death, brought me to spiritual ground zero. Like plowing a field, this season tore through the soil of my heart, but the churning of soil was in preparation for a big harvest season just around the corner.

My only thing I could offer to the Lord was a sacrifice of pain.

Interestingly, I had written this a year prior:

Friday, September 3, 2010

“‘I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.'” 2 Samuel 24:24

What does this mean in my life? What, if anything, has really and truly cost me? What has God given me to sacrifice?”

Apparently, this subject of sacrifice stayed with me until the next day.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

“Truly, what does it mean to sacrifice something that costs me?”

This verse came alive that year as I learned to bring my pain, my memories, my ideas of normal, my illusion of control as a sacrifice to the one who is sovereign, the one who is Lord to hold it all together.

I mentioned earlier that it prepared me to meet my husband. Not that I had to endure trauma in order to earn a husband, but because of what I went through, I was humbled. And the circumstances of how my husband and I met, I needed to be in a humble place because it required a step of faith that I honestly don’t know if I would’ve been prepared for a year prior.

And it’s a lesson I’m still learning. To sacrifice pain, memories, control at his feet.

They are costly offerings indeed, and while the rest of the world may not know the personal cost, the Lord knows what each of our trials costs us individually. And they are precious sacrifices in his eyes.

2010: Entering My Twenties

As I celebrate turning 29 today (no for real, this is the year I really do get to say I’m 29!) I’m also publishing the first post of my twenties flashback series.

So let’s start at the very beginning (of the decade). I turned twenty in 2010.

If I could sum up that year in one word it would be transition.

1a : passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another: CHANGE
b : a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another

Two of the biggest transitions were school and church changes. I transferred from Rose State to UCO to finish up my communications degree and our family put down roots at Cornerstone Church after a three-year period of church upheaval. Also after years of unknowns, my dad moved to his current job.

That year marked leaving my teens behind and entering adulthood…and all the little victories and growing pains that go along with such a change. Things that used to be fixtures in my life were in flux. For instance, it was the first year since 1997 that I wasn’t regularly involved at the dance studio that I had grown up at, as I wanted to take the year to attend as many of my brother’s senior year basketball games that I could. My friend group was shaken and stirred and I learned tough friendship lessons that year as God moved people out of, but also into my life.

As if to underscore this feeling of transition, that year’s entries spanned three journals instead of my customary one. Please take in stride the slight drama of my young adult journals (shoulder shrug emoji).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

“I feel your hand laid against me (in a good way) telling me to go slowly, ease up, tread water. I’m in limbo, I am detached and have no desire to be otherwise for a while. Let me coast —in You— for a few more weeks.”

As my stages, circumstances, and friends were changing constantly, God proved in a new way to be the Constant One. (Michelle Tumes, anyone?) Precious, precious hours were spent with him that year as we looked at my life together as teacher and student, father and child.

Yet when I look back through those entries where I felt searching, detached, in limbo, several cornerstone prayers and goals of my life were etched on paper, some for the very first time.

In May 2010, I wrote that I wanted to write a book of devotions for girls, a goal I did reach six years after that point with the first Bloom book.

I was single at the time and my prayers for my husband and desire to honor God with my life took on a deeper and more poignant tone. Little did I know that prayer was a little over a year away from being answered.

There were several entries that were later turned into blog posts and other material that I’ve used for freelance projects. Words that just needing a little aging in between the covers of my journal.

Through all of these transitions, my confidence and trust in the Lord were growing as I saw him meet bigger and bigger needs.

Monday, May 17, 2010

“Oh, what do these next days hold?
Chances to be still or chances to be bold?
Will it be a chance for something to end, or a chance to begin that appears in my next hand?
I wait, I wait to be bold in the stillness and to begin again.”

Those transitions at age 20 felt monumental (and in some respects they were) but really, I was just building muscles to face even bigger transitions in the years to come. While I laugh now about my entries on scholarship applications, talking to guys, and my school plans, they were stepping stones toward a deeper trust in God’s sovereignty.

For those who are entering your twenties, be prepared for those seasons of transition because if you aren’t already in such a season, you will be soon. Instead of focusing on dotting every “i” and crossing every “t,” look with fresh eyes on what God is revealing about himself to you through the ebbs and flows of friends, work, school, and family. Pay attention to themes that he is highlighting in the verses you read, sermons you hear, and the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit who speaks to you in the corners of your heart.

Through all the periods of transition, He is the constant one, worthy of our trust.

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. (Psalm 54:4)