Changes bring…….well, changes. No matter what kind it is, loss is difficult. While my family and I dealt with loss because of a necessary but painful ending, 2017 was a grand year. I wrote Broken about a month before the ending. I see now that I was writing anticipating the difficulty of what would come with it, reminding myself of God’s goodness and faithfulness. I wrote Against the Odds too. Although my parents’ story prompted the post, writing it out strengthened my resolve to do what we knew we had to do. There were hard things in 2017 but through them we’ve experienced abundant blessings, and more clarity and peace than we imagined.

2017 was another year of firsts, lots of growth, and wonderful beginnings. I made new friends and reconnected with long time ones. Some friendships deepened while others faded.

I started the year training with some of the same ladies I trained with in 2016 to run our second Spartan race. A co-worker joined us and she and I formed an even closer friendship. Something special happens when you train together on a regular basis. She helped me through a tough time, let me cry at her desk more than a few times, and listened without judgment. IMG_5273Our group conquered the Spartan Sprint in April and I wrote about it in my post Together Again.

I moved at soul-speed more this year than in recent years and got into a healthy rhythm of life. The kind of unforced rhythms we’re meant to live. I was more attentive to my family, took better care of myself, wrote more, and was able to notice the people and what was happening around me so I could live like it matters.

I volunteered as the Content Director at a non-profit start-up for the first five months of the year, rejoined my local Toastmasters club in June to hone my speaking skills, and am a founding member of a writers group called The Thinklings. This group of writers has been a significant source of encouragement, knowledge, and inspiration. I also took on more responsibility in my job and am enjoying the opportunities and challenges that come with it.

I’ve observed Lent in previous years but this year offered a unique occasion to partner with a friend while reading a Lent devotional called Bread and Wine and writing weekly about our journeys. And So I Began was the beginning of my Lent journey. My heart was especially tender and open during this time. A few of my most raw Lent posts are Take Heart, I’m Like Them, and Done. I feel it when I read them even now.

Another friend presented me with an opportunity to write a story for a magazine. I turned him down, but that was fear talking. Fortunately, I realized it in time to say yes and had my first ever article published in an online magazine. I wrote about how it almost didn’t happen in Face Your Fear. This led to another article being published in the same magazine, only this story was personal. Very personal. I wrote about my journey to that article in Out of The Dark. Both posts have links to the magazine stories if you want to read them.

In July, I went to my first writers conference and wrote about all I learned there in The Take Away. In August, my daughters and I enjoyed viewing the eclipse together, and while I wondered at the moon covering the sun, I was in awe of my daughter’s heart. I wrote about it in Eclipse.

bridal party cute af 1.jpgAs summer neared its end, the wedding planning was in full swing. My oldest daughter was showered with lots of love and gifts from family and friends. I was asked to pray for her at one of the showers and wrote about it in Keeping the Promises. Her October wedding was beautiful. She moved in to her husband’s house and her brother moved back in to ours. Our son is home, for now, from Colorado and working toward his next goal.IMG_6095.jpg

My youngest daughter inspired my most viewed post of 2017 and ever. It’s called Look What You Made Me Do. I connected Taylor Swift’s song with my daughter’s experience at a new high school and lots of people related.

I began a new feature on my blog called Monday School in the fall. It was a challenge at times but I didn’t miss a Monday and I’m going to continue my Monday School posts into 2018.

The fall also brought the most challenging race I’ve run to date. With six other ladies, I ran a Spartan Super near Atlanta, Georgia. It was 9.4 miles of hard. Then in December, six of us joined the Spartan Trifecta club by completing the 13.5 mile Beast in Tampa, Florida. I wrote about the anticipation of accomplishing the Trifecta in Making It Happen. Though the Beast was longer and colder, the Super had the hills that killed.

What a way to end the year! IMG_5897-COLLAGE

2018 is full of possibilities. I will do my best work at my job. We will continue meeting in homes for church in 2018 and I want to teach a ladies Bible study this year. I’ll attend another writers conference and hope to collaborate on a few projects with other writers and artists. I will continue to run and now I can see the possibility of a half marathon. Several friends are interested in doing a Spartan race and I may lead them to a 2018 Spartan Trifecta. It’s a good way to keep me training.

But of all the possibilities in 2018…….none is better than love. So with God’s help, I will love my family and friends better and better. I will notice and be present with the people around me. And I won’t waste an opportunity to live like it matters.

“So let us love, dear love, like as we ought, 
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.”            

Edmund Spenser – from Amoretti LXVIII: Most Glorious Lord of Life

featured photo by Joanna Schley from her Doors of Decatur series

Finally