Taking a break from baby news to talk about some other good things in January!
I love the start of a new year. It’s like opening a fresh journal to the first page and seeing how perfect it is. No scribbles on the pages, no mistakes, no ugliness. We get a fresh start and another year of God’s mercies new every morning.
So now matter how hard your last year was, you get a new year to start over, to experience God’s grace and love in new ways.
Writing Gratitude All Over the Pages of my Life
While most people set goals for the new year, I was reminded by a fellow writer that it’s also a good time to look back at 2016 and recognize gifts from this past year.
I created this gratitude list before our son was born, not even knowing if we’d have another adoption fall through or not. Even though 2016 did not bring us a baby, I realized it brought me so many other good things that I am grateful for. Here’s my gratitude list for 2016:
Opportunities to Serve
Although I’ve served in a variety of ways this year, my ministry through Poets and Saints is something I am especially grateful for. I have had the chance to connect with and pray for so many people this year. God has opened the door to more people and more opportunities to help communicate his grace and mercy and I don’t take this lightly. I’m honored when people open their heart to me and I can serve and pray for them. I also look at the brokenness in my life and see how God is redeeming it and using it to help others.
A couple of years ago, some friends encouraged me to start a business using my writing to help companies communicate their message and brand. At the time, it seemed like a crazy idea, but I sometimes like to embrace the crazy and try anyway. What did I have to lose?
Fast forward two years and I had my most successful business year yet as a freelance marketing writer. I had many new opportunities this year to broaden my writing experiences among the healthcare industry, accounting field, educational organizations/schools, and religious/ministry organizations. Plus I enjoy my work immensely and get to develop projects alongside some great folks, which is an added perk!
My physical health has been a higher priority and this is the year I finally made exercise a regular habit. If you know me well, this is no small feat. I don’t enjoy working out, but knew this was something I needed to do. When a routine test at the doctor’s office came back slightly off, I knew I had to get serious about working out instead of half-heartedly committing to it. This has given me increased energy and a better mental outlook. I feel like I’m a better wife and mom when I take time to care for myself through regular physical activity.
We also tackled a kitchen renovation project that was minor by most standards–but major for us. We took out two old, mismatched windows and built a window seat with two identical windows. (Thank you to Robrock Construction for taking my dream window seat idea and making it a reality. We were not capable of doing this ourselves and Brad did a wonderful job.) We also tore off wallpaper and repainted the kitchen, put in tile, and installed a new countertop. Several small changes have given us a more functional kitchen to enjoy as a family and to share with others. We probably wouldn’t have had time for this if we had brought home a new baby–so we were thankful for the time we had to complete this project. Now our kitchen is better suited for family and for having friends over.
What things from 2016 were you grateful for? What things brought you joy or comfort?
Grief and the New Year
For those of you who lost a loved one in 2016, gratitude can be exceptionally hard to find in the midst of grief. When I started 2013, I could not think of anything good that happened in 2012 (the year my son died). My mind was so focused on that event, it dominated the year, even though I see now how God provided for us personally, financially, and emotionally. As I looked ahead to the new year, it was completely overwhelming to think about the future. Goal-setting was impossible. All I could do at that time was heal. If that is where you’re at, that is the best place for you to be. If you want to read how I handled that first new year without my son, I held onto God’s promises and his hope that does not fail us.
Upcoming Adoption Conference
If you live locally and are an adoptive family (or know one) please pass along this fantastic adoption conference information. Sponsored by Show Hope (Steven Curtis Chapman’s Ministry), the Empowered to Connect Conference is a two-day conference designed to help adoptive and foster parents, ministry leaders and professionals better understand how to connect with “children from hard places” in order to help them heal and become all that God desires for them to be. Register by February 11th to get the early bird discount here.