the one where it’s out with the old.

<this is my obligatory 2014 year in review blog post. consider yourself warned.>

this decade has been the decade of ‘mixed bags’. 2010 was mostly great, 2011 saw some major changes (finishing seminary, moving to raleigh), 2012 was the year where it all fell apart, 2013 was the year it kept falling apart, and 2014 was a pretty even split. i don’t know whether to have high hopes for 2015 or to just stay in bed with the dog tomorrow.

i didn’t make any of my goals for last year. let’s be honest, i should just give up on trying to learn to make biscuits … i have other talents, like chicken pot pie and enchiladas.

there was much gained: sweet visits with dear friends, and my sister moved in at the beginning of february (!). i had the privilege of interning for the best woman i know (that would be you, cindy!) and work on both a conference and a retreat for the ladies of the summit church. i also got to attend an amazing conference in june (holler for a free trip … major bonus points for it being an incredible conference!). i got a new (to me) car, and darrell has been a faithful ride since february! i went from curly back to pixie. the lord was gracious and allowed me to co-lead a small group of some of the most incredible women i know, serve as a baptism counselor, and walk with dozens of people through the process of becoming a covenant member of the summit church. i’ve had the chance to cuddle the sweetest little rugrats on multiple occasions this year- i also got cat-called across a chick-fil-a parking lot by a three year old (shout out to sweet carter- boo loves you!). i got to spend several sweet days at the beach with my best friend in july. i re-read the chronicles of narnia for the 8th time. we got a dog- not just any dog, but the best dog in the world! penny is a cuddle queen and a source of immeasurable comfort. i celebrated 32 with friends and a really great beer. we observed thanksgiving and christmas as a family, and drank deeply of God’s grace as we observed traditions. i was invited to write some curriculum for a small group guide, and my inner nerd is still grinning like an idiot.

there was also loss: the year began with a sucker punch in the form of the unexpected death of my friend nate. i have applied and interviewed for several jobs, and nothing has come from it; or offers have been made, only to be yanked out from under me. work has been difficult to bear for most of the year. our small group has shrunk by a few, some due to moves and new jobs, but some due to sin and the hardness of hearts. i (finally) acknowledged that i wrestle with depression, and most of the year was characterized by the soul-darkness that is the calling card of spiritual depression.

i usually dislike (read:hate) NYE. oooooh look, the calendar is about to change! let’s all use it as an excuse to drink more than we should, obsess about how we didn’t accomplish any of last year’s resolutions, and go to a party with people we don’t particularly care for. but i’ve come to realize that i dislike it so much because it makes me feel like a failure. i’m still in the same job i was in last year. i still haven’t mastered biscuit-making. i still have the same stack of books on my desk that i’ve been intending to read since i graduated from seminary. but hey, here’s another chance to make all the same resolutions and not keep them again! bring it on.

that, my friends, is sadistic and sad. and stupid.

the idea of a clean slate is appealing- believe me, i get it! i would love to be able to embrace the ‘new year, new you!’ mentality. but i can’t get around the overwhelming evidence that i cannot change myself. i have this deep-seated suspicion that ‘this is all i get’, and i cannot bear the disappointment that comes with asking and knocking but not receiving or being received.

Lest you think, reader, I have never asked, let me correct you because I have. I have asked for the fatted calves a thousand times and a thousand times seen them paraded by me and given to other friends. It is difficult to resent when God gives to those you love, but it is not difficult to resent the God who gives it.

And it is even easier to resent the self who asked for it. (via lore ferguson)

i’m not one of those people who does a word for the year, but if i did, i’d want this year to be the year of ask and receive.

my one resolution for 2015 is that i’ll ask. i’ll ask for Jesus to show Himself deeper and brighter and more and better. and part of how i’ll do that is reading the scripture. i came across this the other day and something stirred in me: try this!

The fundamental idea is to pick one book of the Bible and read it over and over. And over. And, yes, over again.

Pick a book, pray for God’s guidance, and then start reading and re-reading it constantly. Give yourself a month if you have to, but focus on that one book. By about the fifth time you read it, you’ll probably be dreadfully bored. Stick with it. Somewhere around the eighth time you’ll go through a wall and find riches of meaning you had not glimpsed before. When you reach the point of saturation and mastery, you’ll know. There’s a kind of click in your consciousness, and you feel the whole mass of the book shift as it is transformed in your understanding from a set of verses and disconnected lines of argument into one whole.

so that’s what i’ll do. this is how i’ll reach for and take hold of hope in 2015.

Sometimes the skeletons in your closet end up being the dry bones that teach you how to dance. -Sammy Rhodes

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