It’s my birthday! I always seem to shock a lot of people when I tell them my age (because they tend to think I am older), but I am officially 26 today!
As I approach a new year, I can’t help but reflect on year 25. While I sat replaying the year in my mind over a coffee cup one morning, I came to one big conclusion: I can confidently say that this past year has been both the worst and best year of my life – each taking claim over 6 months, almost to the day.
Meanwhile, I can also confidently say that I learned a lot this past year. I learned a lot about myself. But, I learned even more about my savior. So in the spirit of welcoming year 26, reflecting on year 25, and looking forward to this year ahead, I thought it’d be fun to share with y’all 26 things that life has taught me in the last year.
READ ALSO: Layne Thomas’s Birth Story
26 Things Life Taught Me Last Year
Here’s a little glimpse at what I feel like life taught me last year.
1 | We will have tribulation in life.
Jesus told his disciples in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Jesus didn’t say we might or possibly have tribulation in our lives. He said we will. That is a certainty in a world broken by sin. But what we do when we face tribulation is the important part.
2 | When you come face-to-face with tribulation, you have two options. You can run to God or away from Him.
We will have tribulation in our lives. But when we do have tribulation, we will react to suffering by either running to God or running away from Him. Lysa Terkeurst put it so perfectly when she said that, “What God uses to develop your faith is disappointment. Meanwhile, what the devil uses to destroy your faith is disappointment.”
3 | You aren’t meant to understand everything.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. – Isaiah 55:8
God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Just as Jesus spoke to the disciples in John 13:7 saying, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” I know those words remain true in my own life. While I don’t understand why things had to happen the way they did or why this has to be a part of my story, I can trust He’s working each and every thing for good. (Romans 8:28) We aren’t meant to understand everything right now. But having faith in Jesus means that we are able to trust His heart when we are unable to trace His hand.
4 | The pain of grief doesn’t go away, it only gets easier.
My heart still aches like it was yesterday. Some days I pray to God through the tears and wonder if it will ever get any better. But while the pain of grief may never fully go away, it does get easier by walking each day with my eyes on Jesus. He truly does give a peace that surpasses all understanding.
5 | True peace comes from God alone.
Jesus is the only one that can fill the void in your heart that comes with grief and suffering.
6 | God will provide.
As the medical bills continue to come in, Rob and I praise God for His faithfulness.
7 | God will give you more than you can handle.
It’s often said as a comfort to people suffering that God wouldn’t give you more than you can handle. But did you know that this isn’t in the bible? Especially after going through these past 6 months, I firmly believe that God will give you more than you can handle. However, it’s not to drown you.
I believe that God will give us more than we can handle because he wants us to rely on Him and His strength rather than our own.
8 | It is well.
I was having a particularly rough day driving to the gym when this song came on the radio. Tears came to my eyes as I realized that “it is well.” It is well with my soul – because regardless of what I experience in this world broken by sin, I am saved by Jesus. That is what truly matters.
9 | You can do it. You will survive.
Sitting in the hospital holding Layne after he passed, I honestly didn’t know how I was going to survive this. I just remember laying there like, “Okay, God. I’m here. You gotta get me through this – because I don’t know how I am going to.” As much as I thought I wasn’t going to be able to survive this, I did. I don’t say that to say that everything is rainbows and butterflies now – but I pick up my cross daily, make this commitment, and follow Him.
Whatever you’re facing that you think you can’t possibly survive, I promise you that you can do it. You will survive.
10 | Worshiping God through the pain.
From Job to David, there are so many examples of people in the bible worshipping God in the midst of their suffering. As Nancy Guthrie wrote, “Worshipping God does not require that we understand or approve of what God has allowed into our lives; it simply requires a heart that desires to trust God and a will that is bent toward an obedience to God regardless of our feelings.”
11 | Be still and know.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10
I’ve started to realize that “Be still” is really so much more than being still physically. It’s a spiritual and mental rest. It’s being so comfortable and so trusting with God that you are able to rest in His presence and be patient, knowing that you can trust Him and who He is because you know Him. (and knowing that my Type A self doesn’t need to try to do His job for Him!)
12 | Earth shattering moments will show you who your true friends are.
13 | It’s okay to not be okay.
Give yourself some grace.
14 | You have to do what’s best for you.
I have suffered so much guilt in the midst of my grief. The worst part is that it’s so hard to explain if you’ve never experienced the loss of a child. Whether it is because grief has kept me from being there for some of my friends as they have welcomed their babies into the world or it’s kept me from going somewhere or being around certain people to save myself from being triggered, the guilt is real and it’s overwhelming at times. However, my sweet friend recently made me realize that in this season of healing, I have to focus on myself and do what’s best for me as I try to navigate my new normal.
15 | Your feelings are just as important as theirs.
My guilt has caused me to be set back a lot of times in my grief. From being around friends’ babies too soon to attending a first birthday party because I wanted to be there for my friends and didn’t want to miss such precious moments – I would drive home with tears in my eyes and my heart would suffer.
I’d suffer silently for weeks.
It took a Wednesday night crying at church for that same friend from #14 made me realize that I feel guilt over wanting to please my friends because I don’t want to disappoint them. I don’t want to lose my friends. However, she made me realize that my feelings are just as important as theirs. As my true friends, they will understand if I need to take a step back for my own heart and mental health.
16 | Life is too short.
When Layne passed away, my entire outlook on life changed in an instant. Life is way too short to be stressed – and life is way too short to stall on things that keep us up at night.
17 | God won’t waste suffering.
God will allow us to suffer sometimes, but that suffering won’t be wasted. He will use our suffering to shape us, mold us, and make us even better prepared for the purpose He has for us.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance: and perseverance, character: and character, hope.” – Romans 5: 1-4
18 | There’s a difference between walking with God and then merely living.
Enoch’s whole life is told in 6 verses in Genesis 5. We don’t know much about him except that he stands out in a long list of genealogy. Rather than stating he “lived” X number of years, it says that he “walked with God” for 300 years. Instead of dying, Enoch was taken away by God (v. 24). He never faced a physical death. Enoch enjoyed the presence of God so fully, God simply brought him to Himself. (Hebrews 11:5)
Even more so through this past year, I walk to actually walk with God more than I ever have before.
19| Everyone needs a church community.
I really don’t know how Rob and I would have gotten through the first few weeks after Layne died without our church community. From the church staff and our Sunday school class to the ladies in my weekly bible study, they really took care of us like family. They brought us meals and treats, gifts, and they loved on us by pointing us back to Jesus. I don’t know how anyone would go through our situation without God or a tight-knit church community.
To everyone who helped us get through these past 6 months, I don’t have enough words to express how thankful Rob and I are for you. I don’t know how I could ever thank everyone enough.
20 | What it means to fix our thoughts on Jesus
“Fixing our thoughts on Jesus is to close our eyes. To mark this moment declaring our trust in God and to declare God out loud like Jesus did. To stop fixating on the circumstances raging around us, and to stop trying to make sense of things that make no sense in the middle of the journey. And to stop asking for the knowledge that’s too heavy for us to carry.”
(It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, Lysa Terkeurst)
21 | God is good. ALWAYS.
In Exodus 3:18-23, Moses got to see a brief glimpse of God’s back. He saw God’s goodness – because goodness is the very essence of who God is.
Sometimes our circumstances seem to point to everything but evidence of God’s goodness. But that is because we tend to define God by what we have deemed good. We have to define goodness by who God is. Because we are still able to trust His heart if we are unable to trace His hand.
22 | God speaks to us every day.
Whether it’s through His Word, through friends and loved ones, yellow butterflies, or little whispers to the heart, God speaks to us if we listen and seek Him in our everyday.
On a lighter note…
23 | I get more sleep when I give in and let Willie sleep in the bed with us.
Willie is such a snuggle bug. He’d literally sleep there all day and night if he could. (He does.)
24 | I can become a plant lady.
Y’all, this lady use to kill succulents – and I’ve been having the best time with my garden this summer and fall! I can’t wait to expand it next year and learn how to grow even more things.
READ ALSO: Planning and Planting Our Fall Garden
READ ALSO: DIY Raised Garden Beds
25 | Nespresso is 1 million times better than regular Keurig coffee.
I don’t even use my Keurig anymore! I also talked my parents into getting a Nespresso so I could enjoy it at their house when we go to visit them.
26 | There are people who wash, dry, fold, and put away laundry all in one day – and then there is me.
Oh, friends, I hope maybe you learned something to today. I really had so much more to say about each and every thing I listed. However, we’d need approximately 15 more cups of coffee to get through it all. While so much of this year has been marked by so much heartbreak, I can also confidently say that I’m not the same person I was 6 months ago. (and that’s a good thing!)
I have learned so much this past year about myself – and my savior. He has stretched me past my limit (and then some), and I’ve grown and learned to lean on Jesus in a way that I never want to stop. While some days still trigger me and remind me just how broken this world is (and I am), I am reminded just how faithful God is, even in my darkest moments.
Here’s to 26, friends! I can’t wait to see what God teaches me this next year.