Life Lately | No. 15 – 2019 Reflection & Looking Forward to 2020
Happy New Year, friends! Where did the year go? Better yet, where did the DECADE go? Let’s not even get into how much I’ve grown up this past decade. 10 years ago I was sitting in high school convinced that I was going to either go to Harvard Law School or be a chemist for a research hospital like St. Jude. Instead, in the past 10 years, I moved out on my own, graduated from Texas A&M University (WHOOP!) with a degree in Marketing and Advertising, met and married my other half, acquired some super cute pups, moved across the country away from our families in a step of faith, started and grown my dream business, and became a momma. Talk about a lot in just 10 years! Can you believe it? (I can’t!)
I don’t know what it is about this time of year. But, I always get super reminiscent, start reflecting on the year that’s passed, and dream about the year to come. So what better way to ring in the new year than take this time to share with y’all my 2019 reflection and what I’m looking forward to in 2020.
2019 was a doozy of a year. I remember sitting down in December 2018 thinking of things that I wanted to work on that next year. One of my biggest focuses and prayers was that God would help me grow in my faith. I now realize that praying for God to increase your faith is a lot like praying for God to increase your patience. He’s going to put you in situations where your faith will be stretched. Like throwing a kid in the deep end of a pool, you’ll be placed in situations to learn how to swim and fight. Except our fight is spiritual and not flesh and blood. (Ephesians 6:12)
I prayed for God to increase my faith in 2019, and boy did He deliver. He knows I’m quite the over-achiever. If I’m wanting to do something, I’m all-in — and God sure did give it to me straight.
The Best Yet Worst Year
When I look back on 2019, I’m overcome with two polar opposite emotions. While I sit here replaying the year in my mind, I have come to one conclusion: I can confidently say that this past year has been both the worst and best year of my life. It was the worst year with these last 9 months marked with so much heartbreak – the weight of grief that accompanied saying goodbye to our son Layne as he went on to heaven 38 minutes after he was born.
READ ALSO: Life Lately | No. 07 – Layne Thomas’s Birth Story
But yet, at the same time, I can also confidently say that it’s been the best year of my life. 2019 was the year that I became a mom – a thing I had prayed for and longed to be for so long. And while I was unable to bring our sweet baby home and he’s now in heaven, I am still a mom. That fact is still true. (I’ve got enough stretch marks and scars to prove it!) The joy of knowing that I’ll get to see my baby again one day in heaven has given me a hope and peace like Paul writes about in Romans 5.
“Not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” – Romans 5:3
READ ALSO: Life Lately | No. 12 – Life After Losing Layne (6 Months)
Meanwhile, it’s been the best year because I’m not at all the same person I was just 9 months ago. God 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 have before – and 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.
In the end, I feel like (after a lot of prayer this past month) 2019 was a year of pruning and rain. Which as Jesus speaks about in John 15, it is expected. Pruning is a part of the process.
Jesus said in the gospel of John, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1-5)
Just like in a garden, you can’t grow and bear more fruit without pruning. Pruning is a part of the process – for everyone, even Christians. God is shaping us and ‘pruning’ us – and I guess that would also mean taking away things we deem ‘good’ and ‘healthy’ so that we are able to grow and flourish more than we were before. Everyone gets pruned, but as a Christian your fruit will get used for the kingdom and for His glory. God sees the bigger picture as He tends His garden. We are to trust His heart when we are unable to understand or trace His hand in situations and seasons of our life.
READ ALSO: Life Lately | No. 10 – What God is Teaching Me Through My Garden
Our lives have seasons just like gardens, and we will face tribulation as Christians. (John 16:33) At that point the choice is yours. Will you run from God or to God? Will you allow God to grow you again? Or will you continue to wilt until you’re dried up and let this broken world consume you?
In the end, God has completely changed me.
There were more times I can count these past 9 months when I sat with Him in prayer and he spoke to me through His word. On days I wrestled with questions, doubts, and overwhelming emotions. On days I just wanted to understand. I picture it as if He’s sitting across my dining room table from me sipping on a cup of coffee. He slides some papers across the table, lays it all out in front of me, and says, “Honey, we need to talk about this.”
In 2019, God completely changed me. Broke me. But like a potter, He’s molded me and shaped me into what He has been wanting me to be. He has made me new. Holding His hand these past 9 months, He has given me strength and comfort when my flesh didn’t know how it would continue on. He has stretched me, but He has been so good and faithful to me. He has shown me what it’s truly like to trust His heart when I am unable to see His hand, and He continues to reveal Himself to me daily.
I’m not the same person I was before March 28th, 2019. And while I wish it didn’t have to happen the way it did, I am so incredibly thankful for the beautiful story He’s writing through us.
Looking Forward to 2020
While 2019 was a roller coaster of a year for us, I have so much hope looking forward to 2020. While I was praying this month about the upcoming new year, I feel like God spoke to me. I feel like He told me that 2019 was a year of pruning and rain. But when I was searching for my ‘word’ for 2020, I feel like He gave me the word “Restoration” – as in 2020 would be a year of growth, hope, and healing.
Restoration – (n.) the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition. However, Restoration in the bible is often seen as God blessing people for their faith and hardships by making up for their losses and giving them back more than they previously had.
I don’t exactly know what that means this year will hold. I am not God. My ways are not His ways, and my thoughts are not His thoughts. But I do pray over Psalm 40 daily – I’m waiting patiently for the Lord. Regardless of what it is, Rob and I really can’t wait to see what God has in store for us this next year.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth – praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord.” – Psalm 40:1-3
2020 Goals & Focus
Along with continuing to prioritize my health this next year, I plan to continue diving deeper and deeper into God’s word. I have grown my faith in Jesus more than ever this past year, and that was my 2019 goal focus. (Note: When you pray for God to help grow you in your faith, He’s going to put you through situations that grow your faith.) However, there is so much more in my walk with God that I want to cultivate this year.
Meanwhile, among the personal things I am looking to focus on this year, I am so excited to take my business and brand to the next level. I can’t contain my excitement for some of the dreams that I have for A Hosting Home and for some of the things I am hoping to launch in 2020. I’m hoping to launch all new services AND possibly something even more exciting. I don’t want to spill the beans just yet, but I hope you’re as excited as I am for all the new things coming. You’ll be seeing even more of me (and from me) in 2020!
The year 2019 was one in which I learned so much about myself – and my savior. God 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. I have so much hope for this next year, and I hope you do too. Here’s to 2020, friends! I can’t wait to see what God has in store for all of us this next year.
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