New Year's Eve Annual Interview with Jackson

With Jackson being old enough to really begin reflecting on his year and looking forward to the days ahead, I wanted to start a new tradition this year: annual New Year's Eve interviews. He knows how much I love this stuff and did pretty well answering the questions this year. Praying this will be a good way for him to reflect on his years as he grows.

What is your happiest memory from this past year?
Going to Disney World.

What is the best part about being your age?
Watching TV.

Describe yourself in one word:

What advice would you give your parents?
I'd say thank you for food and our house.

If you could be any animal which one and why?
A tiger because they have sharp teeth.

Describe the funniest thing you saw this past year.

Who is your favorite person and why?
Sullee because she let's me do a lot of things.

What is the nicest thing you did for someone this year?

What is the nicest thing someone did for you this year?

What were some of the best places you traveled to this year?
Disney World. Nashville.

What was the hardest part about this year?
Starting a new school.

What do you want to learn in 2017?
How to grow vegetables. How to start a garden.

What do you want to become better at in 2017?
Playing Pokemon

Where do you want to travel in 2017?
Disney World. Chuck E. Cheese, the beach

How can you serve God in 2017?
Give more grace to people. 

2016 Word of the Year Reflections

So much of me wants to skip past this post. To just start documenting all the things God is working for the year ahead, but the Spirit is telling me to slow down. Savor the good works of the year. So that's just what I'll do.

2016 was my year of Wholeheartedness. It only felt natural after a year of Surrender (2015's word). And as I partnered with the Spirit to mind the gap of a divided heart God showed me the abundant life of John 10:10 right here in the meaningful mundane.

We had just one big plan, one big milestone at the outset of 2016: Jackson would celebrate his 5th birthday in March and start Kindergarten in the Fall. I knew everything else in this year would pale in comparison in stewarding these milestones well.

But God.

He kept showing up in the margin. He kept pursuing us in the unexpected. He kept bringing us into ordinary, hard moments of doing life and asking us to choose obedience instead of complacency.

Blessed are those who keep His statutes and seek him with all their heart. Psalm 119:2

My goals for 2016 were simple. Mainly they each stemmed from wanting to grow in my own obedient response to the Gospel. To know Him more. To deepen my joy in marriage and motherhood. To plant the seeds of deeply rooted friendships. To steward our finances well. To simplify our home and my perspective of remaining in our first home longer than planned. To loosely hold out the small business God called me to back in 2014. For my life to become Christ in action. 

God revealed Himself to me little by little as I pressed into Him and abided in Him all the more. Never have I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit so clearly as I have in 2016. Never have I also sat in such deafening silence of the Lord and learned that in his quietness there is room for good growth for His glory.

In this year of Wholehearted pursuit, God gently guided me into the margins of my own story. He pointed me away from the worldy expectations and deep into the opportunities He'd already given me to steward well.

The unexpected happened all in hand with the expected:
We went to Disney World to celebrate the 5th Birthday of our wild child, our wild miracle. And it was pure heaven. The sweetest of trips that would not have been possible without the offerings and presence of my mom.

I pushed back against the enemy's lies of not-enough and began leading a women's Bible study at our local church. This was a turning point of hearing and responding to the Spirit. This beckoning to brave obedience is not something I will soon forget. And the fruit of this obedience? The Spirit in me grew so much good fruit in response to this step of obedience: joy, peace, faithfulness.

This step of obedience opened the door to an opportunity to be apart of planting the women's ministry at our local church. I have prayed for years that our church would have an active women's ministry. Never did I think I'd have a hand in our women's ministry taking root and in just six months seeing God move mightily through our community of women. Never did I think God would so sovereignly place me with a team of women who are so different in this life but so similar in our burdens for the women of our church and reflecting Christ well.

When we least expected it God made a way for Brandon to be promoted within his company. Promoted! When we least expected it God was on the move. Exactly one year after he pursued this same position and had been turned down, God reopened the door. I could not be more encouraged by the way Brandon responded to this opportunity. The way he sought the position with grace and then transitioned into his new role with humbleness and hope.

Jackson finished pre-school and began Kindergarten at a new school. This is where our refining both individually and as a family has become a turning point in the year. God prepared my heart all year for this transition and honestly I didn't understand why until we were in the thick of it. The transition to Kindergarten has been one of our most trying moments yet. Through partnership with our pediatrician, our counselor and our family and church communities we've made progress. Two steps forward, ten steps backward some weeks, but at the very least we have made progress in knowing who Jackson is as a child of God and releasing him over to God. I will steward Him well, I pray to disciple him well, I will be his advocate as fiercely as I am able, but ultimately I have released the grips of control to God and told Him that this is His child and I trust Him. Motherhood continues to be the hardest, most refining gift I never knew I needed in this life.

I decided to close the doors to the shop God called me to open two and a half years ago. I surrendered myself over and over this year asking God to guide me, and for most of the year I sat in silence to counsel on how to move forward with our small business. Gently, over many month, God has shown me that with everything there is a season and now in this season I am being called to disciple well in my home and my local church. So, with the close of 2016, we'll close our first small business venture. As my husband said, it will likely not be our last. In the eyes of the world, our business was not a success, but in the eyes of my Father I know the fruit born from this step of obedience will multiply in my story for years to come.

This year the mundane became meaningful. We pursued gratitude and joy in the little things. In worship while doing dishes. In praying through never-ending laundry. In trusting that this messy, beautiful life right where we are is God's will for us in Christ Jesus. There in the mundane God showed off His glory, and I now savor the meaningful margin buried in moments I once counted as unremarkable.

I've seen first-hand that my life truly can be Christ in action. When I know Him and who I am in Him and when I'm brave enough to lean in, get vulnerable and live wholeheartedly my life can be a light for the Kingdom in the meaningful mundane. My every day becomes an opportunity to live on mission right where I am in the beautiful ordinary mess because Jesus is always good news.