Here we are again. The end of another year, and the end of another decade. Ten years ago, my life was entirely different than what it is now. Okay, not entirely different. But different. I won’t try to recap the decade, only 2019.
The year brought it’s opportunities and challenges and I’m better for both. We celebrated with my niece at her wedding. I grieved the loss of a special friend. We enjoyed a vacation with the whole family. We made new friends. Went to new places. And watched our adult children experience their own highs and lows. That’s its own kind of challenge.
Keep At It
My updated website challenged me the first part of the year. Over and over again my site rejected updates, and crashed a couple of times. I reached out to a friend (website expert) who made several suggestions. I kept working at it, we changed some things, and I switched hosts. This was a big deal, and I’m happy to say it’s been pretty smooth since.
One challenge I didn’t experience in 2019, and thoroughly missed, was training for Spartan Races. I kept up my fitness with personal workouts and occasional runs with friends. My friends and I plan to do another Spartan Trifecta in 2020, and I look forward to working together to race stronger than ever.
Although I enjoyed two backpacking trips, I wished for more. One was a short trip in May to a place I’ve always wanted to go called the Walls of Jericho. Three of us hiked in, camped one night, and hiked out the next day. We had a blast.
The other trip was mine and my sister’s birthday hike in Indian Peaks Wilderness near Boulder, Colorado. Five of us reached a peak of 11,000 feet or so over the three-day, two-night hike. Talk about an uphill battle. The beauty all around us made the climb worth it. And the fellowship around the camp fire in the evenings are some of the best times you will ever know. Unfortunately, no fires were allowed because of the drought there, but we found out it’s not the fire that makes it the best of times. It’s definitely the friendship.
Write They Say
In March, a friend and I went to the first ever HopeWords Writer’s Conference in West Virginia and were thrilled to be reminded of why we do what we do from others who’ve mastered the craft of writing. The best way to learn to write: write.
I wrote eight Here’s To You tributes in 2019. I added Here’s To You to my Live Like It Matters Challenges to bring attention to those around me who are living like it matters in ways we don’t always notice. My first one, Ten More Minutes, is dedicated to my friend Pam, and her husband, for the way they lived out their faith during Pam’s battle with cancer. I enjoyed writing each of the special features. Two more of my favorites are Truth Seekers and Jobie. I’ll continue Here’s To You in 2020.
I tried something new this year and collaborated with a group of other bloggers and writers in the BlogAbout Blog Network. I reviewed two books from authors in the network and gave away a copy of each book to two lucky commenters. It was a fun way to interact with my readers.
I kept my Monday School posts going through August. I did an in-depth study of the book of James, Psalm 119, and spent a lot of time in the Gospels, especially John. My study of James concluded with Like A Farmer, and I dedicated two posts to Psalm 119: Steadfast and The Whole Thing.
The Gospel of John is full of beautiful stories and one of them is the healing of the man born blind. I wrote about it in Do I See? and Cast Out But Brought In. While reading the book of Judges, I looked at the life of Gideon and shared my thoughts in Pardon Me and The Rest of the Story.
A New Approach
One of the most rewarding parts of studying the Bible is discussing it with others. We do this in the missional community my husband and I joined in January. We studied the Beatitudes and are now in other parts of Matthew.
Something unexpected happened in my Bible study this year. Because of a couple of news events and the discussions in a group I’m in called The Clutch, I thought deeply on what I believed about women’s roles in the church, marriage, and leadership in general. I realized my beliefs were formed more by my environment and what I’d been taught in my childhood, rather than my own Bible study. I asked God to give me fresh eyes and help me read the Bible without me making it conform to my preset conclusions. It’s hard work, but worth it. This is my new approach to Bible study. I pray God continues to give me a hunger for His Word and lets me know Him better and better.
I’ve kept a journal since I was a teenager. Writing out my thoughts or prayers helps me sort them out and make sense of them. In the spring, I began Heart Journaling. It’s a creative way of expressing our faith using color, images, and words. Heart Journaling began in the heart of a dear friend and she is passionate about sharing it with others. Check out the website for more information: Heartjournaling.net.
A new year is full of possibilities. Opportunities to learn and grow and love. It’s also full of the unknown. We are wise to make our plans, but we don’t know what the year brings.
We can know the One who does. By the end of 2020, I pray I know Him better and love Him more. Then I will love my neighbor and live like it matters.
Because of the Lord’s faithful loveLamentations 3:22-24 CSB
we do not perish,
for his mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness!
I say, “The Lord is my portion,
therefore I will put my hope in him.”