Travelling from Arizona to South Carolina, 2,400 miles over three days in a mini-van, provides a lot of time to think and evaluate. This list of what I learned in 2014 is not comprehensive but the result of what comes to the forefront of a malaise that sets in after sitting too long.
Truthfully, this year has proven to be the schoolroom of life lessons too numerous to count. Sometimes when we look back, we see how God was clearly present during periods of silence or assumed absence in the moment. Have you experienced that?
In no particular order, here is a snapshot of what I learned this year. (I know, I know, I could’ve shared a few more photos but I was in the car, remember?)
1) What looks like an unexpected inconvenience of bad weather to your travel plans is often a result of God’s providence. In February, an ice storm delayed our flights to Dallas providing an unexpected personal meeting with my agent, Chip MacGregor (who lives in Oregon but was speaking at a conference in Texas).
2) Faith and brave aren’t synonyms. When you say yes to the dreams God has for you, you are exercising faith. Releasing a timetable and the way you envision the outcome is brave. Read here for more insight on why I know that.
3) Silence isn’t the same as ambivalence. God’s quietness during seasons of hardship and disappointment doesn’t mean you are forgotten. I’ve learned that God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out (or quit). He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. (Hebrews 12: 4-11, MSG)
4) This is what you learn the longer you wait. The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. Hebrews 11:1-2 (MSG)
5) Sending your first born to college is oddly similar to your first pregnancy. You know everything will change and fear the process will be painful. When the time comes for delivery, you find yourself just wanting it to be over so you can all get on with life the way God intended.
6) Living without a paycheck for six months is an illustration on redemption. Absence is a playground for God’s imagination. His mercy is miraculous and He provides in ways that often take your breath away.
7) Beauty is vital to emotional, spiritual and physical health. I notice the way we all come to life differently in the presence of beauty; in all its forms, colors and textures.
8) Writing a book isn’t as magical or ideal as I envisioned. It is the hard, disciplined, lonely work of wrestling with darkness in order to harness the Light. Sorry if I just burst your bubble.
9) Authors are human. All the authors I’ve met online or in person struggle with the same fears and insecurities, no matter how experienced or ginormous the platform. This is somehow curiously comforting.
10) Writing a book is one of the greatest gifts God is giving me. The result of wrestling is freedom, clarity and purpose.
11) Simplicity is divine. Two bowls, two cookie sheets, and my empty kitchen cabinets are proof that life carries on successfully with a lot less than you think.
12) Friendships aren’t random. God handpicks heart friends you will have most of your life. Not for the moments of hysterical laughter in the aisles at Marshalls but because of the unseen, incalculable ways you each fit into the purpose He began shaping long before you each took your first breath. (I’ll be writing more about this later.)
13) A generous spirit is the doorway to the heart. This year I have been the grateful recipient of unbridled generosity from others too numerous to count. Random acts of kindness aren’t random for those who receive them. They make a lifelong impact with eternal consequences.
14) Home isn’t an address. Home is the place where people tell you that you are known and belong without saying it.
15) I have a favorite time of the week. When the sun sets golden on Saturday night, I return to childhood, giddy with internal excitement. Observing weekly Sabbath is truly restorative.
16) When you pick a word for the year, you are never ready for the outcome. My word for 2014 was trust. Yeah, H and I laughed about that yesterday. We had no idea what God had in mind when he chose that word for us. Wait until I tell you the word He is giving me for 2015.
How would you sum up what you’ve learned this year? Share a few highlights in the comments.
Linking with Emily Freeman, the one who initiated all the fun with these monthly lists.