Last year I started a new writing tradition – getting down on paper everything that I was thankful for in the past year before I started thinking about the coming year. Before I started cross-examining the categories of my life and picking out what should change.
Being thankful first helps me look out at the new year with a smile instead of a furrowed brow, and it helps me pick out goals that are hopeful, build on successes and include baby steps, instead of resolutions that are critical and too-big.
And that’s my hope for you too, that you’ll remember that no matter what, progress was made this year! Yes, there were both successes and failures, but you pressed on. That counts for something.
That counts for a lot, actually.
So without further ado, here are my Good Things That Happened in 2012:
- I realized more and more that my husband is invaluable. He’s fun-loving, smart, and likes to read beside me. He takes it easy on me and my imperfections, even when I mess up and nit-pick him. He’s honest about the difficult things and laughs at my jokes. He is a very hard worker, and he gives me compliments easily. Even when he’s under a lot of stress, he’s faithful through it all. I’m increasingly convinced that one of the reasons why God has kept us in our college town (a few hours from hometown family and friends) for so many years is so that our marriage could be seriously strengthened. We’re a team and it’s my favorite thing ever.
- I was reminded of what family is all about. Faithfulness, sacrifice, toughness, sweetness, generosity, reconciliation, encouragement – we saw all this and more from our amazing families in 2012, through some big ups and downs. (There’s more to this, but I try to keep family stuff private here and only tell stories that are mine to tell.)
- Many good things happened in my office. I’m continually thankful for such a family-oriented workplace, meaningful work and kind coworkers. Garret’s work is the also great, so we’re really spoiled in that and very thankful to have good jobs.
- I prayed more often this year than I have in while, edging closer to that elusive “praying without ceasing.” Some were desperate prayers, but a lot of it was also praying through my everyday life, so this is a small success that I want to build on this next year, depending on the Lord increasingly. In college I was in prayer ministry, but since then I think prayer has become more complicated in my mind than it actually is.
- I started Everlee Photography. It’s fledgling, imperfect and growing right now, but I have to say – making something out of nothing has felt so good. And I have had the BEST clients. Almost every session has been fun, light-hearted and enjoyable. I don’t know if photography is a long-term calling for me, but I decided early in 2012 that going for it would be the best way to figure that out. And I’m so glad that I did. Having something of my own has felt great, and creating photos that make people feel happy and confident has been wonderful. I reached one of my too-scared-to-say-it-outloud goals for 2012 just in time a few weeks ago – I booked my first wedding! I’ll be shooting Hannah and Stephen’s wedding in November, and I’m so excited.
- I read and finished a lot of great books. In previous years, I hardly ever finished non-fiction books. Now I’m consistently finishing them – especially memoirs. Can’t get enough of memoirs! I’ll write a whole post about some favorite books in 2012 soon.
- I planted and grew fall and winter gardens! I kind of couldn’t shut up about it this fall. When so many other things in life felt static, the garden felt like my one big, tangible, still-growing accomplishment. It’s life-giving to remember that all food needs to grow is good soil, water and sunlight. I loved being able to walk outside and gather handfuls of green onions, lettuce, and tomatoes, and hopefully later this winter I’ll have fresh broccoli, cauliflower, and brussell sprouts.
- We really enjoyed new and old friendships. Going to the same homegroup for going on three years now, having friends over for dinner, catching up with friends from home – I’m grateful for it all. Friendship takes more work and intentionality than it did in college, but the effort is worth it.
- I learned the importance of doing things on purpose.
- I began running again occasionally, feeling out how my knees were doing. This is another small success that I want to build on in 2013.
- Our new place has a been a huge blessing. A backyard! Quiet neighbors!
So there it is. 2012 included a lot of good things. Imperfections abound, yes – just look a this too-little-written-on blog – ha! But I say let’s start out 2013 with gratitude by taking it easy on ourselves and thanking God for all the good things He’s given us, instead of demanding more from ourselves.
Happy New Year!
I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord