Happy 2016, dear friends!
Near the end of the year, I enjoy taking time to reflect on the past year. It helps me to remember what I learned, consider the greater context of my life, and embrace the coming of a new year.
1. What was the best thing that happened this year?
Our lovely, lively Aria Li Mei Marks was born (you can read about her birth here). As our third child, she brought more joy and chaos into our family (and forced us to purchase a minivan).
2. What was the most challenging thing that happened?
Saying yes to the right things for right now. Whew, more than ever before, this year was full of challenging decisions for Steve and me. These decisions involved competing values and complicated outcomes, and we really had to lean hard into wisdom, prayer, and discernment.
3. What was an unexpected joy?
Ministering with Steve in new ways was an unexpected joy. This year we had the chance to preach at a conference together, as well as lead and minister to others in our home. After several years of doing completely different things, ministering together was really life-giving.
4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
The temptation to people-please. There were several points this year when it was tempting to let the opinions of others sway my decisions, rather than be guided by my own true convictions.
5. Pick three words to describe 2015.
7. What did you do in 2015 that you’ve never done before?
I wrote a short memoir each day for 100 consecutive days. The 100 Days of Memoirs project was challenging and invigorating (and a little insane to do in the early months after giving birth), and I am so glad to have done it.
8. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2015 I committed to be a person of love, generosity, joy, kindness, and compassion. I’m not sure how to measure that. Did I intentionally grow in those areas? Yes, I tried. Do I think I am different from who I was last year? Yes, I think so.
For this coming year, I have a sense that there will be ways I grow through effort and intention, but also through letting myself freely receive what comes my way. I haven’t yet made any resolutions or goals, but I probably will at some point.
9. For what are you most grateful?
I’m grateful for the abundance of people in my life – my husband, our kids, parents, siblings, our housemate, friends, church community. If one’s wealth can be counted in relationships, I am rich beyond what I deserve.
To a lesser degree, I am grateful for coffee, good schools for our children, a healthy body, public libraries, and date nights with my husband.
10. How did you change this year?
I was altered by parenthood this year, stretched by having a third child while also raising a feisty 3-year-old. Through my kids, I grew in my capacity to love unconditionally.
I also changed as a writer. I finally came to a place of embracing the writer in me, identifying as a writer and storyteller.
11. What moments were most memorable?
Delivering our third child. Co-speaking with Steve for an InterVarsity Fall Conference of 150 college students. Launching our monthly Beer, BBQ, Bible Study nights in our living room.
12. What were your greatest discoveries?
13. What are you looking forward to this coming year?
I am excited to take on a new leadership role in our church, as well as continue to offer people guidance as a spiritual director. I’m also looking forward to working on writing projects, and developing as a storyteller.
14. What was the most significant thing you learned this year?
There are many voices speaking, but it is only God’s voice that is worth following.