As 2014 approaches,  I have realized that 2013 taught me some hard lessons.   I wanted to share them with you. 

First of all,  I learned that I am an emotional eater.  I always knew this but didn’t know the extent of it.  At the beginning of the year, I worked so hard to lose  weight, to be more fit and to be healthier. And I was gaining ground.  When my father in law got sick, I simply didn’t have time for the 1 1/2 hours I was putting into exercising and instead of reaching for the treadmill,  I didn’t have the strength to make the right choice – I reached for that piece of bread instead. When you are an emotional eater, you eat for comfort, you eat because that seems to be a safe place,  you eat because you just don’t have the strength to make another decision about the 5 precious minutes that lay before you until you have to dive into the next thing in your day. It doesn’t mean that you are lazy.  It doesn’t mean that you are not self controlled. It doesn’t mean that you are inferior. It means that you need to re train your mind as to what comforts you; what refuels you, what energizes you. For me, I realized that I not only liked exercise and physical activity,  I NEEDED them. I needed them to put me on the path of intention. I needed to them to stay my focus. I needed them for energy; and for comfort. I also need art and reading and painting. So the next time, I feel like I don’t have time for this, I will remind myself that I can’t afford to let those things be shoved to the shelf – even in the name of sacrificing my time for others or for family.  Because in the end, when I do the things that help me emotionally, I am becoming a better woman for it. I am becoming a better mom and a better wife, a better pastor. I have to schedule time for these things in my week. Its how God made me and the thing I learned the most this year, was to accept that part of my life and let it be ok for me to have some ME time. 

I learned that numbers mean too much to me but that’s  for another blog.

I learned that in the midst of pain and sorrow and tragedy,  I needed the comfort of my friends surrounding me, carrying me through when I felt I couldn’t walk anymore even though they were limping themselves.    We needed each other desperately in this season of our lives and we have grown stronger, better and closer because of it. 

I learned that in this next year,  I want to write. I learned that I can navigate the dangerous parts of my life when I write.  I can sort things out in my spirit when I put it on paper. I have been encouraged and spurred on by so many of you,  my readers, to write a book. So that’s exactly what I am going to do. (Thank you for that.)

I learned that you will never know when you will breathe your last breath.  And those things that are really important to you will be the things that you are glad that you did. I learned that  you need to search your soul and find what those things are. And then you need to use that as a template to live an intentional life.    I don’t want bitterness and hardness and pain to have any place in my heart and in my mind when I am spending these precious little moments that I have on this beautiful earth.  I learned that regret shouldn’t share any space in my heart. Hate shouldn’t taunt my mind, hate of any kind, threatening to steal my days and my attention.

  Even the Bible says that our time here on this earth is like a wisp – it’s like a vapor – spend it wisely.  Spend it lavishly but spend it intentionally. Spend it with those that you would love to be remembered by and with.   Move on from those who do not honor you or respect you or encourage you to live a good life.

The biggest thing that I learned from this year is that God’s grace carries me through.  When my friends don’t have the strength to do it anymore, when family is too weak to link arms and when I am just too weak and small and frail to do the journey of the day – He comes alongside of me and He sends me a scripture or a story or anything to help me through the day.  The scripture “His grace is sufficient” rings in my ears almost daily. Because it is. And He is. This has been a tough year. It started out with me puking in the new year, followed closely by Dylan getting sent home from England and then it really went downhill from there.  There were so many painful things that happened this year that is not even related to my father in law dying.

But I am starting to realize that as much as I hate pain,  it is a part of life and it is okay. 

Pain is okay,  because pain means that you are alive,  pain means that you are real, pain means that you haven’t blocked up your emotions and you are letting yourself feel the happiness as well as the pain.  Pain is okay, because sooner or later, you will feel that freedom of a painLESS season and when you do, it’s deeper, stronger, lovelier because you have known what it is like to be without.  You will have understood what it is like to try to put one foot in front of the other when you feel like you are walking through molasses. You gain a new appreciation for the beauty around you. You grab ahold of those wonderful seasons because you remember what it’s like to crave them – to be without them. 

I learned this year that I am weaker than I thought I was which made me stronger than I ever thought I could be.   When I was able to embrace my weakness, when I was able to be honest about where I was in my life and in my journey even through the weakest parts of my life,  I found that that sparked a strength and a vitality in my spirit that I never knew I had. It enabled me to draw on a strength that I had deep deep down in the belly of my being and to walk on – knowing that the next day I will still be here; knowing that the sun WILL shine on the darkened skies again,   I WILL still be loving God, I WILL still be believing in life, I WILL still be celebrating the beautiful moments of my journey. That strength, my friend, doesn’t come from being strong all the time. It comes from being weaker than you ever thought possible and still walking forward. 

As I leave 2013,  I will be glad to say good bye to a year that held a lot of pain.  But I have to recognize that I will never again be the same – in a good way.  The lessons I learned this year are what have made me who I am today.

 And I dance – no, I leap into 2014 and I believe that there is a whole lot more laughter waiting for me in the coming year!