My sister Leslie mentioned to me recently on our podcast, The In-Between, that she was trying to take the end of this year to really reflect on what she learned in 2016 and to remember the goodness of God throughout that process. So she got me thinking, and over the last couple of weeks I've been jotting down the lessons that I learned this year. I came up with 16 because of course I did...it's 2016!
1. Ask for what is actually in your heart.
I feel like this was the lesson that God kept reminding me of over and over throughout 2016. I realized that I often preach to people to dream big and to believe big, but when it came to my own prayer life I definitely kept things to a more minimal level. I tend to pray for others (my girls, Josh, my job, etc.), but one day I was walking and thinking about some ideas I had for myself when I heard the Lord whisper, "What do you want?" I immediately knew what I wanted, but the prospect of actually asking for those things felt daunting. I felt selfish, prideful, and began to wonder if what was in my heart might be too much. That walk was a turning point for something inside of me this past year, because with each step taken I dealt with some wrong beliefs that I didn't even realize I was holding. It was a walk where God unveiled my fear of asking for big things, and it was a walk where the ask turned to surrender and surrender turned to hope. It's been a year of realizing that much of what is in my heart comes from Him and therefore it's not prideful or selfish but rather visionary and powerful.
2. Parenting strong-willed kids only gets easier if I remain consistent.
For some reason I had hopes that when my little one went from three to four, we would magically experience a transformation in our strong-willed child. And guess what?! That didn't happen. So we have been regrouping, trying to become more consistent in our parenting, discipline, and rewards, and slowly we are seeing changes. Thank you Jesus!
3. Buckingham Palace is as regal as I imagined.
Buckingham Palace was open to visitors when I was there this summer, and I literally gasped as I walked down the red carpeted stairs into the great ballroom. It was magnificent and solidified my love for the royals.
4. I should not be the navigator when my husband is driving on the opposite side of the road.
Speaking of England...we learned that a great way to bring out marital strife is for my husband to drive on the "wrong side" of the road while I tried to navigate our group through skinny, winding roads on the English country-side. I finally turned my duties over to someone else on the team and peace was restored.
5. Doing hard things is always worth it!
I've done some hard things this year, and in the process I almost always wanted to give up, but when those things were complete, I was reminded that the best things are always hard but always worth it.
6. Having a nephew is pretty awesome.
This little guy is my first nephew to live in the same city as me...and I'm smitten.
7. Starting a podcast is fun, but also some work.
I started a podcast called The In-Between with my sister Leslie, and I am absolutely loving it! I feel like every story matters, and I love creating a place to share the stories of some of my favorite people! We are learning much and have plans to continue to improve, but the journey has been a favorite for me in 2016.
8. Sometimes the best way to meet a need is to help others connect.
For years, when someone came to me with a need I felt a pressure to find a solution or to meet that need myself, which inevitably caused me to feel overwhelmed and want to hide when I saw another person coming my way. But this last year I've tried to help foster relationships between people. I've learned to become a connector, so when I hear about a need, especially when I know I don't have the skill set to meet that need, I try to connect people with others. A few times those connections have flopped, but on other occasions simple introductions have turned into true friendships or working relationships. And I don't have another to-do on my list!
9. You don't have to finish bad books.
I've stopped reading a lot of books this year, which is has given me more time to finish books that I've loved (like these two).
10. Watching those you love hurt is hard, and often the best thing you can do is show up for them.
2016 was hard for a lot of people that I love. A divorce, an unexpected death, and illness have been present in our family and in the lives of friends that I love this past year. And probably the only helpful thing I did, that I learned from my parents, was I tried to show up - to sit, to listen, and to be present in the pain.
11. Never underestimate the power of a Blood Orange San Pellegrino on a hot day or a Vanilla Latte on a cold day.
This was the year of drink flings for me. And I'm expecting this love affair to continue into 2017.
12. Making space for people to find rest and fun is ministry.
Probably one of the best decisions I've made in recent years was to quit our annual missions conference and instead make space for the missionaries we partner with to find rest, friendship and laughter. This was hard because in many ways, Christian church culture told me that a big conference was the definition of success. But after a few days in the mountains with true heroes of the faith, I realized it was definitely the right choice. And as a result, I'm rethinking all sorts of methods of ministry and asking myself what do people actually need.
13. Having my mother-in-law in the same city as our family is better than I could have imagined.
Josh's mom moved to our home town this past spring, and Lubbock loves Marcy!
14. When you know who you are and what lane you are called to run in, you can genuinely rejoice with others as they succeed.
Many people in my life saw success and positive steps in the direction of their dreams this year (Leslie and Alan moving the Nashville, Heath and Kelsey getting ready to launch a new campus of COTR, my husband slaying at his job). And as I've been reflecting, I had an ah ha! moment where I realized that I've genuinely been able to rejoice in their success because of an internal security that I'm right where I need to be. In years past, I've known that my rejoicing has only been half-hearted at times because I felt like if I wasn't connect to their success that I was somehow left out. I'm not feeling that anymore, and it's such a relief! So go on with your bad selves friends, and know I'll stay over here cheering loudly for you!
15. Hiring a friend to a be a princess at your child's birthday party may just win you the mom of the year award!
As far as Haven is concerned, the REAL Elsa showed up at her 4th birthday party in our backyard, and it was the BEST DAY EVER!
16. I will always love some good pop culture, and my favorites this year were Carpool Karaoke, The Bachelorette, and binging the new Gilmore Girls.
Whether big or small, what lessons have you learned in 2016? I encourage you to consider this question over the next couple weeks and watch how it makes you thankful and more focused on what is possible for 2017!