It sounds so cliche to say but I am shocked at how quickly the year’s end came upon us. Just like that, it is 2019. A new calendar, a new set of goals, a refreshed perspective.

2019 is full of possibilities. I am stoked for our new website launch (you can find our new site here) and new minimalism challenge. I can’t wait to see how God will use us to build His kingdom. I look forward to using our new home to connect with and encourage people.

But all of that is yet to come. I want to spend a little time talking about the past year.

It is crazy how much can change in just one year, isn’t it? I hope you spent some time over the holidays reflecting on all God did in and through your life in 2018. It seems 2018 is getting a lot of flack, but it wasn’t a bad year at all. I feel that I’ve changed so much since 365 days ago. I am so grateful for what God has taught me and how He changed our hearts in many ways this past year.

At the beginning of the year, we celebrated our first year of marriage with a long weekend in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was a blast taking my husband to a place that holds so many fond memories from my childhood and teenage years. We definitely want to go back, although there are many new places on our bucket list to visit!

In April, God performed a miracle as we watched my brother have a close encounter with death. April 8th was the darkest day of the year, the worst day, the longest day. Yet it was also a day filled with hope, with love from both family and friends with us in the waiting room and strangers around the world praying, with joy when God pulled Ricky through a multi-hour, life-threatening surgery. The journey since then has been nothing short of miraculous. My brother has been fighting for recovery since day one, and my parents have been steadfast, courageous, and full of faith. It has been both heartbreaking and inspiring to watch: heartbreaking because you never want to watch your loved ones go through something like this, but inspiring because they have leaned heavily upon God throughout this new chapter. I’m so thankful for God’s healing power, for His graciousness in giving us Ricky back, and for His goodness in allowing Ricky to accomplish all he has, including walking for his high school diploma.

In July, my sister got married to her high school sweetheart. It was a beautiful wedding in spite of the downpour that lasted all day. Being in her wedding party was so much fun! In fact we probably had too much fun, taking selfies and having dance/tooth-brushing parties before the ceremony. Liz was beautiful and didn’t even mind the rain. It was a long day of high emotions, tons of laughter, good food, and gorgeous photos.

One week later, my husband’s brother got married! We got to go to Arkansas, my first time ever, to stay for a few days and spend time with the whole family. Arkansas was surprisingly beautiful. My in-law’s rented a lake house and I could’ve spent the entire trip out on the screened in porch overlooking the water. The wedding was lovely and it was so great to meet the bride’s family.

In August, Joshua and I began visiting a new church. We began looking for a new place to worship and serve after God showed us through the Holy Spirit and lots of counsel and prayer that it was time for us to move on from where we were. It had been a month or two of searching and praying before we visited Rosedale Baptist Church. We were reluctant to go because, even though we already knew it would be a blessing to us (Josh’s sister has been attending for a little while and we had visited with her some time ago), it was a bit of a drive. But God knows all things, and He was working behind the scenes as only He can. We knew almost immediately that this was where God wanted us, regardless of how long it took to get there. By God’s hand and His working, less than two months after visiting Rosedale, we put in an offer for a house much closer to our new church. It still blows my mind how God worked all of this out, and I can’t even describe how it all happened. It is all God. We are so thankful to be living so much closer to the church and community where we plan to get more involved. The preaching and teaching at RBC has already encouraged and challenged us immensely, and we are overjoyed to be a part of a thriving body of believers.

In September, one Saturday at our favorite coffee shop revolutionized our way of thinking. We started discussing the concept of minimalism, capsule wardrobes, and downsizing our possessions, which led to watching the Minimalism documentary on Netflix. Our minds were blown. So many concepts talked about in the film are, truly, Biblical principles (although most of the people discussing them are not Christians). Since then, minimalism has changed our way of thinking in so many different areas of our lives. For me personally, as I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, it has changed my view on possessions which has changed my view of how I present myself. I used to make decisions about purchases based on “What will other people think of me if I buy this? Can I post a picture of this on Instagram or can someone else take a picture of me wearing this, and other people will think I’m cool/put together/aesthetic?” I know not everyone does this, but I think more of us do it than would admit.

As I have been reading God’s Word, since September I have often noticed minimalist themes. Ecclesiastes talks about the vanity of possessions–and the value of relationships. Many of Paul’s letters talk about being thankful and content, and giving of your possessions. Being a minimalist is not just about owning less: it’s about wanting less. It’s about being grateful for what you have, and only buying things when necessary or beneficial. Buying intentionally. Owning intentionally. No more retail therapy: it doesn’t satisfy. No more filling up my day just for the sake of being busy: busy doesn’t equal productive (see more). My hope and prayer for 2019 is that I continue to become more aware of my buying and browsing habits, and become more focused on what truly matters.

In October, we got to take a weekend trip to the Carolina’s! We stopped overnight at an AirBnB in Burlington, NC before heading to Greenville, SC! We got to spend some time with my sister and her husband, as well as meet up for coffee and ice cream with one of Josh’s best friends and his fiancee. Then we drove from Greenville, SC to Brevard, NC for a Couples’ Retreat at our favorite place: The Wilds. What a joy to be back where we met, where God had done so much in our hearts. It was different being there as adult, married campers! But we loved it and would definitely recommend! Also I rode the Giant Swing for the first time in my life, even after being a camper for 7 summers and working as a counselor for two summers (which was over 20 weeks)! I was so happy we got to spend time in the mountains again.

At the end of October, I ran my first 5k! Josh began training me in July, since he has run at least twelve 5k’s and a half marathon, and I actually did it. It was tough, rainy and full of hills, but we completed it together.

In November, we settled on our house, did a ton of painting and cleaning, and moved in the day after Thanksgiving! What a crazy couple of weeks. The other day I found a picture on my phone that I took of my sweet husband in our apartment. He is asleep on the couch next to me, and there are tons of boxes stacked up in the background. It just melted my heart all over again because yes I was stressed and freaking out about everything, but he just quietly carried the burden of everything that needed to get done on top of my crazy emotions and bad attitude. He was so worn out and exhausted, but he kept going every day with a smile and hug for me, reminding me, “It’s just a crazy season. It’ll be over in a few weeks and we’ll be settled into our new house.”

Joshua has been and is the greatest gift God has given me in this life. Through every struggle, fear, and big decision, he has drawn close to God, pulling me with him. He has sought counsel when we didn’t know what to do. He patiently endures my freak-out moments, political rants, and wild explanations of crazy ideas. He is my partner in everything, my rock, my fellow minimalist, my proofreader, my encourager and support when I want to quit, and my best friend. He constantly points me to Christ and serves me selflessly. I’m so thankful for every moment I get with him, and can’t believe I get to love him and live with him for the rest of our days.

In 2018, I blogged more consistently than ever before. I went to a symphony that made me cry because it was so beautiful. I was able to read through the entire Bible for the first time. (We did it together. 10/10 would recommend because accountability.) God gave me opportunities to minister and counsel that I never dreamed would happen. There have been very low points of anxiety, discouragement, and defeat. But there have been many more times of joy, victory, and grace. There have been so many tiny moments of beauty that even if I had done one of those one-second-every-day apps I still couldn’t capture them all. God has shown His lovingkindness, faithfulness, and graciousness over and over.

My word for 2019 is FOCUSED. I want to focus on the right things this year.

Less phone time. Less social media. Less multitasking. Less aesthetic. Less discontentment. Less worry. Less time spent in front of a mirror. Less criticism. Less negativity.

More community. More gratitude. More really getting to know people. More doing the hard things. More doing just one thing at a time. More of God’s Word. More reading in general. More being real.

More FOCUSING on what really matters: loving God, and loving others.

Happy New Year, y’all.

 

 

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

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