I love doing these reflective posts every year, because I think it is one of the best ways to really process the past year and dream for the future. I read recently that our lives are what we give our attention to…I agree with this statement, but think it is difficult to realize what we give our attention to or to experience any true growth and transformation in our lives without taking the time to reflect and notice our lives in a deeper way, rather than just blindly living.
This is the heartbeat behind why I take the time to do this each year. If you want to start practicing reflection, but feel overwhelmed by it, one thing I would suggest is to take time at the end of each month to do a “mini reflection.” For me, this looks like journaling about the previous month (usually in bullets) and I jog my memory from the month by looking at my calendar, looking at photos on my phone, and also by taking just a few moments to really think on the month. This is much easier to do than trying to think back on 52 weeks at one time. It takes me about 30 minutes to an hour tops each month.
Of course, writing this to a public blog means there are things I don’t share … I aim to be as vulnerable as possible, but believe some things are meant to treasured in your heart between you and the Lord or shared and pondered with your family and close community. I am abundantly grateful that I have safe people to share the deep, hard, and wonderful with. But, I also know how much I enjoy reading similar posts from others on the internet and how what we share can greatly encourage others and maybe embolden you to do the same!
Some of what I won’t get into the nitty gritty about is the grief and discouragement we experienced this year. I know we all have it, though. This year often felt heavy and I was too hard on myself. My anxiety spiked several times and I felt the weight of internal and external stressors taking their toll on my mind and body. My sweet husband, Luke, has his own reflection and story of the year that is intertwined with mine, but also all his own …so I will only share that he would categorize 2022 as a much harder year than I would. Of course, we carry our spouses’ heart alongside them and that is a beautiful privilege but also challenging when they are going through a tough season.
Even still, I am able to say 2022 was a great year. In reflection, there was an abundance to be thankful for and that we learned from and that is what I hope to capture and remember. God was so tender and merciful to me in moments of worry and in providing me respite just when I needed it. He was also so faithful to show me ways to pivot when I could feel myself getting overwhelmed.
I wrote the segment below in early Fall while on a walk, reflecting on the year up to that point, and it feels like an accurate summary of the larger picture of 2022… the Lord was just dropping thoughts into my mind one after the other (as He often does on a walk…or in the shower, LOL) and I had to jot them down quickly as I went. I remember taking the walk because my anxiety was building and I just needed to move my body and pray through it.
I am ever learning that I can’t do it all on my own. I know this on a very basic level – Like duh I cannot do it all on my own – but I’m sure we can all relate to the things we know to be true but still many times live or act like they aren’t. It’s a daily surrender. I hope each year my life is more marked by my swiftness to admit I’m wrong or overcommitted or stretched too thin and freed up by the power of the Holy Spirit to apologize, to ask for help, to acknowledge my limits and believe that the boundary lines have indeed fallen for me in pleasant places (Psalm 16). There’s still so much the Lord is loosening my grip on, but I can very much reflect and see His goodness to me and how He is very literally moment by moment keeping me and helping me believe and trust that His plans are good. They are plans for me that only He can sustain and that don’t look like anyone else’s. This year I’ve learned how deeply you can feel pain alongside a loved one that is hurting. I’ve learned that finally giving into Luke’s request to have a TV in our room wasn’t the end of the world and has actually been fun and we still go to sleep at a reasonable time. I’ve learned it’s okay that I need lots of margin in my weeks for my heart and brain to function well. I hired a house cleaner and gave up cleaning in between her visits except for very basic tidying and vacuuming and the freedom that brings is nothing to be ashamed of. I choose playing with my daughter over productivity (not always, but a lot) and that is a work of the Lord only. I hold firm to the necessity of counseling but also believe that a walk around the block is the best free therapy around. I’ve learned that getting out of my comfort zone and putting myself out there to educate about safer beauty and sell Beautycounter is FUN and has grown me as a person and in confidence in ways I would have never expected. I’ve accepted friendship in adulthood is different than ever before but still wildly worth fighting for. I’ve learned that finding joy and celebrating when so much of your life is hard and not what you’ve hoped is not fake. And that being sad when so much of life is going well is not wrong either. We are humans, not robots… and our emotions and growth are not linear. When I say “I’ve learned” in all of these statements, what I really mean is I’m in the process of learning and I’m sure will be over and over again. I’m ever in progress and as much as my personality wants everything to have a formula that everything abides by in perfect harmony, I know that’s just not the way it goes … so I submit to the process as He sanctifies me and fixes my eyes on the heavenly Kingdom, pruning me and removing the measly Kingdoms I try to build here in my own strength.
2022 Highlights / Themes:
Theme words this year – Surrender. Abide. Trust.
Luke enjoying disc golf. It’s been fun to see him really enjoy a hobby and have a community to do it alongside.
Singing. Each year, I have growing gratitude that I get to use my voice for the glory of God. I love singing alongside my friends Chris and Cathy at church and I was so honored to have 3 opportunities to sing this year with my mother in law as my accompaniment – Lindsey’s wedding, my dad’s ordination and at Luke’s grandfather’s funeral.
A huge highlight for me this year is that I became a brand advocate with Beautycounter. It has been surprising in all of the best ways.
I grew a modest email list and enjoyed sending out a monthly newsletter.
I was truly CONSISTENT in my skincare routine for the first time ever this year and have seen a huge difference in the health of my skin.
I challenged myself to grow more in my ability to set boundaries and took two months off of Social Media – August and December.
Luke and I enjoyed more intentional date nights this year – with just each other and with friends – than we have in years past and that was really life giving.
I consistently journaled at the end of each month.
We prioritized Sunday as Sabbath rest.
2022 Month by Month:
*This is mainly for me to remember the little details and nuances of each month 😊
JANUARY – Incredible start to the year with our January Retreat in Blowing Rock, NC. Snow in Rock Hill! Celebrated Anna Stephens’ 1st birthday. Jaimie’s birthday breakfast @ Amelie’s
FEBRUARY – Luke and I gained our first nephew, Eli! I launched my Beautycounter business. I turned 29 and we celebrated 6 years of marriage. Caitlyn and I got away for a night in Charlotte at the Kimpton Hotel for our birthdays and enjoyed a yummy dinner at Pacos Tacos. Friday night game night with the Bullards and Bolands along with pizza, cookie cake, and hot tub for my birthday. We went on a double date with the Cassidys to Nellie’s Kitchen for my birthday/our anniversary.
MARCH –Linds + Travis’ fiesta shower. Tax Season at work in full swing. Emily joined my Beautycounter team. We went to Pendleton to meet Eli and visit my papa. I really struggled this month with balancing work/life and feeling so guilty/being hard on myself.
APRIL – At home date night (charcuterie) with the Cassidys. Lindsey’s bachelorette weekend in Savannah (while Luke was at home with AS / had the flu). Luke got food poisoning. We celebrated Easter with both families at my parents house. I took off Anna Stephens’ Spring Break with her, but then I got the flu. We celebrated Luke’s 30th birthday. Luke played in kickball tournament with OTC for Come See Me. Party for Luke’s 30th on April 24th at my parents with Moe’s & Red Velvet Cake. Celebrated my Dad’s Ordination service at Bethel Baptist – I sang and Shelley accompanied.
MAY – Lindsey + Travis got married with Anna Stephens as flower girl. Mother’s Day. Anna Stephens finished her first “school” year at WCCS.
JUNE – I started counseling. We coordinated Katie’s wedding. Ben Rector concert with Boland’s + Harpers. Hibachi and hot tub date with the Cassidy’s. Lunch with Lauren, Robin and my mom to celebrate baby Lalli. Kendall’s grandfathers funeral. Walked with Lindsey, Amanda and Meghan this month. Pool night with Fountains/Bullards. Jessica’s bridal shower with mom. Father’s Day. Getting used to a new summer schedule with AS – she did WCCS Summer camps, grandparents helped and sweet Anna Baxter babysat.
JULY – Pool day at my parents. Grandaddy’s 95th birthday – the whole family present! We finally got our week long trip to the Dominican Republic after rescheduling it multiple times since 2019! We found out our best friends were pregnant again. Spent a lot of quality time with friends.
AUGUST – I fasted from social media. Meghan’s birthday dinner at Paco’s. Burgers/hang out night at our house with the Bullards. We enjoyed some family Sunday afternoon park dates to Fewell. AS Started another “school” year on a new campus and had a wonderful first week and napped well. That’s always such a blessing to hear with transitions. We hosted a sip + see for Taylor and got to meet sweet baby girl Corrie. Luke completed his year long community pharmacy residency. My job began transitioning. Weekly small group and students (Luke) started back up. Anna Stephens had her 18 month check up and was in the 95th percentile for everything (this has been consistent for her since she was 3 months old).
SEPTEMBER – Jessica’s wedding in GVL. Luke’s granddaddy passed away. I had the blessing of singing while Shelley accompanied at his funeral, which was a precious tribute to his life and legacy. Luke had a guys weekend in GA and Cait and I hung out with the babes together. OTC’s 2nd anniversary. AS got a mild case of Hand foot mouth.
OCTOBER – Date night with Cassidy’s at Flipside. Sunday family date to Cherry Place Farm. Woodlands Pumpkin Patch. Mountains (Newland, NC) with the Bolands. Lauren’s Baby Shower. Annual Meeting at work. Boland Gender Reveal. Halloween (AS was the cutest pumpkin you ever did see)!
NOVEMBER – Walk with Amanda at Cherry Park. Luke volunteered at Student Retreat. Fun date to Southpark with AS and my parents. In person Beautycounter pop up with Emily. Hit Senior Manager with Beautycounter. Pizza/Game night with Bolands, Bullards, Whitakers. I had my second ingrown toe nail removed and recovery took about a month to feel back to normal (bless!). OTC Thanksgiving service. Thanksgiving with family. Celebrated Amanda’s birthday at Brixx+Napa.
DECEMBER – Really redemptive month after edging burnout for a few months. I was really intentional to plan for our December to be slow and purposeful. I wrote in more detail about it here!