The Year of Shifts, Living, & Hardly Writing

You know those news-y letters families send out every Christmas recapping their year? I don't know about you but I love getting them. One of my best friends sent one out, and in a world of constant updates on social media, a paper-letter is like a genuine visit with a long-lost friend.
And it's been quite a while since I've sat down here on my little blog to visit. Don't worry I'm not going month-by-month.
2017 was a year of a lot of shifting. I didn't have One Word so much as one or two phrases. Beauty from Ashes I got tattooed on my left forearm. And, as it turned out, All Things New. I heard those two phrases everywhere. In new worship songs, in sermons, in books—and oh, did my Lord prove them both to be true.
Late winter slash spring I tiptoed out of my comfort zone and began the search for my own church. This after months, months, of wrestling with discontentment, talking myself out of it. Multiple trusted friends gently encouraging me, and me talking myself out of it. Guilt once I started researching other churches in my area—and me talking myself out of it. But once I finally gave voice to my heart to my parents—who by the way are only supportive—I was lent just the freedom-laced nudge I needed to seek out my own church home. Lo and behold, I didn't have to go far in terms of physical distance—but wow did I have a long ways to go in letting down my guard, letting go of some jadedness I didn't think was there—and climbing over my fear. Week by week went by at the most beautiful old church I've ever seen, and I kept second-guessing myself. That surely this was too good to be true. Was I settling because its style and theology were so similar to what I'd just come from?
And all the while God was up there tugging me nearer to get me to really listen to Him. That He is who He says He is, His desires for me are only good—and that He can do it again. He can provide, and give me what I didn't know I needed or wanted again and again. He is in the business of healing hearts—even the hearts who so desperately light out after independence and doing All the Things Just Because She Can Now. Even the hearts hurt and burnt out and in desperate need of revival.

In between writing this post, there is life and it's New Year's Day and I'm in a mood to purge and reflect but there's also SO MUCH TO PLAN. I was procrastinating on this post and journaling by cleaning out my email inbox, and lo and behold I found the email I sent eleven months ago to who is now my church mom, asking how I could get involved and connected.
Have you ever just felt God's smile? It's been a year of that, too—when I've paused long enough and gotten real with Him, that is.

While my church home was perhaps the biggest adventure and blessing of 2017, others were smaller but nonetheless memorable, for better or for worse. April, right before Easter, my sister, her best friend and I went to New York City. On a bus. For three days and two nights. My sister was terribly sick, our carefully laid plans fell apart and we ended up cutting the trip short we were all so out of it and hated to do so much without Sara. But even still? I got to spend a day in NYC with one of my best friends, exploring and geeking out over the Theater District, and taking selfies with literally every play poster we stumbled across. And I also could've sworn I walked past Cobie Smulders. Lots of lessons learned and cringe-worthy laughable memories made—and this girl would be totally content never visiting that particular city again—but it was a highlight nonetheless. Just the fact I walked almost ten miles in a day is something to be celebrated.

2017 held but two dates for me, and honestly, that is quite all right by me. My first set-up "blind date", and another one from online where we had tons in common but, with both of them? It just wasn't there. Not one tiny part of me was interested enough to see either of them again—and, as much as the people-pleaser in me hated to gently give the whole "let's be friends I enjoyed getting to know you" talk? I don't regret settling. Nor do I regret deleting every dang dating app and honestly hoping 2018 holds not one date for me (by my own initiation at least.)

Along with these rosy-colored adventuring memories from last year come a fair amount of regret-tinged sighs. Not so much what I did—but how I did things. There may have been a few too many hasty yeses said, a few too-slow steps forward out of my comfort zone, multiple dishonest-by-omission times with dear, dear new friends. Aaaaand holding myself to high standards of Superwoman perfection hemmed in a web of comparison traps. And all because of fear. Which is where anxiety stems from. Which, coupled with LIFE, causes burn out.

It's why I've hardly written this year. Or read, for that matter. 35 posts here in 2017. Not even that many books read. I haven't checked, but I bet not even 3500 words have been written in a single story of mine. Comparing 2017 to recent years is pointless—but we're human, right? We see the stark differences in what we're doing now as opposed to years past.
The story God's writing for me in the here and now? With the fullest plate I've ever had in my life?
It's a story that demands I be more present in real time, and keep my heart open to the shifting and new passions God's planting. Not as a replacement to my love of fiction—I mean I do have a book coming out in three months—but accepting the fact that this is simply a relatively new season still. And it's going to look different.
And that is okay.
I'm still learning to hold myself to God's standard of grace, and not my standards of perfection and Being All to Everyone and in Everything. I get burnt out—but I get back up again as long as I let in He who wants me to rest in Him, His love and all He's created me to be, and nothing more.
Cheers to a new year, unwritten to my eyes—but thankfully, not to the Ultimate Author.

Words, history, and grace color my days here in The Burgh where I seek out the perfect coffee and red lipstick.

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