Soooo…I know this is a really popular thing to do at the end of the year, and I don’t really like to do overrated things, but I know I learned several important things over the course of 2018. And I thought I’d share 🙂
I’ll also be posting my mom’s end-of-the-year newsletter (probably) soon as my Year of Ministry in Review post (check this out for my 2017 review post).
- I learned how to work. I finally really learned how to do school in a timely manner, and how to enjoy school. I’ve always liked school, but I’ve never known how to be productive in a timely manner, so I got overwhelmed a lot. This year, after much prayer, the Lord gave me some productivity tips that have really kept me going. He has also helped me conquer my school work and still enjoy it. Speaking of that, I finished 10th grade Saturday! (Thanks so much to the parents for helping me on that journey and trying to tell me these things a long time ago!)
- I learned that it’s okay to be in one place for a little while. I was a born traveler, obviously made to go to the ends of the earth. Ever since we started full-time traveling mission work, I’ve been a bit antsy should we stay in one place beyond a few months. In one way, I believe that is a blessing, as it reflects who God made me to be. If I was a stagnant person, I might have a harder time traveling full-time. But, at the same time, this tendency can cause one to “not be where they are,” which was my problem exactly. This year we stayed put a lot, but the Lord used us in ways that never could’ve happened if we were globe-trotting.
- I learned how to pray, especially from afar. I have been on a crazy intercessory journey starting when we went to Nicaragua in January 2017 (two years ago!?!). From there, it just got stronger and stronger, and 2018 was a crazy time of heavily interceding and praying for many people around the world, all the while (for the most part) staying put. With all the protests in Nicaragua and many friends in other states and countries including there, I had a lesson in blindly praying for people miles away from me (not just there, but in many other places) and trusting God for their safety and salvation. Most of the time that I was led to pray, I didn’t even know of any issues, but that was part of this lesson: the Lord showed me what to pray for, and I had to trust Him about that.
- I learned I’m really not an only child. Okay, so I really always knew I wasn’t an only child in Christ, but this lesson was different and really cool. The Lord supplied me with several brothers and sisters in Christ that became especially close and really truly feel like siblings to me. This was such a gift, and I almost don’t even feel like an only child anymore.
- I learned how to value my health but not stress over it. 2018 was a year in which I was really sick toward the beginning and became a health nut toward the end, but I really think I found out how to take care of my body. I got to where I didn’t resign myself into illness, but still had sense; to where I took really good care of my body, but didn’t compulsively stress over anything and everything.
- I learned His will doesn’t lead me where His grace doesn’t keep me. This was a lesson of trust for me, which I really learned when we went to Nicaragua in April of 2018. We went to a really, really hot area of Nica while I was still having sensitivities to heat for heart reasons, and I still wasn’t feeling good at all, which makes being adventurous a hard thing to be. But the Lord had called me to go, and He absolutely sustained me along the way. Although I was the only female in our entire caravan, and I wasn’t expecting much sympathy should I not feel good, my dad cared for me quite well when I wasn’t feeling that great, and the others in our journey were patient and understanding. The Lord worked everything out beyond what I expected, just like He does. Here’s my exhortation: obey the Lord–His plan is always the best, He knows what He’s talking about, and He won’t ditch you where He calls you.
- I learned about my calling. The Lord worked on me during 2018 about my future, really drawing me toward the places to which he has called me, all the while sitting in Georgia. He showed me visions of the places I’ll go, and He really encouraged me that I will go these places–it’s not my fantasy that I’ll travel, and He will arrange it to happen in His timing.
- I learned that seasons change and life does too, but He always has a plan. While in Georgia, there were so many different seasons, and, for some reason, I expected some of them to go on forever, or at least pick up where they left off when we went on trips. There were seasons of sickness, seasons of discipleship, seasons of meeting like-minded youth, seasons of missing folks in other countries, seasons of singing, and seasons of working, all of which overlapped and are not well-defined. It seems I had an idea that I would be hanging out with like-minded youth forever, but the Lord told me during that season that it was just a season and that it would eventually end. I was a little upset, but, sure enough, it ended before long and I was launched into another amazing season. It was no better and no worse–it was on a different scale. It was all His plans, and if I would’ve abided by mine, life would be boring right now.
- I learned how wonderful it is to be a true friend. My whole life I’ve thought it was wonderful to have a true friend, but it didn’t seem like many (at some points, any) cropped up. But this year I really found out how wonderful it is to be a friend. I found out how special it makes you feel, not just when you have someone you can trust, but when someone trusts you. It’s great to have someone to confide in, but when someone confides in you, you know God is working in and through you to do exceedingly and abundantly beyond what you can imagine! And, in that, I’ve found He has provided true friends for me.
- I learned how much wisdom can be found in those who know me best. In looking back on my journey, I find out how much I’ve learned and how naïve I was, so I’m always wondering how naïve I am now and what I’m going to learn next. In my journey to be Christ-like, I want to continually adopt the traits of Jesus and reject those of my flesh, so I began to think this year about ways in which I can do that. I really started to wonder how much wisdom my friends and family have regarding that matter, and paying attention to the comments they make has enhanced my walk. I once even mustered enough bravery to directly ask what I can improve on and what I do well on 🙂 (Definitely recommended if you’re up for it)
- I learned how to drive! Okay, so this one is less serious, but I did get my learner’s permit in the last month of 2018 (it’s legal at 14 here!!) and have been practicing some, even on ice and snow (a novelty in Georgia!).
- I learned how awesome the Southern penchant for dropping in is. Warning: if we know where you live, there is a good chance we will be at your house in the near future. If we don’t know where you live, there is a good chance we will find out. This is our culture, and though I used to be ashamed of it, there is no way I am ashamed of it now. It is one of my favorite things my family does, and I’ve found it really blesses people if you’re obedient. It’s a little harder to do that around the north, but I suppose it’s worth the strange looks we get. So many amazing relationships are developed rapidly through these drop-bys. Just don’t be surprised or offended if we stop by soon 🙂
- I learned to expect spiritual surprises. Things I used to consider strange are now commonplace, and yet all the more exciting! It no longer catches me off guard to pray for someone for deliverance on the street, or have someone spill their issues on me right after we meet (this is truly humbling and definitely a work of God), or any other thing that used to embarrass me or make me feel weird.
- I learned how to not wish for a life that isn’t mine. God granted me a beautiful, adventurous life in which I get to rely on and trust Him for everything. I don’t wish myself out of my life, but sometimes I catch myself wishing I’m in a certain location where I have more friends or wishing I knew certain people who are similar to me in certain ways (especially in 2017 when I was adjusting to traveling life). I’ve come to find out that God has me where I am and with who I am with for a reason, and it’s definitely not my task to wish that away. My task is to be where I am, and be with who I am with, so I can bring the Kingdom of Heaven to open and ready hearts where I am. This doesn’t mean I can’t pray or intercede for those who are not where I am; I have the full capability of that. But I should never wish away my location like I have done in the past.
- I learned that my prayers have power. I knew this before, but, again, this was a matter of belief over knowledge. Over the course of 2018, I really began to see my prayers answered in a huge way, even the ones I had been praying for over a year with no tangible results. For a very long time I had been praying for some of my friends without seeing any results, and so I just prayed out of habit and because I loved my friends. But when I came to see intense results birth out of those prayers, something changed in my prayer life: I knew who I was and I knew what He could do, and there has been no end to the amazing answers to prayer I have encountered since.
- I learned how to say “Thank you, Jesus” even when I didn’t want to. This one is still…ahem…a work in progress, but 2018 was the year where the progress began. During the time period that I was sick, which started in late 2017 and progressed through 2018, I really began to learn how to “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Though I’m probably not doing this as often now that I feel better, I still count this as a lesson learned at some point in 2018, and something I am trying to relearn.
- I learned that “this too shall pass”. So this was a quote of my Nana’s through many of her own health issues, and one I repeated to myself often during the time period in which I suffered from attacks on my health. Even though it’s not a Bible verse or a hymn stanza or anything like that, it did really encourage me to take heart during a time in which I was optimistic at first, but grew somewhat depressed on the inside when I felt I would never get better. I distinctly remember days when I would cry (which doesn’t happen often), thinking I would never feel like a normal kid again and other quite depressing thoughts. This quote helped me during that time to take heart and not waller (as my family would say it) in how I was feeling right then or the lies of the enemy.
- I learned that those I disagree with could be right. 2018 was the year that I found out how to listen to those I have a disagreement with and consider, even if just for a moment, that they could be right. Then, from there, I can allow the Lord to work on me and soften my heart toward them. If their stance is something that I believe is incorrect or even violates my interpretation of Scripture, I am still willing to pray about it. If I find in prayer that they are indeed in error, I now have come from a loving stance from which I can pray for them, and not a judgmental stance in which I am always right. I have come to many conclusions that I believe are more mature and Christ-like since I have decided to take what others say as a possibility and pray about it.
Well, there’s eighteen things I learned this year (I’m sure there’s many more, but this was what the Lord gave me). I’ll admit, this was a hard one to write, but I pray this was an encouragement to you–if so, please share it to a friend who may get something out of it as well. If for no one else, this post really encouraged me as I journeyed through some lessons I’ve learned over the past year and ways the Lord has worked on me.
Feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts! I’d love to hear about some things you learned in 2018, or if you’ve learned any of the above lessons recently.
Mucho amor and blessings!