I know, I am on a break-neck speed with blogging recently, what can I say? But it’s still January February, so we can still talk about last year and things like that, right? :)

Each beginning of the new year I like to spend some time in reflection, in thinking back over the past year, the sweet things, the hard things, the things I learned, the ways God proved He was faithful, the things that surprised me.

It’s almost humorous how at the beginning of each year there are scores of new goals made (which are all good and well!) and yet, really, the true outcome of the year lies completely out of our control.

I’ve always been a Type A Personality. The kind that likes lists and plans and goals. A 5-year plan of my life? Yes please. I’ve been a more aggressive grab-life-by-the-horns kind of person for many years. And that has some good aspects to it. And some not so good.

Interestingly, the last few years God has had me not focus on goals as much as simply walking forward and living in the moment. For us Type A people, we’re so excited about the next goal that we have a hard time enjoying right NOW. There is always the adrenaline rush of a new something on the horizon. :) I wrote a little about BEing goals vs. DOing goals here some time ago.

I think there are times of our life when goals are healthy, very healthy. Without any vision for our life, we won’t go anywhere (paraphrased, from the book of Proverbs). And yet sometimes goals can become our identity, our focus, our source of pleasure instead of who we are as a child of God, and letting Him be that truest fulfillment. It can become about ME, rather than about God, and about how we can fulfill His will for His glory!

But that could be another whole subject in itself. I’ve been thinking the past few weeks about how God was so faithful in 2014. I’ve been reflecting on the different ways I saw Him at work in my life, and it’s been beautiful to see. So I thought I’d write a bit about those different ways…

the sweet things

 

When Family Visits 368 When Family Visits 371

A few things stand out about 2014 in sweetness levels… Friends visiting us, time with people we love here in this area. But one weekend in particular stands out: Mother’s Day weekend. Some good friends of ours and we were planning to spend the afternoon in beautiful Savannah, and my parents join us there later in the day.

The first surprise came when my sister Jana and her husband drove 3 hours and surprised not only me, but my parents for the day! There is nothing like a sister to make a wonderful day even better!

The second surprise came in Savannah, when my sister Ervina surprised both me and my sister Jana! There surprises upon surprises even for the ones who were surprising other people (follow me yet?!). And so we spent the afternoon together at Forsyth Park (legendary in Savannah, you simply MUST go one day). It was just a wonderful day!

The sweetest things in life are relationship, and probably also the most painful things in life are relationships. But this day was full of the sweet things, and I still love to remember it!

the beautiful things

 

The joy of being a little family, getting to do life together in our very own little group of hand-picked-by-God people. I love our extended families, but it has been so special to enjoy our own little people, to like us. The kids love to play games, and even little Hudson becomes so engrossed in Sequence Junior that we must cool tempers when a sibling wins. But it’s been a precious year of getting to know them more personally, taking time for one-on-one dates with our kids, doing fun family days together. And let’s be real; there are also super hard days of raising three little children, which makes five of us in desperate need of Jesus every day.

Pennsylvania in June 230

the hard things

The most painful thing we walked through in 2014 was the death of my little nephew, born to Kenny and Ervina, but who had entered Heaven before this world… We never got to know that sweet little boy, but we already loved him so much and it broke our hearts to say goodbye before we even said hello. It has been a difficult thing for our family to walk through this year, to see our sister and her husband lose their first child so unexpectedly, and for no known medical reason.

It is things like this that show us the reality of this world not being home. That remind us that we are longing for something, Someone, who can fill our deepest aching hearts, and turn the eyes of our heart toward eternity. The birth of a child, and the death of someone we love, brings eternity more near than any other time. With Little Kenny, it brought it so very near. There are more reminders than ever that we are longing for a place of no separation, of always being with those we love, of being in the presence of Jesus who is perfect peace and joy.

the ways God proved He was faithful

 

Walking through grief takes away some of the carefree-ness of life. Before someone walks through a tragedy or death there is a general feeling of “Everything will turn out okay!” And after going through a death, there is the harsh realization that “Everything will NOT be okay.” That this world wasn’t meant for everything to be okay. That’s a hard realization to come to, because we long for perfection, death to end in life, not the other way around. But it is an honest looking at life that makes us realize our longing for Heaven, for eternity, for the Place God is preparing for us. All the longings within us are meant to be fulfilled in eternity; not on earth. If they could be fulfilled on earth, there would be no need of Jesus, or of Heaven. While we still long for the carefree days and wish our stories didn’t include such grief and loss, I am also so grateful that this isn’t the end of our story; there will come a day when all will be well, when peace will flow with no imperfection, when joy will reign with not even a tinge of sadness or loss.

This year has been a time of remembering I am only a pilgrim on this earth, and that Heaven is Home. And for now, Jesus proves His faithfulness over and over again. Through the tears, through the sadness, through the joy that is returning. He is so faithful, so preciously faithful. Oh for grace to trust Him more!

 

a few things I learned

…That a family of five can survive a house remodel while living in the middle of it. Even if there is a 3-inch layer of dust through the entire house for the entire 3 months and it drives the OCD mom nuts some days.

…That being in the house alone – just our family – feels like a luxury after having construction workers in and out for weeks, er, months.

… That we could survive on a crazy little amount of sleep and work a crazy amount of hours.(My husband’s record week was 96 hours. In one week. Including his normal job and then attic remodel. Yes, he is super man. Yes, this was only one week, thank God.)

… That the end result is worth the months of hard work and labor. WE LOVE IT!!

a white attic bedroom

the things that surprised me.

…That God restored my health this year!! I feel like a completely different person than I did one year ago this time, and I am so incredibly grateful! I talked more about that in detail here and here.

… That I am now a runner, which surprises me more than anymore. I had been dealing with fatigue and exhaustion so much the past 5-6 years that I could hardly exercise at all, much less run any distance. This is part of what I wrote on Facebook on January 2, 2015:

“Yesterday I set a new fitness record for myself; I ran a distance I’ve never run before in my life! My tracker stopped working after 7 miles; but my calculations are a total distance of about 10 miles. Of running. And as I ran, I smiled, I was exhilarated, and I thanked Jesus for the completely different body I have from a year ago! Yes, my legs felt like a combination of rock and jello, and there was no one more surprised than me at what I had just done.

One year ago I had NO health or fitness goals. I was exhausted, all the time. I had very little strength, and could not even run 1/2 mile if I tried my hardest. I was reading yesterday in my journal from a year ago (the only place I really talked about my health because I didn’t want to be a whiner to people), and it was filled with things like, “I just can’t sleep enough…” “I’m always so exhausted…” “Is this what it feels like to be old…” “I’m so overwhelmed…”

I nearly cried for the person I was a year ago! Because one year later, I feel like a completely difference person. I not only feel better, I AM better, I’m healthy and strong. I may have days here and there that I’m tired, but that is not the story of my life anymore. I might have moments of being overwhelmed, but it is a foreign emotion to me now rather than a daily companion. One year later, I am on a wonderful journey to health. I am strong. I can exercise and run and feel energized afterward. I am not overwhelmed by the daily things of life, but can smile at the days ahead.

You may have seen my posts about Plexus here and there, and it’s not because I’m just trying to sell you something; it’s because they are products have been life-changing for me. If I had not been so helped by Plexus products, there is no way I could promote them. Now I talk about them because if someone else is looking for answers for their health, I want them to know that there is hope! They aren’t magic potions or overnight fixes – my health took years to decline so drastically, and it took months to recover. But in recovering, it is healing me from the inside out. I feel better than I have in years, and it’s for real.”

I am SO GRATEFUL for renewed health and strength!

Looking ahead

This year will be a year of much change for our little family. It is very bittersweet, but for the next few months I just want to enjoy each moment, each day, each relationship, without focusing too much on what could be overwhelming and stressful. Each day is a gift, and a choice to live in trust and rest in a Precious Savior.

Coming up in the next few weeks/months of blogging, I want to finish the before & afters of the Cottage! There are a few rooms that haven’t been documented and I want to be sure to do that. :) So stay tuned!

Happy Thursday, my friends!
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10 thoughts on “Reflection.

  1. amber

    i’m glad i’m not the only one still reflecting back over last year in feb. i never finished my “merry christmas from the hutch house” post and just might now.. :))

    always love coming to your blog, friend. the sweet spirit here and heart of Christ. like a breath of fresh air in the often crazy of the internet.

    that last paragraph made me feel excited and nervous for you all at once. not sure what’s ahead, but i know Who’s already gone before you!

    xox.

  2. Sarah Esh

    I am glad you shared this even though it’s February. I would also love to read more of your thoughts on finding fulfillment in Who you belong to, rather than what you get accomplished. I am a Type A personality too, and most of my ‘good days’ are defined by how much gets crossed off the to-do list. One of my personal goals for 2015 is to continue learning to be okay with just ‘being’ rather than always ‘doing’… and there I go with another list of goals again. :)

  3. Shannon

    So good to hear your blogging voice again. Reflecting back.. It’s so good to see God in all the little details isn’t it? When I see that it gives me hope for the future, knowing he’ll be in those details as well.

  4. Audrey

    I loved reading this post. I am so glad you feel so much better than you did. And now you have me curious about what changes are ahead. :)

  5. Gail

    You are SO right about grief; it does take away the carefree-ness of life! When my mom died in August 2013, I felt a part of my heart was paralized. Then in summer of last year, when my sister was diagnosed with cancer, more paralysis. When we moved her into our little home on Sept. 6th, I was hopeful that our TLC could help her. It did, but last Saturday, younger sis took over and moved her down to her big Scottsdale home. During the almost five months that sis lived here, I felt like the emotional paralysis was going to take over. Now, I feel better, because I don’t see daily deterioration. I was in sheer mourning every day, even though I knew/ know that she’ll go into Jesus’s arms. I breathe better now, and have the desire to do what I can each day to take care of myself, hubby and the son we still have at home. My experience has enabled me to know when strength came directly from God, because, MAN, was I struggling at times! His love is truly overabundant. I no longer feel paralized. I look forward to reading more blog posts from you!

  6. Michelle

    Loved reading this recap especially since I’ve been so out of touch with blogging friends. Your words about grief are so true. It shapes and changes and defines you in so many ways. And that attic room? Clarita, it is stunning!!! You guys have amazing talent and such a fabulous style. I know how much work and dirt goes on to create such a beautiful space. Here’s a big round of applause from me to you.

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      It’s so fun to get a comment from you again! I feel out of touch myself with my blogging friends. And yes, you have done your own house building AND remodel, so you definitely know what it’s like. :) The end result is so exciting though!

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