Looking Back at 2018

Looking Back at 2018

Happy New Year! We are officially in 2019 and I just can’t believe it.

I’ve made it a “thing” to post a recap of the year for the past few years now. So, naturally when December 31 hit I felt like I had to sit down and hammer out a post. Silly, I know, but this is really how my brain works.

Also, I feel like this is a really good time to hit “pause” and remind you that the word God gave me for this year was “rest.” Yet, I spent the last day of the year stressing out about something I told myself I had to do with excellence. Cue laugh track here.

Anyways, I felt this enormous sense of pressure to sit down and write a great post that somehow captured the way God moved and all the milestones in-between while still being relatable. Spoiler alert: I did not get it written by my own self-imposed New Year’s Eve deadline.

I ended up spending most of the day hanging out with my siblings and friend, Dom, who is in town from Australia. Then, I threw together a brief 2018 recap on my Instagram story to at least acknowledge the end of the year (Very original, I know!) and then before I knew it it was midnight and time to yell “Happy New Year!”

When I felt pressure to post, I just kept telling myself, “It’s really okay. If you want to get it done, you will get it done but just relax.” Don’t get it twisted, I still let the worry and stress creep into my thoughts but I ultimately ended up relaxing about it.

And even though I am typing this at 10:32 p.m. New Year’s Day to get it done, choosing to be present yesterday instead of charging ahead into what I felt I had to do is a big step for me. It shows me that God has worked on me and grown a restful spirit in me- even if it’s been small progress.

So, in these very first days of 2019, I just want to remind you that the same is true for you.

God has worked in you this year. He has moved you closer to who you want to become, even if you don’t realize it. And the best part is, He has not loved you any less or forgotten you in the process.

As I look back on the year 2018 turned out to be, I am having to trust that this is the truth in my life, too.

This year was so many things for me. It was exciting, challenging, difficult, good and hard all at the same time. But I’m learning that is how God works, He has a purpose for each of us in the highs and the lows.

I think often times I’ve always thought of the highs and the lows as being separate- and sometimes they are- but this year God taught me that they can also be deeply intertwined…

In January, I started working as an Arts & Life writer for my college paper, the North Texas Daily, in Spring 2018. I was awarded “Reporter of the Month” in January and was published in the paper many times. I gained so much confidence as a writer and learned a ton during the semester. I ended up being offered a paid position as a senior staff writer for Fall 2018. It was still a good experience but it was more work and I felt it. It lead to anxiety and dread (I wrote about it in my blog post called “Anxiety, Rest & Jesus”) so I made the decision to leave the paper in December. It was a rollercoaster ride and the paper was a major part of my year that I am very thankful for. Leaving was hard but I have felt peace and energy since.

In February, my dad’s uncle, Uncle Bob, passed away. He was the closest thing I had to a grandpa on my dad’s side and meant a lot to our family. Even though it was a sad time, it ended up working out for all five of us to get on a plane and go to his funeral in Georgia in the middle of our school semester. It felt like a miracle and was a really sweet time.

My sister, Ashley, and I got our wisdom teeth out during Spring Break with no complications (Hallelujah!) but it was a week full of applesauce and pain. The unglamorous, forced break ended up being what we both needed, though.

I finished out my three years as a middle school girls leader with the same group of ladies I started with in 2015. Watching them grow from 6th graders to 8th graders was one of the greasiest privileges of my life. Leaving them to go into high school felt bittersweet but I knew it was time. My last Wednesday HUB was the day before my 21st birthday and they threw me a surprise party…it was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had. Oh, and I went to Los Angeles to celebrate with my dad, too. Seriously, the best!

I was offered my dream editorial internship at D Magazine over the summer and took it! It was very exciting and a wonderful learning experience. But it also ended up being really hard, from the commute to Dallas to learning how to fit into the different workplace environment. In the end, God used me in an unexpected way and reminded me that His plans are always greater. And I made some lifelong friends along the way!

And I spent all the moments in-between through the year loving, crying, laughing and living with wonderful family and friends.

Of course, there were more highlights than I can count that were just absolutely wonderful. And some pretty disappointing low points, too, that were just plain hard. I think we both know I could sit here and write about all of them for a long, long time…

So, instead, I’m just going to say that 2018 was a year I am thankful I got to be a part of. When I look at all the tiny puzzle pieces that create the picture of this year I see laughs, so many tears, hurt-filled words and moments of celebration. I see adventures and scary steps into the unknown. I see strength and healing and endurance and rest. Each piece is important and a part of me now.

And when I step back, I really see a clear, beautiful and real picture of Jesus. Not cheesy, not sugar-coated…just Him and His love that has held me together through it all.

I tell you all these things not to brag about myself or make my year seem like something it wasn’t.I mainly just want to share the reality of my year through the redemptive lenses of Jesus.

He is always who He says He is, always doing what He says He will do- saving us.

I don’t know what 2018 looked like for you. I have a feeling you have some highs and lows and some in-betweens, too. But my ultimate hope for all of us is that we can step back and remember Jesus. I hope we can remember how He moved boldly through our year so that we can receive His grace to step forward into the fresh, new year He is giving us.

So, Happy New Year! I have a really good feeling 2019 is going to be His best one yet.

“Be alert, be present. I’m about to dosomething brand-new.It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?

There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,rivers in the badlands.

Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’—the coyotes and the buzzards— because I provided water in the desert,rivers through the sun-baked earth, drinking water for the people I chose,the people I made especially for myself,a people custom-made to praise me.”

-Isaiah 43:19-21 (MSG)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

-Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

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Twenty-Fifteen

Twenty-Fifteen

Hi, everyone! Happy New Year!!!
I can’t believe 2015 is coming to a close. It feels like just yesterday I was setting my New Year’s resolutions & writing about all the wonderful things God had in store for 2015 (all of them true & even better than I could have imagined!). 

At the beginning of the year I wrote a blog post about 2015 titled “A Year Full of Light” because God had told me that is what this year would be. I remember the night He gave me the word “light”- I was watching the flame of a single candle dance & flicker in a dark room, every time I thought it would go out it never did. The flame would change but the light would never leave it- that’s the moment He told me. 

As long as I am a burning flame for God, my life will never lose its light. 

Now, I will be honest, this past month has worn my flame out quite a bit & has made it difficult to see the light. But that’s why I’m so thankful for this blog, which serves as a reminder of how faithful God has been during these past 365 days. I’ve had this little blog for about a year now (which also seems crazy to me!) & it’s been so wonderful to look back at my writing & see how God has truly illuminated my life & all of 2015 with His goodness.

I was able to “look back” at this year in a special way, thanks to a truly wonderful surprise I received from WordPress-they essentially wrapped up everything “Curly Hair & Cheerful Heart” did by summarizing all of my moments from the past year! I thought this would be the perfect “last post” of 2015 because I want to share this special part of my world with you- my friends, family & fellow blogger buddies- who continue to read the words I write & encourage me to follow this passion of mine. There wouldn’t be a “summary” to look at without all of the support from those around me (both physically & virtually!).

You guys continue to remind me how blessed I am & how GOOD God is! I am so looking forward to the new days ahead & all of the crazy amazing things He is going to do in our world & each of our lives! 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for visiting my tiny corner of the blogosphere & for making this year one full of so much light & love. I hope you have a very Happy New Year & can’t wait to see you on the other side!

Rachel

Curly Hair & Cheerful Heart’s Year In Blogging: Click here

Each of these photos is a cover photo from a blog post I wrote in 2015