A Year in Review, A Year Celebrated

Wow!  It’s hard to believe that in a few short days, 2014 will draw to a close, and 2015 will begin.  It’s been a good year, albeit challenging.  I want to take a moment to share the blessings and stretching God has provided in 2014, before jumping into resolutions and goals and plans for next year.

My resolution for 2014 was to live like I believed God called me to be a writer. While I did not fully accomplish any of my writing goals this year,  I did independently publish my first book, The Field (which I just can’t resist telling you is on sale now), and wrote 90,000 words in A Year with the Baptists (which will NOT be ready in February as I originally planned due to a complete plot overhaul). In addition to editing The Field and first-drafting A Year with the Baptists, I wrote three short stories: The Mysterious Case of Bella Lagerford (a psychological thriller-esque piece), Retail Therapy, and my personal favorite, Who You Are.   I learned that a writer at work tends to remain at work, and a writer at rest tends to remain at rest. I learned about being confident in my writing and in promoting it, not because I’m a mind-blowing writer (yet), but because I certainly have a gift, and I intend to be a grateful and faithful steward over what God has given me.

I also made a decision to start expressing myself better.  Before this year, I had a habit of keeping quiet in order to maintain peace in my relationships with others.  You could say peace was an idol for me, but God used a circumstance at the end of 2013 to open my eyes to just how unhealthy it was, and I was determined to change.  I wrote on more controversial topics, such as sexuality, feminism, minimum wage, debt, and I upset some people.  I wrote hard things about the church and my faith.  I stood up to bullies, reminding them and remembering for myself who I am and who I belong to, and I lost a person or two with that.  Okay, honestly, it doesn’t feel like a loss at all.  It feels much more like a weight off my shoulders, not worrying what said people are going to say to cut down who I am or what I’ve been called to do, or worrying about them giving me the cold shoulder and gossiping when I disagree with them.

In 2014, I learned about transience, the day of small things (and not to despise it), waiting, and hope.  I found a balance between vulnerability and privacy.  I set healthy boundaries. I confronted personal demons. Perhaps, most importantly, I learned that sin does not occur in a vacuum; not mine, and not yours. In other words, there is no sin I can commit that affects only me. Not ever.

I did a lot of reading and discovered some pretty amazing writers and began reviewing booksSarahbeth Caplin, Ashlee Willis, Hannah CobbNadine BrandesCharlotte Cuevas, and Sarah E. Boucher.

My most popular post this year by a long shot was I Don’t Want to Be a Pastor’s Wife: seven months after publication, it was still getting hits and being passed around.  But, if you go looking for it today, you won’t find it, because I decided to take it down about ten days ago.  Why? Well, for one thing, it was deeply cynical, even for me.  For another, although it revealed deep trust issues within me, it was actually a justification to pursue a relationship that I wanted and was actively pursuing, but which would have taken me far off the path I’d been called to.  (Which involves heavy involvement in ministry, whether Mr. Incredible is a pastor or not. And let’s just say for the sake of argument that he IS: how would a post like that make him feel?).  And finally, until its removal, this post continued to be actively viewed and shared; maybe by people who know me (and were on their knees, begging God to open my eyes … thank you, really); maybe by people who don’t know me or the context, but are willing to use my cynicism for their own agenda.  The point is, I was not really ever in control of who saw it or the effect it had on people (which goes back to that whole sin-in-a-vacuum thing).  So.  I took it down.

It’s been a rollercoaster of a year, but I’m thankful for it. I’m thankful for what God has enabled me to do with my writing. I’m thankful for how He has taught me to speak up, even when people don’t like it.  I’m thankful for all of the things God has taught me this year, and for the grace He has shown as I’ve stubbornly dug in my heels when it comes to learning.  I’m thankful for the books I’ve read and the writers I’ve discovered. I’m thankful for what God has revealed in my heart about how far I have to go.

And I do have a long ways to go.  I have lots more writing to do.  I can always stand to be more gracious when I choose to speak up. I have more and more to learn about living presently with the future in mind, adopting God’s vision about life stuff, patience, and joyful anticipation.  I need to grow even more in personal vulnerability and public privacy.

I am so glad God is a patient teacher, and that He is for me, doing immeasurably above all that I ask or imagine.