A few weeks ago, I was blessed to be able to share a very short snippet of my life from this past year with a room full of people. As I listened to the words coming out of my own mouth, it hit me how much has happened from January to December during this year that I decided to choose to be brave.

I’ve learned so much about what it means to be brave. It means stepping into the unknown even when it’s extremely uncomfortable. It means letting go of things and trusting God for the results. It means doing things that are hard, even when it’s scary.

Here’s my year of choosing brave, month by month (the highlighted text will take you to my past blog posts from the year):

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In January, God gave me clarity that this would be a year of change, trust and stepping into the unknown. I looked forward to entering a new decade of life. I knew that day would coincide with Easter Sunday, which also would be the first Sunday our church would have services as part of another much larger church. I knew that the merger would not only impact the church I loved for more than a decade, but also my community of friends and my job. And I knew I would have to be brave to make it through our first high school graduation, helping our son choose a college, and sending him off.

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In February, our church held several meetings to discuss the possibility of a church merger. During that month, I was overwhelmed with anxiety and feelings of failure. I made myself sick from stress and fear. I wrote about my struggle with losing my identity as a mom and in my work life.

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In March, I contemplated endings and beginnings. How can you be simultaneously grieving an ending of something you loved and excited about what’s next? I wrote about trusting God in the hard moments as our church voted to approve the merger. As I processed what was ahead for our church, I was also starting to move into my new position in my job. I spent my spring break in California attending the National Religious Broadcasters convention to learn about my new role that would include promoting our new pastor’s radio show and podcast. I wrote about that here.

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April was full of big moments. I celebrated my 50th birthday during a long Easter weekend filled with my favorite things. The church merger was in motion. I began my new job and transitioned out of my old role. I began driving to work in a new location about 40 minutes from our house. We squeezed in a few more last-minute college visits. I wrote about expectations and foggy days.

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And then there was May. I made it through high school graduation using my strategy of holding on for dear life. I dove into my new job responsibilities. But each day, as I got up to go to work, it became more and more clear to me that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. On the last week day of May and the last day of school, I resigned from my job. I worked through panic attacks, stress and anxiety…. I wrote about the downsize of loving fiercely.

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June was a beautiful and precious month that I spent learning to recover my life. I focused on my theme verse from the summer from Matthew 11:28-30. Without a job to give me sense of identity, I questioned my own desire to be known. I worked on changing my perspective and finding the courage to pursue my own interests.

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July was such a turning point for me. That’s when I began to understand what it really means to be free. I wrote about the mystery of the three keys. I had a God encounter as part of a retreat that I helped plan. I realized that change always happens.

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And then there was August. Looking back at the blog posts from that month still makes my heart ache just a little. I struggled with the changing family dynamic of sending our oldest to college.  I helped Andrew pack for college and said our long goodbye. And then, almost in a fog of disbelief, we dropped him off at college.

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Under His wings you will find refuge

In September, as the kids got into their routine of being back in school, I began to actually start to look forward to the future. I didn’t know what was next for me, but God was giving me an excitement about what was ahead. “Under His wings you will find refuge” became my theme verse for the month from Psalm 91:4. I began having conversations with the folks at OneWay Ministries about potentially going to work there. I attended a retreat with their staff in Lake Geneva. By the end of the month, I had accepted a new job.

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In October, I wasn’t sure what it would be like to go back to work after 4.5 months of freedom from a daily schedule. But on Oct. 15, I started my new role as Director of Advancement at OneWay. I loved getting to know my new team. I have been blown away by how intelligent, pleasant, talented and mission-driven the people around me are. I hit the ground running with a $4 million capital campaign to launch and only a few weeks to do it. But I was also refreshed by the way the organization put their trust in God for the results.

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In November, I really started to settle into my new normal at work. One of the highlights of the month was getting to visit Andrew at college and watch him perform a rap song in front of the entire student body. It was amazing to me to think about what a transformation I had seen in this kid I had dropped off at college a few months before who was so anxious he could barely eat on the day we left him. Now, he was getting up on stage full of confidence to perform before 2,000 of his peers. After nearly six months of stepping back from ministry at church, I was also starting to feel like it was time to re-engage. I’m still trusting God to show me what that will look like for me and for our family.

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Here we are in December. The best way to describe how I’m doing these days is the word “released.” I’ve had the unique experience of working for three different organizations this year and to also spend one third of the year pursuing my own interests. I’ve realized that I have a strong desire to use the gifts and talents God has given me in a role that allows me to help guide others who want to learn and grow. I feel like I’ve been released to do that.

More than anything, as I look back at this past year, I am filled with peace. Reading through all of my old blog posts has reminded me of so many days filled with anxiety, fear of the unknown, not wanting to move forward, then taking that step into the brave. I’ve learned to open my hands and release control. I’ve learned to trust God for the results. I’ve learned that my identity is not based on what I do. When I look back at the year, I’m just reminded that everything is going to be OK.

Here are all of my blog posts from this year in order, recapping my year of brave:

Starting the year with creativity 

Losing my identity

A funny way with numbers

What I loved in March

Trusting God in the hard moments

Endings and beginnings

On expectations and foggy days

What I loved in April

Taking time to breathe

Hold on tight!

On being known

Learning to recover my life

Walking straight through it

The downside of loving fiercely

Because creativity takes courage

An encounter with the cracks, scrapes and bruises of life

Change always happens

The mystery of the three keys

The summer of yes

Changing the family dynamic

Pack it up, kid. It’s time to go!

My motto for a new season of life

Embracing the future

Under His wings you will find refuge

Getting ready to start the next chapter

A moment that was bigger than us

The mixed-up seasons of life

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Thank you to everyone who followed along my journey this year! I’m thankful I was able to share it with everyone who reads my blog!

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How did your year end up? I would love to hear. Leave me a comment.

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