I really wasn’t planning to do an obligatory “final words” post for this year, but honestly, as 2018 comes to a close is a few hours, I cannot help but think back to what happen in the last 12 months.
Like seriously, 2018 was ridiculous in terms of joy, heartache, abundance and loss. Let’s reflect on this gal’s year…starting with the sad stuff:
I went to 14 funerals this year. FOURTEEN. In my 45 years here on this earth, I think I attended as many funerals in this last year than I have in the entirety of my life. Honestly, this was the biggie. Loss was a big part of these last 12 months. Not just in death, but in career and finalities in relationships. I lost a job I cared about and was devout to for almost a decade. Acquaintances come and go, as well as some friends. Back in February a woman I considered like a sister decided to attack me on social media for coming back to Jesus. This woman, who I loved so much, who had an open door invitation to our home, and someone I could confide in, turned so cruel, something I am still thinking about 11 months later. I’m no stranger to controversy when it comes to my transition from pagan to Christ following, and most of my pagan friends have been kind and honest with me, even if it hurts them that I no longer believe in the things I once did.
In the last week alone, we were hit with a missile right to the heart and well, I guess all I can say is we all need to lick our wounds sometimes. I think of the song by Aaron Shust’s “You Redeem”, when he says:
“Miracles will happen, Healing will come, The plans of our enemy ruined undone”
As well as:
“You redeem, You redeem, You restore what’s been stolen from me…You reclaims, You release, You rebuild with the words that You breathe….”
It’s a powerful song that has helped me get through some really tough times in the last couple years, most importantly this year. But if I focus on just the loss, I’ll never truly see what I RECEIVED. So let’s talk about the good stuff:
I became part of an amazing ministry called Philia Ministries. Founded by my friends James and Lea DiNonno, they are two of the most loving and compassionate people, with such deep love for our Lord. They do their best to follow God’s original instructions, well, the ones that can be followed. Because of their devotion to God, they have been chastised, belittled and mocked in ways I never thought people would be capable of. But, this is what being set apart is all about, right? I myself have been trying to follow suit, because to me, many of those instructions aren’t burdensome. They are not filled with bondage others claim them to be. So, it meant I was also on the receiving end of that mockery. One actually threatened to call my Pastor! HA! For wanting to follow God in a way she did not agree with. Religion sucks, folks. That’s why I always tell people I’m not in a religion, I’m in a relationship.
In the last 12 months I have found kindred souls with a couple dozen people across the world, people that truly love unconditionally, people that are in the world but not of the world. There is so much humility in this ministry, I talk about them often. This is one of the greatest gifts God had given me this year. One I will NEVER take for granted.
What else…Oh, I got a job! Who would have thought that a girl who had been in the corporate world since 1999 would end up working at a humble book store a mile from my home? For me, this was life changing. There is very little stress, and a lot of laughter. I actually ENJOY going to work! I feel each time I open those doors, I am walking into my own private library. For a Bibliophile like myself, it’s a dream come true! And it’s pretty awesome I have amazing bosses and coworkers that make my days go by fast!
My health has improved significantly. In the last 12 months I am down over 30 pounds. It’s amazing what not having lots of stress inside your body does! Don’t get me wrong, this year was stressful in itself, my pulmonary issues are getting worse, as well as my memory continues to slip a little, but thankfully the good outweighed the bad. How did that happen, you ask?
I’ll say it again, folks. FAITH.
I think of Laura Story’s song, “Blessings”, where she sings:
“What if Your blessings come through raindrops, what if Your mercies come through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near…what if trials of this life, are Your mercies in disguise…”
No doubt, I shed a lot of tears. A LOT. No one can take that away from me. I had some really crappy things happen to me by people I cared about. The last 6 months alone were trials in itself. But as my “Person” Jenny said that it was my FAITH that was a big part of my life this year and how certain things turned out. I truly believe this.
See, I hate no one. But I sure as heck know people out there hate me. Hate me for my past, hate me for my personality. Hate me because I exist. I cannot stop those people from feeling that way, but I sure can use my FAITH God has given me and not engage in that hatred. Life is a precious gift that should not be thrown about. There’s going to come a day when we all go home to the Father. And we are going to have to stand in front on Him and explain why we did this and that, why we felt certain ways, and why we lived the way we did. I for one will not leave this earth with an ounce of negativity within me. And I urge so many who read this to do the same. Love as HE loved us. If this is the only thing I could have taught to anyone in this world, it is that.
So, as the hours grow closer to that clean slate that will be 2019, I am thinking of people like Sally, Helen, sweet little Eliana Grace, Janet, my friend’s mom and brother, Damian, My Aunt Sharon, and my friend’s brother in law…just to name a few, who left this world way too early, and the families and friends they left behind.
But I also think of my dear friends Jenny and Steven who FINALLY got married, my other dear friends Maria and Tim who had a baby girl named Teagan, my sweet friend Alina who gave birth to her little boy, a ministry that I am proud to be a part of and the friends I have now because of it, my son’s professional wrestling training scholarship, and how my faith has grown to immense proportions.
A rollercoaster of a year, 2018. Thank you for it, but I’m ready to get off the ride now and find the 2019 ride, jump in with my arms raised and my heart open for better things to come!
There’s a war between guilt and grace
They are fighting for a sacred space
But I’m living proof, GRACE WINS EVERYTIME.
No more lying down in death’s defeat
Now I’m rising up to victory
Singing HALLELUJAH! GRACE WINS EVERYTIME!!!!!!!!
Yeah I’m living proof…
GRACE WINS EVERYTIME.
God speed, 2018.