At the end of each year, I set an overarching theme for the coming year. For 2016, that theme was perseverance. I felt directionless in a lot of ways. But even in my wandering, I didn’t want to lose my focus or my perspective on life. And in order to not lose faith or hope, I had to persevere through it. Now that it’s almost the end of 2016, I do believe God stretched me in many ways to persevere. Here are some of the memories from this year, and what I’ve learned.
These memories are in no particular order, and some might be considered more as highlights than memories. But I feel that memories is a generic enough term to encompass everything on this list.
1. NEW HOBBY
This year I picked up handlettering (aka brushlettering) as a new hobby! I think a new hobby is a great way to keep up with your creativity and continue to motivate yourself. Handlettering helped me to illustrate God’s words in a new way. I’m still very much a novice, but am enjoying every minute of it! Check out my instagram.
2. BULLET JOURNAL
The bullet journal has really kept me organized better than I imagined! It not only keeps me on top of my daily tasks, but I track my habits, I meal plan, I keep a record of prayer requests, I write out my Bible, doodle, and so much more. It’s so flexible that it can be customized to fit exactly your needs. If you haven’t heard about the bullet journal, learn more about the original design here.
3. NEW SMALL GROUP
My husband and I had been with our old small group since we got married in 2012. A few months into 2016, we saw an opportunity to help launch a new small group that would reach our demographic (millennials). It’s alarming at how quickly millennials are leaving the church, and the same can be said of my church. This particular small group would not be location-based, but lifestage-based. So it was open to singles or married couples without children. We prayed about this transition because switching small groups is not a decision to be made lightly. Eventually, we did decide to help this new small group, and we are so glad that we did. By God’s grace, we have about 10-12 people regularly coming out, studying the Word, worshiping God, and sharing life together. I’ve learned that these kinds of transitions are hard, but building up the church body is more important. And as long as your priority is to build the church, and not just be comfortable for comfort’s sake, then do it in humility, and God will bless it.
4. CAMPING TRIP
Building off of #3, we went on a camping trip with this new small group a few months after the group had started. It was the kind of trip where you bonded by climbing up steep dunes, setting up tents, going on hikes, relaxing on the beach, and having late-night talks. I think it set a great foundation for the group, and I can certainly say that it was one of the top highlights of this year.
5. MY GRANDMOTHER
At the end of May, my paternal grandmother passed away. It was really hard for me to bear, because I was here in Chicago, while she was in Seoul, South Korea. The last time I saw her was four years ago, when were in Seoul for our honeymoon. The last videos and photos that my dad sent me before she passed were heartbreaking. Fortunately, I got to video chat with her for a little bit, but I’m not sure if she was able to see or hear me. But I was thankful for even that moment to be able to see her one more time. As a devout follower of Jesus, I know that she is in heaven. Pain-free, enjoying her everlasting life with Christ.
6. SONGS ON THE CLOUD
When I process through traumatic events like the one mentioned above, it usually leads to a creative outlet such as drawing, writing, or music. I had always thought about posting online my covers or original songs. But I just never pulled the trigger–until my grandmother passed away. Then I felt the desire to share my loss and help others cope with their loss, too. So the first song I posted was a cover of Meredith Andrews’s “Draw Me Nearer”. I’m working on a new song right now, and I hope to have it by the end of this year. In the meantime, feel free to listen to some of the covers I’ve done on Soundcloud.
7. Worship Leading
2016 marked the second year of leading worship at my current church. I felt like I grew closer to my team members, and learned more about how to worship especially when we don’t want to. We introduced a few new songs and I got to introduce an alternate chorus I wrote for “It Is Well”. I also tried to coordinate people to do special praises during offering or as a testimony. It didn’t take off well, so that’s still on the list for next year 🙂
8. ANNIVERSARY TRIP
This past September marked our 4th wedding anniversary! To celebrate we took a trip out to San Francisco. You can read more about it here. But one thing I learn with each anniversary is that it can only get better. Sure, it’ll get harder as kids are in the mix, as you might lose a loved one or lose a job, as you age and notice hair loss or weakened metabolism.. whatever it may be, each anniversary marks another 365 days that you’ve been with your spouse. And that is still something to celebrate. Divorce may be rampant today and some may look at marriage more as a binding rather than a sacred contract. So as you celebrate each anniversary, remember why God brought you together and how you can bless others together.
I had known about the harmful chemicals in our lives for a few years now. But I never took a firm, hard step until this year. Something just came over me and I realized that I gotta start sooner than later, and why not now before we start having kids? So I pulled the trigger, followed basically my five part plan, and slowly began to replace toxin-filled products with “green”, homemade products. I definitely see the results in my skin. I actually feel clean inside my own house. And I’m still working on eating more clean food. Work in progress right? But always forward steps.
10. LAUNCHING BLOG
Launching this blog is definitely one of the highlights of this year! I’ve been blogging since the Xanga days, but it was more of a personal thing where only my friends cared about what I wrote. I would also give up on it after a while. I think I had like four different Xanga accounts and a few WordPress accounts before this one. But this year, I wanted to really stick with it. Really own the blog, and do my best to help others in their spiritual walks. I believe that God gave me a unique voice and I hope that this blog truly is a source of inspiration and encouragement.
In the end, God really did stretch me in many ways to persevere. There are some new ventures that I started this year, and it’s easy to give up and just pick up another thing. But through that, I must persevere. I lost a few loved ones this year, and sometimes I found it easier to wallow in my despair and sorrow. But there is a time for mourning, and a time for rejoicing. Through the ups and downs, I must persevere.
How has God shaped your year? Has there been an overarching lesson that He’s been teaching you this year? If you were to give 2016 a theme, what would it be?