2017: A Year of Grace

It’s really not right to ring in a new year without taking a few moments to pause and reflect on the year we’re leaving behind. 2017 brought us adventures, new friendships, difficult challenges, and profound joy. Most of all, though, 2017 taught me A LOT—about myself, about how I relate to others, and about God.  I’m walking away from it deeply grateful for the lessons learned and the grace I experienced. Cheers, 2017!

January: The most incredible week in Hawaii, snow days, getting settled into our new home, Bachelor nights with the girls, and ice skating with my kiddos.

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February: A weekend in Asheville, pizza nights, more unpacking, a trip to Florida, Saturdays catching up with good friends, and binge watching The West Wing.

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March: A women’s retreat with church, exploring Raleigh with friends, and all the basketball.

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April: A UNC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, Something Rotten at DPAC, Saturdays in Chapel Hill, and birthday parties.

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May: A trip to Indianapolis for work, a Cinco de Mayo wedding, Aislinn’s baby shower, Bark in the Park, celebrating four years of marriage, and Finley’s first trip to the beach.

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June: Lacey’s wedding, Summer Arts Camp at church, celebrating Bryan’s birthday in Chicago, camp with my kiddos, and a conference in Atlanta.

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July: Turning 29, a surprise birthday celebration, meeting Scout, beach days, dinners under market lights, lots of books, and a mission trip to Romania.

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August: Finley’s first birthday, hiking and breweries in Asheville, John Mayer under the stars, and lots of writing.

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September: Hanson at the Ritz, finally getting to sing “Go Cubs Go” at Wrigley Field, Finley’s first tailgate, and a whirlwind of a month at church.

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October: Family Retreat, a super fun trip to Nashville, hosting nights around the fire pit, football Saturdays, and Halloween costumes featuring Thor and the world’s cutest lion.

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November: Bon Iver in Charlottesville, a wedding in Virginia, Memaw’s 93rd birthday, Thanksgiving festivities, our annual family photo shoot, and the most glorious week in Costa Rica.

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December: Picking out a Christmas tree, parties, annual holiday dinner at Angus Barn, time with family, celebrating Hannah and Justin’s engagement, and reflecting on 2017—a hard, bizarre, wonderful year that taught us so much about grace and courage and speaking up. And for that I’m thankful.

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A Word for 2017

grace

Well, it’s been pretty quiet around here for the past few weeks.  Last week I took a little break from the internet while Bryan and I spent a week soaking up the sun in Hawaii! We had such a wonderful time, and I’ll definitely be sharing more about our trip here soon.  We came home to snow and ice (sigh), so we’ve spent most of the past couple days curled up at home watching Netflix and snuggling Finley. For now, though, it’s back to real life. Today I’m sharing my one word for the year—the word I want to meditate on as I go through the coming year and the word that I hope becomes a bigger part of my story. This is my word for 2017:

Grace. 

As I thought about what I needed this year, what I was truly longing for, I kept coming back to the word grace. For me, it means grace for others—withholding judgment, offering forgiveness and understanding freely, and striving for compassion. For so many of us, this year has been difficult and divisive.  We’ve had to bite our tongues about issues of great importance and swallow our anger when friends and family members make remarks that are hurtful or cruel.  It’s a painful time in our country and most of us are struggling with how to respond.  I have to admit that my first instinct in these situations has been judgment or anger or even disgust. But if we’re going to move forward then each of us must learn to show grace…even when we disagree.

It also means grace for myself.  It means letting go of perfection and hustle in favor of a more present and content way of life. It means accepting that things may not always turn out exactly like I hope, and that’s ok. It means relaxing my grip and expectations and living with gratitude for the life I have, just as it is. It means cutting myself some slack when things don’t get done and learning about the beauty that exists in the imperfections.

Finally, this year I am praying for grace for our world. We are hurting and broken, but God offers us grace freely and unconditionally. My prayer is that we would accept and live into that grace, extending it to one another and working towards a different way of living.

So, what are you hoping for this year? What is your prayer for 2017?

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

1 John 1:16