Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve in a Coffee Shop

My little town may not have many perks, but this corner table at the local Starbucks is my current favorite retreat. Therefore it should come as a surprise to no one that I'm ringing in the new year here. (Actually, I'll perch here until they close at 10pm, but you know what I mean.) Many of you will be out with friends and family, dressed in your sparkly best, ready to countdown to midnight. Happiest of New Years to you and to yours! But that simply isn't my season or my state of mind right now.

Instead, here I am, ice water and PowerSheets in hand, alone at Starbucks, taking a break to breathe, blog, and believe in 2016. And that is exactly what my heart needs.


[Phone case from Casetify, PowerSheets from Lara Casey, Planner by Sugar Paper LA for Target]

2015 was good. Wonderful even. It brought with it so many great memories and so many blessings from the Lord, but in other ways it was really, really hard. And I can't get ready to go into the new year without getting real with myself about the hard places I've trudged through. The weary places of my heart don't need another bandaid, they need a Holy Spirit led healing. Because 2016 is scary, and a bandaid won't fix that. 

But while acknowledging those hard and hurting places is important, acknowledging the BIG ways God showed up this year should take top priority. I serve a God worth praising and whose blessings are worth noting, and yesterday I was reminded of a prayer He answered with all kinds of flair and fireworks in 2015, going abundantly beyond anything I could have asked or imagined!

At the beginning of last year, I asked the Lord for a tribe. A tribe of people I could rally with and carry on alongside, ones who would encourage me and who I could encourage in return. I was lonely and overwhelmed in grad school, feeling small and unseen, though bubbling with expectations for the new year. I asked, He answered. 

He answered in SO many ways.

In the spring, He brought me a wonderful cast of These Shining Lives, the play I had the JOY of being in at OSU. As much as I loved it, as much as I grew as an actor and a person, our little band of actors and the rehearsal high could not supply what I needed. I was playing the lead, but I was still insecure. I was confident in what I could bring to the table, but I still felt the need to do more, to BE more, and no compliment from a director or audience member could really fill that place. 

Playing Catherine, living her story where the women she worked with rallied with her through illness and hard-fought legal battles that changed history, reminded me that community is powerful, and we were made to live in a community with a mind on a picture bigger than ourselves. Oh, how I craved that!

Two weeks after my show closed, I had the privilege of attending the Hope Spoken conference in Dallas. I only knew a handful of gals going in, and somehow got put into a different small group than most of my roommates, but it was like those women were handpicked to encourage my socks off that weekend! I met Rachel Cox and Rachel Walker in real life for the first time, was surrounded by a group of artists and tender-hearted ladies passionate about seeking the Lord, and my weary heart was refreshed in surprising ways! Also, I won a ticket to next year's conference so... who's going?!

Following soon after, I was blessed with a group of fellow bloggers and believers who wanted to run forward after the Kingdom of God while using our online influences for good, and OOF was that a healing balm to my soul!  Daily texts, Google hangouts, encouragement Mondays, and so many more sweet moments blessed the end of the school year and carried into my summer. These girls are still part of my life and I could not be more thankful.

In September I was able to attend The Influence Conference in Indianapolis. What a gift! SO many sweet online friends gathering in real life for the first time, and then SO much powerful, Gospel-centered truth spoken over us all weekend long. After a long summer and a tough transition back to school, God knew exactly how to breathe life into my weary bones with these women!

THEN, as if the Lord hadn't done enough, I found Delight Ministries at OSU. Y'ALL. I can't imagine 2015 without these women! In the middle of the year, this delightful gaggle of God-lovin' gals welcomed me in and rocked my world. I had been so discouraged that my theatre schedule with rehearsal every night of the week kept me from attending a church small group, then BAM, a Saturday morning gathering appeared. And there is something SO POWERFUL about women getting real before God, daring to ask deep questions, and letting vulnerability run free. 

Surrounded by bright smiles, twinkling lights, and comfy couches, breakthroughs happened in and out of that room, all because a brave group of women said YES to starting Delight at OSU. I am BEYOND thankful that they did so! These ladies are my tribe (I don't even want to think about leaving them in May) and I can't wait to see what the next semester brings for us!

Earlier today, I sat at another coffee shop with my dear friend Carissa, catching up on life and reflecting on the new year, admitting how worried I was about the unknowns to come. She then started asking really great questions that just won't leave me. 

Why do we always stress about the next thing? We're so worried then it happens and we go, oh. Look at what God did. That wasn't as bad as expected. It was good even! Then we go right to stressing about the next thing, why?

Her answer: because we forget. And sadly it's oh so true. 

I don't want to be one who forgets. Are you with me? Let's not forget the good things God has done! So in all our planning and prep for the New Year, let's take some time to commit to reflecting on how he has already been faithful. He has been faithful before and He will be again.

Now that all the ice in my water has melted, and the coffee shop is slowly emptying out, I'll say goodnight.

Goodnight, Happy New Year, and God Bless 2016!

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