A 2015 reflection – What has this year taught you?

2015. The year I have been anticipating most of my life. The year that was on the back of my t-shirt I received from the first day of middle school. The year of graduation — which in turn creates a year of a lot of anticipation, a lot of emotional hugs with good-byes, and a lot of “lasts”. But also, it has been the year of moving into college — which leads to a year of a lot of unknown, a lot of hugs from new people, and too many hellos to count. Growth has been intertwined with everything this year has held. And in that growth, I have really come to recognize that learning from each other is such a treasure. I feel like I am constantly learning from what others are learning and I don’t want to take that for granite. We have a huge opportunity to share this life together — the exciting experiences and also the hard, heart wrenching experiences. And that is where this post comes. The post is another compilation of other people’s words through the experiences and growth 2015 brought them. It is something special to see all the goodness that arises from the difficulties a year can bring. So, I invite you to read and share life with others. And I invite you to share your words too— we are in this life together my friends.



Sam Gautier

The year 2015 has taught me to be grateful for what I have and always know that Jesus is with me every step of the way.


Kelly Saunders
What a year. I learned that chacos are not acceptable in Southern California, film photography is like therapy, and life without rain is not the life for me. I learned that I am as human as human gets. I learned that friendship takes time and getting to truly know someone takes longer than a few deep talks at a coffee shop. I learned that love is a muscle that can grow the more you use it on those who seem hard to love. Those people may even become your dearest friends. I learned that having a different perspective is okay. I learned that God is unconventional, brutally honest, and the greatest friend you could ever have. I learned that true growth is uncomfortable. I learned what real loneliness looks like. I learned that strength is not always displayed in the most obvious ways. I learned what grace looks like through the most unlikely of situations. I learned that Jesus does not have a faith-o-meter or an Instagram and that He accepts me as Kelly the human, not just Kelly the Christian. I learned that it’s impossible not to share Jesus with the people you have fallen in love with…so fall in love with more people. 2015 has been a big learning year for me if you couldn’t tell, and by golly am I grateful for it all!


Victoria Hanna

This past year taught me that change is possible, and that God loves to listen to us. He loves to answer our prayers in His perfect timing. And more importantly, I learned what it looks like to wholeheartedly follow Jesus.


Annie Stewart

This year has taught me to expect the unexpected knowing it’s all orchestrated in Gods timing and not my own.


Marissa Guimbarda

This past year taught me how to love and to love endlessly. I recently read Love Does by Bob Goff and the way he loves others gave me a push in the right direction. This past year taught be to BE BOLD to not be afraid to share who god is and how awesome he is. This past year has giving me the opportunity to inspire girls through wildlife and just by having one on one conversations with just some really awesome people.


Hannah Glass

Alright bfred this is a long one, but I got to thinking and I had a lot to say.

This is a hard question. For starters, for 365 days I have learned something new every day. So how then do I sum up what I learned in almost 8,760 hours of living? Even more, I went through one of the biggest transitions life has to offer us: moving out and starting college. That in itself holds over 3 pages of bullet-pointed lessons I have learned in just under 4 months. I’m going to spare you the novel of every gruesome detail I’ve learned in college, which ranges from what coffee tastes like to my extreme need of the Lord.

So, what have I learned this past year? What 2015 boils down to are these two thoughts: God is good and I am free.
1) God is good: I mean this really doesn’t need an explanation. God is good. He’s good when I believe the lies, He’s good when the sun is shining, He’s good when the darkness comes, He’s good when I don’t get my way, He’s good when my relationship with Him is strong and when it’s not where it should be. This year the Lord has shown me that time and time again. When all the doors to the future I wanted closed, His door opened and it was a path far better than I deserve. When I felt myself slipping, He took me to a different country which (unbeknownst to me at the time) changed the trajectory of my future. When I felt alone and incapable, He sent me encouragement in the little things. When I needed community most, He provided ten-fold with the greatest group of Christ-following college kids. Man how He loves us. God is good.
2) I am free: This one has two parts. The first of course is that “whoever the Son sets free is free indeed”. We are free from shame, fear, anxiety, guilt, etc because of the sacrifice of Christ and Gods immense, unfathomable love for us. He sent me this in a struggle to let go, to forgive, and to obey. See number one for my reaction to that. The second part to this is that I am free to be myself. Other people’s opinion do not matter for my being myself I will find the ones who truly love me. And so in this effort to learn to be myself I learned to love and be comfortable with not wearing make up in public, to stop obsessing about my hair, to wear what I feel, to laugh at what I find funny, to openly love what I want to, and, most importantly, to literally and figuratively dance like no one is watching. That last one horrifies my mother who wants grandchildren and has seen my dancing (it’s not pretty); luckily though I’m blessed with friends who dance just the same.
This is definitely not an exhaustive list; actually it barely scratches the surface. But these are the lessons that have changed me the most. The ones that have changed my perspective, my heart, and my attitude. The ones that have made my smile one of true joy and my heart full of peace. Praise God and go dawgs.
Katie Stevens

I’ve learned to love–love life//love people//love my jesus. you see, society is funny in the way that it tells us we are too broken to love or be loved. what a lie. what a goal the enemy has when he attacks.

i have been to the darkest places. from cutting to rape to eating disorders to self hate-but somehow, through people + my Jesus, i learned to love myself better and learn to love life more than i thought i would ever be able to. people have said to me that i couldn’t possibly be loved because of my past–Jesus cries out daily “YES YOU CAN”. that is the truth + hope i have held on to this year.
that’s what I’ve learned this year. in spite of all my brokenness + the worlds brokenness + Jesus’ wholeness, i CAN be loved + CAN love better than before because of the cross.
Nick Soong
Dear Bailey:
I want to share from the bottom of my heart what gets my heart excited and what does this past year teach me. This year has changed my life forever, and I’ve learn a lot from what happened. A friend of mine for five years ended our friendship, and this is the most devastating thing that has ever impacted me. Since she moved to college, we haven’t been in contact since. I’ve realized that friends come and go no matter what happens. To answer what gets my heart excited is 2016 – the year I’ve been truly waiting and excited for because it’s a new year for opportunities to reach new goals, to be closer to those who truly love me, and to make good deeds to make up for the bad deeds I’ve done. Hearing the lyrics from “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day,” I must also remember that there’s still hope for me, and God is not finished with me yet. It’s really nice to share my thoughts with you.
Emily Knudsen
this year has been the craziest path for me. from where I was at the beginning of the year, to where I am now, shows the direct path of Jesus in my life. I have learned so much about how whatever happens, whatever I have or do not have in life- if I lay down at night and can look up to the sky and know that Jesus loves and protects me and I have him, that is all and the only thing I need. living in that truth has changed my life.  I used to live in the fear that I would be alone, that j wasn’t enough, that what I had to offer isn’t good enough. but one night on the back porch, worshiping and praying over fears with my friends, I learned that there is no ladder faith, the lessons I am learning now are important because it is what Jesus is teaching me and no one else, but I can share those. I learned that asking questions to people about their family, insecurities, and passions can show me about them and Jesus in those simple moments. I have learned and decided that there is no other person that I want to live for other than Jesus. and that has changed for me just in the past 12 months. I’m learning more about myself and where Jesus is calling me than ever before. I am learning to be a listener to Jesus, to pray but sometimes just sit in the word and ask what he wants to teach me. being quiet is so beautiful, because the lord speaks to us wherever we are in life but we have to be ready to listen to him.  I also used to struggle with comparison,  I thought that being the most well known or prettiest or smartest is what mattered in life. it was easy for me to be jealous of people. but this year I have learned that sometimes my weaknesses are other people’s strengths, and that is okay. that I should bless them in those. to call out when I see people using their gifts and encourage them. their is a beauty in appreciating others and learning from them. and a simple thing but maybe the biggest for me, this year my dad is a 2 year cancer survivor, this also after my biological dad passed away soon after I was born has reminded me that we need to love and embrace people everyday. not just say hi, but be with people, BE with them. enjoy their presence, enjoy their passions embrace their difference and know that each day is a blessing. it really is. enjoy time with people and choose joy everyday.
I have chosen to choose joy, choose people, and choose Jesus EVERYDAY.
This year has taught me about three things: growth, struggle, and love.
Growth- Change is inevitable, especially for a student entering college. College has forced me to grow up whether or not I was ready for it. This year has taught me what it is like to be more independent. For the first time in my life, I am able to make my own decisions in regard to everything. However, I have realized that by allowing God to make decisions for you, life gets a whole lot more simple.
Struggle- The most impactful thing that I have learned this year, is that struggle and hardships are placed in our life as a test. God has tested me tremendously my first semester of college, and it took me a long time to figure out why. We must all face struggle because God gives us the strength to overcome, always.
Love- This year I have learned what it means to love and be loved. It makes you feel like you are worth so much more than you could ever imagine.


Nicole Ronczkowski

2015 taught me to keep an open mind always and that dancing is therapy for the heart.


Alexx Beato

In 2015 I have learned a few things. I have learned that the bad times cannot take away from the good times. The happiest times of your life are what will stay with you and are the things you will remember. If you don’t believe me just look at what people are reminiscing about today, it is all the exciting moments from 2015, not the bad ones.

The second thing I have learned is that it is ok to not have everything planned out. It is impossible to have your entire life organized and scheduled; in fact, life is no fun that way, the most adventurous parts of life will come from the days that you randomly get up and decide to go explore.

This year I have also learned that not everyone is what they seem to be. There are people on this world that you genuinely believe are good people and should be in your life and there are people that you wouldn’t think you would ever be friends with but in the end you are completely wrong. You need to spend time truly getting to know people because behind the sparkle may be darkness and underneath the dirt may be some diamonds. Learning this has allowed me to remove toxic people in my life and replace them with the truest friends I could have asked for.

The last thing I have learned, and the most important in my opinion, is that you may not end up where you thought you would, and that is OK. If you asked me where I thought I would be today a year ago, I would have told you College of Charleston enjoying the salty air and historic grounds, but I am no where near there. Instead, I am attending Berry College and enjoying the thousands of acres filled with deer. This is not what I predicted for myself, yet I couldn’t be happier. The journey that brought me to Berry was an amazing one and I have seen and explored so much and have made some friends that I know are for life at Berry, people and places I would have never encountered if my life went along with my plan. I know I am where I am meant to be and where God wanted me to be and that is enough. Just know that you will always end up where you are suppose to be, even if you veer off the original path, and life will be pure bliss.



Haley Naylor 


The clock strikes twelve and kisses goodbye to December 31st to say hello to January 1st every year and the world rejoices in the new opportunities that are to come. I think there’s something really beautiful in the midst of a New Years celebration. It’s the only holiday we have that’s essentially about reflection and rebuilding. We reflect on the past year and we find the areas that feel a little broken and we promise to dedicate the next year to patching them up.

In the past year, I could say I’ve needed a lot of patches. What I learned in 2015 is it’s okay to be honest about the holes in your life. Vulnerability is something I have always hated. You see, it’s easier for me to spend my energy trying to fix my life on my own than being honest about the holes I have. I’ve always felt like no one would want my baggage and it’d be easier to ignore its existence and leave it in the shadows as opposed to carrying it by my side. You shouldn’t live in your mistakes, but at the same time hiding them is only hurting yourself. We’re all people who need people and bringing our brokenness to light is a beautiful, vulnerable place.

2015 was a year where I realized that my brokenness is not a prisoner to shame. I’m allowed to let it out. Some of the most beautiful moments I had in 2015 were the moments when I let people into the mess. I let people have glimpses of the craziness and those are the people who get me. Those are the people who can pray for me and know full well how I’m feeling. Those are the people who know how to love me well. Those people are important people to have.

Being vulnerable is essential to having fruitful community and 2015 is the first year I can really say that I was open about the wounds I have. I’ve learned that people want to know what makes your heart heavy. Pretending to be perfect does no one any good and letting go of perfection is where I found true freedom. My wounds don’t make me less, they make me human. We’re all broken; that’s how the light gets in.

Audrey Traynor 


I probably couldn’t count how many things I have learned from the Lord and from others the past 365 days. Holy cow. But to name a few….. In 2015 I learned that community is essential for growth and support and is a huge source of JOY. I learned (though it took awhile) that just because you have hit rock bottom and your world comes crashing down does absolutely not mean that God doesn’t want his best for you. He knows and he cares. He is still good, he is always good, and he is ALWAYS for you despite what you can see with your own two eyes. I learned that God is exceedingly faithful. He has provided for my every need every step of the way this year even in the little things that you don’t think He cares about. I learned how to let go of others’ opinions and be completely translucent with others and that it’s okay. I learned that I don’t have to have control over everything in my life; I can surrender it all to the Lord and know fully that He’s got it. I learned that differences between people and groups should never limit or restrict friendships. And college has taught me that I love a lot of things that I didn’t know I loved!! Thanks Jesus and thanks 2015 <33



Jennifer Kunin 


Today im reminiscent. Ive been thinking, reflecting, and reminiscing over the past 12 months and all the adventures they held, and the people I met and the things I learnt.

I have learnt so much about love- the true, self-sacrificing, freely-giving, heartwarming love. I have been loved by so many during this year, and learnt how to show that same love to the people im with.

I have learnt so much about being present, about spending quality time with people without my phone (s/o to that phoneless month on work crew amiright), without my thoughts wandering to other things. Simply being present and truly tuning into the things and people around me has made more of a difference in my life and in my friendships than I could have imagined.

The most important thing, though, that this past year could have taught me is the freedom found in Jesus Christ alone, the true freedom that comes from surrendering my all to Him. Ask anyone who knew me last year and still knows me now, and they could tell you easily that the person I am now is not the same person I was 12 months ago. Last year, ‘freedom’ was not in my vocabulary. I was trapped and held down by a million fears, big and small, and held in chains by depression. The further I got into the year though, the more I continued to truly pursue Christ and slowly but surely I began to step into freedom, something so foreign and unknown to me. I’ve only been walking this path of freedom for a short time, but the change and growth that it’s done in my life is unlike any other.

This year has been big. Oh so big. I have learnt so much and am so thankful for every little experience, lesson, and opportunity. Thank you Jesus for it all.


Maddie Howell 


Of course 2015 was one of the most significant times in my life. My transition out of high school and into college alone has taught me more than I can ever make sense of. But I’d say all of those little things can be put into three words: I am human. And that’s okay. God MADE me human- He didn’t mess up. It’s okay to feel sad sometimes. It’s okay to not know what your future holds. It’s okay that you don’t have your life together. It’s okay to not be friends with everyone (I’ve learned that the hard way). It’s okay to not feel equipped. It’s even okay to enjoy things other than Jesus. He gave us smoothies, and sports, and driving at night with the windows down. He gave us mountains to hike and bikes to ride and coffee to warm our hearts. He gave us friends to laugh with and movies to watch and music to dance to. We don’t have to be perfect, or seem super spiritual all the time, because our humanity is what gives us the ability to relate to people. Jesus was human once, I feel like we forget that. He cried too. He hurt deeply too. Yes, he was perfect, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t hurt for the people around him. He still needed to rely on His father. He still needed to be alone sometimes. Being human can certainly make us feel like a mess, and we are. But when we have Jesus, our life is transformed from a mess into a beautiful mess. This year the Lord has managed to pry away every mask I was trying so hard to cling to. He has stripped me of my pride, my selfishness, and my envy. I’m more broken than I thought. And that is exactly why the gospel has become so real to me. It is finished, He has risen, and it is through Christ that we have already been set FREE. Isn’t that the best news?


Becca Gemes 


Wow… to put this past year into words… I’m not sure how well I can, but I will try because the Lord has taught me much.
The main theme of the past year is His goodness; His goodness to provide for me, convict me, encourage me, lead me, guide me, and walk with me.  I have realized even more this year, walking through both the mountains and the valleys, that what Jesus did on the Cross was MORE than good enough, and yet that He continues to be good AMAZES ME. He continues to bless His people, even with hard things, like conviction.  The beginning of 2015 taught me what it’s like to be overwhelmed, and the Lord taught me to overlook my overwhelmed schedule and take advantage of where He had placed me.  In His goodness and sweet grace, the Lord taught me how to spend intentional time with Him and how He longs to reveal Himself to His children.  This year also taught me a lot about myself and how really I am truly broken and in need of repair, how I, in no way, have it together, and how my heart will quickly run dry and sit shattered broken if I don’t seek the Fountain of Life.  Honestly, that’s a hard realization to come to as Becca, but thankfully I am HIS, not Becca.  As His own, it is good to come to, and I’ve learned that I can do hard things, not because of myself, but because of Him and His finished work on the Cross.  This year has taught me that friendships don’t come easy, but that they are still so good.  They take time and the Lord longs for us to nourish them and seek Him in them to experience all that He intended them to be.  Even more this year taught me that my strengths can also be my greatest weaknesses.  The Lord spoke softly to me reminding me that the more I seek Him, and the more I know and love Him, all of my brokenness, all my inadequacies, and all of my weaknesses will slowly diminish in His Light.  In Him is the Light!! The Light entered the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it! (John 1:5) So much goodness. This year also taught me more about what the Lord has gifted me with, and as I used those gifts, He reminded me that He gave them to me in His goodness, and that I must be a good steward of them.  In His goodness, the Lord convicted me that He desires my obedience in all things, and that I must surrender my convenience to truly walk in obedience.  This year the Lord also taught me how unforgiveness steals my joy and veils my face to only see the Lord, instead of to truly BEHOLD the Lord and the immeasurable worth of Christ.  He teaches me all of these things, then encourages me through community, friendship, and mainly His Word and gives me more of Himself.
Really though— 2015 taught me about FUN and ADVENTURE!  It taught me even more about what Jesus says about life and life to the FULL!  It taught me how important and loved people are and that I should go to great lengths to show it, just like the Father did for me!!  It’s not about me.
Following Jesus is my greatest and best adventure.
Friends, I hope He’s yours too.  And if not, I’m praying this year will teach you just that.


Rachael Adams 


I think sometimes it can be overwhelming to look back on a year. In the moments trying to recap all that has happened you can imagine a million different memories, a million different joys, a million different sins, patterns of darkness you got into, and then moments when you really felt the Lord’s presence. I think I have become someone who thinks too much. In a way that is always trying to encounter something new and unique. Gain some sort of wisdom going on daily, because I feel like if I can think about it long enough – I can somehow predict how God is going to work a little better. I am sinful in the ways I like to control and manipulate. I fear making plans too far ahead, and am too scared to commit to anything big because decisions seem like near life or death decisions at my age. I’m terrified that one wrong turn and all the sudden I’m working my way down a long dark tunnel to doom, and its going to be hell to get out of. So while I have learned A LOT this year, and could write you days and days about what growing up means to me right now or how friendship is sometimes hard or how powerful the Holy Spirit is or maybe even something even less significant like I don’t know… twelve men have walked on the moon?! (What, yeah) I will say I am constantly learning. Daily. I love to learn. I love to read. I love the engage and I love to think. I particularly love to learn about people, and I often crave to have clarity and understanding on our great magnificent God (that I will never have). I will tell you the one word that I think about when I think about what I have learned this year is prayer.

I don’t think prayer is something that everyone takes lightly, but I think I am one of the one that has been guilty of taking it lightly throughout my life. I’ve found out in the past year how easy it is to talk about my doubts, my insecurities, my fears, my passions, my dreams with everyone else but the one who wants to hear it the most. I think I’ve been told prayer is so powerful, but I’ve neglected to explore the power, and when you start to explore its power that’s when you really start to learn something. SO like every biblical character we can sit and be in awe of, I have been moved to grow and learn in the fact that these people we see God perform miracles for, these people that boldly proclaim the kingdom of God, and these people that seem to have faith greater than the whole sky – they are people just like you and me who are deeply rooted in obedience to their father because they are constantly, earnestly in prayer. In this little life we live, I imagine we are all going to do great things of our own, and we are going to have lots of moments that get us there, but for the love of our father I have learned and still learning about the praise and prayers of forgiveness that come with our growing heart. It is the little whispers of need that God desires to hear the most, and it is the large shouts of thanks that make him smile – so while this year has been full of growing that has brought all sorts of goodness I am thankful that my loving Father is still teaching me what it looks like to come to Him. I am thankful that my relationship with God is still becoming deeper and richer. I am thankful that in 22 years of life I am not too old and never will be too old to know it all because my sweet creator never asks me to understand it all, He simply asks me to trust. I am thankful for prayer that makes me learn how He is at work, and most of all I am thankful for how free this relationship is.



1 Comment

  1. Wow I really loved this. It was super encouraging to read, and it makes me remember how small we are and how much bigger our God is. Keep fighting the good fight chica!

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