A Shared Reflection

I’m big on reflecting— I think it’s essential as it generally brings us into a place of gratitude. Reflection can bring about relief that some things have past, nostalgic feelings with how quickly time has gone, and thankfulness for all that has been. Over this break I’ve had several conversations that led to some reflection together and every time the conversation ends in gratitude. There has been a threaded theme throughout this year of seeing that even still, it is well. Through the trials, the heart aches, and the things that have honestly just sucked— there has been good to flow about. I know for a lot of people in my sphere, 2016 has been one of transitions and one of many challenges. It’s been a year of loss but also a year of celebration. A year of mourning turning into dancing. A year of unknown. It’s been a long year, yet a year that seemed to happen way too fast. I’ve been trying to unravel all that has happened in this year and all that I’ve learned but it’s a process. In the process of reflecting I am always so encouraged to see what rises about for others in their own unraveling of the year. I’m thankful for a community of people that want to share in reflection and share in the learning.

So be encouraged friends, we’ve made it through another year and have gotten to learn that much more. Some things hard to learn and somethings an absolute joy— but in it all, we’ve grown and that’s something to celebrate. Here’s to a life-time of learning as Mr. Ray would put it.

And let me tell you, what each individual here has to say holds so much value. Maybe it’s the future English teacher in me that sees that, but these words are vulnerable, beautiful, and every bit encouraging to read. I sat in tears many times after reading these emails. We each have so much to share with one another.

Gracyn Lastinger

2016 – a year of growth, healing, pain, purpose and overwhelming joy. Yes, all of those in one. What I’ve learned in 2016 is first, God knows my heart so much deeper and better than I will ever know it myself, and I can find great comfort in peace in that among confusion, doubt and pain. I’ve also been learning that the world in it’s present form is passing away. And my citizenship is in heaven. I’m not made for the pain on earth but the joy in heaven. And man, there has been some joy on earth that’s tasted real good this year. What more do we have to look forward to in heaven!!!

Lizzy Getzewich 

I separate this year into two categories, before the accident and after. When I look at what I learned before, I’ve learned that I lived thinking me, and the people around me, were untouchable. I learned that technology is so incredible in the fact that the last time I saw my two beautiful friends was February 21st but BC of FaceTime and the telephone (thanks mr. Bell) i talked to Kayla that morning before she ended her life here and began her life in eternity. I learned that tragedy brings people together in the strangest way and pulls people apart in the strangest ways. May was a big one. I learned what it felt like for people to look at you and be able to see how incredibly broken you were. I learned that hugs get tighter. I learned how to see the little miracles of everyday. Every sky. Every tree. Every penny. Every smile from an old friend. Every smile from a new friend. I just reread that sentence/whole paragraph and can literally hear britt and kay laughing about how cheesy it is. w/e. I learned that people will surprise you in all kinds of ways if you give them time. I learned that everyone is affected by tragedy. What ever form it comes in. I learned it doesn’t matter what people say it just matters if they are there. I learned that things that use to bring me joy, like singing in the car, dancing and singing at camp, siting around with friends talking about obscure topics till gross hours of the night still brought me joy. They still brought me joy this summer because even though two vital people were physically gone i could hear them in every laugh and every wrong sang note. I learned the most inspiring people in my life are 6 fifteen going on sixteen year olds. they are so freaking cool and keep me so mf young. sorry for kinda cursing but its true. i see so much of my last summer at camp with my best friend in them and their friendships. they love each other so incredible well and don’t waste any second with each other. I’m envious of their youth and their friendships. truly have become envious of anyone who still has their closest friend still within a phone call away. Ive learned that it something i need to work and pray about it. I’ve learned my worst fear is to do nothing of importance with my life. Ive learned i care a lot more about the world around me and what is happening to the in it people whom i haven’t met or even seen. I’ve learned i really love Portugal. The Man. no i have not learned why horrible things happen to the greatest human beings I’ve known on this earth. but i know the amount of lives that have turned to Christ because of it all. and thats something we can’t forget or turn a cheek at. I’ve learned how we react is the most important thing. how we turn around from an event and go from there. just take it day by day. yolo if you will. i started off this email thinking i haven’t learned anything from this year and stopped early because this is becoming a short story. i also realized i wrote mostly about what i went through this year and less about the lessons it taught me but honestly thats all the same in my head.

Lindsay Webb

I never have strong feelings about a year. 2016 has allowed otherwise. These feelings are, however, a product of learnt lessons. These are them. I’ll break the year up into 2.5 sections.
Section 1:
Second semester of my freshman year of college
I learned what tight knit community looks like
I learned what an absolute privilege it is to live on the same hall and in the same building as some of the most amazing people I will ever know
I learned how much joy my friends bring me. Truly. There was nothing like walking onto a hall of open doors. And dance parties.
I had things figured out. I felt so good, it was good

Section .5
Late may
I learned what it looks like to cling, to friends, to hugs, to smiles, and mostly to Jesus
I learned how everything’s value increases in the face of tragedy
I learned the importance of presence
I learned the comfort in the very utterance of Jesus’ name
and prayer, it is important, it is powerful
I learned the strength of my faith and how much I was willing to believe that God is good through and through
I watched people carry each other’s mats
Really, the strength of a person’s laugh in such a time is a game changer
You have turned my mourning into dancing Psalm 30:11

Section 2:
A lovely friend, Kimmy, stamped the word persevere into a pretty little necklace for me. This is the explanation of that.
First I wanted the 3 words, “He goes before.” That was too many words
I wanted those words because I’ve learned that the Lord keeps His promises and one of them is that He goes before us and prepares a way for us and my goodness how true that has rung in my 2016
There is not one thing that has happened without clear preparation from the Lord prior to its occurrence
I have had my back scratched, my hand held, kindness spoken to me, and good fun had all at the most needed times. I’m telling you, He is constantly orchestrating and preparing
I then chose the word persevere because I looked at a few things from my year and was overwhelmingly thankful for God working in me and allowing me to push.
I have never really done something that I necessarily thought I earned, nothing that I thought I worked hard enough for. This year I felt otherwise in some ways.
This summer I learned my physical capabilities under conditions that didn’t allow me to slack. Working in a barn and waking up at 5 AM for a month will do a number on you but I was working for Him and He provided
I’ve been severely out of shape in college and coaching XC was a rude awakening to that. But by the end of the season I had improved a lot and it sometimes sucked and was a tish humiliating but I was proud of myself. It was cool.
SCHOOL SUCKED. I studied my butt off. I’ve never been able to say I gave it my all but this semester I did. It is a really pleasant feeling. Well it is except that my all wasn’t really good enough but who needs HOPE anyway? *awkwardly waddles away*
I watched a lot of friends carry some dang heavy stuff, stuff that I would crumble beneath. It hurt and I had to, still have to, believe that our God IS working for the purest good of us all.
That’s the explanation of persevere
Also, I never understood how the love that older YL leaders had for their high school and middle school friends could be so deep and large. I get that now. I can’t adequately express the joy I felt when any of them come to club. Or how excited I get when I see them at Cedar. Goodness they rock and have been at the center of the goodness of the semester.

That’s my year. I could go on forever. I have been so incredibly loved and witnessed so much of it. Dealt out like bread crumbs at a duck pond. The friends and family around me. How they sacrifice all of the time and love to do so and love to celebrate others and listen to others. They make me know I am seen and known and loved. These include friends I have had since elementary school who are still so consistently in my life, to friends I met on summer staff and knew me for two weeks and threw me and CJ a surprise birthday party, to friends I have come to know in college that I know are life long people. These people!! I have seen the greatest of the commands fulfilled so intensely this year. I love love!! I digress. Thank you!!!

Alex Beato

2016 has been an interesting year and I have learned a whole lot, but I will do my best to keep it simple. Like you said, the past year has felt like it was triple that and I have grown more in the past 365 days, and even in just the past 4 months, than I ever thought was possible. The first lesson learned is that it is ok to prioritize yourself every now and then. I would try to explain why and how I learned this lesson, but that is story easier told over some coffee instead of an email. The next lesson I have learned is to not let fear hide your potential. Take risks, go outside of your box, chase and achieve that dream you have. There are ideas and things out there just waiting to be discovered, so go find them. I was scared to go after so many of the things I now have, but man am I glad I did not let that fear get in my way. If I had succumbed to my fears I would not have all the amazing memories I will take with me from 2016 and would not have the friends I have made this past year, the friends I know I will have for the rest of my life. In hand with all this is my next lesson, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Break down your own walls, go on that spontaneous road trip, explore more, strive for more, see the world from a new perspective. Adventure is fun, you see and learn so much that you never have before. I have probably done more in this past year then I did all 4 years of highschool and it has been amazing and it is a feeling everyone should experience. With all of this, I have learned to trust myself. I know I can make it and I know I will survive. I know what I want, I have my dreams and I am chasing after them. It may be cliche, but it really doesn’t matter what others think. If someone thinks you can’t do it, prove them wrong. Do it for yourself. We all set this limit for ourselves, but we can go so far beyond them if we just believe in ourselves. It is not easy, but it is worth it. Lastly, live a positive life. Make a positive impact. This world needs so much love and light and it is our responsibility to provide it.

Now, I will leave you with three words from my lovely friend Brent, “genuine human connection.” It is a wonderful thing and we should all strive for it in 2017.

Rachael Adams 

Between the school work of finishing my last semester of college, madness of graduating, traveling, starting and ending graduate school all while watching one of your best friends heal from a brain injury can make for a pretty good year of learning. Well, maybe the complicated, controlling mind of mine tries to say that. My way of understanding is to constantly attempt to gain insight about the exact lesson God has been trying to teach me. I find satisfaction in obstacles making sense. I make God to be this creature that says “HA Rachael, I really showed you- now relearn what dependence means”

But you know what i’m starting to learn: I’m so wrong, because our God is not a God who loves us in that way at all. He is a compassionate creature, that’s heart is breaking for the moments when we get trapped, tricked, hurt by the sin of this world. We are going to experience pain on this earth BUT it is always going to be met by love.

This year i’ve found myself listening to this United Pursuit song over and over. One lyric of the of the song says “we can run straight into your arms, unafraid, cause every time we need you- we’re met by love.” And my heart keeps saying “man rachael, you have that everyday!..and do you know why?!” then my mind says “no rachael, tell me”….BECAUSE YOU ALWAYS NEED HIM. i’m never not going to. So whether it’s in the sweet tears of seeing the grand canyon for the first time or the trembling aches you get from defeat and destruction- our fears, our needs, our praises are met by the love and grace and mercy of our heavenly father.

this year has been marked by moments of letting this love completely meet me, and receiving it for what it is. maybe i find it easy to reject that care because fear and hurt seem like a better option to wallow in. This world is always trying to manipulate, push, show us that we have to be afraid and feel lonely, but The Lord reminds us we are worthy, we are capable, and we can do hard things. And so in the midst of feeling shame, guilt, hurt, and every ugly emotion, I have learned even more that God’s love is present.

doesn’t that just show the power of who we worship?

 Nick Soong

2016 has been the most meaningful year – a year of hope. It has taught me that God does amazing things to those who call on him such as rewarding you something better than you would expect. I honestly though I couldn’t achieve my goals; however he has rewarded me with two major accomplishments for my well-committed hard work: getting a perfect GPA for a semester and getting accepted as a transfer to a public university! He also has brought me so many wonderful friends including when I became reunited with the sweetest friend I’ve known for over ten years (a memory I would always cherish from now on)! I also realize that He has given me a wonderful life full of memorable events that I can cherish forever (whether they are the good or the bad), and there’s still a lot to learn and understand. I believe 2017 is a year full of improvements and opportunities, and I can’t wait to see where my next chapter is going!

I was a pleasure to share these words to you!

Morgan Maier 

To any outsider, the year 2016 for me consisted of concerts and a spring break trip to the Dominican Republic with Cru and a random skydiving adventure and the conclusion of my first full year as a student at the University of Georgia and a summer spent working at Camp Ozark in Arkansas and the start of a new semester at the school that was beginning to feel like home to me, and being surrounded by a community of people that I am constantly in awe of.  While I am genuinely thankful for each and every gift that I received this year, I cannot avoid the fact that 2016 was the hardest year, as a whole, that I’ve faced so far.

2016 was the year that I learned how to cope over the death of one of my close high school friends.

2016 was the year that I felt the mixture of fear and gratitude after being in a car accident where both cars were totaled yet the only injury was a small burn on my arm.

2016 was the year that I was able to first-handily witness a college community come together, as one body, to worship and cling to hope in the midst of mourning over the loss of Christina, Halle, Brittany and Kayla and praying for Agnes’s continued, miraculous healing.

2016 was the year that I was stuck (literally couldn’t leave for another two months) in Mt. Ida, Arkansas, while my mom and dad suffered in the hospital after being in a very severe car accident.

2016 was the year that I excitedly returned to Athens, yet was awakened by the fact that sophomore year wasn’t going to look exactly as the end of freshmen year had.

As 2016 comes to an end, I remember a lot of hurt and darkness, yet in Romans 8:18, Paul gives us a reminder that I often find myself clinging to: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

And my friend, that is so true!! This was the first year where I truly questioned what God was doing; why was he hurting the people I love so dearly? when would all of the hurt end? Yet, through my pain and suffering, the Lord taught me more in this year than I could have imagined. I learned that true dependence on the Lord is the only thing that will get us through this life, that prayer is so important, and the image of what it looks like to “carry each others’ burdens” through the selfless and caring friends that surround me. But, in this year of steady growth, the importance of Gratitude and Humility has been most evident in my heart and relationship with the Lord. Gratitude and humility: two words that I have known for as long as I can remember, yet two words that now have a whole new meaning in my life. Gratitude has changed from the simple knowledge of when to say “thank you” to an appreciation of the fact that THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE INVITES US TO BE A PART OF HIS PERFECT STORY. But, while we do get to play a role, He is still the one doing the work through us, bringing glory to His name. Humility is no longer the simple act of not taking pride in myself, but is the recognition that while I am living, no action that I do is done by me, alone. This is something that I have found such freedom in, and that has kept me encouraged in the times when I am feeling stuck in my personal darkness.

This year, I have been overwhelmingly humbled by my gratitude for His invitation to have a relationship with Him: to be one with Him. When I am hurting, I have someone to lean on and hope to cling to. When I am in a state of misunderstanding, I have truth to turn to for answers. When I am feeling alone, I am aware that I am known and noticed by a Savior who calls me by name. When I am burdened by a weight of helplessness, I can pray for freedom and peace. These are the things that got me through this year- the way the Lord tore down my walls and shone his light in each moment that I, a human, would consider a “hardship” of the year. But, MORGAN, even in your darkest hour, He was still working and you are able to look back and clearly see that!!

Marissa Guimbarda

Ever since the instagram post about what bfred was doing i’ve been thinking, thinking, and thinking some more of what exactly i’ve learned this year. As i’ve been reflecting i’ve realized there isn’t a certain moment or exact thing that I can pinpoint. I’ve hit the highest of highs and experiences many lows as well.

I’ve learned about community, my friends, and how important they are to keep. I’ve learned some of there deepest struggles and they know mine. I remember at plunge we sat in a circle at a bonfire, crying and praying out loud for eachother. It was moment of walls broken down, when vulnerability crept in, it was a moment when we all realized how special each and every one of us were to eachother.  wow what a beautiful moment.

I’ve learned a lot about being comfortable. Almost too comfortable. As the year keeps going i’ve become more and more anxious about college- simply because i’m leaving my comfort bubble. I’m leaving my campaigners group, the monday nights, my leaders who know me better than my parents, my friends who i’ve sat at biscuit barn with since freshman year. Im leaving my life back in Forsyth. I keep wanting to think that college will the same but i’ve come to realize that i’m too comfortable with my home. May will have a lot of goodbyes, tears and aton of hellos but i’m only hoping that in the mist of my uncomfort that I can make my own new home. God is giving me a glimpse of that uncomfort this summer by sending me to kenya on a mission trip without knowing the other kids or leaders. It hoping he will show me that going in blindside could end up being the best experience of your life? Will see! 🙂

Wow i’ve really learned a lot this year. I’ve learned to appreciate the sky when a flash of color streams across the sky signaling the end of a beautiful day, Ive learned to love the stars twinkle at night, i’ve learned to appreciate authentic conversations, i’ve learned how to lead a small group for middle schoolers, most importantly I loved to be able to see a glimpse of god’s love in all of this!

Sami Lucas  

long azz email so put ur lil reading glasses on

Becoming who you really are means unbecoming who you’ve sent out into the world to live your life for you.

This is the biggest lesson I’ve taken away from my favorite author’s new book Love Warrior by Glennon Melton. This hit me hard and hit me deep. It hit the parts of me on the surface and the parts of me I’ve shoved under the rug for years. Glennon calls the person that we all send out to live our lives for us our representative. For years I’ve created the foolproof, undetectable representative that has been living my life for me for the past 20 years, up until this past month.

The past year has been so full of both love and loss, each in multiple ways. The love abounding and the loss earth shattering. But what I’ve seen happen before my eyes I truly never thought could happen. The amount of love that has come as a direct result of the loss is immeasurable. There aren’t any words to describe the constant support, guidance, and acceptance I’ve been blessed with, even in these past few weeks through fresh new faces. Loss and grief constantly chip away at your side but what I’ve come to realize is that while you’re being picked away at by the loss and the heartache, you can be simultaneously built up through the vulnerability you allow yourself to express.

This year, this past month especially, I’ve been more vulnerable and raw than I ever knew I was capable of. And through all of the fear that comes along with exposure and full on facing the reality of life, the only thing that’s seemed to come from all of my vulnerability has been growth. Growing friendships, growing self-acceptance, and growing in ways I still don’t have words for. I’m writing this today because I’ve only allowed myself to be vulnerable about 95% of my life. What I strive for and what I truly want is pure self acceptance. But I’m aware enough to know that I’m incapable of fully loving myself until I allow myself to actually be myself and be who I really am.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that I’m tired of pretending. I’m tired of hiding myself and watching my representative live my life for me. I’m tired of being in genuine and not knowing who I am because I haven’t allowed myself to be vulnerable enough to figure it out. For years I’ve had a wall up around my sexuality in efforts to preserve and prolong nonexistent relationships, but I’ve recently come to realize that those efforts are completely unnecessary.  The persistent awareness, constant heart-beat in my throat, and over thinking of every move I make – It’s not saving anything because there’s nothing to save. The people who love me deeply already know all parts of me and the people who will view me differently don’t know me at all. I’m not becoming something completely different. I’m not changing all parts of me to fit alongside the stereotypes of this part of me that people are just now learning about, even though it’s been there all along. I’ve been hiding myself and am so reserved and on edge 24/7 so that people who don’t know me at all won’t view me negatively, which is probably one of the most dumb, useless things I’ve ever done. Sitting here, reflecting on my past 20 years, I feel like it’s all been a waste of time, potential opportunities to be fully known, and even reach out to others.

I figured its time that I start being 100% authentically me. I don’t need to hide myself out of fear that I might cause other people some sort of discomfort because that’s not living at all. I owe it to myself to be fully me, whatever that looks like. I think being open and vulnerable and honest about all parts of me is one of the first and most vital steps I can make toward unbecoming my representative and becoming myself. It’s the first step toward loving myself for all parts of me – flaws, strengths, unique attributes and all. I’ve recently realized that if I’m not living an honest life then I’m denying myself of living a life of genuine happiness, which isn’t treating myself with the respect I deserve.

All my life I’ve known that I want to help people. Whatever that means, whatever that looks like, I know that’s my calling and what I’m meant to do. By not being vulnerable and sharing my constant ongoing struggles, especially in this realm, I’m withholding a potential opportunity to maybe make even just one person feel a tiny bit less alone. Because the truth is none of us are alone in anything. There’s not one thing that only one human being is feeling and experiencing at a certain time. So why not be raw and honest and allow myself the opportunity to find true happiness within myself?

I’ve been open and truthful with practically every other part of my life, so why hold back this specific 5% of my being? Why keep it hidden? We are raised with the belief that the “unspeakable” needs to remain eternally unspoken of and locked away. That it should never under any circumstances be brought to the surface. That it should just live underneath so it doesn’t have to be acknowledged or “inconvenience” anyone. But honestly that’s bull. I sit here and I think about the points in my 20 years when I’ve felt the most loved//known//accepted and every last one of them came as a direct result of me being vulnerable. From taking a risk.

A few weeks ago I took the biggest risk I’ve undoubtedly ever taken. I walked into a house that I’d never been to, full of people I’d never spoken to, to talk about me being gay. I opened the door and they knew I was gay before they knew my last name. It was the most wonderful and terrifying thing that has ever happened to me. Of course a full blown anxiety attack and about 30 minutes of sitting outside getting talking into it by Katherine is the only thing that made me brave enough to step out of my car, but regardless I did it. I was bold and I was brave and I was vulnerable. And little did I know when I opened that door that I was about to meet my people.

My people love me and they love me deeply and wholly and truly. They know me and the parts of my heart, even the deep dark ones I’ve tried so exhaustingly to hide out of fear. They support me, push me and grow with me. I didn’t have the majority of these people until I opened that front door. And the only two I had before that day were also a direct result of my vulnerability about aspects labeled “unspeakable” in my life.

The risk is always always always worth the reward. Even if 90% of feedback you get is negative or not what you expect, 10% is still good and creates hope and hope creates growth. But sitting and waiting to see what kind of affirmation you receive back isn’t why you are being vulnerable with your heart anyways. That’s not why finally on this random Tuesday afternoon I’m finally giving myself permission to be wholly myself. I have all the security I need in the people who really know me and in the perfect love I’ve received through the Lord.

I’m hesitant to involve scripture with this because I don’t want to give off the vibe that I’m trying to justify myself by quoting scripture. That’s not what I’m going for or how I feel in the slightest. But I can’t deny or withhold the fact that a huge part of why I’ve all of a sudden decided to be open about this tiny part of me is because I feel called to do so. I feel called to openly share my struggles and to give myself the grace to love myself for every part of what makes me, me.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” -1st John 4:18 This verse hit me straight in the face this week. For so long the only reason I’ve been hiding my sexuality is because I’ve been so full of fear. Fear of rejection, disapproval, disappointment and so much more. But this verse spoke to me so tenderly and deeply. I’ve been letting fear run me over and cause me to hide the way that I love for my entire existence, which is so unnecessary because I’m loved with the most perfect love that outweighs the need for fear. I don’t need to be fearful because I have security in the most perfect, unwavering, constant love there is, which was given to me by the Lord before I was even created. I am deeply, fully, and unfalteringly loved by the one who meant for me to be exactly as I am right now in this very moment.

So now I’m choosing to live my life without unnecessary fear of the whispers, the looks, the opinions of those who don’t know me at all. I’m choosing to live the open and honest life that I deserve and that I’ve deserved ever since I was created. I deserve to live a life where fear does not drown out love, which is why I choose now to let love cast out fear. I find perfect love in the only one who offers a perfect love and that is more than enough to allow me to be fully myself.


There’s a saying in the south: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I don’t buy that.

I see some reasoning behind it when it comes to simplicity and forgetting about what you needlessly want, but I feel like this can become a life motto for some and I don’t agree with it. Even those who don’t really think of the phrase tend to become complacent with where they are. This year I learned I’m done with settling. Life is too short to bridge the gap to satisfaction.

Sometimes the hardest part is admitting it’s broken. This year it was admitting that I was broken. And it’s so damn hard to admit that while it’s so damn easy to tell yourself you’re fine and you don’t need fixing. And to be honest the year is coming to a close and I’m still not where I want to be, but I’m fighting and I’m vulnerable and this year I realized it’s a whole lot better than staying in a place where I may or may not have been able to hold it together.

So evaluate often and fight until you’re where you want to be and then evaluate again. Balance this process with ample appreciation for what you have and you’re golden.

And if it ain’t broke still go for it.

Ebin Bashirrudin

You know I think I may need this to be quite honest

This year has been something that I don’t even know how to put in words I will start off with the BEGINING well what I remember .
I thank god to know what it feels like to be free free from what held me back from the who keeps me GOD . It’s like all these things that I went through and that I experienced this year was a lesson and I completely thank god I got freed from drugs this year and although that I’m quite young I seen what these things where doing to me mentally emotionally physically and SPIRITUALLY . Yes this year was a group of big changes for me it’s like it took for me too think that I was dying to get my life together seriously .
This year was a isolation period from me isolation from from family and people that I just really care for God has showed and reaveled to me a lot about why I had to be moved from people but with people that I lost I also picked up some as well . I THANK GOD THAT I HAVE MET PEOPLE LIKE YOUNG LIFE these people have made me happy about changing my life around and they made me ENJOY BEING YOUNG I mean really a lot of people that have came into my life this year have inspired me to just keep going . I LEARNED TO WORK THROUGH FEAR AND THAT THE ONLY WAY TO DEFEAT FEAR IS TO TRUST GID WITH YOUR WHOLE LIFE AND AS YOU DO THAT HE WILL GIVE YOU YOUR HEARTS DESIRE AND WHATS BEST FOR YOU . To look back and think this year was one hell of a year you can tell by the way that I’m typing every experience every encounter every dream every vision every strange thing and encounter . Has drawn me closer to God continuing to better my self daily I learned that being hard on myself is a trait and that I can’t always be so hard on myself because God has this thing called grace as I grow intimately with the lord I continue to see who he is and how he truly loves us so he wouldn’t do anything to harm us but to make easy for our destiny PREPARING ME FOR GREATER was my motto for this year I had to fight on my hands and knees interceding to the fullest I don’t know where I would be without the lord he fulfills every full spot every hurt spot every bad memory with joy and love . I’ve learned that God put you in places to inspire people and sometimes it’s not about you but it’s about them needing you I’m glad God uses me and I’m glad to be his vessel I’m thankful to know that through doubt through struggle through attacks that I can still trust God praise God and pray to him all the way this year has been a powerful year all the things that’s going on in the world and then boom he changed me around I’m ready for whatever he has for me even if it’s just death I’m ready to be the person God wants me too be In 2017 I pray that God give me more strength in my faith patience and other areas of my life .

Haley Naylor

the lesson my little beating heart observed in 2016:

I spent 2016 sitting in a fear of death. It crippled me to the point where I would sit in my room and sob just thinking about the possibility of losing a loved one in the future. I would imagine the world without me and tremble in fear of my family having one less birthday to celebrate or one less table place to set at Christmas. It’s funny that the only two things that are absolutely promised to us in life are birth and death, the first is celebrated and the latter is feared. Death is one of the things we’re all going to encounter and have to deal with, yet is avoided in conversation at all costs. We send people awkward sympathy texts when their loved ones pass instead of sitting there with them in the pain because it’s easier. It’s easier to not confront the fact that we could die at any minute. One day my light is going to go out and the fire in my eyes will lose it’s spark and I’m going to have to be okay with that. Death is inevitable and that weighed heavy over my heart this year. I think a lot. My sister once asked me how I had so much time just to think and I immediately wondered if most people could just shut down their mind. I suppose mine isn’t as easily tamed. My mind became my best friend this year which was helpful in some ways and dangerous in others. I wondered why we even spend so much time and effort creating relationships when we were inevitably going to mourn the loss of that person in the future. I sat and listened to the darkest of questions my soul had to ponder and in turn I began to hear a whisper. I began to incline my ear to the whisper instead of the cries of the world and I learned. The Lord began to whipser his truth in my ear to calm the waves of my mind from crashing over me. He’s a Father who doesn’t let His children sit in irrational fear. He peered into the depths of my soul and saw all the ugly and all the darkness and still decided to remind me that I am His. Being a daughter of the King means a lot more than a good Instragam bio. It means that death really isn’t my concern anymore. Death was never His intention for us. In Ecclesiastes, the Lord tells us that He’s set eternity into every man’s heart. The thought of living forever is so appealing to us because we were made to spend eternity in communion with the Lord. We were made for our good and for His glory. This year Satan used the only thing I know is inevitable to keep me from experiencing joy before the Lord. Satan needed me crippled so I could come down from the good works the Lord had prepared in advance for me, but my God is much stronger than the devil’s intentions and He will always be faithful in showing me that. So in 2016 I learned to let go of the fears that crippled me. One day when death knocks at my door, my soul will slip out and leave this body of mine, but I won’t be scared. After all, when a child’s father beckons him home after a long day away, he joyfully comes. This life is but a day and my Father has a very big house prepared for me. My soul can now know that it is well.





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