I find myself in the in-between and recognise I am turn reflective at this time. It is the lull after the full bellies and celebrations of Christmas and not quite at the celebrations of things new and fresh. Our tree remains up, but the sparkle and excitement has waned. I always look to a new year with expectation and excitement. But first, I reflect and process both as a way of learning and lifting my heart and eyes to thank God for the year that has been.
In 2016, there were failures. I started the year with two enthusiastic challenges- to work through reading my entire Bible cover to cover and to complete Tim Challies’ book-reading challenge. Like anything, I started out great-guns and then April hit and all challenges were off as my world tilted with the addition of our newest family member and the practicalities of mothering 3 littlies. Everywhere I went, people commented that my hands were full and yes, yes they were and are. But I recognise that they are full of wonderful things- mothering is the greatest (and let’s be real- one of the hardest!) gifts and I want to pause and thank God. At times I was really frustrated, both in my lack of ‘personal achievement’ and also in the realities of a newborn verse my self-centredness. Yet through it, I know my God is faithful and full of grace. I may not have read my Bible from cover to cover, sometimes due to my own avoidance, others due to practicalities; but his grace is sufficient. Reading may be almost non-existent, but once again his grace covers. I may feel tired and frustrated at times, but his strength is available.
In 2016, there were emotions. Sending my little lady off to Pre-Kindy for 3 days a week was a big step and one that we all had to adjust to as a family. In the middle of it, we moved closer to the school in order to make the school run easier with a newborn and also to reduce some of the costs of fuel and a second car. My little lady grew and was stretched, becoming more independent and also blossoming. She had moments of anxiety (and so did I!) that we needed to work through and process, sometimes at the expense of doing other things that I had wanted to do. There was also great joy as we celebrated our kiddies birthdays, as Dave and I celebrated 10 years of marriage and our own 30th Birthdays and as we welcomed our littliest lady, becoming a family of 5.
In 2016, the blog journey continued. Over 2016, Pursuits of God continued to grow and be a delight to be apart of. This past year, I have been so excited to have been able to interview some wonderful people here for the blog. One intentional thing I set was to see more Aussie’s featured and it has been fantastic to see how God has brought them across my path. We live in a wonderful country and it is great to be able to see how God is using people in a local context. Part of this desire to ‘Australianise’ the blog also was seen in the rebranding of Pursuits of God, featuring the Waratah motif. The Monday Pursuits Newsletter was also launched, which is a great way of staying up to date with blog posts, giveaways and helpful links.
In 2016, there was growth. As I think on the year that has past, I recognise that the greatest thing I have learnt is that God’s grace is sufficient and available. I have seen in myself that often I don’t accept this grace- instead I get frustrated at my lack of perfection in things, or my inability to complete a task, or frustration at my repeated sin. I also have seen that I don’t extend this grace to others- instead I am quick to judge and make assertions, instead of offering grace to others, seeing that God is working in and through his people. We are a fickle people. We hurt one another, we don’t live up to expectations set, we are selfish. But we also are capable of showing great love, of comforting each other in sorrow, supporting one another through seasons of challenge, encouraging and spurring one another on. And so in the day-to-day, I have learnt we need to both accept and extend grace.
In 2016, there was creativity. One of my goals after my series of posts on creativity, was to lead a more creative life as a way to glorify God through communicating creatively. For years I have prayed that God would provide an opportunity for me to work from home, enabling me to mother and also keep my hand in a professional environment. So, a big thing for us this year was when we decided to launch our small business EmilyKate Designs, a web and graphic design studio. I have marvelled at God’s provision through bringing along wonderful people to work with and new and interesting projects. I have delighted in creative expression and have found this to be such a gift.
As I stand at the pinnacle, looking at the path God has led us on this past year, I am grateful most of all for WHO He is. I often feel frustrated at the Israelites, not recognising the rich history of God’s faithfulness through the ages. But I too am so like this, getting stuck in the here and now, without seeing the bigger picture of who God is and the work he is doing.
I don’t know what 2017 will bring, but I look on with enthusiastic expectation as I recognise God is at work in our history, in our word, in our life, in my day-to-day. May you enjoy a wonderful New Year period and take a moment to reflect on your year and how you have seen God at work. I’ll be back on board in mid-February once we have settled in to the routine of 2017. In the meantime, drop me a line- I’d love to hear from you!