Peace out, 2016, PEACE IN, 2017!

An old year is going and I feel like I’ve barely made it, but I’m welcoming the new with open arms!

I’m thankful that this year is coming to a close, because I don’t know how much more of it I could stomach. My heart is heavy, carrying my own pain, and the pain of many others whom I’m close enough to that they’ve let me in on what they’re holding. I ache for the promise of a new year and the hopes that it could indeed hold some impossible beauty.

In this quiet moment alone at the ol’ house, I want to share with you the highs and lows from this year . . .
Here are some of my highlights from this year: the PEOPLE. I’ve met this whole new community of friends at grad school in Seattle, whom I wouldn’t have possibly known otherwise, and have enjoyed sorrowful tears, happy hours, shenanigans and the sharing of stories. I gained a friend group through my friend Courtney whom I wouldn’t have known otherwise except for our mutual friend Carlie (maybe someday they’ll allow me to share their powerful and painful story), and whom I’ve been given the gift of having a mini-vacation with, and having several girls’ nights with these stunning and smart women who embraced me wholeheartedly.

I felt at home when I was the Chaplain in the ER at St. Pete’s and loved every patient, family member and my time with them, but especially treasured the connection with the staff there, from maintenance technician to neurosurgeon- it was like family to me. I’ve met a whole bundle of beautiful amazing women in our incredible Sip and Savor nights with one of my dearest friends (who, coincidentally, also helped me start this little neglected blog a few years back). I’ve gotten a new counselor who has fought for me and been an advocate and absolute gift. I’ve met people through new churches and through songwriting small groups and through a short stint as a brand ambassador this summer and fall. And I got more time with my precious family, who helped me move, took me in, and continue to love and support me. I’ve especially loved the memories with my nieces and my bonus niece at the cabin, at my parents’ house, having Bubble Tea, road tripping, makeovers and general zaniness with those loveliest of ladies- who burst my heart with their brilliance and tenderness.

I’ve also had sorrow. Ongoing chronic exhaustion and pain and autoimmune issues and the scores of doctors who don’t seem to understand me and always want to attribute every possible symptom I have to depression. I’ve had some dizziness and scary near-fainting spells in all kinds of environments, and am still not sure if those were panic attacks or are something else. I’ve sat at the deathbed and with the families of the deceased countless days and nights (a definite gift and privilege but also a trauma and burden). I’ve seen those I love very dearly suffer with deep mental health issues, and have seen several strangers struggle with that and addiction and all they entail. I’ve had the overwhelming sense that maybe all the things I’ve believed for so long that I’ve been called to do, that maybe I am not capable of them or don’t have the stamina to get to stability with them (aka, finish school strong and get a stable job in my field). I’ve beat myself up inside over not being good enough, not working hard enough, not reading enough or making music enough or making enough money or socializing enough or being artistic enough or working out enough or being beautiful or interesting enough. I’ve had failed attempts at finding romance, and felt rejected, embarrassed, wounded and puny and sometimes the loneliness has been unbearable. I’ve tried too hard to be likable and lovable, and have not learned how to enjoy life and savor the moments. In many ways, I feel I’ve mostly survived.

Deep breath, deep sigh.

I feel peaceful tonight which is sometimes rare for me. (I’ll be writing more about something special to me, my word for next year in the days to come. . . )  I’m snuggling up on the couch watching a movie I haven’t watched yet this year “It’s a Wonderful Life!” I’m ringing in a New Year in a different fashion than the more recent years past, but I am holding in my heart the promise that this movie holds: “No one is a failure who has friends.” I have found Jesus a true friend (though I often doubt), and feel so humbled to be loved by so many. My prayer is for a year of more peace and beauty than you could possibly imagine, my friends.

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