I like to look back. Perhaps it’s the nostalgic millennial in me, or the Peter Pan-like non-desire to grow up. But I like to think of my retrospective nature as biblically approved.
One of God’s most frequent calls of his people is to remember. A few examples of this are shown across the Old and New Testament:
“Remember His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations.” 1 Chronicles 16:15
“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.'” Luke 22:19-20
Rainbows, Ebenezers, bread and wine. What do they all have in common? A built-in reminder to remember the invisible yet living God.
So now that we have that established, I feel a bit more justified in taking a look back at 2018 and sharing with you all of the good that God has done.
Last Days at Disney
This time last year, I was nearing the end of my Disney College Program. While most of my internship happened in the fall semester of 2017, I spent the holiday and new year season tending to the thousands of guests that come through Disney during the holidays. Why anyone would want come to Disney when it hits capacity at noon on Christmas day is beyond me, but hey, not my place to judge.
Working at Disney was truthfully one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It was essentially working at a theme park. A beautiful, noisy, chaotic, well-run, absolutely insane theme park. You may tell I had mixed emotions about it.
So working retail wasn’t exactly my dream job. Yet I still see the Lord’s hand all over it. I learned how to communicate with all kinds of guests from all walks of life. I learned greater patience. I practiced my Spanish, my sign language, and my humility. Sometimes, I had a wonderful time creating a magical moment to make someone’s day. Other times, I was downright miserable. All in all, it wasn’t where I was meant to be long-term.
But I am ultimately thankful. Why? Because this job was the culmination of so many dreams and so many prayers. This program was exactly what I wanted to do after graduating. I wanted the adventure. I wanted something outside my comfort zone. The Lord placed that desire on my heart long ago, and when I got my acceptance letter into the program, I knew it was the fulfillment of all of this. It was God telling me to go. And he opened the door for me to do so. I may not have wished on a star, but this dream really did come true.
Deciding to move to Colorado was it’s own kind of adventure. This was the first time in my entire life that I packed my things, piled all necessary items into my minivan, and headed to a new place where I knew not one person. I felt confident that God was with me, but going on any trip solo is enough to spark some fear.
God was so good to me here, in more ways than one.
On one of the last days of my Disney internship, I received an email telling me that my offer from the YMCA of the Rockies had been rescinded. What? I thought. My job had been locked down since September.
After a few emails exchanged and phone calls completed, it turned out to be a miscommunication. However, a new offer stood, and I was offered a new position with the HR department.
This may not seem like that big of a deal, but I absolutely know this was the Lord’s hand. Although I think being an RA would have been great, my role in HR was one of the best parts of my time in Colorado. I loved learning the ins and outs of hiring. I learned how to do interviews, on-boarding, background checking, and more. I got to meet people from all over the world, and use my job to welcome them at their first touch point at the Y. I loved this role, and without God’s hand in it, I don’t think I would have been half as happy.
Of course, Colorado came with much more adventure. I went horseback riding. I got to go dog sledding. I spent Easter morning at a service in Red Rocks Amphitheater. I hiked many miles in Rocky Mountain National Park, both in the day and at night. And I met people who quickly became some of closest friends; people from all walks of life from all over the world. It was a place that was easy to call home, and a place that ushered me out of my quiet, introverted bubble.
I am forever thankful for my time at the Y. It taught me so many ways to love people, to choose uncomfortable things, and to welcome adventure in with open arms.
I’ve sat down a dozen times to write out all of my thoughts and experiences about traveling to Ireland. It’s a crazy web of prayers and praises, seeing and bearing witness to the enormous favor of God. One day, I will write about my experiences in full, but for now I’ll say this.
Choosing to travel to Ireland by myself was the scariest things I have ever done. (And I’ve been bungee jumping, which was less nerve-wracking.) My heart was flooded with anxiety as I boarded my flight to my first solo trip abroad. I just couldn’t fathom how I would navigate, work, live, or travel on my own in a foreign country. I felt paralyzed by my own fear.
But God, as always, was so good to me. I made it through customs, which could have sent me right home. I got a ride to my host family by the generosity of a stranger-turned-friend. I learned my job quickly and enjoyed the peaceful work at the wedding venue. Despite my host family being in the middle of rural country land, I got connected to a Bible study, where I found friends I connected to naturally and quickly. I was invited to kayaking, concerts, and cafes. I ventured to many hidden gems around the small country. I found myself constantly welcomed and loved in a place I have never been before; all because of the favor of God.
I’m grateful for a chance to feel out of control while traveling alone. It gives me, instead, a chance to see how in control the Lord is. Every part about that trip reminds me that God does not give us good gifts begrudgingly – he gives them with abundance. I am always ecstatic to talk about my time in Ireland; I see the fingerprints of God all over it.
I’ve written a lot about my reflections on my KC Fellows year so far, so I’ll strive not to repeat myself too much (you can read about it more here). But my goal in coming back to Kansas City after a year of traveling was not just to exist, but to establish roots. The KC Fellows program has given me the chance to do that.
Through this program, I’ve found a church, a community, a home, a job, and a support system. They were the first people to come around me when my grandmother passed away. They are the ones I can share honestly about my sins, my fears, and my joys. They were the ones to take me out to coffee, to help me build a campfire, and to sing along with at a Ben Rector concert. With these people, I am continually learning, growing, and challenging myself and others as we are learning how to do life together with the Lord. It’s exactly where I want to be, and through the ups and downs, it’s wonderful to see that the Lord is leading and guiding us every step of the way.
My word of the year in 2018 was “faith.” I see that word played out in some many of these chapters. God hinted to me in January that I would be practicing faith like I was training a muscle. I would have to learn to “flex” it, and to make the choice to exercise daily. Praise God for this. Faith taught me that life with God is not stifling, but freeing. It’s a dance, where God leads, and I get to gleefully follow.
This has perhaps been the biggest year of my life, my first full year of non-collegiate adulthood. All of these gifts are from God above (James 1:7), not my own accord. If 2018 had gone how I’d planned, I never would have left Kansas City. God is good. He is faithful. And whether your year has looked like mine or just the opposite, I believe to my deepest core that God is loving and caring and good, no matter what our surroundings look like.
So now it’s your turn! I would love to hear what God has done in your life this year. Feel free to share a moment or memory with me, a loved one, or just your journal. Write about it. Pray about it. But don’t be too concerned with your future without looking back to all God has done in the past.
Happy New Year, dear loved ones. Praise our God, for He is good. And His love endures forever.