In the past few years, whenever I’ve gotten closer to the new year, my thoughts and prayers have focused in on, What is God going to show me in this next year? It also offers up some time for reflection and remembering what God has done in the past year. I spent a year recognizing that I am operating in God’s strength, and the word “COURAGE” became something I clung to and learned about for most of 2016 (and still something I continue to learn about on the daily). In the importance of learning how to navigate seasons of intense emotion where it would have been easier to let emotions drive the bus, I learned so much about God’s nearness and the courage He has already equipped me with knowing that He is the one who numbers my days and directs my paths. And in seasons of doubt where I question His existence, let alone His nearness, there has been Light leading my way and the courage to keep on when answers remain hidden. I continually learned that all of our questions find their YES in Him.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” // 2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV

This is a piece of Scripture that has kept coming into my mind, even in my lack of opening the Bible. And that’s even more where I feel that His power is made perfect in our weaknesses. I walked away, and He persistently followed and continued to give me yeses, even when there was no need.

This brings me to the word that has been coming to my mind a lot lately. There is something so beautiful about learning how to be clothed in the strength and courage of God, but there is something much sweeter about understanding the freedom we have in Him to live out that courage and not become fearful or anxious when the courage doesn’t show up. The freedom is the good stuff, and I have spent a long time (read: a life time) not knowing how to be free of guilt, shame, anxiety, fear, and a smattering of other things. That’s why as this year comes to a close, I come back to the word “RESTORE.”

I will restore to you the years
    that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
    my great army, which I sent among you.
“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
    and praise the name of the Lord your God,
    who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
    and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

JOEL 2:25-27 ESV

I read the Scripture and wept. This is Scripture I had probably heard once or twice out loud before, but I’d never really read it. I kept being reminded of the word “RESTORE” and I thought, God, I am not even worthy to use that word. I have never known great loss, how can this be what You have for me?

And I think the greatest loss has been not knowing Him more deeply. There has been so much baggage I continue to carry with me, whether it’s mine to carry or not. To carry my own unforgiveness toward other people, or to carry other people’s dissatisfaction, grief, anything that doesn’t belong to me, that’s all so exhausting. I’d like to say all that stuff is gone, but it’s not. When you cling to those memories and harbor those feelings, that unforgiveness is still very much there, and it weighs so heavily on the way we navigate everyday life, especially the hard days. That’s why we have to feel the hurt and let it work its way through us. I’m still working on this too the 100th degree in a bunch of different parts of my life, so please don’t read this and think I speak from the other side. I’m very much in the mess of it all right now. Forgiveness is the most difficult thing, but it’s the most worthwhile.

There are times when I really feel God softening my heart, even in these first few days of a new year. He has made His provisions in certain parts of my life so clear, so much so that I can see pictures and feel hurt instead of anger and physically feel Him restoring what is broken. That is such a gift and such a beautiful thing to be aware of.

That is such a rich piece of Scripture though. A God who SATISFIES us and deals WONDROUSLY with us and not being put the shame. Knowing that He is the Lord our God, and there is NO ONE ELSE. What a thing to cling to and try to understand. There is no one like our God.

As a photographer, you’re taught to always look for the light. That’s how you get the best photos, especially because photography is really just painting with light and finding the angles and moments that capture the stories.

That being said, freshman year I fell in love with photography, like really loved it, and over the past year I sort of lost that, but I found videography along the way. And the world needs more women videographers, I’ve been told. I’m a big fan of catching little glimpses of God’s story He’s painting around me. I love capturing moments of beauty, and it’s helped God be magnified in my life.

And then some days I wake up and want to spend all my money on nice cameras and lenses and never stop taking pictures. You can imagine that’s led me to the prayer, God, what in the world do you have for me? Why do I love things one moment and then not feel passionate about them the next? What am I supposed to be doing with my life?

And it’s almost painful how obvious the answer should be. The moment I asked that question, God whispered, rather loudly, “You are supposed to glorify Me.”

I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that this season has not been a waste. It has become a season of intense fear and wondering and doubt, but it has not been a waste. It’s such a beautiful thing that we get a new year with what feels like a blank slate. We get new mercies every morning, but a new year feels like God proclaiming, I am making all things new. See Me in all of this.

It’s those special moments where I see God magnify Himself in my life, even when my focus hasn’t solely been on Him. It’s kind of nice that God isn’t the way we so often envision Him or create Him to be based off what we think He should be based off what other people create Him to be. That would be messy. Just like that last run-on.

Life is so big and so beautiful and we will only get small glimpses of it if we don’t just stop to pay attention. And maybe that’s a lot like the ending from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but maybe God is just like John Cusack outside our window with a boombox begging us to come out in Say Anything. Maybe if we listen hard enough, we realize He is always near. And all this even feels a bit cheesy to write, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we have a God who is near, whether He’s whispering or shouting at us or holding up a boombox at us. He comes to restore and bind up what is broken, which is what is deep down in each of us: brokenness and an unexplainable, deeply-rooted need to be restored by our Creator.

For the first time in a long time, I fell asleep last night and woke up this morning with a deep fear for life. A fear of death and darkness and all the mess in the world. I hadn’t known that fear for a long time. I don’t know if it’s been covered or if it just shows up whenever it wishes, but today is also the first time in a long time that I recognized God’s nearness. And I don’t think that’s just a coincidence. He is making all things new, and we get to be a part of that. It’s not a distant thing where we stand by and watch Him make other people new. He is restoring us from the inside out. And what a thing to behold.

While reading through an advent book before Christmastime, I came across this Litany of Humility, and it was the most beautiful thing, so I’ll leave you with this.


I pray that God is molding your heart to be more like His in this coming years and that He will move in ways that are evident to you. God, be magnified and let me be aware of the process of You restoring what is broken, not just sitting idly by.


P.S. If you missed it, I documented every day of my 2016 life, so check out this 365 vid.

featured photo creds to Mary Claire Photo.

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