To say 2017 was a year for the books would be an understatement. I’ve been wanting to write this post for the past few months, but it seemed fitting to close out the year and write it now instead. It’s been a very busy few months and it feels good to sit down and finally catch my breath.

Three words have defined and redefined 2017 for me: Re-routed, Renewed, and Reconciled.

Re-routed:

A few posts back I wrote about how being in a car accident made me reevaluate some things in my life. Mostly, that it was time to slow down and rest. About two months later, I was in another car accident two weeks after my birthday (Neither accident were my fault by the way, in case you were wondering). Needless to say, God got my attention and things changed immediately afterward. I’m not sure why those two accidents happened, but something told me it was time to take a different route. I don’t drive the same way to work any more and for the past two months I’ve been getting up earlier to spend more dedicated time with God, like 4 AM early and getting to work earlier, like 15-20 minutes earlier to avoid most traffic. Something I should have been doing before my accidents, but I think this is the kind of thing God does in our life to get our focus and affections back where they belong.  Now, the road I travel every morning is narrow. Doesn’t scripture say the narrow ways leads to life? Then again those accidents could have happened completely out of random without God’s involvement, but I know better. Everything that happens in our life has already passed through His hands with His permission. When we go down a path in life that’s familiar and safe, God will sometimes intervene to show us a different way. He reroutes us. As I sit here two months later, I can see the reason behind being rerouted. I’ve had a change in heart about things I had been wrestling with and I pay more attention. Because life is so uncertain and every day could be our last, let God do what He needs to with you. Let Him reroute you, He may be protecting you from the unseen.

Renewed:

Some of the greatest lessons I learned this year came from defining moments and a renewed mind. Earlier in the year, our family experienced a loss that set the bar for how the rest of the year would play itself out. My family took a few hits this year, but we’re stronger and better towards each other because of it. And I’m grateful. Which brings me to my point. Having a renewed mindset about unforseen circumstances is the only way to deal with them in a Christ-like manner. There’s a difference between being a Christian and being Christ-like. One is a label, the other is a way of life.  The only way we can be Christ-like moment to moment is with a renewed mind. Only when the Holy Spirit renews and changes our mind are we truly transformed. A lot of things happened this year that tested my faith and were an important part to my journey of healing. In late July, I got really depressed and experienced an anxiety attack. Thankfully, it didn’t last long and I’ve been okay since. There are days when I get bummed out, but not depressed.This is victory for me. There is victory on the other side of a renewed mind and life.  We can’t live life based on how we feel, this is very dangerous. Our thoughts our powerful and when they’re not controlled they can destroy us.  Pay attention to what you think about. The best way to live with a renewed mind is to ask, “What is truth?” and “What does God’s Word say about this?When our minds are really renewed it will be proved by our outward actions which are directed by the wisdom of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. Last year, I made a decision that changed my life forever. Though a large part of that decision was based on how I felt, it was also confirmed in scripture three times. I was relieved, set free. The choices we make have consequences, but when those decisions are guided by the Holy Spirit, they don’t need an explanation and we don’t need to feel guilty.  We may know what God’s will is, but we can’t prove it in our life apart from the transforming work of the Holy Spirit and with a renewed mind. Test everything to scripture and surround yourself with wise counselors who have the gift of discernment. When our minds are exposed to godly advice and wisdom, God will begin to break areas of pride in us; the areas in us that won’t accept wisdom because it’s not what we want to hear. A truly renewed person stays humble.

Reconciled:

2017 was definitely the year of relationships and reconciliation. Earlier in the year, a friend and I had a brief falling out. Neither one of us knew how to navigate our offenses towards each other so we avoided each other. We both realized the relationship was worth saving and we reconciled. We’re closer than we’ve ever been before. This relationship is cultivated with Jesus as the foundation. If you want proof of a healthy relationship, pay attention to how the other person reacts when they’re offended or are being challenged. Most people don’t like to be challenged or sharpened. However, both are equally important to our spiritual growth. If you’re in friendships or relationships with people who never challenge you, maybe it’s time to rethink the relationship. Being with people who agree with or go along with everything you do and never question you are probably in a relationship with you for the wrong reason. God chooses our friends for us, it’s our responsibility though to cultivate and deepen those friendships through a deep relationship with Jesus first. Relationships are very important to me and I’m thankful for the times they have sharpened and challenged me to be a better follower of Jesus. This is what our relationships with other people ultimately teach us. Real relationships help us to stand firm in our convictions and speak truth in love. There is great strength in real relationships. Towards the end of this month, I reconciled with someone from my past who I haven’t talked to in 12 years. We were friends throughout my childhood to high school and we recently reconnected. I’m not sure the direction this relationship will go, but we’re both doing our part to stay in touch. If there are relationships in your life that can be restored, restore them. Rebuild burned bridges from your past.  Leave a legacy that matters, not one filled with regret. 

Despite some mostly bad moments, there were so many more good moments of 2017. I saw places I’ve never been to. That’s something I’m planning to carry with me into the new year. I made a list of the places I wanted to see and went there. I’m thankful to have shared those experiences with one of my closest friends and look forward to going on more adventures together in 2018.

To be honest, I’m thankful to be alive. Coming out of two car accidents without a scratch is a miracle.Those two accidents redefined my year. Though they happened towards the end of 2017, they’ve drastically changed my life for the better. Odd number years haven’t been favorites of mine, so I’m looking forward to 2018.

I’ve been a little adamant about writing the past several months, not because I don’t have a desire to write, it’s because I have more of a desire to live a quiet life.  Social media is becoming a huge distraction for me and has for the past several months. If we’re not careful, it can for most of us. I don’t think our entire life needs to be aired out for the world. Most people we’re connected to are spectators anyway. People who genuinely are a part of our life don’t need to keep up with it on Facebook. If Facebook is the foundation of any of our relationships, we’re doing relationships wrong.

 My only goal for 2018 is to be so close to God that I’m able to discern the difference between a divine encounter and a distraction. Both are similar, but only one is from God.

I’m not really sure what God is going to do tomorrow, next year, or even in the next few minutes, only He knows. But what I do know is I want to live a life that’s pleasing to Him. I know I can’t do any of that apart from Him. There still some work He has to do in me, stuff I still need to take to Him in prayer. Stuff from my past I still struggle with despite a better mindset and holding every thought captive. The difference between who I was last year to this year is I don’t carry unnecessary baggage anymore. Thankfully, I have people in my life who have helped me unpack most of it.

I don’t know what 2017 has looked like for you and don’t know what you’re going through now, but there’s hope.  There’s hope on the other side of a heart break. With the encouragement, conviction, and wisdom of scripture and healthy relationships, I’ve seen the hand of God in everything that’s happened this year.

It’s my hope you will too.

In Jesus and with love,

Julie