Rachel Jenae

2012 Year In Review

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Rewinding, remembering, unraveling and unfolding…I love this time of year! I love looking back and seeing what looked crazy and impossible now sitting fully in the light. If there is one word that sums up this year it would be Restoration. From beginning to end my heart feels more whole and full than it began. What started off looking very bleak and wondering where God was leading our adventure, is ending on a very, very different note. God’s love and goodness still makes my heart skip a beat with excitement for how He will use every part of life for our good. Thank you God for all you did in 2012! Here’s the review.

Mid January I went on a weekend vision retreat with a few new friends. Such a refreshing and fun weekend. It’s crazy to look back at how little we knew each other then compared to now and how God has knit our hearts together. I love these amazing women. They are iron-sharpening-iron friends in my life.

Then the countdown to my 30th birthday began! For over a year I’d felt the excitement build as I got ready to start a new decade. It was crazy to look back at the past decade-moving to Dallas 10 years ago changed everything. I began a short reminder series on how I wanted to enter the next 10 years. Things to not forget, to find hope, to embrace every season, to remember who I am, to be brave, to quit comparing and measuring, but instead to let my heart unfold and enjoy the rhythms of grace. And then I actually celebrated my birthday with all these people. My mom even made it in for the festivities! It was a weekend packed with a myriad of surprise activities all planned by my closest friends. Such an overwhelming sweet time.

I then started a new job at Gateway Church, as the Video and Production Coordinator. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but knew God was telling me to simply follow Him again and walk through this door. Over the next couple months of learning the systems, procedures and all that my job entailed, I still wasn’t quite sure why God had me here, but I did know one simple fact, it was good. I’ve never felt quite so taken care of from my leadership as I do here. I’ve never worked with such a great team of people who are not out for their own gain, but are serving and striving for excellence in such a healthy way. My job is constantly changing and if you know me at all, you know I love it. We’re constantly growing and trying new things to reach the lost and help better disciple the saved. There’s no where else I’d rather be.

First shoot of the year was this adorable little family.

I spent Easter at my parents with this crew.

Writing took quite a hiatus as I plunged into my new job. Then I made my way up to Northwest Arkansas in April for my yearly college friends weekend. With lots of new babies, and another on the way, we celebrated our friendship in all seasons of life. These women have become like sisters over the past 10 years and these times together refresh and revive my soul.

The spring was full of God stirring things in me that needed attention. Hard things that broke my heart, but God was confronting them with His always gentleness and bringing them to a place to be dealt with once and for all. Things I’d dealt with all my life. Relationships that needed full restoration and it was time for just that. God’s faithfulness overwhelmed me once again. He did what only He could do.

A few memories from the spring…

Then came June. My post on the 1st sums up what God began teaching me. I’ve still not gotten this out of my system. Lack, or rather God’s will for NO lack in our lives. “Those who trust in the Lord shall lack NO good thing.” (Ps. 34:1) This coupled with the truth that more often than not we are declaring in agreement with lack instead of God’s truth of who He says we are as His children. “You shall declare a thing and it will be established for you…” (Job 22:28)

I began a summer reading challenge and…well, only got through about half of it, but it’s to be continued.

God reminded me of my story. A big part of my story over the last 10 years.

And then my little brother got married and I gained a wonderful new sister!

July kicked off with a promotion at work and lots of new responsibility. Mid July I started planning to go to South Africa in September! Then God gave me a bunch of reminders about work, life and people. As one of my leaders recently said, “HOW you do something is just as important as what you do.”  Wish I could have valued that a little more 10 years ago. Then I started making some new artsy things.

August came. Always the hottest month in Texas, but it was full of good times with sweet friends.

September took me to South Africa. If you could have seen my heart I’m sure you would have seen the biggest of grins. It was a trip of release after a 3 year trip hiatus and fulfillment of desire in the smallest of ways. It was incredibly sweet and the grace and peace on that trip made it by far the easiest trip I’ve ever taken. I returned ready to go again.

Then came October. I had felt the Lord tell me to get ready for November. To expect big things in November, but October… I wasn’t prepared for what came. Looking back it only makes sense that a storm would come before some really great things that God was about to do.

It started off with saying no to some things. Saying no to things that were really good, but just not God things. Even knowing they were the right decisions didn’t hold the disappointment away. After making those tough decisions, the following week I found out a sweet friend I’d known, worked for and poured into for seven years had taken her life. The tears didn’t stop for days and weeks. They start again as I write this. It touches a nerve and breaks my heart all over again that she lacked so much that she had to make her own way out. As the days followed I jumped right into working a conference at work. Then I was chosen for jury duty.  I saw the world’s justice system up close. Judgement with little mercy and little room for hope. I saw a man who had been raised in the worst of conditions do exactly what he was taught to do and the lack of hope I saw in his eyes I will not soon forget. My heart was breaking all over again for both of them. Questions stormed my heart, knowing my friend, much like the defendant, is one of millions with similar struggles. What was I to do with the reality of the world that was slapping in the face?

Amidst the storm of emotions that month, God sent two friends from across the sea to encourage my heart exactly how I needed it. It was God whispering again, your a Peacemaker and that He sees and He knows us down to the tiniest details of our lives and He doesn’t waste a thing. We are confident of one thing, His great love.

End of October I took an incredibly refreshing and perfectly timed trip out to LA to visit several friends and attend a conference. These are lifetime friends I’m so grateful to have!

Then November came. Sweet November. For 6 months God had been whispering to expect in November. Expect what? I don’t know. Just expect. The first week blew my small, insignificant, self-focused expectations out of the water. If there was any word that summed up this month it would be restoration. Restoration personally, but far beyond that. Far beyond me. Beyond what I could have asked, hoped, or imagined for. And it’s just the beginning. I saw a sweet friend’s long unanswered prayer finally answered. I saw financial breakthrough finally come and much more. It’s just what God’s always about. Restoring things to the way He always intended them to be in His perfect, perfect timing.

November and December got extra busy with a lot photo sessions popping up. I’m so grateful for such incredible clients who allow me to document such wonderful seasons of life for them. Thank you!

And of course Thanksgiving came. My favorite time of year! Spending time with family, sweet friends, recalling the last five years of blogging and a lifetime of overwhelming gratefulness. (Don’t mind the gangster)

My amazing roommate (featured with me below on the left) threw her yearly Christmas brunch with all these amazing ladies.

Then all of the Christmas festivities began. Work Christmas parties, staff fun day, and more. I seriously can’t get over what a great place I get to work and the amazing people I work with. They encourage me, inspire me and most of challenge me. Here’s a few of the memories made!

And then one of my favorite Christmas’ to date. My entire family was able to be together at my parents house and it was a blast! From our 5th annual Girls-day-out, to family photos, to a family treasure hunt (a new tradition), some gun shooting and a rare treat of 8″ of snow on Christmas day… it was quite a special holiday!

So from my family to yours, I wish you a very happy and blessed New Year! Praying 2013 is full of God’s overwhelming grace and mercy on your life. I’m looking forward to all that He has in store! The adventure continues…

Much love to you all!