Rachel Jenae

2018 Year in Review

Another year is coming to an end and I’ve got music filling my home and coffee in hand as I dive into a pocket of time I love and hate equally each year. I read through past year’s reflections and prepare my heart to grieve all that did not happen and celebrate again all that did. It’s something I’ve found absolutely necessary. Intentionally grieving to feel the pain and disappointment and then let it go to empty my heart and make room for new hope in a new year. And intentionally recalling and celebrating all of the great things that happened – big and small – as so often life flies by too fast to do so.

I’ve never put words to this process so simply, but it’s what I’ve done for 9 years now. The need to not let time slip through my fingers without looking it squarely in the eyes and relinquishing control. To try and hold onto her is like wrestling to grasp the wind. She blows through each year like a force to be reckoned with and when I resist her I am the one who pays the price. Time cannot be controlled any more than God himself. I must bring all of my disappointment about time, or myself, or others, or God, and I must grieve my finite ability to understand all of this life and place it at His feet. And then simply let go. I’ve found that only when I let go and empty my heart of all, can I then receive the new wholeheartedly.

2018…I have endearingly labeled you the year God broke me open. As I’ve looked back over the last 3 years I realize I’ve been asking Him to do just this, but had no idea what I was asking. Rewire my head and heart so that my heart is leading and not reason and limited understanding. But rather hope and creativity and life-giving hope – the confident expectation of good to come. So here’s my year in review!

January through March I wrestled with fear and anxiety in many forms. Oh how much time I’ve wasted wrestling with fear instead of simply ignoring it. I often feel shame lurching around the corner, making me feel I’m the only one who struggles and I shouldn’t anymore. The truth is fear will always be present, but we get to choose if it riding in the car or the driver. I’m incredibly grateful for the community of people God has surrounded my life with to call fear and shame out. A boss that continually reminded me I’m the only one that God put in my seat. Friends who call me into bigger things even when I doubt that I’m enough. A counselor who remind of tools I’d already been given to fight in this war.  They were all the gifts to overcome together. We were never meant to do this on our own.

In late January I helped lead worship for Refresh Retreat for the 2nd year in a row. This is always a beautifully, sweet time with women from all over the country.

Our Gateway Young Adult One Nights took off with such sweet times of worship and also depth like we haven’t seen in awhile. God was awakening something new in all of us. My dear friend Brooke also transitioned out of Young Adults after 14 years with the ministry.

I took a quick trip to see the parents and enjoy some fresh air in the country.

We had our Winter Camp for Students and it was a blast. Students just know how to have fun! It takes an army to pull of a Jr. High and Sr. High camp both on the same weekend with different sessions, but this team did it!

In March I made it up to Kansas City for our yearly JBU Girls weekend.

April was a hard month this year, but one I decided to choose a different approach to. Maybe with a new perspective we could get through this differently and not keep facing this same mountain.

In June, I was in our church-wide presbytery (I know, strange word. message me and I’l explain it more) and God spoke so many encouraging things to my heart.

July was full of our Student Conference and a room full of 4000 youth from all over the country going hard after Jesus. It was a fun and full couple days! I couldn’t help but be reminded how God had transformed my own life attending a summer camp in Dallas so many years ago, that eventually brought me to Dallas to attend school and the rest is history! #GatewayStudentConference

Our team tried to play it cool.

Somewhere in early August I felt a wave of contentment flood over my life like I don’t think I’ve ever experienced. You can read the full post here, but it felt like a shift of seasons in my heart.  But little did I know what the fall was gearing up for in my life.

I made my annual trip to Denver end of August to visit close friends and enjoyed a little hiking with beautiful weather at the same time. More on that here.

September I started the month by speaking at a women’s retreat for my parents church (and the church I grew up at).  It was an honor to be there and see so many woman I grew up knowing as parents to my friends, or young women who I’d mentored when I was younger. It felt like such a sweet gift to be there with them after all that house had poured into my life for so many years. God led me to speak on something he’d recently walked me through that I later wrote about here – Allured to the Wilderness. 

And as great as that opportunity was within weeks of it I started battling some major health challenges. I had dealt with back and neck pain for a few years but it escalated in September to chronic debilitating neck pain, so I sought out some physical therapy. Very soon after that I also started dealing with some gut/digestion issues. It took most of the fall to figure out that I was dealing with a bad dairy allergy (to the protein in cow dairy that is) that had been building for years and it was manifesting in major inflammation in my joints and gut. These challenges were utterly exhausting and my struggle with fear and anxiety were more arresting than anything. I had no words for this season in the middle. It was hard and dark and lonely. I am still processing it all.

God told me in September one simple phase as this season began. He said, “I have you in a restoration process. Keep walking.”  He was teaching me to embrace His process instead of trying to avoid it. He would be with me. He would walk me through.  I had no idea how much I’d been avoiding hard things.  If anything took longer than a few days to fix then I felt fear creeping in. I feared pain. I feared the process.  I feared what He might ask of me. But what I had forgotten is that if He was with me everything would be ok.  He is and would always be good. He would always be working things together for my good.  His process was for my good and only good.  He was after something deeper in and through.  And as I look back at that season as a very dark night of the soul, I am flooded with the sweetness of God’s presence to set me free from myself.  I faced deep fears in that season that had been unseen hooks in my heart. He knew what would free me.  And that process was worth it for that freedom. On the other side of it, I now avoid dairy like a plague and feel pretty amazing.

Into October I found myself declaring a scripture God had led me to weeks earlier. 2 Samuel 3:1 says,  “As time passed David became stronger and stronger while Saul’s dynasty became weaker and weaker.” It was such a short sentence, but it spoke volumes. I knew it was for me. Though everything in me felt weak and small, I was declaring God in me was growing stronger and stronger while the plans of the enemy were growing weaker and weaker. I couldn’t see this in anything on the surface, but I kept declaring it regardless. So I continue to call those things that are not as though they were.

And these two amazing parents of mine were rocks of encouragement through it all.

As always, the year ended with a gazillion Christmas parties – and I couldn’t love them more!

And right in the mix of all the festivities one of my sweetest and dearest friends got hitched!

The Christmas holiday was spent at my older brother’s house for the first time and we enjoyed a lot of new festivities together!

And as I walked into another new year I found all I could do was rest.  I felt like I’d been through a tornado of the last 6 months and was finally catching my breath.  I didn’t have enough energy to process it all yet. I didn’t have enough energy to cry, to dream, to anything, I just needed a minute. I felt a little broken. A little wounded. God and I had a lot to talk about pain to process. There were so many good things woven into the year, and I was grateful, but I was reeling from a battle. I wasn’t bouncing back like usual and I decided to just be present with my own heart and sit a minute. Hard for this go-getter, achiever to do. But I knew there were things going on in my heart I just couldn’t get to in recovery mode. I knew there was no need to rush forward. No need to process it quickly. God was not in a hurry, so why should I? So I ended this year with a breathe and a breathe out. It was ok to just sit.

So wherever you find yourself wrapping up 2018, I pray you are able to pause and not try to meet the “new year” demands of planning and goal-setting.  But rather you’ll just take a minute to be. Let the rush of holidays and the busyness of preparations cease for longer than usual.  Let your heart sit still and just breathe.

Much love to you and yours!

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