At the beginning of 2016, I started this blog because I felt led to share more of my story with others. As an introvert, sharing personal information about myself does not come naturally to me, but God continued to prompt me to write and share. So I did.
Forty-three blogs later, I've come to the end of 2016, and I realized something pretty amazing. My hope and prayer has always been that God would use these blogs to encourage others, and while that may have happened, He has actually used these blogs to encourage me.
Re-reading my blogs has reminded me that I can trust God in the present and with my future, because He has always been faithful and loving in the past.
I have been reminded that joy and pain can co-exist and that we weren’t meant to experience either alone.
Looking back, here are my top 10 (most read) blogs of 2016. I hope they encourage you, and I look forward to writing more in 2017.
This blog initially appeared on the Motherless Daughters Ministry website.
Growing up, I loved the Christmas season. I loved listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, eating way too many Christmas cookies, and having a few weeks off of school. The best part, though, was opening gifts on Christmas morning with my family.
My younger brother and I had a pact. Whoever got up first would go and wake up the other one. As a kid, sleep doesn’t seem important when there are presents to unwrap. In the early morning hours, my brother and I would head downstairs, look at all the gifts under the tree, go through our stockings, and anxiously wait for our parents to wake up.
Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, but one year I found it extremely hard to celebrate.
When I was 26 years old, my mom passed away after a 9-year battle with breast cancer. It was difficult watching my mom endure so much suffering over the years, and when she finally went home to be with Jesus, I felt as if she took a piece of me with her. My heart and my world felt completely shattered.
The first year after a loss is extremely tough. The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, but it’s hard to celebrate when you’re missing a loved one.
It was hard taking our annual family picture by the Christmas tree without her. It was hard eating Christmas dinner and seeing the empty chair where she always sat. It was hard opening gifts when the one thing I wanted the most couldn’t be bought at a store.
That Christmas, my Dad told my brother and I that we each had a special gift, but it had to be opened last. I was already holding back tears, and then my mind started racing, wondering what this special gift could be.
It was finally time for us to open our last gifts. We each had identical looking bags to open. We opened them at the same time, and as soon as I saw what was inside I couldn’t hold back my tears any longer.
In that instant, even though my mom wasn’t physically there, the room was filled with love and precious memories of her. We each received a quilt made from some of our mom’s clothes.
My Dad explained that the quilts were made by our mom’s childhood friend (who also happened to be one of her co-workers). It was a gift that I never expected, but will always treasure. It was made out of love and reminds me of a person who I will always love.
Whenever I look at my quilt, I’m reminded of my mom and how she taught me all about strength, courage, and perseverance. I’m reminded that she loved God, and she loved the people that He had placed in her life.
Seeing these familiar pieces of old fabric woven together in a new way reminds me that God can take the pieces of our lives and make something new and beautiful out of them.
God can take something unexpected and use it to remind us that we are loved by others and by Him.
I still miss my mom every day, especially on the holidays, but losing her has helped me realize that time is a gift.
Make the most of the moments God gives you. Spend them with people you love, and use your moments to make others feel loved.
This Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, remember that one of the best gifts you can give someone is the gift of your time. Who will you give it to?
Here is a section of the quilt.
“Rejection isn’t just an emotion we feel. It’s a message that’s sent to the core of who we are, causing us to believe lies about ourselves, others, and God.”
I just finished reading Lysa’s TerKeurst’s new book, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. This quote was one of many that resonated with me, especially since I recently experienced rejection.
I started blogging almost a year ago. One of my favorite online communities was accepting guest blog submissions for the next quarter. I’ve never applied to be a guest blogger before, and even though part of me thought, “You’ll never be selected,” I surprised myself and applied anyways. Then I waited….and waited…and waited.
I eventually received an e-mail thanking me for my guest blog submission. Then came the gentle let down - They received hundreds of submissions, but were only able to select 26 to publish. While my blog wasn’t selected, they thanked me for sharing my heart and encouraged me to submit another blog in the future.
Rejection is hard, even when it comes with loving and encouraging words.
I wish I could say as soon as I read that e-mail it inspired me to start working on my next guest blog submission. Instead, these were the thoughts and doubts that were running through my mind:
“Why would anyone want to read your words? No one cares what you have to say. You’ll never be good enough. You should stop writing. You’ll never be as good as (fill in the name of every writer/blogger you know).”
When we experience rejection, it can be difficult to distinguish between lies and the truth. We may start to accept the lies as truth, which often leads to feeling unworthy of love and doubting our gifts and purpose.
How do you distinguish between lies and the truth? In my life, I have found it helpful to:
God has used this recent experience with rejection to remind me of the truth:
“I started blogging because God gave me a desire to share my story. My hope and prayer is that others will feel encouraged and less alone and will also share their own story with someone. I may never know who reads my words or the impact they have on someone’s life, but I will continue to write as long as God gives me words to share.”
Rejection hurts, but it can also refine and strengthen us.
When you experience rejection, remember that you are still worthy of love. You are still valuable. You still have something to offer. God still has a purpose for your life.
I'm an ordinary introvert who loves an extraordinary God.