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Year 2021: Grief, Celebration, and Restoration.

Hey, Sisters – It’s getting close to the end of the 2021, and like most of us inevitably do, I have begun thinking about my goals and aspirations for the upcoming year. I am sitting in my bed with my journal and pencil in hand. I am reading through a few writing prompts for next year, and a writing prompt from Jennie Allen’s "Dream Guide" really drew me in. It is a writing prompt that consists of two lists. The first list “Things to Grieve in 2021” and the other list, “Things to Celebrate in 2021.” So, I grab my pencil and begin to make my lists. I draw a line right down the middle of my journal page with “Things to Grieve in 2021” on the left-hand side of my paper, and “Things to Celebrate in 2021” on the right-hand side. The first two items that came to mind easily make their way on the “Things to Grieve” side. I had been rejected by two book publishers this year even though I knew that the book I was writing was something God had given me to pursue.

Sometimes our losses, disappointments, frustrations, rejection, or unmet expectations can feel so fresh in our minds. And they can feel that much bigger in our hearts.

Still, I begin to recap the rest of my year beginning with January 2021. Though I had quickly recalled the rejection of my book idea on the left-hand side of the page, the right-hand side reminded me that I completed and submitted my final book proposal and had booked several opportunities in 2021 to talk about the book idea that the Lord has placed on my heart to write.

With the help of Google photos and memories, I continued to carefully recall each month's wins and losses, and begin adding things to each list. After getting through a few months of the year, I noticed the right-hand side for celebrating was becoming fuller than the left-hand side of grief. And I was beginning to see His divine hand of faithfulness amid the rejection and frustration I had experienced in the same year.

Sister, some of you may be taking a similar inventory of your year and may find that the left-hand side of things to grieve is much longer than the right-hand side of things to celebrate. Or similarly to me, the right-hand side of things to celebrate have greatly outweighed your left-hand side of what you have grieved this year.

However your list pans out, here’s what the Lord shared with me while drafting both lists. My hope is that it will encourage you too as you reflect on this year and the year ahead: “What you win and gain [in Christ] is so much greater than what you have lost.”

And the verse He brought to mind was this: “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.” ~Joel 2:25-26 (ESV)

The Lord was reminding me that in Him I could not lose. What I felt was lost this year could inevitably be restored in Him. What I felt like I had lost over the years, could undoubtedly be multiplied in Him. And what I have celebrated or will celebrate, in Him there is exponentially more. In Him, I could not lose.

No matter which parts of your personal lists are on the forefront of your minds and hearts today, I pray that His power to restore and give more is what begins to play the loudest. May His goodness, faithfulness, and victory in all things be brought to mind for this year and year ahead. And may you continue to trust in the God who can do all things and restore all things for His Glory. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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