It’s no secret that 2020 was an incredibly rough year in many ways for a lot of people, myself included. But as I sat down on January 1st 2021 to do my annual “reflecting on the past year” journal entry, I realized that when I looked back on 2020 in the future I really didn’t want to remember it as a heartbreaking year, or the year where my health fell apart again and my best friend had to move away…Instead I wanted to remember it in a way that made me want to remember it. I wanted to remember it in a way that made me smile and filled my heart with gratitude and love. I wanted to remember it in a way that made me see the provision and care and abundant blessings of my heavenly father above everything else.
And so I started to write.
By the time I finished that journal entry I was able to reframe one of the most difficult years of my life into a year of huge blessings…tears of pain into laughter and joy…setbacks into motivation and new goals. It was such a rich, powerful, and liberating exercise, and one that I wanted to memorialize a little by sharing pieces of it here on the blog. So here goes… ❤
How I Choose To Remember 2020
The Year of a Crazy-Thriving Garden
Last year I grew almost ALL of my plants from seeds and I had so much success! My tomatoes grew sooo tall that they outgrew their stakes and ended up having to be propped up against anything Walker and I could find to help support them. Chairs, planks of wood, my empty greenhouse, our fences, etc. It was out of control and was just the best thing ever.
The butternut squashes were also out of control, and the funny thing is that I didn’t even plant them! They just showed up from kitchen scraps I scattered throughout the garden the winter before as an experiment to see if they would help feed the soil at all, and what started out as two little sprouts ended up threatening to take over my entire backyard! Hehe. I heavily trimmed those vines throughout the entire growing season and still ended up with over 50 healthy and huge butternut squashes. In fact, they got so big that a good 20 of them burst!
As for the rest of my garden, up until a couple weeks ago I was still making fried rice and pasta from garden fresh produce and herbs, and I’m still cooking on a near daily basis with the abundance of tomatoes that ended up in the freezer throughout the season. It has been so, so happy and fun!
The Year of Penelope
My sweet maltipoo Penelope had been a part of our family for 6 months when January began, but 2020 was an entire year of having her around, and boy did she always make everything happier. She’s seriously the best little therapy dog ever, and I can’t imagine a sweeter, cuddlier, happier, more sensitive-to-how-I’m-feeling dog. I also can’t imagine a cuter dog, but I know I’m biased on that front 😉
The Year of Having a Nature Sanctuary in My Own Backyard
Apart from my garden, or more accurately because of my garden, my backyard slowly began to become more and more filled with a various assortment of God’s little creatures. Between huge worms taking care of my soil, more bees and butterflies than I could count, squirrels stuffing their faces with the squash seeds I left out for them as treats, and tons of tiny birds flittering from the tree to the ground and back again feasting on bugs, my backyard truly became my happy sanctuary.
I watched butterflies and hummingbirds drink nectar from flowers right in front of me, I witnessed what I can only describe as the happiest bees, and after noticing that said bees were trying to drink water off of my hose whenever I would water the plants, I set out a tiny water trough for them and watched squirrels, bees, and birds take turns drinking from it all summer and fall long ❤
The Year I Had My First Normal Vacation in 7 Years
On the second week of the year, before covid happened, Walker, my best friend Anisa and I went on a real vacation! I say “real” because vacations for a super chronically ill person has tended to consist of getting a hotel with a pretty view and being too sick to do anything else. I am not bashing those vacations in any way because they were still a huge blessing and helped me a lot, but naturally I did grow to miss actually being able to do things.
Well, on January 7th 2020, we went to Universal Studios for a couple days and it was the most perfect vacation ever! Back then I was the healthiest I had been in 7 years and was able to walk around and be on my feet for hours with only short rests, go on rides, and stay out late. I laughed so much on that trip and had SO much fun! It was truly magical.
The Year of Books!
Last year was especially special because it was the year I was finally able to start reading again! I used to be a hugemongous reader before debilitating migraines made doing so nearly impossible, and for years I’ve dreamed of the day when I could read actual hard-copy books again. Well, that dream came true in 2020. And not only did it come true, but a little used bookshop opened up nearby that made rebuilding the library I lost to mold a few years back easier than I ever imagined possible!
Whenever I was feeling especially stressed or sad, Walker would take me to the bookstore and I would spend half-an-hour or so just surrounded by books. I found most of my favorite books there, and many more books that have since become new favorites, and I rarely spent more than a dollar for each one! Afterwards, Walker would get pizza and I would get a falafel from restaurants next door, and we would eat in the car while I gushed and geeked out about the awesome books I found and how kind God was to give me so many of them for so little money. I’m pretty sure memories of those afternoons will remain some of my happiest and most special memories for the rest of my life ❤
The Year of Growing in Faith and Peace
I plan on blogging more on this in the future, but in a nutshell 2020 was a year of continuing to return to childlike faith in my heavenly father as well as to unapologetic discipleship to Jesus. I spent the better part of a decade in some really unhealthy religious environments, and over time this left me with really weakened faith and a spirit in need of a lot of healing. Picking up these broken pieces was incredibly hard and painful at first, but every day it gets easier and 2020 was the first year in more than half a decade where my freedom in the Lord truly overcame all the confusion, fears, and man-made bondages that being in those environments left me with.
2020 was my year of returning to taking every single word of Jesus to heart, and watching them change my heart and transform my mind little by little as I did so. It was the year of returning fully to the convictions and super-sensitive conscience that I allowed myself to be bullied out of honoring over the years. It was the year of watching my faith grow stronger and stronger, and the year of watching all of these things fill me with the kind of peace that I don’t even know how to express.
2020 was my breakthrough year. It was the year of returning to the me that God created me to be. The year of re-learning to honor my heavenly Father through honoring the gifts that he’s given me to live out, regardless of what other people say. The year of taking God at his word and seeing his overwhelming faithfulness in return, time and time and time again.
It was a year of the simplicity of just following Jesus, plain and simple. The year of freedom. The year of hope.
Happy new year, 22 days late, and may God bless you abundantly ❤