I admit,  I hate the type of blog post I am about to write.

No seriously, it bores me to read through my google reader today every single year.  Yes,  I know it’s the new year, and we are all planning on eating better, working out more, spending less, … the usual.  The repetition of that over and over again is just exhausting to me.  I sit writing this, having not even read any posts from the past few days, so this is not a point my finger at anyone post,… honest.


Then, this morning, I realized why that all just makes me want to nap until 2013.  Because I always just feel like I am setting myself up to fail.  And, this might not shock any of you…however- I don’t like to fail.  I don’t even like to change.   I don’t like giving up Christmas.  People who have already cleaned up their tree hurt my innermost soul.  No, I am not being dramatic.  I am serious here.

So, you see why New Year’s Day, full of possibility, is also full of…gloom? melancholy? simply a funk for me.

Here it goes, the post, I never thought I would write  (and, watch out it is long!):


2011 was one of the best and worst years for me.  It is hard for me to explain how the best things were also the toughest, the crummy things also had huge silver linings.  I don’t even really know how to describe this year.  But it pushed and pulled, and I somehow found my way to 2012.  Before writing this blog, I had similar types of years.  I would describe moving to Seattle in 2007 as one of those best-but-worst situations… and going through Katrina in 2005…. I am not sure I yet see the silver lining in that one, but 2005 brought not only Katrina, but also the amazement of Finland….two things that completely changed who I will forever be.

I also find it tough to describe this year right here, if I am going to be perfectly blunt.  This is out there, on the internet, for all to see.   I know, you other bloggers must understand, but there are things you just can’t say, and lines that I can read between.   So, forgive me for not being clear on so so many details.  I simply, cannot.


2011 became a year that changed me, whether I was ready or not.  The truth was, I was comfortable.  Last January 1, I was comfortable in our house, comfortable with my friends, comfortable with my job, comfortable with my relationship with God and serving Him through leading my small group, with life happening Here- Seattle.  I knew my job was going to go through a season of challenge, sure, but I was still comfortable.  2011 was not just about losing my job.  It was about realizing that I needed a challenge.  In all aspects of life, whether I wanted it or not.  I was going to leave the same-old weeks behind and fly though the unknown path ahead.  I admit, I trudged my feet.

It all just seemed so easy before, honestly.  I went to work and did enjoy it sometimes, but not others.  I told myself it was great though, because that was easy.  The paycheck became too much of the goal, and it was easy to leave at 5, go work out and be home by 6:30pm.  I wasn’t as inspired as I used to be there, yet it became easier to dive into more stuff at home and creative outlets like crafts and blogging.

I thought when I didn’t have that job, and worse, didn’t want another with the same title….I was not the same Me.  And that scared me.  The fact I had a Master’s degree in Architecture now scared me and even became something I was ashamed over.   It’s true, I am not the same Me I was last January.  But, I’m really glad that is the case.

Because it started not to matter to me any more.  I was sitting in church this morning, and I admit, the sermon made me write this post.  It was about knowing God, and discovering what He is doing in your life.  At one point he said something about taking one step and I thought of something that happened to me this year that barely anyone knows.  I didn’t think it was a big deal, but God reminded me this morning of it, and that I should share it since it is another way 2011 challenged me greatly.  My small group 2 and a half years ago was a small number of girls exiting the 6th grade.  They were easy to enjoy, have fun with, listen to, smile with.  Today, I thought of how far on the journey I have come with them.  A journey I never wanted to be on; I mean, after all, who enjoys spending time with teenagers?  I must be crazy.  But this past year, being a small group leader has moved from fun and games to …….  there are still moments of fun, and plenty of games…. but there have been some really REALLY intense challenges with them this year.  Now, because this is the internet, and there are many conversations of confidential nature… I can’t actually tell you anything that happened.  But know that my heart broke for several kids in ways I did not think was possible.  I had to make a few tough calls and had to lean on several people around me just to get through it.  I learned that while I was there for my girls… I could no longer move through life in a way in which I did not get filled up too, because I simply was giving it all away, and then some.  And this was true not only because of my small group… It was true because of the many roles I play a week.  Sometimes I think I am being selfish saying I need something, but this was about teaching me that I do matter, and it’s not selfish to say no, or I need time, or space, or to be treated differently.  But it seemed that every day I walked, God had prepared me for this year, as terrible as some of it was.

He reminded me of this one Sunday back in the fall, where I was stumbling through that day’s curriculum studying 1 John.  It was about following Jesus, seeing what He sees, doing what he does…. following Him, even though it is a challenge.  It was one of those days where I was not sure I deserved to be leading the girls in such a discussion, when I so obviously was unsure I knew how to follow Jesus myself.  We get to the end, where we are talking through ways this very week where we can each follow Jesus.  My leader cheat sheet had some ways they could be inspired to notice and follow God in their everyday…. I began to read them.

I held up my hand counting off the suggestions they had for themselves and then added from this list.  One of them read “notice someone in your life that follows Jesus with joy.  Take their lead and follow too, imitating them.”  I glance up, this is point four, and the girls all have a hand up with four fingers too.  They glance up too.  They are waving their right hands in the air like I must do as I speak.  They are all sitting cross legged in their chairs too.

They are all staring at me.

I nervously use my right hand put my hair behind my ear.

And they do too.

…Even the girls with ponytails.

What are you doing?  I ask….

They say……  you said to notice someone that follows Jesus with joy, so we are imitating You.


Are you kidding me? No really.

I found myself thinking of that story this morning, and even today it embarassed me, because seriously, if they only knew.  How much I don’t do perfectly, struggle with, and the people in my world that I struggle with really knowing.  It makes leading some class on Sunday seem like the easy stuff.

But, they are watching.  Looking to me for that lead, for that how to, noticing.  And you know what, none of them cared that I was no longer working as an architect.  I was the same person to them the day before I got laid off.  I was just myself, no matter what the answer to the what-do-you-do-question was.  I didn’t have to have an answer with them about the rest of my life or anything.    In the everyday little stuff, they saw Jesus in me.  Do I do that all the time?  See Jesus in the little everyday around me?  Not always, but yeah.  And this year, I want to do it more.  And follow more, despite uncertainty or any other risk.


Somehow, one day at a time, I made it to today.  And I am pretty sure the challenges that began in 2011 are just beginning.  And instead of running, full speed, I am planning on walking.  Stopping, Sensing, moving, noticing, not just getting through.  Enjoying the small, noticing that out ahead, but not getting scared of it, because Today is the day that needs my attention, fully.  And in 365 more days of noticing that around me, working, moving, pressing on, tasting every bite, I will be in another new year; hopefully I will have walked to the next pathway, but it’s okay if I am only halfway towards that next fork.  Halfway is better then starting point.


It’s like today… I walked around Gas Works Park.  I routinely hang out at Green Lake… and for those of you not in town, I will explain.  At Greenlake, I move in a circle, with everyone else, around the water.  There is a direction I need to follow.  But at Gas Works…some paths are gravel, others paved, others dirt.  Some go up the hill, some down, some in circles, some next to the old machinery….but there is not a direction I need to travel.  Wandering, sometimes aimlessly, is okay too.  It caused me to notice birds, and boats.  Planes taking off in the lake, and a magnificent landing too.  Mountains in the distance and children running nearby.  And remnants from last night’s festivities (which I loved seeing despite the Seattlite-desire to scoff at littering).

I ate a croissant {a chocolate almond one from essential baking company!}  , drank a coffee, snapped some pictures, but really just noticed all around me, and let God guide my path, no longer on the circle around the lake…. that is pretty clear right about now.



{now, before you think I have gone crazy, I still plan on posting more about Christmas, because I’m not done yet with listening to my Christmas music!}



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11 thoughts on “

  1. Danielle – you are such a blessing to those girls and others around you. Thank you for being you, sharing yourself and God just where you are. You are blooming where you were planted.
    And I’m with you – I was not happy when my husband took down our exterior Christmas lights yesterday. I want Christmas to last. I try to keep my tree up through Epiphany and a couple years I’ve even stretched it out until my birthday on the 9th. I’m all for moving foward but I wouldn’t mind slowing down the Christmas season to enjoy it even longer. At my age, years are going by quicker and quicker so I “console” myself that it will be here again before I know it. God bless you, Danielle!!!

  2. Love your post, D! Thanks for sharing where you’re at. Remember that following Jesus with joy doesn’t mean doing things perfectly! We’re human and we’re still sinners needing to repent and forgive along the way. Share that with your girls once in a while, repent to them when you didn’t lead the way you could have, ask their forgiveness, and they’ll see someone worth following! And how did I not know you were laid off?! Happy 2012, love the Gas Works pictures! It’s been forever since I’ve gone there!

  3. I love this post. I miss talking to you more regularly, but know that you’re so committed to this path you’re on and admire your dedication.

    Truly, you do show so much joy and I can completely see where your girls were coming from. Love you!

  4. um, i LOVE this post. (and not just because of the pretty photos!) i am also a firm believer that God gives us challenges we need for a reason, but He is there for us all along the way. glad to hear you made it out of 2011 with such a strong head on your shoulders :) so glad i could meet you girls & discover your blog this year — here’s to an even better 2012!

  5. This post brought tears to my eyes. It is just how I feel about the journey we are about to embark on. I wish I could express myself with words and pictures like you do. You are an inspiration.

    1. Connie, Many thanks for your comment. I don’t feel like too much of an inspiration, because really I did not want to write all of that, and dreaded hitting publish! But, I think that is all part of it. Responses, both here and in person have encouraged me to try and write more like this in the coming year. I look forwar dto hearing about your journey!

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