Happy New Year! It’s only taken me 14 days to pull myself together for a New Years post. A little over a week ago I was fresh off of a reflecting, dreaming and goal setting night away with lots of stirrings in my heart and plenty of things to process. Instead of leaving the weekend with a “word” for the year the sweet Lord took me on an unexpected journey through His Word where He gave me lots and lots of life giving words of truth and three things to hold on to; a reminder, a promise and a plan.
Yes of course I got to some actionable goals eventually and revisited and refreshed my Business Plan for the coming year. But there was a lot that needed to happen before any of that could take place and it all took me by complete surprise.
A Reminder - Lamentations 3:22-24
For the first weekend of the new year fellow creative and I Sarah Sandel (who is a gifted writer and has a blog that she’s currently re-vamping but you can bookmark it by clicking here) set out on a goal-setting, dream-casting night away at the beach with visions of soaking up the warm Florida wintertime sun from the comfort of a cozy seaside chair, journal and laptop in hand. We planned for updated glow-y headshots as soon as we arrived in the warm golden hour light. Up and over the skyway bridge we didn’t lose our excitement even over the high hazy complete cloud cover. “It makes a lovely ‘light box’”we said in true photographer form. And then just two miles from the hotel the dark clouds overcame us and the heavens let loose in torrential rain. We unloaded semi-dry under the valet awning and walked into the hotel lobby lit by dim afternoon lights. Not quite what we had imagined.
We opted for an early dinner, then hopping right into our work while postponing the headshots for the morning which was calling for sunshine. As I sat down to dream in front of a window with the view of the ever darkening night cloaking what I only knew to be the ocean beyond I opened my first worksheet from The Well Summit and read the first verse...
“The LORD'S loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him."” Lamentations 3:22-24
“Oh wouldn’t that have been nice to be reading in the hopeful soft morning light,” I thought to myself. I love the quiet softness of the light at the start of the day when expectations are held lightly and hope abounds. But then I thought, most every glorious sunrise I’ve ever experienced involved getting up before the sun for some reason or another.
Morning always starts in the dark.
I lifted my eyes and stared into the darkness outside the window in front of me and had one of those deep breath moments where I knew the Lord was about to do something big and maybe kind of scary in my heart. I had no idea what it was and surely didn’t know if I was ready for it but there was no doubt it was coming either way.
And that was the start of things for me. In order to step into the hopeful morning light of 2019’s dreams and goals I had to start things off unexpectedly in the dark with the reminder that His compassion and faithfulness is new every single hopeful, softly lit morning.
A Promise - 1 Peter 5:10
I have to admit I always cringe a little at posts that are enthusiastically waving goodbye to a hard year, proclaiming their best year is yet to come. I truly believe you may not always get to choose the experiences and circumstances of your life but you do get to choose how to frame them. And my general aim is to choose to focus on the good, the joyous, the growth in the midst of struggle (but more on that later). And yet being the highly sensitive person I am, that hard and heartbreaking stuff doesn’t just slip by. It sits and lingers in my soul whether I choose to admit it or focus on it or not.
So at the end of 2018 when I sat full of hope and excitement to reflect back on the year and dream towards the next I was genuinely surprised by instant tightness in my chest and the hot tears that came on like an unexpected storm on a day calling for sunshine. It was unnerving. It wasn’t what I wanted to do with my time and it certainly wasn’t where I wanted to turn my gaze and focus.
2018 held some pretty heavy heartbreak and I realized in my reflection that I was still holding onto it all. The lingering heartbreak of another year on this earth without my dad, a dear friend battling some heavy medical challenges, witnessing sweet friends walk further and further away from the Lord and the goodness He had for them through obedience to His word and His truth and then there is the general heartbreak and pain that comes from watching loved ones walk through hard things they have no control over. As I prayed through tears the Lord gave me these sweet words of encouragement, hope and a promise of purpose from His Word.
“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10
There is a purpose!
I love the sweet promise that comes in the very first word of this verse, after. The suffering is only for a season and there is a time that comes “after”. There is an end to it. Praise. But the end only comes on the other side. And the other side only comes by walking through it.
Yes, it was a difficult season in many ways but I am absolutely certain it wasn’t without purpose. As I reflect back I can begin to see the places He was so graciously perfecting, confirming, strengthening and establishing myself and the loved ones around me in this season too. What a sweet gift that through obedience to His truths will forever change our lives the lives of our loved ones for generations to come!
This past week I’ve taken time to process and pray and slowly release those heavy burdens and sufferings from 2018 that I’ve carried for far too long. I have clung to the promise of purpose found in His word and am choosing to focus on what sweet treasures lie on the faith filled other side.
A Plan - Philippians 4:8
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8
With a reminder of His faithfulness and the promise of purpose tucked into my heart I can finally look forward with focus and hope to the coming year. This year I plan to turn my gaze towards Philippians 4:8 things and dwell there. Truth, honor, righteousness, purity, oh-so-lovely, respectable, excellent and praiseworthy things, that’s where I will be.
This year I hope to turn my camera towards more things that take my breath away, inspire me and make my heart skip a beat, like genuine love stories, lovely light, beautiful little meaningful details, gorgeous vistas and lots and lots of film worthy moments. I hope to continue to build encouraging relationships with my friends and clients that always point them back to Jesus and His sweet glory. I hope to collaborate more and work on building not just a healthy team but a Caroline Maxcy Photography Family (more on this soon). I know without a doubt that I thrive in community professionally, personally and spiritually and life is just way more fun with the right folks by your side.
Personally I hope to encourage my husband more, serve my church family and community more and walk more and more in the obedient rhythm of daily discipleship and growing faithfulness. Of course there are health goals, friendship goals and maybe trying to make this the year I start being on time to things. No promises. We hold these type of New Years goals lightly around here. And then there is that little goal I made long before all of this processing that I didn’t think much of at the time, to witness more glorious, quiet sunrises even if that means it starts in the dark.