A year ago today I wrote in my journal about the year ahead of me. I reflected on the years behind me and stared down the barrel of the coming year of my life with great fear and anticipation. As I wrote, the theme of God’s goodness to me was pressing upon my heart, and He opened my eyes to see just how extravagantly our Father gives good things.

A year later, I sit staring down the barrel of yet another year of life and also, an empty word document. I realize my words may not reach the eyes of many, but I assure you they reach my heart time and time again after I’ve written them. I sometimes go back months after writing something only to find my own words re-convicting my heart all over again. I remember the emotion I was feeling at the time of writing a certain post, and I’m filled with renewed hope and fresh perspective. I love that. I love that my words are not my own, but are instead given to me by my Heavenly Father. I trust that no matter how inarticulate I may be, a year from now I will be able to look back at this post and find encouragement. Last years post {here}.

This year has been a busy, exciting, and change filled one. I “graduated” high school, though some would much prefer to stamp me with the indignant title of “drop out.” Whichever term you prefer doesn’t matter much to me, what matters is that I’m no longer tapping my foot on the concrete floors of a musky church basement waiting impatiently to go home for the day. Though sometimes I miss standing in small circles debating the most insignificant topics amongst my fellow homeschoolers and adjusting to a life of being far removed from my friends has been difficult, I’m grateful that the Lord gave me clear direction and peace in my decision to graduate early. The summer was a rather peaceful one, filled with many lazy days and lots of family time. The event to cap off our uneventful summer would have to be my sister’s engagement. Never could have predicted that one! About the time school started, I began my first full time job working long hours for my Aunt and Uncle, which has forcefully shoved me out of my comfortable childhood right into the reality of adulthood. Ouch. But overall, it’s been a great year. It’s been one full learning, laughter, and love. And aside from dying portions of my hair pink and putting a few too many holes in my ears, I can say in honesty I exit this year of my life regret free.

As to be expected, this has been a year of new and confusing hurdles to jump. This time a year ago I thought I had my life figured out. Medical school was my dream, but somewhere along the way that passion has faded and left me wondering what I should do with my life. Being stuck in the rut of confusion and stressing over the future has of course left me asking, “who am I?” And in my efforts to answer this question for myself, I’ve looked to place my identity somewhere or in something, be it in my abilities, in my job, or in my hobbies. When those things failed me, I turned to comparison, which only led to jealousy. But it was only when I looked to Christ and asked Him to expose my idols and show me who I am that He began to answer this question for me. I am wonderfully made, I am loved, and I’m told that in Christ I lack no good thing. When jealousy tells me I’m not enough, Jesus tells me that He is. I’m learning what it means to trade my dreams for His, and surrender myself daily to His will for my life.

My name means grace, or more specifically, grace of God. That makes me laugh, because in my opinion, a more appropriate word to describe me would be something like maladroit or uncouth. To put it simply: GRACELESS. But I have seen this year more clearly than ever that all I am and all I do is through and by God’s grace in my life, and certainly not my own. Though in my flesh I am embarrassingly inept, the grace of God never fails to find me, no matter the circumstance. Just this past year it’s found me on the side of the road, in a crippling fear just minutes after my first car wreck. It’s found me at the casket of an elderly lady I hardly knew, and given me words to say to her grieving family members. Grace has found me on my knees at the bedside of a 90-something, dying lady, hand in hand as she cried out to God and asked Him into her heart. Situations like these are proof to me that God’s grace can meet us in the strangest places, most foreign situations, and when we least expect it.

Just as I expressed last year a deep longing for heaven, this year that desire has only grown stronger. My heart is one that yearns to be free of the trials of this world. And with each story of death, school shootings and cancer, I only long for it even more. But the truth that comforts me as I plow through this life is that grace is what sent Christ to the cross. And it is on that very cross that He conquered death. He conquered cancer, confusion and concern. He conquered every fear I will ever know. I still have questions. I don’t have everything figured out and I know I never will. But I hope that this year is only the beginning of discovering God’s grace and goodness to me, despite the heartache that accompanies life here on earth. As C.S. Lewis says, “there are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

So that is my perspective as I step into another year of life; that what is before me will exceed all that I leave on the road behind, as I hold tightly to the hope given to me in 1 Corinthians 2:9, that “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Through chaos and confusion, He still fiercely pursues my heart. In trial and temptation, His grace is sufficient. And in every high and every low, He loves me well. I’m grateful again for another year and eager for another chapter of life to begin. I stand humbled at the way He is so graciously preparing my heart for whatever He has in store for my future. He is an awesome Author.