Welcome to 2020!
Every single year, I find some time to go grab a good cup of coffee and fill out Jennie Allen’s Dream Guide! It’s one of my favorite things to do because it give s me an opportunity to see what all God has done in the past year, as well as dream with God about what’s going to happen the next year.
This year, it’s been cool to sit with my fiancé and discuss the dream guide! We’re reflecting on a ll that God has done in 2019 and looking forward to 2020 as we get married!
I would love for you to join us in this dreaming journey! The two main questions she asks us to reflect on in each are of our lives are: 1. How did you grow in the last year? And 2. What are your goals for 2020?
I am thankful for:
- Alec (the fiancé)
- God’s love that’s beyond what I deserve!
- An opportunity to go to Ecuador
- God’s provision
- The women’s ministry network in Evansville
- Wednesday nights around the kitchen table.
- My sister
- My church–pastors, congregation, and our community
- God’s perfect timing–even the way He says NO
- The way God speaks to me.
Alone Time//Connect With God
I think this year I grew an even bigger appreciation for my alone time with God. It truly is the stillness my heart needs in the midst of a crazy world.
If you’ve been following the blog for long, you know God usually reveals the focus:
2019 the year of celebration.
The word celebrate came from Psalm 27. It says, “I will sing and make melody to the Lord.” I remember reading this at the end of 2018 thinking, regardless of the circumstance, I will celebrate. As the year progress, celebration ranged from food on the table to an engagement of my own! In my own time with God, I was able to focus in on all God taught me and celebrate the blessings of life! He spoke in so many ways this year and grew and challenged me in new ways of becoming like Him. Each night when I prayed, I would intentionally look for things to celebrate–which was more or less having an attitude of gratitude regardless of the circumstance.
2020 the year to treasure and ponder.
For 2020, I see God growing me in a way to treasure and ponder. Towards the end of the year, I started asking God to reveal to me what he wanted the focus of 2020 to be as we head not only into a new year, but a new decade. The next few days, we geared up for Christmas and we went through the Christmas story. BUT just like the Spirit, He revealed something new to me. In Luke 2:19, Mary looks at all God has done with the coming of Jesus as a baby, and Mary treasures up what she’s seen God fulfill and she ponders it. I can’t imagine what went through her head and even her heart. She watched God do exactly what He said he would do, and she stops to treasure and ponder! Wow!! Oh for us to be so aware of God to treasure and ponder!
This next year, I want to be like Mary, treasuring and pondering all God has done and will do! I want to not get over He is a God, the one who promises and keeps His word. I want to treasure God’s faithfulness and ponder it. When I looked up other translations, they exchange ponder for “thinking on” or “meditating” and this is what I want out of 2020. I want to think on the things of God and meditate on Him. These aren’t new ideas; they’re woven throughout Scripture, but the Spirit is using it to call me closer! This this, I want to treasure up more of God’s word this next year! That’s a goal of mine! My fiancé is AMAZING at memorizing Scripture, and I definitely know he will help me in this endeavor!
The last few years, our church has focused on having ONE person to pray for and to share the gospel with. 2019 was no different. Our church’s goal was to have 1200 Gospel conversations, and once again, we met that goal! Another reason to celebrate! God moved through 1200+ conversations! Not only that, but by God’s grace our church baptized 32 people, 100 women signed up for IF:Gathering, 160 kids/students came during our Wednesday night programming, and 100 people in discipleship relationships! Y’all, God is on the move! I don’t want to miss celebrating God. He’s just so good!!
In 2020, I want to see God do more. I would love to see even more conversations, 150 women at our IF:Gathering, more students coming on a regular basis to our Wednesday night programing as well as helping our students feel more confident in sharing the gospel to their friends. I think more importantly, I want to see God glorified from the most mundane to the most extravagant!
So how does this fit with treasuring and pondering?
I can’t believe God allows me to do this. I can’t believe He lets me join Him in His work. So I want to treasure Him. I want to keep thinking this is because of Him and not because of me. Through the church, I want to make His name glorified through it all.
One of the verses that sticks out to me is Mark 10:45 which says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
We see in this verse the KING of KINGS coming to us not to be served, and that’s the very thing He deserves. He deserves our service, but what does He do instead? He serves us. How did He serve us? Through the cross. He gave His life for us. The LORD of LORDS came to serve me and you!
This is something God’s been stirring in my heart throughout 2019. If I follow Christ’s level of service, I need to be willing to give my life to it. There is no job too gross or mundane or hard.
I think of the story of Jesus when He washes the disciples’ feet. That’s a pretty nasty job, but He wasn’t too good for it. He’s the One True King, and if anyone’s feet should be washed, it should be His. Yet, He washed the disciples’ feet. This is service.
I say all this to say that for 2020, I want to serve like Jesus did. There’s always opportunities to serve, but whether or not we look for them is something I want to do this year. I want to serve like Jesus serves!
If there is one thing I’ve learned over the last six years is that money is fleeting. It’s only a temporary thing, but when placed in the hands of God, God can do whatever He pleases.
For 2020, my goal is to continue to give God what’s His first! It belongs to Him. I can give in a way that is joyful because I know God is provider! He’s a good, good Father!
I’ve watched Him provide financially time and time again throughout mission trips, houses, grad school, jobs, and other endless opportunities to grow in Him. It’s His! Everything is, so I will continue to joyfully give!
2019 as far as outreach and ministry goes that I probably won’t forget. See I had students in my class that followed me on social media and came to church events because of what they saw on Instagram. Then those same girls came to my house during the summer for Bible Study and I got to hand out Bibles and teach these girls not just English, but about Jesus! That was incredible! Reaching out to the sphere God has placed me in and just saying yes!
I watched women grow together through conversations happening around a table at our annual If:Gathering. I watched women get set free as they surrender to God!
We had church camp this year and getting to watch students give their lives to Christ and develop new relationships with them is incredible. Literally to think of all the ways God has reached out to the world around me is bringing me to tears as I write this. It’s His story of building a great kingdom, and it’s the best story! It’s the best journey! It’s the best adventure! Ahh!! Following Jesus is just so great!
I also went to Ecuador and watched God do amazing things in the hearts and lives of women there. I think the most unforgettable moment for me was hanging out at the orphanage. While the rest of the team was helping with the kids or fixing up the orphanage, I was talking to the women on staff. Getting to pour out to them was an incredible experience! But then getting to hang out and talk to one of the staff members and hearing her give her life to Christ was beautiful.
I’m even thinking back to conversations I got to have with different students during Fight Club about where they are with Jesus and seeing several of them coming to know Christ.
Then I think of our Fall DNOW where we got to watch our students learn the greatness of God. I remember one of our students running up to me after a prayer walk with her arms outstretched and tears streaming down her face. She said, “Rachel, I’m a sinner and I need Jesus.” I’m not sure it gets better than that. Just a few minutes later, she gave her life to Christ.
I can sit here and recount all these moments of God moving, but I want you to hear that I’m still praying for the people in my life who don’t know Jesus yet. And I think part of outreach is simply being obedient with those who are around you! Look at their life and ask yourself if there is anyway you can be a minister to them. Allow God to use you to minister to their lives. It may simply just be asking, “How can I be praying for you?” or “I see you, no, like really see you! You’re not alone.” Love people. They have hearts that beat. They are searching and seeking for fulfillment or satisfaction; help them to see what they’re longing for can only be found in Christ.
With that said, that’s what I want for 2020. I pray God will continue to give me moments to pour into others all around me. Giving me opportunities to reach out and minister through sharing the gospel!
There was a lot of discipleship happening and it was consistent! In the midst of crazy schedules, God made a way to meet with students of all ages to go through the Word together. In 2019, I wanted to find little ways to celebrate what God had done, and that’s exactly what happened. Listening for the littlest thing and saying, “That’s a win!” was so fun! I think that’s something to keep in mind as I continue discipleship.
I think one big thing I want to treasure for 2020 is the time with these girls. Sometimes I go into discipleship super tired and exhausted from the week, but God speaks and sets students free. In this next year, I pray God provides time, energy, and the words to teach what God has entrusted.
Friendships//Friends I Need//Friends Who Need Me
My goal was to have friends over at the house more and that happened! During the spring and fall semester, every Wednesday our little group of friends came over to the house and we sat around the table or in the living room and talked about what God taught us that week. Honestly, I think that’s been one of the highlights of the week throughout 2019. It sustained me and showed me God working in the lives of my friends.
I also got to take the DREAM trip of traveling to California with some great friends! We got to experience Cali life and the very cold Pacific Ocean! It was a great time to grow together and experience new things!
My Proper friends are definitely still there, but now pretty much everyone is in a relationship and so that changed the dynamic a bit. We didn’t get to hang out that much, but coming together at Drew and Mikayla’s wedding and remembering all that God had done in our lives was crazy cool! I love that group so much! The way God used them to shape and mold me was completely necessary!
With 2020, I love friends and I love expanding the circle. I want to treasure those moments with us together and continue to bring others into that space.
JUNE 20, 2020! I will experience the first six months of the year in the last six months of my singleness, and then come June 20, I enter into a completely new season of marriage. I am so excited to see what God is going to do through our marriage!
I think what’s so cool about God brining us together is both of us have prayed in our singleness that if we were to be married, that our marriage would be one bringing God more glory together than we ever could do separately. And here we are, about to join together, and that’s been the prayer for both of us!
I know marriage will bring new challenges and new encouragement, but I think the thing I want to focus on for 2020 as we go into this newness is to treasure Alec. Matt Chandler is one of my all time favorite pastors. One of the things he teaches is to be an expert in your spouse’s strengths. I hope to be that way for Alec. I hope to be pointing out what he’s great at and speaking encouragement to him. I want to treasure Alec because just like Mary looking at Jesus and treasuring and pondering, I completely realize that marrying Alec is a huge prayer request answered! God brought me a husband! I pray that both Alec and I will treasure that about each other and mediate on God’s goodness for how God brought us together!
In 2019, my relationship with my family and coworkers continued to grow! I’m so grateful to have the family I have (and the family I that’s not just by blood!) but also to work with some of the greatest people ever! I can’t wait to cherish more of my time with my family and coworkers in 2020 as well gather together to celebrate Alec and me getting married!
I do think with anything, I want to find ways to love and serve them in different ways! I want to share the peace of Jesus in everything! They are incredible people and being able to help and serve them is something I want to look for!
I’m just putting this out there…. I worked our more in 2019 than I probably have in my entire life! I thought people were crazy when they said they felt better when they worked out, but it’s so true! I don’t think it’s just a placebo, but I definitely felt differently when I worked out than when I didn’t. I want to continue to push myself in getting into a healthy routine where working out does become a part of my routine daily, or at least for the majority of the week!
And this is a big attempt–to treasure working out in the moment. I always treasure it weeks later, but the goal would be to treasure it more frequently because it is important.
Books to Read
Grad school completely took over my life and then school and then working at church and then working a full time teaching job and well let’s just say life was chaotic. But one of the things I started getting good about was just giving myself 20 minutes to read even if it was once a week. I know several people do the audio books, but to me that’s not really reading because you’re not engaging in the words on the page. I like to underline, write notes in the margin, and basically mark that book up!
In 2019, I read through Wild and Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan. I also went through Jennie Allen’s Made for This devotional book! Wow!! So good!! All about finding what I was made to do in this life with Christ. I also read Leading Small Groups by Chris Surratt which was super helpful in leading small groups! It has tons of tools in it! Our small group went through Worship by A.W. Tozer which was super impactful when it comes to how we view worship.
Currently, I’m reading Bianca Olthoff’s How to have your life Not Suck and Jennie Allen’s Get Out of Your Head (which is a pre-release book). Both of them have started off fantastic!
Needless to say, there’s still a bunch on the bookshelf that I have to read! I keep telling myself I won’t buy any more books until I read the ones that I have on the shelf, but that hasn’t really happened just yet. But my goal is to be more intentional with my time to read! Just like working out, it makes a difference in my day!
Dreams//Memories to Make
Well for two years now, I’ve had the dream of going ICE SKATING, you would think it would be an easy dream to make happen, but it hasn’t happened! I think 2020 could be the year!
Even though there was no ice skating, there were memories that happened in 2019 that I could not have seen coming. I GOT ENGAGED! That’s a story in and of itself, but that was a dream come true! I also swung over the top of a mountain in Ecuador! Feel free to read about that here, but there were some unexpected memories, but those were dreams fulfilled that could have only happened because of God! I watched one of my closet friends get married and then she left at the beginning of 2020 for a mission trip! I watched my first group of 8th graders graduate high school! I went tubbing for the first time. Got to hang out with Jennie Allen and the IF team when she came into town! I had friends over for Pumpkin carving this last year, visited a pumpkin patch, went to weddings, had friends over for an amazing Christmas exchange with some of the most thoughtful gifts that I was given! Not to mention the memories of Alec and I getting together as a couple! There’s just so much fun! And you know, I’m okay with that!
The biggest and most obvious memory to make in 2020 is getting married to my best friend! I can’t explain to you enough how much this is totally God at work, but it is! I love him so much and can’t wait to be his wife! I can’t wait to have all the people we love in one place getting to worship God through our marriage! That’s something I can’t wait to treasure!
I want Alec and I to continue to make memories together that will last a lifetime! But just making memories with friends is another big thing!
I also want to write a book some day! Maybe that will happen some year, I don’t know. Part of me is a little scared to do it because of criticism. It just doesn’t seem like it will happen. I would love to write and speak, but only God knows what my platform will be.
2019 was once again full of traveling! It started with a trip to Nashville right at the beginning of the year! It was great to catch up with one of my dear friends before she had her sweet baby girl! I went to Owensboro a couple of times (not a big travel), but the river walk is just so beautiful! Next was the big trip to California with some sweet girls!! I had never been to California so it was a trip I won’t forget! We ran a mile literally to the beach to see the sunset! Maybe my favorite memory from the trip! Made another trip to Nashville with some pretty cool people to watch Hillsong United! It rained the entire concert, but it was unforgettable! I love worshipping Jesus! Crossings Camp in Louisville, KY. Six days later, I hopped on a plane with some of church members and headed to Ecuador! Went to Lake Barkley with my sister and her boyfriend’s family, my family, and Alec during Labor Day weekend! Took a day trip to Louisville with Alec where we shopped and ate cheesecake on the Walking Bridge! I ended the year the way I began it with a last trip to Nashville to see ICE with Alec’s family!
Whew! I would say there were some miles there!
I’m not exactly sure what 2020 will hold, but I know Alec and I are planning our honeymoon! For now, that’s the only planned trip right now! But one of our good friends is interning at Disney! I’m keeping Spring Break open in case a trip to Disney comes up in the mix!
I hit on this already, but everything is already God’s. He owns everything. All I have to do is be faithful with what He provides. I know grad school is expensive as well as a new roof, but God will make a way! He has been faithful in providing me with a fill time job I love! God just keeps providing! It’s what He does! And He’s way better at it than I will ever be!
One test away from having the Masters completed!! It’s pretty hefty reading material in the mean time, but I know God has me! Alec’s been so good because he’s been willing to help me study and that’s been super helpful! But the goal is to have it done this year!!
I didn’t get to blog as much last year as I would have liked to, but I’m hoping that 2020 will give me the time and space to do that! Talk about what God is doing in my life and how He is growing me!
I said this earlier, but ultimately I would love to write a book! I think God has been in the midst of that desire and would write it to glorify Him. We will see if that gets to be started but I love to create so I hope that’s something I get to grow in!
I keep talking about this Remembrance Board that I have yet to be completed. But with owning a home, there are so many projects! I want flooring in the basement, trim needs to be painted in the bedroom, hang some pictures, paint the vanity, paint the closet doors, build a bar for downstairs, and the list just keeps going on! Those are just some of the things on the inside of the house, and the outside I want to plant flowers and make it look all cute like it is on the inside!
Currently, Alec and I are in the process of updating the laundry room downstairs! Hopefully I will be able to provide an update on the house transformation here soon!
Treasure and Ponder
No matter what, God used 2019 to celebrate with Him and with others! I’ve gotten to see lives changed and redeemed. I’ve gone from single to engaged! And the list goes on! It’s been a good year.
The thing that I don’t want to forget is that God is a promise maker and a keeper of those promises. Watching God work in my life over the last year reaffirms what He says about Him coming back! Jesus is real and He is alive. I long for His return.
In the meantime, while I wait, I want to treasure and ponder that God is a God who says something and does it! We see this throughout Scripture, but I can see it in my life. God shares with me different things that I never thought would happen (i.e. marriage) and it’s happening! He’s working and I want to treasure it up in my heart! I want to spend 2020 pondering His goodness, His love, and His grace! He is a great God and so full of forgiveness and kindness!