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Happy New Year Everyone!

Here’s a small reflection from 2023 that is encouraging me as I enter into a hope-filled new year of growth and change in 2024!

Every year I sit with God and listen for Him to give me a word for the year. Some years words will come based on a desire to change circumstance or to focus on a perspective shift in my life. For 2023 I chose the word HOPE after learning about renewing my hope during my international travels in 2022. As I returned for the latter half of 2022, my hope was dimmed by the reality of returning to such a sad America, where prices were skyrocketing, disrespect in my classroom became my daily reality, the tragic loss of a dear friend occurred, and I found myself living alone again. 

So I made it my goal in 2023 to pursue hope for the year. I needed a perspective shift and I was willing to make a conscious effort to find it. Fortunately, God showed up time and time again throughout 2023 to teach me about hope. 

First, as I pursued bringing hope into my classroom, I watched my students shift in their own perspectives as I came in with a positive attitude everyday and shared mottos with them like “you’re awesome” and “win the day”. It didn’t take long for them to begin saying these positive mantras back to me, a glimpse of hope in the fruit of my labor. 

Then, I saw God really show up as I followed the direction of my dreams to step into ministry with Adventures in Missions again. I was able to spend nine weeks away from home traveling and visiting family and friends while also leading four weeks of missions in Ft. Myers, FL. I found myself becoming 50% funded for the work of the ministry and able to commit half of my “work week” hours to working remotely for the organization when not leading trips. 

I was also able to bring hope to my home community through sharing stories from my travels and missions moments. Then I was able to organize, lead and speak at a women’s conference to help other women pursue hope in their own life circumstances through the Wounded to Wellness Conference. 

Even though I had left my position as a middle school teacher, I saw continued hope in the relationships I had cultivated with my students as I visited their sports games, and substituted in their classrooms.

Additionally, I was able to finish the manuscript of my first book, My Kingdom Journey. A project I spent two years working on to bring encouragement and hope to others through the sharing of my testimonies of going with God in every aspect of my life all over the world. 

Interestingly enough, I ended the year wearing a tie-dyed shirt that spelled hope in Ukrainian as I celebrated the New Year with new Ukrainian-American friends in New Hampshire. Praying into 2024 with them even brought hope for what the future holds for new, hope-filled relationships in my life! 

The HOPE that filled me in 2023 has literally carried me into 2024 and I am hopeful for what is to come this next year. Here’s to renewed hope in 2024!