This is me – then and now, and yes, it’s my Birthday today, or maybe not, depending on when you read this, lol! 😁

This is a pic of me one year ago and a pic of me one week ago. I don’t often take selfies and when I took this picture last weekend I was instantly reminded that I took a similar picture one year ago – almost to the exact day. So, it seemed like a good time to reflect on the past year of my life.

How do I look? Can you determine which picture was taken first? Do I look like a different person – or do I look exactly the same, save for hair style?

Regardless of how I appear to your eyeballs, I am a New Creation. I am a VERY different person than I was one year ago. Over the past year I have laughed – SO very much, and I have cried – SO very much. Over this past year, I have struggled in relationships and I have grown wonderfully in relationships. Over this past year, I have loved deeply and lost dearly (my dear, sweet Grandma). But more than anything else, over this past year, I have grown in the confidence of simply being the beautiful garden God intended me to be.

That’s kinda the gig, y’all. I will never be the same as I was a year ago and I hope to not be the same as I am a year from now.

We are made to grow. We are created to thrive. From the time life begins inside a woman’s womb measurements are taken. Then, post birth, there are measurements being taken at every doctor’s appointment. If the child is not growing it is cause for alarm. This issue can be labeled “failure to thrive”. Oooof, that phrase hurts a bit because it begs the question, “Are You Thriving?”

Think of where you were a year ago.

Think of who you were a year ago.

Are you in the same place struggling with the same things?

My hope is that upon being asked “Are you Thriving?” you could answer quickly & energetically – “Yes, Yes I am, life is good!” However, I realize that many of those reading this post might well answer, “No, I’m not thriving, rather I feel like I am slowly dying”. Oooof, that answer stings deeply and what makes it sting so deeply is that its close to spot on for so many people these days. That breaks my heart.

As I reflect on this last year I saw confusion, hate, anger and loneliness run rampant in our world (and that is just the beginning). Offense was king with everyone choosing to be offended at everything. Cancel culture has people holding back and silencing their opinions for fear of negative retribution. Social Media leads the day while our relationships, in droves, fall away.

At the same time, over this past year, I saw love, joy, strength and fortitude that none of us could have ever imagined. We refigured how to “do life”. Some families grew stronger in this time. Many people stepped up and stepped out to help folks they would have otherwise never given a single passing thought.

That gives me hope (regardless of what the news reports) that people do have love inside them. People do have hope, even if it’s currently deferred. There are Amazing and Wondrous things happening in our World and if you don’t see those things, I’ll boldly state that you’re looking in the wrong places.

If you are a person not seeing any good in our world, time to make a choice to change the channel. Turn off the negative flow and go hug a live person. That will rock your world in an amazingly simple way.

We are created for connection and that is what we are sorely lacking these days. Connecting only through electronic devices does NOT and can NOT take the place of face to face communication. I think a big part of why our world is the way it is at the moment is due to the influence of “digital relationship” dynamics. Too many things can be misconstrued and taken out of context when you don’t see or hear a person as they talk or when you can’t feel their heart behind the words (good or bad).

I know the world we live in right now doesn’t seem to lend itself to Face to Face connection, but can I please encourage & implore you to Do It Anyway! Your smile, your hug, your vibrant self may save someone’s day or even their life. They may, in turn, do the same for you.

Make the choice to not accept “status quo” and choose instead to THRIVE. Make the choice to grow over this year. Make the choice to love over this year. You’d be surprised what setting your mind on such wonderful things will do for your spirit.

As for me, I yearn to keep growing and knowing both my loved ones and myself in deeper ways. I long to continue to unpack all the glorious gifts God has placed in me. I long to grow in Wisdom and Revelation with Holy Spirit and truly be a spirit-led child. I long to help free others that are stuck, I want to get boulders out of the paths for those that can’t get over or past them. I want to help people meet the Real Jesus because I KNOW it will change their lives!

I’m choosing to move forward into those yearnings & longings and to fully enjoy the journey. What do you yearn & long to do this next year? Take a moment to actually sit and think about it. Then, take one step, however small it may seem, in that direction and SMILE over your changed heart posture.

Thrive, Dear One, I want you to Thrive and I pray for you to know that Jesus will hold your hand and open your heart to see how loved, how special and how talented you are today and every day!

Love and hugs to you, my thriving friend!