Here we are again – in the final week of the calendar year. It’s incredible how quickly it appears! I find that I love this particular week. Not only does life take on a slower quality between Christmas and New Year’s, but I have the opportunity to reflect on the past 365 days.
If I could sum up what 2016 was to me in one word, it would be growth.
Early in January, I was reading Children’s Ministry Magazine, and the bio for an author caught my attention. She is a consultant for Ministry Architects, which didn’t mean anything to me at the time, but soon would. Consulting is on my 10-year plan, so I decided to reach out to several people in the company. I simply wanted to know what steps they had taken in their lives and careers in order to become a consultant with this team. As I researched the company, I found that their heart and mission resonate with me. Five emails to various employees resulted in a coffee meeting with a local consultant, and an email from the founder of the company, Mark DeVries! He encouraged me to submit an application as they were finishing a round of hiring. Incredibly, I was hired, along with nine others, out of a pool of over 200 applicants. While I thought this would be something I could do no earlier than ten years down the road, God had different plans!
In April I was invited to Princeton Theological Seminary along with several other Ministry Architects consultants to coach a group of youth workers who were embarking on the second half of a youth certificate program. I was paired with two incredible ladies, and together we worked to define and execute projects in their current churches as a culminating component of their program. Monthly Skype calls and frequent emails for the next 7 months forced me to grow as a leader and coach as I helped them grow their own ministries. This was a great way for me to learn about how to coach and consult, and I look forward to my first church consulting opportunity in early 2017.
May brought some transitions in the children’s ministry at Freedom Church where I am on staff. Restructuring to a campus pastor-led model created the opportunity for me to grow from being Preschool Director to the Freedom Kids Director for our broadcast location. I had never led elementary-aged children before, so I had a lot of learning and growing to do! The team of volunteers who partner with the Kids department are the most incredible men and women I have ever encountered – without them, I would have been lost!
The summer brought along my older son’s first job. At 15, jobs can be difficult to find, but he jumped on the opportunity to lifeguard at a local pool. Knowing that he was in charge of the well-being and safety of dozens of children and adults all by himself forced me to grow in confidence and trust. He did an exemplary job and finished the season well.
August brought the realization that after 11 years, this would be my last school year with a child in elementary school. My younger son started 5th grade as my older son started his sophomore year. Every day I realize my sons need me just a little bit less. That realization is causing me to grow as a mother, guiding me to learn what this next season in motherhood will be like.
Our family loves to travel, so my passport stamp collection grew this year. My husband and I traveled to Panama in February where we experienced crossing the Panama Canal (halfway anyway…). June brought an incredible sailing trip in St. Maarten and St. Barth with seven other couples. In September, we helped our boys’ passports earn some new stamps with a trip to an all-inclusive resort in Turks and Caicos. (You can read about all of our adventures on my husband’s blog.) What fun it was to experience the trip through their eyes!
Late fall brought some of the biggest growth opportunities of an already packed year. My son earned his driver’s license, and my trust in him grew again. A dear friend passed away very unexpectedly at the end of October, and while my heart is still so raw from the loss, my relationship with her precious family and my faith have grown like never before. I recently transitioned out of children’s ministry and into a new role as the Leadership Development Director at Freedom Church. This is my dream role, but transitioning out of something that I’ve lived and breathed for over 18 years has been difficult.
I’m grateful for all of the ways I’ve grown this year. Pain often accompanies growth, which makes growth easy to shy away from. But the end result is always worth it.
I cannot wait to see what is in store for 2017.