2020: A Year In Review

It was a weird and hard year to say the least.

Honestly, that is a major understatement: it was a wild, wacky, devastating, life-changing, year. From start to finish, it was a long twelve months.

This was the year of COVID-19 and heightened systemic racism, but it was also the year I started law school and became a dog mom. This year I wrestled with singleness, but also gained wonderful friendships. This year I was out of a job for nearly two months, but I eventually returned to the climbing gym–a job I absolutely love!

This year I was reminded of the intermingling between joy and sorrow, love and loss, mountains and valleys. I was reminded Jesus is good and loyal and loving toward us no matter our struggles, battles, or hardships. I was reminded that giving while we grieve helps even while we hurt.

2020 had its highs:

  • Getting into and starting law school!–the journey to becoming an attorney has been filled with ups and downs, but I am so grateful that I committed to pursuing this dream.
  • Becoming a dog mom!–my sweet pup Jack has changed my life for the better–his unconditional love and never-ending cuddles fill up my heart.
  • Learning how to lead climb– and continuing to practice this special type of climbing. Saying no to fear and yes to bravery and yes to trying new and hard things!
  • Celebrating one year on desk at Summit–a job I enjoy and excel at and love! And landing a promotion over the summer was a wonderful surprise.

2020 had its lows:

  • Getting rejected by plenty of law schools (but ultimately winding up at the one that was best for me was a high).
  • Moving back home–I love my family and am grateful for their generosity, but I miss my alone time and being messy! Hehe.
  • Coping with systemic racism–I live a very privileged and blessed life, but I know that is not the case for every American (or person, for that matter). It’s been a learning and growing and mourning process, it’s been an eye-opener to consider my colored friends and their daily struggles and hardships.
  • Surviving COVID-19–just like everyone else, it’s been a hard and life-changing year: having to adapt to wearing a mask everywhere, to staying at home as much as possible, to taking virtual classes.

Despite this weird year, I feel blessed.

I feel blessed to have made new friends at the gym and welcomed so many new faces into our climbing community. I feel blessed to have built new relationships, but kept the life-giving ones. I feel blessed to have consistency in my life: with Jesus, with my family, with my well mood.

I feel blessed to have learned and grown and refined who I am. I feel blessed to have loved and lost. I feel blessed to have grown in strength and independence during a year of singleness. I feel blessed to have continued writing stories and sharing my life and learning more about content creation.

It’s been an odd and life-changing year, but I am grateful and thankful and happy and whole! I hope that despite the lows and recognizing the highs, you feel grateful and thankful and happy and whole, too!

But if you do not, I hope you know you are not alone in sadness and struggles. You are loved, you are treasured, you are a delight in the Lord’s eyes. Go in peace and love, go in grace and mercy, and may you have a better 2021.

A Heart Full Of Thanks: My 10 Top Blessings Of 2020

Thanksgiving is here!

My favorite food, my favorite people, my favorite holiday all wrapped up into one day and given to me in a pretty little bow! This Thanksgiving will look drastically different, smaller, and quieter than years’ past, but that doesn’t mean it will be a bad one–just different.

This has been a hard year for everyone, but I know we can still give thanks. We can count our blessings, we can remember the good things, we can share the highs and lows and in-betweens. We can be glad for what we have, sad for what we don’t, and still feel blessed.

I’m full of thanks this year.

Here is my list of my top 10 things I am thankful for:

  1. A well mind– I haven’t struggled with depression in over two years, and I cannot express just how huge of a blessing this is. It is a gift to pursue dreams, be happy, and laugh genuinely.
  2. A healthy body– A body that can stretch and dance and move and bounce and CLIMB.
  3. My climbing community– Truly the most welcome and inspiring community, I am thankful for strangers who turn into friends so quickly. They are kind and inclusive and just plain fun!
  4. My church community– The ones who keep me rooted in Christ and point me to what matters, the ones who love me deeply and fiercely and wonderfully.
  5. My family– My new roommates! They have welcomed me into their home, given me reason to laugh, and supported me every step of the way of my law school journey.
  6. Taylor Swift’s Folklore album– It’s a bop! The end.
  7. My pup Jack– The light of my life, the center of my world: he is small and cute and fluffy and scruffy and scrappy and the best thing that happened to me in 2020.
  8. Coffee– The fuel that gives me life!
  9. My job– I get paid to welcome people into the climbing community! I get paid to love people! I get paid to climb! (Ok, not really, but kind of).
  10. My education– Perhaps the most concrete evidence of God’s faithfulness in 2020, I am so thankful that I was able to return to school this year to pursue a law degree. Virtual learning has not been easy (and neither is law school in general), but it has been such a gift.

I encourage you to consider what you are thankful for this year.

Maybe you can’t come up with ten or even five things, but I bet you could find at least a few: maybe it is your health, your family, maybe it is your community, or favorite hobby.

And come Thanksgiving day, you can share what you are thankful for with whomever you may be celebrating the holiday with. You can sit around the table, eat, drink, and be merry, and remember the good things, remember the blessings.

The Monthly Update: October

October highlights:

  • Going to Broken Bow with my gal pal Tinker & pup Jack was a much-needed getaway. It was nice exploring the cute little town with lots of things to do outdoors.
  • Attending my sweet friend McKae’s wedding in Colorado was a pure delight! The whole weekend was great, as I was surrounded by some dear friends and reunited with one of my Chinese sisters.

October lowlights:

My climbing friend-turned-real-life-pal Ariel moved from Dallas back to her home in Arizona. Although this was the right decision for her, I can’t help but miss her!

This month, I was filled by:

I got a pedicure in the middle of the month with Tinker, and it was so, so nice to be pampered. I think it’s good to practice self-care by treating yourself every once in a while.

This month, I was emptied by:

I started feeling very low-energy toward the end of the month. It could be the weather/season, but I’m just keeping an eye on it.

In November, I am looking forward to:

Thanksgiving! It is my favorite holiday ever. The food, family, and fun just make for a great day. Plus the recognition of gratitude warms my little heart.

Leaving Behind & Looking Ahead

2018 is gone.

I’m not going to miss it much. Yes, there was much excitement — like becoming an aunt, solo-tripping to Prague, getting promoted, going on dates (after a long, long dry spell). But there was also a lot of hurt — saying goodbye to friends who passed, letting go of a big dream, battling depression, coping with anxiety.

2019 is here.

I’m welcoming it with open arms. Yes, there is bound to be hurt and disappointment and down days. But I’m also looking forward to those mountain-top moments and unbelievable highs. I’m expectantly waiting for every good and perfect give from above (see James 1).

2018 left me better.

As I hope to every year, I was moved and shaped and molded into more of who I would like to be. New and old friends came alongside me to push me by instilling hope, building dreams and staying steadfast.

In Philippians 3, Paul writes about how he strives for perfection, but will never be able to obtain it. He says he focuses “‘on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead (v. 13).'”

It’s time for me to let go of 2018. I will never forget my friends or the pain of losing them, but I will let those wounds heal so I can move on and look forward to what God has in store in the new year. I will remember to hope and pray and give and receive grace when needed (which is practically always).

Let’s look ahead.

This year, I’m hoping to say more “I love you’s.”

I’m hoping to pause and breathe more, to step aside when the road gets bumpy or when I’m over-excited.

I’m hoping to savor the moments in-between more, not just those mountain-top highs.

I’m hoping to give thanks more often, to my friends and family and baristas and strangers and Jesus Man himself.

And I’m hoping to spread more kindness, because a little kindness can go a long way.

Let’s start this year strong.

This week, I began the Daniel Fast — modeled after Daniel’s diet during Biblical times. Ideally, I’ll be more disciplined about what I eat, and have more desire in seeking time with The Lord.

This month, I am going to unplug a bit — only using my phone from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Ideally, I’ll start my days slower and with more intention, and end my days easier and with more peace and reflection.

Even though we’re only a few days in, I hope your year has been good to you. I hope you can leave the past behind and look forward to the future.

When Less Is More: On Giving Thanks

I’m really good at saying, “Thanks.”

I thank people who bless me when I sneeze and people who hold the door open for me, I thank my servers and baristas and gym staff . I thank Dear Tim (aka Dad) when he puts oil in my car and Sweet Denise (Mom) when she makes dinner.

I thank people who give generously and love deeply and care affectionately. I thank people who are my kind of people, the supporters and cheerleaders and encouragers who spur me on to do good things.

But if we’re being honest, I’m not good at saying thanks in those moments in the valley

I certainly wlasn’t thankful when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder — and to put it frankly, I’m still not. I wasn’t thankful when I almost failed my Christian Ethics course in college, and I wasn’t thankful when my friend Richie died of cancer last March.

Yet it’s in the darkest moments that I pray the loudest.

I fall to my knees in my bedroom, let out awful wails and pour out oceans of tears. I clench my fists and ask God, “Why?” and hope and pray He will deliver me from whatever mess or heartbreak or hurt or struggle I suffer from.

Most of the time, it’s during those deep-in-the-valley-no-where-to-go moments that I feel the closest to God. I remember His scripture which promises divine deliverance. I feel His love pouring over me, soothing my cries and healing my hurts. Once I make it through, I look back and understand how His plan unfolds, only for supernatural peace to wash over my worries.

When you really get to thinking about it, it’s a little funny: it’s at the times when I have the least that I truly feel God’s presence the most.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

There’s something warm and fun and brilliant about meeting up with people you love to devour food and count your blessings.

But this year, many of my friends have faced a lot of heartache and hurt and loneliness and doubt and suffering. Though my life isn’t close to perfect, I feel untouched compared to my friends who currently struggle with deep, devastating loss and scary, echoing fears.

This time around, it’s not me in the valley, it’s them. My loved ones. My friends. My community. And aside from prayer and petition, the only encouragement I can give them is this:

Even when you have the least, God loves you the very most. He loves you during times of thanks, and He loves you during times of doubt. He loves you while it’s good and He loves you through the bad. He loves you and He’s here for you and He hasn’t left your side, even when you feel utterly helpless and alone.

You may not have a lot — or anything at all — to give thanks for this year. Just know you are seen and heard and deeply, radically loved by your Creator.