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January 2024 Photo Journal & Word of the Year: ABIDE

January, you were so cool!!! It's time for the monthly recap! January held a lot for me - the hardship of leaving home again, the joy of returning to a new home, the excitement of new classes, and the exhilarating nerves of a new indoor track season. It was a lot, but most months seem to be that way.

For the past few years, at the start of the year I've been choosing a word to focus on for the year, as a sort of idea of the year. My 2023 word was "servant-hearted", meaning I wanted to keep the focus off of myself when life got tough and try to maintain a humble attitude towards the year. This worked at times and not at others - I was going strong with focusing on this word at the beginning of the year, but by the end of the year I definitely slipped and wasn't as focused on the idea of servanthood, especially for Christ. This past year held so much for me and amid the chaos, I hope that I balanced taking care of myself and helping others through their own chaos.

I tend to choose these words rather randomly and based mostly on what either I think I should learn in the upcoming year or what I feel God is leading me towards. For 2024, the word that has been coming up in my faith life and life in general is "abide".

[ABIDE - to remain stable or fixed in a state]

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me." - John 15:4

This past year, with all of the immense life changes that I've reiterated in other blog posts, I've experienced what at times has felt like emotional whiplash. It's been craziness, but beautiful craziness that has made me so thankful for all of the answered prayers that my life has been. This isn't to say all of my prayers have been answered, or all of the blessings easy to experience, but all in all I feel extremely blessed. With this craziness of life, I'm left feeling that in this coming year I need to create my own stability, within both my faith and life in general.

In these past few months I feel that God has given me most of my biggest challenges yet, and though I persevered through them with Him guiding me all the way, I do feel as though I was floundering in my faith at times. Moving to college left me without much guidance in my faith from the community I grew up with. College has shown me so much of how cool and fascinating this world can be, but also how many different perspectives and beliefs the people around me share. I believe that exposure to others' beliefs and experiences is the most powerful tool you can use in learning about yourself and creating your own individual belief system. Through all of this new exposure, I was forced to really understand why I believe what I do and how that faith can be adapted to this new chapter of my life.

All of this to say - I need to abide in God in this coming year. Remain close to Him, while still experiencing all of the fascinating beauty this world has to offer. And college has likewise proved to me that staying close to God doesn't mean avoiding new experiences or shunning other beliefs. Rather, I believe that staying close to God means staying close to him within all of those diverse environments and trying to understand how this complex world shapes our minds and perspectives on the world.

My aspiration is that this year I can continue this crazy journey of discovering the world and what I contribute to it! Abiding in both the stability of knowing who I am and the state of dwelling in God will hopefully lead me along that path. I'm excited for the next 11/12ths of the year! Below are some beautiful, confusing, random and hilarious highlights of January. Enjoy!!

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