Vision For a Better 2022

Hello, 2022. Nice to meet you? … I think?

It’s two weeks into 2022, and the taste of this new year is still a mystery. Half my mind feels frozen in 2020. While the other half wants to surge ahead to a future date. I don’t think I’m the only one either. The world seems to be approaching 2022 with apprehension, caution, and distrust. A popular meme states that 2022 sounds like “2020 too” and implies we’re in for another rocky year.

I know these memes are in good fun – and they made me giggle and snicker – but they also made me sad in the knowledge that most people expect 2022 to be, well, not a great year. Too many people are going into 2022 with hopes of simply surviving instead of thriving.

Even resolutions are down this year:

Not everyone makes New Year’s resolutions, regardless of the year, but most hopeful/visionary people tend to make them.

Of these hopeful people, too few have plans of improving their lives OTHER than health/exercise in 2022. According to a CBS poll, only 10% of resolutioners desire to “enjoy life more.”

Why?? Why has hope plummeted to staggering lows? Why have people conformed to the mundane and substandard?

WHY HAVE PEOPLE STOPPED TRYING?!?!

I imagine that last sentence echoing in a vast room. The walls line with slumped people, sitting like abandoned dolls with blindfolds over their eyes. The center of the room fills with a mountain of wrapped gifts, each more beautiful than the next. Secrets are held in each precious package. But the vast room stretches for miles, and the expanse lengthens in between this mountain of gifts and each person. People are tired, asleep, or bruised. Too many have tried and failed to cross the expanse. Some have simply resigned to not try. While others give up halfway there, stop mere inches from the target, or get there but forget to open the gifts they hold. All because they haven’t taken their blindfolds off; they don’t realize how close they are to their gifts.

It’s too easy to miss what’s right in front of us because we can’t see past our current situation. To resign. To lower our expectations. To lean against the wall – or sit on the couch/bed/desk – and let the crazy world go up in flames. To say “at least this world is only temporary, I’m just going to bide my time as I wait for heaven and/or Jesus to return.” We wait for those gifts to be handed to us, or learn to live without them at all.

When did the world stop having vision? Please tell me you’re not one of these people, fair reader. I know you’re not the norm. YOU have a vision. You have SO MANY amazing, incredible, wonderful, life-altering, and world-changing visions!! You do. You really, truly do.

A vision is “the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.” We all have it. ESPECIALLY you. “The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.” – Proverbs 19:8

Through this wisdom, God has gifted us the ability to imagine even the unseen future.

“So no wonder we don’t give up. For even though our outer person gradually wears out, our inner being is renewed every single day. We view our slight, short-lived troubles in the light of eternity. We see our difficulties as the substance that produces for us an eternal, weighty glory far beyond all comparison, because we don’t focus our attention on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but the unseen realm is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

This unseen realm isn’t just existing after we die, or after Jesus returns to bring us to Heaven. He says our inner being is “renewed every single day,” thus the unseen realm is present EVERY SINGLE DAY.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

Every single day, we have the ability to act in faith. We have the ability to “focus our attention on what is unseen.” This includes the future, visions God gives us, praying in the Spirit, etc. Each of us has a mountain of gifts. Beautiful. God-given. And meant to be opened now on this Earth. They’re for eternity, but eternity doesn’t simply exist in Heaven alone. Eternity is eternal afterall.

I grew up hearing that life on this Earth is “the waiting room.” I’d listen to whole sermons dedicated to this “vision” of convincing the congregation we’re simply waiting for the real event: Heaven. “Just be a good Christian, don’t sin, store your treasures in Heaven, and don’t get attached to this Earth.” While these statements are indeed rooted in scripture, the idea has been distorted. So much so that many of us have forgotten to actually live. And live ABUNDANTLY. The Bible does indeed say to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” However, this is referring to material things, not our day-to-day actions. Because the Bible also says “I (Jesus) came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” That doesn’t sound like God wants us twiddling our thumbs in a waiting room.

Patience might be hard, but sitting is easy. Too easy. It’s far easier to sit in our current circumstances than risk following a dream/vision into the unknown. (Cue Frozen 2 song Into the unknooooooooowwwwwwwwwn…) I find myself making excuses why I shouldn’t do something I don’t have all the answers for. I might fail. I might be wrong. I don’t want to offend. I don’t want to rock the boat. I’m not going to risk my mental health.

Visions are hard when you can’t see. Sounds like an oxymoron, right? But there is one who ALWAYS sees. Come on, you all know the answer to that one: Jesus. Jeremiah 29:11 is pretty clear on that point, right?

So, knowing all of this, why do we still hesitate? Why do we still find ourselves lacking hope? Lacking the ambition to write down our visions for the future? Why have we stopped trying?

Short answer: after 2 years of hurts, canceled plans, and deferred hope, our souls feel sick. It’s easier to halt the visions to protect ourselves. To nip our hope in the bud before it’s cut off.

How can we change this?

We change this by first healing our sick souls. We can’t have vision without healthy eyesight. How do we heal our sight? Well, it’s not through a shot. Jesus healed a blind man with His words…through faith…

Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. – Mark 10:52

It’s truly as simple as that.

The Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.” – Psalm 146:8

Through God, we have the assurance that our vision will no longer be blind. No more blindfolds. We don’t have to fear our hope being deferred, because we don’t live by the rules of this world. We live eternally in the unseen realm. The realm where God’s rules trump the world’s sick rules.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” – Isaiah 43:2 (i.e. no matter what happens in the world, you won’t be consumed/overwhelmed by it!)

With God, we can have a true vision. Seeing through spiritual eyes. All we have to do is ask for HIS vision. HIS sight. He gave each of us visions of the future, we just need our blindfolds off so we can see them.

I encourage each of you to take the time to take out a pen and paper. Write down the visions of your heart. If you don’t know them, ask God to show them to you. But the important thing is to write them down. So you can see them and strive toward them every single day. Discover these visions by asking what God would want. What steps can change our current world? What gifts/talents has God given you that you can use to His glory? How can you serve others? How can you give? And…what do you want?

Close your eyes, and truly see.

I’m praying for each of you. May God give you the desires of your heart, and a vision to make it happen!

Hello. Blink. Good-bye.

2018 for me can be summed up in three words:

Hello.

Blink.

Good-bye.

I feel like it was just New Year’s Day. Andrew and I were talking fondly of 2017, and our many dreams for 2018. I thought my book would be signed this year for one. My novel, The Judas Killer, went through quite a journey in 2018, that’s for sure; fifteen rounds of edits, reached 79,000 words, eleven rejection letters, four interested agents who didn’t work out, but nowhere close to getting signed. Yet.

I’m ready to be done with The Judas Killer, honestly. I’m going to do one more read-through before it goes into the hands of an AMAZING professional editor, Kathy Ide, on February 10th. She’s going to line edit my work and hopefully provide several publishing connections with advice on moving forward.Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing

That is one of the best things to happen this year; meeting Kathy. I met her at the writer’s conference in Montrose, PA in late July. Her wisdom, talent, warm personality, and her willingness to spend hours talking with me was like a hug to my writing soul. I’m looking forward to placing my baby in her editing hands to see where it ends up. While she’s working on The Judas Killer, I’m finally going to start my sequel: Dark Rain!

Meanwhile, I’m halfway done writing a playwright entitled “Perfect Misery”. It will be performed by Rock Solid Academy students in May 2019!

That was really the only change in 2018; I have added job titles to my resume at Rock Solid Academy. Besides the Art Teacher, Theater Teacher, and part-time Office Manager, I added Business Manager to the list in July. It’s a lot of responsibility and stressful, but working with numbers come easy to me at least. Riker has started kindergarten there this year, so my extra duties provide more time to be in the same building as him. Kindergarten. How did that happen so fast?!?

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing

Here are some snapshots of my year:

Image may contain: text

I created a possible book cover for my debut novel.

Image may contain: cat and indoor

And I created an author page on Facebook.

Image may contain: 15 people, including Hannah White, Ted Kessler, Amber Smerdon Fernbach and Laura Ann Gibson-Kudey, people smiling, shoes

I instructed two human video groups in the first half of the year, with the help of Julia Taylor!

Image may contain: 7 people, including Madelyn Taylor and Ted Kessler, people smiling, people standing

One of the teams made it to the final level, although they sadly couldn’t make it to Texas to compete. I’m confident they would have made the top ten in the country if they could have competed!

Image may contain: tree, snow, plant, outdoor and nature

We had a winter which refused to end (this pic was taken on April 5th).

Image may contain: 8 people, including Joseph Bryan, Laura Ann Gibson-Kudey and Allie Bartoli, people smiling, tree, outdoor, nature and closeup

I co-chaperoned a senior trip to NYC.

Image may contain: kitchen and indoorImage may contain: kitchen and indoor

We remodeled our Kitchen. Hallelujah!

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing

I won a book pitch contest at the Montrose Writer’s Conference. Read about it here.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Laura Ann Gibson-Kudey, people smiling, drink and outdoor

Got to experience the Wyoming County fair for the first time with my best friend, Alison Treat, and our families.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, ocean, outdoor and nature

We vacationed in Ocean City, Maryland for the first time. Loved it!!

Image may contain: christmas tree

I created another book tree. Isn’t she pretty? 🙂

Image may contain: 14 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor

And we got to enjoy Christmas with my mom’s side of the family for the first time in a few years.

All in all, it was a good year. It wasn’t extremely eventful, but it was a blessed one. I’m thankful for the times shared with friends and family. For the relationships built and some new ones created. If you are reading this, you were most likely a part of my year, and I thank you for being a blessed part of my life.

God is good. Always. No matter what.

I can sense something on the horizon though. Can you feel it? I’ve felt it for a few weeks now; change is coming. We are currently praying for a few things that could alter our situation for the better drastically. I have a feeling big things are in store this year. I’ll keep you all informed once these events transpire.

In the meantime, may you all have a blessed and happy new year! May 2019 be the best year yet!! God Bless!

kite

2017, The Year of New Beginnings

Another year has come and gone by in a flash. It’s the end of the second week of January already, and I can scarcely believe it! My life is flying by faster than a speeding bullet, and I just want to breathe for a single moment.

I sit hear listening to the sounds of construction as our busted pipe is repaired. The hot water pipe in our kitchen faucet froze during the single and negative temperatures on New years eve. Yes, we had our faucet dripping. Not enough though, clearly. After 10 days of frozen solitude, it thawed and instantly burst spewing water all over our new basement carpet.

As life would have it, I had a bad head cold during this flood. So a HUGE shout out goes to my amazing hubby for almost single-handedly cleaning the water mess. Thanks to our heavenly Father for giving me the thought of looking in our basement a mere half an hour after the break, and Andrew for his fast work, and our trusted local construction friends, the damage was minimal! Also, we just learned that the pipe broke right above our electrical box. :-0 So God protected us from a HUGE disaster!

I’ll always remember how 2017 ended and 2018 began; with a frozen flood.

Our lives in 2017 were far from frozen though (with the exception of the 3 feet of snow in March). It was one event overlapping the next, with twists and turns, and lots of brilliant highs speckled with only minor lows. God is so good!!

The year started like most years in the past (10 years to be exact); a fun night of partying at our friends’, The Seelye’s, house.

Image may contain: 5 people, including Hannah Burgess, people smiling, people standing and indoor

(Left to Right) Brittany, myself, Lauren, Hannah, Michelle.

We’ve made amazing memories and had such wonderful times with these girls and their families over the past 10 years! It was a perfect way to end 2016 and start 2017!

March brought my big 30th birthday and it is currently my favorite to date! March 4th landed on a Saturday this year and Andrew took me to my second home; NYC!!

We spent the beautiful day at an art show, touring art studios, catching a Broadway show, eating Thai at our favorite restaurant, and just enjoying the break from Pennsylvania for the day.

No automatic alt text available.

Image may contain: indoor

Image may contain: one or more people

FINALLY got to see Wicked! EXCELLENT!!!!

Image may contain: people sitting, food and indoor

Drunken Noodle is the best dish on earth…

And then, of course there was the 3 foot blizzard that nearly had us moving south…

Image may contain: snow, tree, sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: snow, tree, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, snow, child and outdoor

At least Riker had a little fun.

All through the winter and spring of 2017 I plunged myself deep into work at Rock Solid Academy. This was my first school year with them and I worked around the clock to do as much for them and the students as I possibly could. I even helped chaperone their very first prom!

Image may contain: one or more people, basketball court and indoorImage may contain: one or more people, people dancing, wedding and indoor

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, eyeglasses and indoorThe crazy Chaperones!(Me, Jess,&Tara)

The kids stole my heart completely!

No automatic alt text available.

I not only taught Art, Culinary, Theater, and worked as one of the two secretaries, I also wrote, stage designed and helped direct an original play. God had told me two years prior that he wanted me to write a play. Thanks to Rock Solid, a magnificent cast of kids, an amazing partner, friend and director (Tara DiMarco), and months of long after-school hours, my dream became a reality!

No automatic alt text available.

No automatic alt text available.

I painted all of the stage backdrops too! Loved every minute 🙂 .

Image may contain: food

Image may contain: 20 people, people smiling, people sitting and shoes

“The Sounds of Praise” will always be one of the most memorable events of 2017 that I never ever want to forget!!

Another event that took place in the spring was Fine Arts. In case you haven’t heard of it before: Fine Arts is a national scholarship competition through the Assembly of God church where teenagers compete in categories pertaining to the arts (music, painting, drama, speech, etc.). My specialty is in the category “Human Video”, which is a drama performance set to song where the actors don’t speak or sing, but convey a message with movement.

There are three levels, sectional (a few counties), districts (one or two states, ours is PA & DE), and Nationals (I think that one is self explanatory lol). 2017 was my first time judging at the district level, and I got to share this experience with my Drewbear!

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, closeup and indoor

I also helped coach two teams last year (one in our old church, and one in our new one), and got to see both perform with high honors! One made nationals, and one just barely missed the third round. All of these teens are brilliant and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for them!!

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor

Image may contain: 10 people, people smiling, crowd, tree, wedding, child and outdoor

Once June hit, Andrew and I knew that we needed a break from the craziness! It was time for a vacation for just the two of us. So we explore Greenville, South Carolina, and fell deeply in love with this area! It was our best vacation to date!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing, outdoor and water

Image may contain: plant, tree, grass, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: cloud, sky, ocean, outdoor, nature and water

Lake Chatawissa

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, table, shoes, outdoor and nature

Shakespeare in the park

Image may contain: house, sky, tree, plant and outdoor

Literally the BEST Bed and Breakfast we’ve ever stayed at!

Image may contain: table, tree, plant and outdoor

I could give you a dozen more pics, but there’s a taste for you. 😉 We then finished our vacation at the Outer Banks with a few of our friends…

Image may contain: 4 people, including Hannah Burgess, people smiling, people standing and outdoorImage may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people standing, sky and outdoor

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, ocean, beach, sunglasses, sky, outdoor, nature and water

There’s nothing quite like the beach to refresh the soul!

Image may contain: one or more people, ocean, outdoor, nature and water

The summer brought some much need renovations to our house (you can read more about them here), a trip to Pittsburgh to visit my sister, lots of fun with our growing boy, and joyful times with new friends, but a major thing happened that could change my life for forever; my love for writing returned. I credit the need to write “The Sound of Praise” to ignite that fire within me again. But I also praise God for bringing a new friend into my life: Alison Treat. She is a fellow writer (a published writer I might add), whom I met at the end of 2016. Our friendship grew as 2017 continued on.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, eyeglasses, closeup and outdoor

In one of our early conversations I told Alison how I had a novel I was writing, but hadn’t picked it up for over a year at that time. I actually hadn’t thought about this novel for a while because of, well, life really. Jobs, parenting, and changes in church venues had pushed my passion for writing to the side. But no longer!!! Alison told me about this writer’s conference that would be taking place at the end of June. So I decided to take out my dusty document and fine tune those first six chapters to present to any publishers or agents I could meet with.

I could only attend two out to the four days of the Montrose Writers’ Conference, but it changed my life for forever!! I got to meet dozens of fellow writers, hear inspiring stories, learn priceless tricks of the trade, further my knowledge on writing styles, and meet a publisher and agent that both asked for my completed manuscript & proposal!! (A HUGE deal, since that meant they loved my work!!!)

It was just the boost of confidence I needed to complete my first draft and my first round of editing by the year’s end! I’m now deep into the second round of editing, and hope to be done very shortly. God is so good!

Image may contain: 1 person, screen

There were other adventures in the last half of the year (most of them I’ve already blogged about, so I will briefly touch upon those…)

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sky, outdoor and nature

First family camping trip! We went with a lot of our new church family 🙂

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

Riker caught his first fish!

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people sitting, table and indoor

Our kid turned 4!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling

Riker started preschool. He’s getting so big!!

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing, shoes, sky, mountain, outdoor and nature

Enjoyed the fall foliage while hiking a mountain with our Treat friends!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and child

Riker got a girlfriend 🙂 (Eva Treat)

Image may contain: cat and indoor

We grew our family with Mr. Darcy and Alixia

No automatic alt text available.

We won Trunk or Treat with my DIY Gotham city.

Image may contain: 14 people, people smiling, people on stage

I Co-Directed the children’s Christmas play at our church!

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting

Last, but certainly not least, I got to play the role of Mary in our church’s live Nativity!! Had an incredible time with this fun cast!! 🙂

Image may contain: one or more people

 

Sure, there were some not so great stuff that happened in the past year as well… I went through a third life crisis where I came to the realization I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life (praise God he is answering that long prayer!), my grandmother Gibson pasted away, we got some miserable snow storms (including that three foot nightmare), and I gained 9 pounds (but I’m determined to loose that and 5 more in the next few months, while still consuming my chocolate and pizza lol. Plus I already lost 2pounds from this cold-silver lining!).

But I believe it’s these little trials and challenges that help us appreciate, and even see those blessings and new beginnings we might have missed otherwise. For instance, the end of 2016 was full of questions plaguing Andrew and I. We could feel a change coming, but we didn’t know how or to what extent. We could feel relationships suffering and uneasiness stirring to the point where we just had to stop and ask God for wisdom for the next step.

Enter 2017. God laid on our hearts to leave our church of 10 years, and embark on a new adventure. Thus began our year of new beginnings! It was beyond hard and difficult to leave our friends, comfort, and all that we knew, behind us. But when God closes a door, you better believe another one is waiting, and it’s not just a crumby window either!

This year was full of life, love, memories, excitement, newness, renewal, and rewards. From my plays, to my near finished book, to dozens of new friends that are already as close as family! I can’t imagine what this year would have been full of if we hadn’t stepped out in faith and made that first scary step into the unknown.

2017 ended at a brand new friend’s home to ring in the new year. It was the first change of venue in 10 years! We were sad to not be spending it with our old friends (whom sadly were all sick 😦 ), but it ended up being the best new years to date! Not because the others were bad, by NO means; they were fantastic!! This is because every year should be better than the last. When you know you are where God has you, then your best is definitely yet to come!

What will 2018 bring? God has been bringing to mind that this will be a year of growth. We shall see soon enough what that entails. 🙂 Happy New Year!!!Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, sunglasses