The ONE Big Thing I Learned This Year {Journal Your Year}

It’s New Year’s Eve!  And I bet you’re taking a few moments to reflect on 2015…

Did you learn? Suffer? Achieve? Succeed? Accomplish? Hold steady? Digress?  Good year? Bad year?

As I took a moment to reflect – with no intention of writing about it (God is funny that way) – I realize that my takeaway from 2015 is quite simple: You can’t expect, experience, or create a “new you” until you know the old (child) and current you.

I look back at my new year’s posts from year’s past.  And I shake my head. That girl wasn’t fake or lying.  She was dreaming big and desiring so many worthy things. She loved God and wanted to please him – and others.  She wanted to love her family well and do well in life.  It wasn’t all crap. I was doing the best I could and choose to believe others are doing the best they can too.


That girl didn’t really know herself.  Or why she did 80% of what she did.

She knew how others perceived her.  She knew the expectations of others. And so she lived. Fulfilling the opinions and expectations – unknowingly. Making her own choices and not knowing why.

She’d start a diet every January 1.  But why? Because she was (and is) overweight and overweight people lose weight and set diet resolutions.

She’d set a goal to spend less and give more! But why? Why would anyone spend less and give more? Because Christians do that. It’s Biblical.  And better, wise, smart.  

She’s read the entire Bible in a year!  But why? Because she’s a Christian, and she needs to know what’s in there  – and she loves to read anyway.

She’d be a better mom and friend!  But why? Because good women are good moms!  And she loves her kids, and she loves people! She needs friends. She’s supposed to live in community.

She’d be a better person all the way around, extending more grace and showing more mercy – forgiving and loving.  But, why? Because Jesus said so! She wants to be a good person and live a good life and love everyone.

I am not making fun.  In fact, it makes me a sad. I had – have – a well-intentioned heart. I DO love Jesus.  I DO want to do the RIGHT things; I just defined RIGHT using popular opinion and not the Bible or my own convictions. I’d follow the expectations of others and their thougths about what being a Christian should look like.

So, this year, I have a vision board.  It’s in two places: on my Trello app and on the wall above my desk. I am making resolutions, setting goals.  But.

It’s different.

Because I finally know WHY.  And I am making no goal without a clearly defined WHY.

Why will I lose weight this year?  Why will I “become a better me”?  Why will my finances improve? Why will I be a better mom?  Why will this year be different?

Because at the ripe old age of 40, I know who I am – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  And I am fine with her.  As Brene Brown says, you can’t live wholehearted until you are whole.  While I won’t be “whole” this side of heaven, I live in a new wholeness.  You might find it a bit “new agey,” but I find it Biblical…growing into the one HE made me to be, not feeling as if I need to meet the expectations of family or culture or compare myself to anyone else.

And before you think – how selfish!  It’s not, friends.  I am all for more Him, less me, but we learn so much about him as we practice caring for his creation – you and me.  Learning about who he made me to be and caring for her has caused me to lean into and love him and others more and more.

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31

If I love my neighbor as myself, my neighbor would despise me. Not one of my neighbors wants to be treated flippantly – as an afterthought – as not worth it.  As if no one has time for her.

And it all began by looking up and saying…Lord, show me. Help me.  Carry me. I am out of plans and options.

journal your year (1)

I gave him the year, journaling to him most days. It wasn’t rigid (because I give up when rigid is involved.)  I would write a prayer, thanking, lamenting, or questioning him – or all three! Nothing was off limits. I’d write when I saw his hand and write extra when I couldn’t see him.  Some pages are tear stained, others have stickers and stapled in notes. Some pages are mostly my writing; some pages are the taped in words of others, a program from Owen’s choir concert, or a clipping of Hannah’s name in the yearbook.
2015 journals


My journals were (and are) a place to process, to grow closer to Him, and to discover me. I already have my 2016 journals…


2016 journals

Speaking of 2016, what’s the hope this year? I realize resolutions aren’t cool anymore.  I think I’ve read 10 blog posts from well-known authors on why you shouldn’t blah, blah, blah this year.  But, I think we all can benefit from well-defined and written goals.

God and I created this vision for 2016…

To want Him most.  Lisa Whittle’s book I Want God changed my life. I’ve read it many times. I thought I’d lead a read along on my blog in the new year  -and I still might – but God hasn’t green lighted that yet. So in the meantime, I encourage you to read it.

To become a healthier me. I know who the girl inside is. I’d like her to be evident on the outside. God has called me to some new places and new people in 2016.  I am excited to travel, speak, and meet. But, I want them to get the best version of the me that God created. I want to fit comfortably in the seat when I fly. I want to be all Jesus and no Sarah – and I am a LOT Sarah when I am self conscious. And so much more. So, here’s to healthy.

To live small. My new friend, Ali, and I are choosing small this year. More about that to come someday.

To stay curious. Curious about the Bible and Jesus. Curious about who I am and why I react as I do. Curious about this life I’ve been gifted and this world in which I trod. Curious about the land and the people.  (I learned about curiosity from Brene Brown’s Rising Strong.)

To be brave.

To go be love.

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The new year seems so shiny and bright. And I can’t wait!  

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

A few other posts about journaling…

And Then I Turned 40 {Part 1, Journaling a Year}

The Year after Divorce {As Viewed Through My Journals}


  1. Marla Taviano says:

    Happy New Year, friend!! Love you much!! (and thank you for introducing me to those gorgeous journals)

    • Happy New Year, friend! Yes, I love these journals…I had to hunt them down, but I love them:) I will start collecting them for you and give them to you THIS SUMMER:) LOVE YOU!

  2. Ok. This is just another reason why we are friends! The top journal you are using for 2016 is the one I just set out with my new multi-colored pens! LOVE THIS! Happy New Year!

    • I am starting with the Wild and Precious life one! I purchased these other journals because I couldn’t find Molly and Rex. I got them out and was like…meh. This isn’t fun:) So, I went to return those journals, and when I did, THEY HAD MOLLY AND REX! So I bought the four they had and found two more at Barnes and Noble. I love them! Happy New Year!

  3. Absolutely love your posts! I’ve felt for a long time that you really need to write a book. If you need a partner in encouragement, I’m your girl. 😉

  4. Dani Collins says:

    Thank you!! I feel like we are kindred spirits! Someday we shall meet in heaven 🙂
    I am excited to read the book you mentioned.
    I have also been discovering the girl in me and it has been very enlightening. It is now clear to me why I do what I do….to please others etc. I am highly motivated by fear and that is a horrible place to be.
    Two books that I read in 2015 that were amazing were: The Singing God by Sam Storms. This book blew me away. I had to read it little by little because I realized that I haven’t really believed that God loves me that much.
    The other book is “It’s Not What You Think” by Jefferson Bethke (a friend of mine 🙂
    Especially Chapter 8 – Brokenness is Not What You Think: You must embrace your scars.
    Thank you for your vulnerability. It is precious.

    • Hi Dani! Yay for kindred spirits! I LOVED Bethke’s It’s Not What You Think,” but I’ve never heard of The Singing God. Thanks for the recommendation. Thanks for commenting…I hope to meet you someday (this side of heaven:)

  5. Sarah, I’m not sure where to start. In 2014, my Dad and Husband were both diagnosed with Cancer and I was facing my own cancer scare (thankfully it wasn’t) all within 6 month. My word turned upside down so fast and I didn’t have the skills to cope with our new reality. I cried, a lot. I prayed, a lot. I’ve always believed in a higher power, but had never really accepted Crist as my savior. Over the last 15 months, I have been on a journey to get to know him and myself. After watching the movie War Room, I wanted my own place to pray. I decided it didn’t have to be a room and maybe I could write my prayers. Today shopping I came across some Molly & Rex Journals. They were beautiful. I bought one and liked it so much I got online to see if there were others. In searching online, I found this blog post. This amazing message couldn’t have fit better to what I feel and what I’ve been searching for. I am so blessed at this moment that he led you to write this and me to find it. Thank you so very much. May you have a wonderful 2016.


    • Hi Kelly…first, I am praying alongside you. For you, your dad, your husband – all of it. I am not sure any of us have the skills to cope with such HUGE life events – especially all at once. I think it’s so amazing how God connected us – a random search:) I was shopping over the weekend and found a few Molly and Rex journals that I didn’t have. I bought them -and I’d love to send you that I feel is just for you! I also emailed you, hoping we could connect. Again, many prayers coming your way as you journey toward Him!

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