A Year of Gratitude- Reflecting on 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, I can't help but to think of all the ways my family and I have been blessed.   2016 wasn't the easiest year, but if I am honest I can't recall a year that has been super easy.  Life for me has been all about being stretched, bent, pulled, tugged, and whatever other verb that has to do with being uncomfortable.  As I look back at 2016,  I am reflecting on the moments and people who have brought me joy.

 Joy in the Ordinary 2016 Reflections and Highlights

16 Moments, Opportunities, and People I Am Grateful for ...

  1. The uncomfortableness has become a thing I am grateful. Through it I have learned much about myself as far as limits, fears, beliefs, and so on. I am thankful for the growth uncomfortableness provides me.
  2. My husband tops the list. I often find myself running to my friends for support and encouragement, but this year he truly has come through as one of my biggest cheerleaders. He even ranks a bit high as a Superfan on my Periscope channel.:) I am grateful to have him for sure.
  3. My daughters are definitely a gift, and I don't brag on them often enough. Through them I am blessed daily by the love of the Father. They speak life into me. They remind me of His words. They help me to get over myself to see the big picture when life is trying to make me hyperfocus on details or events that truly don't matter. They remind me of what it really means to walk by faith and not by sight.
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  5. Joy in the Ordinary, this blog, has helped me to continue to grow into my best self. My home on the web has allowed me to find my voice. It has helped me to dig into what I really believe because I don't want to live a double life. The things I share here are my real thought, feelings, and experiences. Before I started blogging, I didn't share much with people in my real life. I held a lot of things in so I am grateful for this space.
  6. My father's stroke and his recovery has been a blessing. It was hard seeing my dad a few days after his stroke. I wasn't sure what life would be like for him, and although he isn't 100% better I am grateful for the healing he has received after such a traumatic event. I am thankful that his stroke is also making him healthier. When the girls and I visited, I didn't know what I would be walking into. I was pleased to see my dad was actually healthier than he has ever been in my life.
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  8. My father's stroke has also helped my mother. I am thankful that she is going through her own healing. I have shared a few times about my childhood and the struggles I have with my mom. Just like most of she is still a work in progress, but I can see a difference in her moving towards who she wants to be. I know my dad's stroke played a role in this change.
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  10. Our church has played a big role in our year from allowing us to share our story and hands to help others to helping us when we didn't know we would need help. Our church reminds me that we are seen even when we are moving quietly and trying not to be seen. This is our first church family where we don't have to do anything to fit in and can simply be ourselves. I am so grateful for them.
  11. The 2:1 Conference was one of the highlights of my year. It was my first time going away without my family for more than a day. It was my first blogging conference. It provided me with the opportunity to pitch myself for the first time too. It revealed so much to me about myself, my dreams, and my faith. I am thankful that I was able to experience it.
  12. Friendships. By nature, I am a loner. I don't mind talking to people, but I am totally okay with being alone. This year friendships were very prevalent in my life. I made new friends in real life and and online. These friendships helped me to keep going when I found myself confused. My friends have encouraged me to keep pressing forward. They are my cloud witnesses on earth, and yes I am thankful for all of my friends.
  13. Latonya

  14. Writing opportunities. I love writing. I love sharing my thoughts in black and white. But, I couldn't foresee anyone wanting me to write for them. I couldn't foresse a publication paying me for my thoughts and words. But in 2016 when life was giving me lemons, I was blessed with several writing opportunities. Although some articles will not be published until next year, I am thankful that the Father never forgot my dreams of writing even when I didn't think I was good enough.
  15. Check out my article for Pure Flix Insider: Three Simple Ways to Study the Bible with Your Children

  16. Good health. My youngest had her first bout with poison ivy and my oldest twisted her ankle at the trampoline park, but outside of those events we have had a year of good health in our home.
  17. Isaiah. The book of Isaiah in the Old Testament has been a light in my life. 2016 has been rough in some parts, but as I read through Isaiah my faith has become stronger. I am reminded that life is more than what meets the eye, and the Father is always at work behind the scenes. Isaiah has encouraged me to continue on my faith journey and to remain obedient even when the world around me is falling apart.
  18. Visiting friends. When we moved to Tennessee last year, we didn't know anyone. We were truly starting over. I am grateful that we have friends who stopped by and called when they were in our neck of the woods so we were able to see those who've been on this journey with us for awhile. Spending time with old friends is good for the soul.
  19. Prayers being answered. Throughout the year, many of my prayers have been answered. Big ones and little ones. I honestly had no idea how I would attend the 2:1 Conference, but I knew I needed to go. I prayed and He answered. Not only was this a prayer answered, I have experienced my thoughts being read and the answers being delivered by family and friends who had no idea what I had just prayed for. I used to feel shame when others stepped in to help us, but now I know it is the Father answering my prayers in the way HE sees fit.
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  21. Each year homeschooling tops my gratitude list. I love being able to teach my daughters, but if I am honest being home has grown me just as much as it has helped them. I have been given the time and space to think about those things that matter to me most while instilling values and teaching my daughters. I am grateful that we have made it through another year of learning together.
  22. I've found myself in tears for the past three mornings. When I look at MY life I have nothing to cry about. God has blessed me so many times in this see alone, there aren't enough words of gratitude. I know my tears are for situations outside of my home. I weep for the pain and devastation in this world. I weep for those who feel hopeless. I weep. Through my tears, I pray. I trust that my words are being heard and the Spirit is interceding. It's not a coincidence that I have found myself studying Isaiah this year. I am still early in the book, but Isaiah's words and obedience is offering me comfort in this troubled world. I can't change the world, but I can continue to pray and make a difference in my sphere of influence. #faith #hope #bestill

    A photo posted by Latonya (@latonya_mo) on

  23. His faithfulness. All the moments, opportunities, and people I am grateful for have come though His faithfulness. He promised to never leave me, and He hasn't. He promised to care for me as He cares for the birds in the sky and He has. I am forever grateful for the Father's promise, the Holy Spirit's intercession, and the Messiah's undying love.

I could look at 2016 and dwell on all I didn't accomplish or the moments that brought pain instead I am choosing to see my life through the lens of joy.

What are your grateful for?  How did 2016 fare for you and your family?