Top 10 Lessons I Learned from the Past Decade

Top 10 Lessons I Learned from the Past Decade

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” // Psalm 90:12

Happy Last Monday of the DECADE!! This is the second blog that I put out this week, because not only is it the last few days of the year, but also of the decade. And if you know me at all, you know I love to reflect on what I’ve learned and am fascinated by how time defines things.

The 2010’s decade has been an interesting one for me. I spent more years out of school than I did in, (which didn’t occur to me until I thought about writing this blog. Seems like I spent more time in school than not!), and a lot happened this decade.

When I think about a span of ten years, I think about how much happens in that time. How much our lives change. The next ten years have the possibility to bring us the most unbelievable joys, the best surprises, and discovering more of our Creator. But before we jump into 2020, I want to take a look back at the 2010’s. Without further ado, here are the top 10 lessons I learned from the past 10 years.

  1. Your obedience to God, no matter what you’re losing now, will always be worth it in the end. This has by far been one of the biggest lessons to span this decade. Obedience is so, so, SO important. And it’s always worth it.
  2. Anxiety is scary, but it’ll pass. I struggled with anxiety like I never have before this past decade. But instead of trying to fight it like I have been, I wish I would’ve known that the body naturally clams itself down–so I don’t have to try obsessively to. Also, to know God as a loving Father instead of a God who expected perfection is a lesson well learned.
  3. Make a difference when and where you can. God gives us seasons–at jobs, with people, in certain areas. Don’t waste that time blending in, trying to hang with the cool crowd, or letting the world bog you down. Make a difference for Jesus in those places and in those moments while you have them (Matt. 5:16). One day it’ll be too late.
  4. Just because the answer is “no” now does not mean it will always be. If you read my blog that came out yesterday, you’ll read that this year was a big one for the two letter word “no”. And honestly, these past few years I’ve seen what I thought were the desires of my heart go left unfulfilled. But in the past decade, I’ve also seen things that I thought were gone for good come back and bring me the most joy I’ve ever had, because they were God’s thing and in God’s timing. No is not always not forever. You can trust God with your hearts desires (Psalm 37:4).
  5. Take time to get alone with Jesus–often and whenever else necessary. There was a period of time during my senior year of high school when I went through a period of losing all of my best friends. (Yeah, you read that right. All.) It was extremely tough, but that’s when I started reading the Bible when I had breaks in between classes and started seeking Him more, and that changed e v e r y t h i n g for me. Even now, I’ve learned that getting alone with Jesus–especially to start my day–is critically important. Seeking His face, His Word, and being with Him in prayer will allow you to grow in your relationship with Him and make space for Him to reveal all He has for you. Do it!
  6. Talking about relationships–don’t romanticize. I didn’t know the damage this could cause until recently. Stay present, keep your head out of the clouds, and seek God in all your romantic endeavors. Trust me, it’ll save you a boatload of heartache.
  7. Ask God to show you His best. This was a h u g e lesson for me a couple years ago. Sometimes our vision can get clouded by doubt, worry, confusion, or impatience that we are tempted to settle for what’s easy, or what’s available now, or simply put, less than God’s best. Do not do this! Ask God to show you His best. But when you do, be prepared to have Him show you what is not His best. That may be hard, but that too will be worth it.
  8. Guard your heart. There’s a reason we’re instructed–above all else–to guard our heart (Proverbs 4:23). Whether it be against bitterness, lust, jealousy, comparison, or something else, it is vital for us to ask God to help us guard our hearts. As the Scripture says, everything we do flows from our heart. If everything flows from it–we better make sure we’re guarding what we allow in it.
  9. You are set free in Christ–start acting like it. This decade, I learned that I am truly loved by the God of the universe. I am set free in Him. He is glorified when I embrace my freedom as a Child of God, when I am who He’s created me to be in ways that honor Him (Psalm 139:1-18). And above all else–He loves me! This was a huge revelation I experienced, and look forward to continuing to learn and walk that out in the new decade.
  10. Enjoy life. Goodness, just enjoy life! I can be so uptight and worried about everything, and yet God gives us all good things to enjoy (John 10:10, 1 Timothy 6:17)! Food, adventure, family, friends, work, whatever! It’s okay to have fun, to enjoy things! So glorify Him and feel free to enjoy life.

Well friends, that’s about it! There are so many more lessons I learned, but these are ones that were big and had lasting impacts from the last ten years. I cannot wait to see what the next ten years brings, and I pray that it’s full of blessing, abundance, and love for all of you.

Until Next Time,

Stephanie Jaye ❤

@stephjayewriter

P.S. — Remember to check out my year-end blog from yesterday, too!

2019: What I Learned From My Year of “Almosts”

2019: What I Learned From My Year of “Almosts”

“Yet I will wait patiently … Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights.” // Habakkuk 3:16b, 17-19

2019. Can you believe it’s the end of the year–*ahem*–decade already? I feel like I say this every year, but it’s worth saying again, this year flew! And while I had hopes and aspirations for this year, when I look back, it looked way–and I mean WAY–different than I thought it would.

And if I’m being honest, not in the bestest ways.

Until God gave me a different persective.

When I started to reflect on 2019, I wondered how I would remember this year. When I thought about it, one thing came to mind.

This was my year of “almosts”.

I ALMOST made the move across the country I had been hoping and praying for. But didn’t.

I ALMOST went on vacation to California. Until that got canceled.

I ALMOST instead went on vacation to North Carolina. Until our car didn’t want to cooperate.

I ALMOST accepted an offer of publication on my book. Until I realized it wasn’t the right publisher for me.

I ALMOST met a guy and started a relationship I so longed to be in. Until I got my heart broken before it even started due to circumstances out of my control.

Do you seem the theme here? When I looked back on 2019, this is what I saw. I saw a year of false starts, false hopes, and unfuliflled dreams.

I saw “ALMOST”.

If you’re like most people, almost isn’t good enough. It falls just short of expectation. No one ever achieved or celebrated anything that ALMOST happened. Because simply put, it just didn’t.

I didn’t move across the country. I didn’t go on any vacations–anywhere. I didn’t publish my book. I didn’t get to date that guy.

It seemed like in 2019 … I didn’t almost do … anything.

This isn’t going to be some blog about how we should shift our perspective. That we should cheeringly looking at what DID happen, and what DID make 2019 awesome. I’m not going there at all.

Where I am going is this: Even when dreams are left unfulfilled and the heart aches more than it can bear, God is still faithful. God is still in control. And God has better.

What’s interesting is my word for 2019 was “faithful”. The idea that because God is faithful to me, I will be faithful to Him. And because of His faithfulness, He can be trusted. So, while I ALMOST did a lot this year, here’s one thing I know for sure: God was faithful through it all. And I learned a heck of a lot through it.

I didn’t move across the country because God’s timing wasn’t right.

I didn’t go on vacation, because God was protecting me.

I didn’t get my book published because there’s a better home for it out there I can’t see yet.

I didn’t date that guy because simply put:

GOD. HAS. BETTER.

That was the lesson I learned this year. It’s funny because 2018 was all about pursuing God’s best. 2019 was all about trusting and seeking His better. What hard about “better” is that we often get so blinded by the here and now, that we can’t see what could possible BE better than what’s in front of us. And because of that, we question God when things don’t go the way we want them to. We kick and scream when He takes things away from us because we can’t see what’s just around the bend. But I have learned time and time again that God always has better. A L W A Y S.

I love the book of Habakkuk (some of y’all are trying to figure out where that is, so lemme help you — Old Testament, almost to the New 🙂 ). I’m not sure if I’ve ever read the whole book (all 3 chapters!), until recently, but I always knew of it’s concluding verses. But when I read the whole book of Habakkuk recently, it amazed me. Simply amazed me.

The book starts out by Habakkuk complaining to God, frustrated that He is not seeking justice against those who have wronged Israel. He doesn’t understand why God is allowing Israel to be pursued and destroyed by these foreign countries. It opens like this in Habakkuk 1:2-3:

“How long, Lord, must I call for help,
    but You do not listen?
Or cry out to You, “Violence!”
    but You do not save?
Why do You make me look at injustice?
    Why do You tolerate wrongdoing?”

You hear the frustration in Habakkuk’s voice while He cries out to God? That’s real. That’s relatable. The book then continues, recording God’s response in 1:5:

“Look at the nations and watch—
    and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
    that you would not believe,
    even if you were told.”

This conversation between Habakkuk and God spills into chapter two. But this time, God’s response silences Habakkuk’s frustration. In 2:3, God says this:

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
    it speaks of the end
    and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
    it will certainly come
    and will not delay. “

That’s a word for someone today — your time will come. It may linger … but WAIT for it. It WILL come. It may not be in our timing, but it’ll be in God’s perfect timing. By the end of the book, we see a different Habakkuk. In the closing chapter, we see Habakkuk trusting in God’s timing, trusting He is powerful and will indeed do what He’s said, and concluding that he will wait for God patiently. The concluding verses show us that God has become Habakkuk’s strength, and therefore can endure–not only anything including famine and hardship–but do it joyfully. We read this in Habakkuk 3:17-19:

“Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.”

So, what is my point in all this? Though 2019 seemed to be a year of disappointments, a year of “almosts”, a year of getting my hopes up to get them let down–God walked me through something similar to what He did Habakkuk thousands of years ago. He’s showed me that He hasn’t forgotten. He is still working. He is still faithful. And He is up to something better.

So while my year may have been a year of “almosts” and false starts, this is how I will remember 2019:

The year God taught me He has better.

And I hope that if you had a disappointing year, or if disappointments meet you in the future, you can remember Habakkuk. That you can trust God, even when the promise lingers. You can wait patiently because you know He’s always working to fulfill His purpose in you. And You can rejoice always in God your Savior because He is enough for you.

Until next time,

Stephanie Jaye ❤

@stephjayewriter

A Reflection of 2018, and a peek at 2019: A New Year’s Blog

A Reflection of 2018, and a peek at 2019: A New Year’s Blog

“The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy. They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.” // Psalm 111:7-8

Happy New Year 2019 everyone!

I feel like I say this at the beginning of every blog post, but I literally can’t believe it’s New Years. 2018 went by so, so fast! I mean, I literally remember last year at this time, thinking about 2018 and all I hoped and believed it would hold.

What’s funny about looking back at the hopes and expectations you had for something is seeing how much of it actually came to be, and what actually happened that was completely unexpected, things you could’ve never saw coming.

This year was a pretty good one for me, and I’m thankful for that. I’ve had a few rough years in the recent past, so the fact that 2018 was a good year is something I’m very grateful for.

But what’s funny about 2018 is it wasn’t anything I expected to be.

But what’s funny about 2018 is it wasn’t anything I expected to be. What I thought would happen in 2018, didn’t. What I didn’t think would happen in 2018, did. And I think that leads up to a big lesson I learned just recently (stay tuned for that blog in the next couple weeks). But, the reality is none of us really knows what’s up ahead, and none of us are really that in control of what the future holds.

But, the reality is none of us really knows what’s up ahead, and none of us are really that in control of what the future holds.

Sure, we can set goals and work hard to accomplish what we desire, but overall, things happen. Life happens. God moves in ways we could never even think of. And while 2018 wasn’t anything I expected, it was literally one of the best I’ve had in a while.

For example, I didn’t [ever] think I would actually rewrite a manuscript I’ve been wanting to get published for years in 2018. I couldn’t ever imagine the hope and the joy I experienced in 2018. And never did I think I’d be at the end of 2018 so full of hope and excitement for the future as I am.

If you know Jesus as your Savior, He will use every moment of hurt, pain, and disappointment to work out the most beautiful picture you could ever imagine. That’s not just hype, either.

But, if 2018 wasn’t everything you hoped for, or maybe it even left you more disappointed and discouraged than you thought you would be, know that every moment God is in control. And if you know Jesus as your Savior, He will use every moment of hurt, pain, and disappointment to work out the most beautiful picture you could ever imagine. That’s not just hype, either. God is that kind. God is that faithful. If we just choose to trust Him and follow Him, He’ll bring us into the best plan He has for our life.

So, here we are. 2019. Every year I pray and pick a word for the upcoming year. For 2019, my word is faithful. The Lord gave me this word while I was reading Psalm 111. Verses 7-8 read, “The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy. They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.”

My idea of this word for the upcoming year is this:

My idea of this word for the upcoming year is this:

1. That God is faithful

2. That because of God’s faithfulness, I will choose to be faithful to God

Late this year, God showed me a picture of what it looks like to believe and live as though I believe God is faithful. Faithful to provide all my needs — material, spiritual, and emotional. That He is faithful. Constant. Unchanging. And while these are all things I “know”, this year, I want to live like I believe those things. And that leads into the second part of my word. That I will choose to be faithful to God.

I think a lot of us get carried away in the things we “should be” “doing” as Christians, but that’s different than being faithful to Him. Being faithful to Him is more like a relationship. Like a husband is faithful to his wife, or a wife faithful to her husband. In whatever they do, they want to honor each other, respect each other, and do things that the other would support and approve of. That’s the picture of being faithful to God.

Being faithful to Him is more like a relationship. Like a husband is faithful to his wife, or a wife faithful to her husband. In whatever they do, they want to honor each other, respect each other, and do things that the other would support and approve of. That’s the picture of being faithful to God.

When I speak, whatever I do, wherever I am, I want to be faithful to Him. When others see my life, I want them to see a King who is still alive and active, a King who sets the captive free, a King who erases anxiety and fear. A King who brings peace, hope, and joy. A King who is peace, hope, and joy.

Do I have hopes and dreams for 2019? Sure. But more than that, I have hope in my God. My faithful King. That whatever He desires would happen in 2019. That He would lead, open doors, shut doors, and redirect as necessary. That I would be able to look back in one year and be just as hopeful, just as excited, just as joyful heading into 2020, no matter what happens over the next 365 days. That my hope in Him would be stronger than the fear that tries to reign. Because I have hope in the God who is reigning. And is doing it mightily faithfully.

Because I have hope in the God who is reigning. And is doing it mightily faithfully.

I came across this Scripture that I love in Psalm 119:35-37 that I thought would be a great prayer to start off 2019 with:

Direct me in the path of Your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward Your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your word.

I hope you all have an awesome 2019! I can’t wait to take the journey with you. May the Lord bless you and keep you, make His face shine on you and be gracious to you, and may He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

May we ever seek His face in 2019, and by doing so, someday we might just change the world ❤

Until Next Time,

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@stephanie_jacqu

P.S.! Here are some other Scriptures I found relating to the theme of my word faithful for the year:

Psalm 112:6-8:

“Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
    in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.”

Psalm 116:12:

“What shall I return to the Lord for all His goodness to me?”

Psalm 119:30:

“I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on Your laws.”

Isaiah 25:1:

“Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your name,
for in perfect faithfulness You have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.”