2022 Reflection + Finding Greater Joy in 2023

I love reflection, but for some reason I have found myself putting off creating space to reflect + look ahead. And I am not exactly sure why. But I am here now, just a few days into 2023 and I have some things that have been floating around in my head that I would like to get typed out here.

Let’s start with 2022. Every year, I reflect on the past year. I just re-read my 2021 Reflection from last year and I really enjoyed it. It actually gave me some much needed reminders. Give it a read, if you get the chance.

2022 Reflection

For 2022, my word for the year was PRESENT. My hope was to be more present to all the beautiful blessings the Lord has placed right before me. Let me start by saying, “present” is a hard word to choose. I think it is a great one, but it’s hard. I am finding myself ending the year feeling pretty exhausted. Presence takes work. It can be draining and even painful to not distract yourself. To fully give oneself to the moment and person before you can be draining. And I think I am feeling a bit of this now. I also need to add, I was absolutely not perfectly present. Over the course of the year, I had my fair share of moments of checking out and allowing my phone to distract me from the mess, the chaos, the noise of our home. With this said, I don’t think any of us can be perfectly present to our families, our friends, our faith all the time. This is where Jesus comes in. He was perfect, we are not. He was present to the pain, the sickness, the needs in a way we could never be. This is why he came to save us. We can and should strive to be more present in all aspects of our lives, but when we fail and become distracted yet again; we can turn to our perfect and present Father.

I started the year by deleting all social media. This did not last. It lasted for a few glorious months, but I eventually found myself hitting the re-download button. I will admit, there is something disappointing about not fully following through on a goal. Even though I wish I did not return to it, I do feel like I developed a healthier relationship with my phone and social media. As a whole, I definitely was on it less than the previous years. So I will take that still as a step in the right direction. And it gave me back some much needed time! I read the most books I have in a very long time…maybe ever. I just posted about the books I read in 2022. You can read that here. Reading more was definitely a wonderful thing that came out of this pursuit to be more present. It brought me back to a former version of myself that devoured stories. I am happy I re-found this part of myself in the past year.

If I am really honest, 2022 felt like a hard year in ways. I would not say it was my very best year or even my favorite. It felt like a lot of hard things happened- not directly to me, but to those I am close to. There was a fair amount of loss and pain and that is something that I am realizing is very hard for me to stay present in. My continued hope is that I can be a friend that is present in the midst of pain and heartbreak.

2022 was definitely not all bad. A lot of good and growth still came out of it. Here are a few of the highlights of 2022:

  • We had a few really wonderful trips! We had a ski trip in Mammoth, a glamping trip at El Capitan in the summer, and a kid-free getaway in Palm Springs. All three of these trips were special. We haven’t done much travel and while these trips were all still local to California, they each felt like a great adventure outside of our ordinary days. Thankful for each of these trips.
  • I trained for and completed my second marathon! I wrote an extensive recap on that particular marathon you can read here. 2022 was probably my most fun year in running. I ran a PR in the marathon with a 2:54 (technically the race was about .4 miles longer, but 2:54 is the time I had on my watch at 26.2 so that is what I am going with). Even the build up to this marathon was fun and enjoyable. I really feel like I found a healthy balance when it comes to training. I also had a lot of fun running a few local races. This was by far the most racing I have done since college and I really enjoyed it. It was even more fun by winning a pretty good amount of prize money in the Manhattan Mile with a 3rd place finish (and running 4:58 for a mile) and winning the MB Hometown 10k. I very much am loving running and doing it on my own terms. I also loved getting a good handful of runs in with good friends! More on my running here.
  • This little blog of mine continues to grow! I always am amazed that this blog that I started 4 years ago, continues to grow with each passing year. It brings me such joy that I have consistent readers. 2022 I had over 1,000 more visitors than 2021 and over 3,000 more views! I started This Mama Needs Grace when Hudson was 4-months old. I created it out of a need to give me a sense of purpose outside of motherhood. While I write a lot less than I used to (16 posts for the year), this space continues to grow. My hope is that this can continue to be a place that helps inspire, encourage and help others feel a little less alone. I love reflecting and sharing in this way and my plan is to keep doing so!
  • My toddler curriculum, Teaching Toddler Mama, also had its best year yet! I had 61 new customers, and made about $300 more than I did last year + had a lot of really great reviews. It is again amazing to watch something grow and have an impact, especially when the time I put into it is pretty limited. I did not create much new curriculum this year. My two new products for the year were a Superhero Week and an Easter Week. My A-Z Bundle continues to be a best seller for me and it truly makes me so happy that other educators/parents are loving incorporating this alphabet curriculum with their little ones. I am currently dreaming up how I would like this shop to grow as my kids get older (H is entering kinder next fall!). I have plans in the working to create another 26-week curriculum that will be more geared towards kindergarteners and will incorporate Bible stories, characters, and verses. Hudson will be attending a public school in the fall, so this is my attempt to make sure he is still interacting with the Bible and learning about God throughout the school week! I am excited to start working on this.
  • Such a fun year to watch the growth of both our boys. We had a fun 1st birthday party to celebrate our one happy camper. It was such a joy to watch him become a little person this year. Hudson also grew so much. We celebrated his 4th birthday by going to Disneyland! It has been such a fun time getting to know his little personality and loving everything he loves: superheroes, legos, ninjago. In just a year, he’s gone through so many different phases and it’s been fun getting excited about everything that excites him. Never did I think I would be able to categorize Superheros by Avengers vs. DC or become an expert at finding the tiniest Lego piece. I have loved this past year with the boys and feel very at home in this stage of motherhood/parenting…even though we feel like we are in an especially exhausting season.

2023: YEAR OF JOY

I always choose a word to focus on for the year. For 2023, my word is joy. I went back and forth on this. Around Thanksgiving time, I was set on having my word be create. I wanted to create more (words, stories, moments, memories, space). I actually still hope to create more this year, but it honestly sounded exhausting for this to be my main word. It seemed like the Lord has really been nudging me to choose the word joy instead. I was hesitant because it felt like an overused and even cliche word to choose for the year. I was also hesitant because I know joy goes beyond circumstances- I was genuinely concerned if I was seeking to pursue deeper joy that the Lord may give me greater heartache and challenges as a way to teach me joy can only be found in Him. Well, I am going with joy. Whatever that entails. I believe the Lord desires for me to experience His love and all the blessings he has set before me with a deeper and greater joy.

Here are a few things I hope for in the year to come:

  • More laughter. I simply want to laugh more on a regular basis.
  • More connection. I want deeper friendships. I want to be a better friend. More check-ins, more phone calls, more spontaneous coffee dates.
  • More time in the Word. I got a Spiral Bible for Christmas and I am looking forward to spending more time digging deeper in His Word.
  • More reading, less on my phone
  • More adventure and outings (we already do a fair amount, but I really want to enjoy these last few months before Hudson starts full-time school)
  • More game nights. This is really not something we do, but I want to play more and I think this would be fun.
  • More writing and reflecting on everything the Lord is doing (I desire to get back into journaling more + posting more on here)
  • More creating (in all types of ways- I want to color while the boys color, create cozy spaces in our home, organize and donate away the clutter, and create special moments and memories for our family)
  • More rest (I still long to return to Sabbath- my prayer is this year we can really find this rhythm again)
  • More movement for the sake of movement (I feel like I might be running less this year, but I still want to have a healthy routine of movement throughout the week. I want to be less concerned about miles and minutes and more concerned about moving out of sense of health and joy).
  • More exploration and travel (I long to branch out a bit more this year and get on a plane! It has been a while! My hope is that I could have a solo trip somewhere and that we could have one big family trip together).
  • More dreaming (I want to dream bigger this year. Push myself to grow this space and my toddler curriculum. I want to be open to possibilities and pursue dreams in a way that allows me to fully embrace motherhood and raising the boys).
  • More of the right yes’s and more confident no’s. One of the biggest things that steals my joy is being over-committed and busy. I want to do a better job at saying yes to the things that matter and no to the things that are less of a priority.

I am just 20 days into the year and it is clear that things are not going to always go the way I will hope. Even in these short few days, there have been a fair handful of every day unexpected curveballs: broken washing machine, expensive car bill, leaking fridge, sick kids. You get the idea. Daily life has a way of showing me that things rarely go perfectly. I think the Lord is highlighting these things to me as a way of showing me I can still find joy in the unexpected. I can feel the disappointment, but I can more quickly turn a corner and experience His real joy despite the brokenness.

Even just a few days into the year, I sense the Lord showing me joy can be found in the smallest moments: a perfectly captured picture, running in the rain, legos organized by color. Joy is right there; we just need to name it and hold on to it.

Here is to a New Year! My hope and prayer is that you too can experience a deep sense of joy in this year. Thank you all for continuing to read my words! It means so much.

4 thoughts on “2022 Reflection + Finding Greater Joy in 2023

  1. Love this Kel and love the theme of Joy for the year. Always a great reminder for all of us to live and be mindful of the Lord’s blessings for us. XOXO

    Liked by 1 person

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