Usually, the week after Christmas is dedicated to clearing out the old, in preparation for the new.  I’ll spend quite a few days getting rid of things we don’t need because it just seems like the right thing to do at the very end of a year.  And from the looks of the picture below, I should probably start with my desk.

There’s a question that I always ask, when trying to decide what to keep and what to get rid of.  I’m pretty sure I learned this tactic watching an old episode of Hoarders.  The idea is, that you chose an item and ask the question, “Does this bring me joy?”  If it does, you keep it, and if it doesn’t, you get rid of it.  And thinking of the many times I’ll ask myself that in the coming days, made me reflect back on 2015 and the many, many things that brought me joy.  I thought I’d share them with you.  I have one for each month and it’s the perfect way to reflect on a pretty amazing year.

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January:  The Joy of Family

This past January, we packed our bags and flew out to visit family in Arizona.  We spent a good week or so, soaking up the beauty that comes when you get to spend time with those you love the most.  With extended family spread out all over the United States, it’s always a gift to get to be be together and something that brings great joy.

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February:  The Joy of Youth Ministry

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that we’ve been doing Youth Ministry for so long.  But it continues to be something that brings great joy to both Jeremy and I.  We continue to love working with teenagers and our lives keep quite busy because of it.  Every February we take a weekend retreat and though it was our thirteenth one in a row, it was so awesome to be able to spend such a great time with these amazing kids.

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March:  The Joy of Friendships

I am so incredibly thankful for my friends.  We come from all walks and areas of life, but the times that I am able to spend with my friends is extremely fulfilling and joyful.  My friends are a great source of encouragement and love and they make me a better person for sure.

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April:  The Joy of Hangtime

I know I write about it a lot.  But Hangtime for me, has been this incredible  life accomplishment and journey.  It came in to fulfill the part of me that has always loved kids and most importantly, loved teaching them about Jesus and His great love for us.  It’s had it’s challenges, but overall is a huge source of joy for me and so many, every Wednesday afternoon.  Our program doubled in size from last year to this year, and I can’t wait to continue to see the great things that God will do in and through this ministry.

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May:  The Joy of Saving Money

I love saving money.  Probably more than I love spending it, I suppose.  As life gets busier, it’s hard to find time and effort to do it.  But when I can, it’s so much fun.  Whether it’s couponing for free things from Rite Aid, or treasure hunting at Savers, I’m proud to share that I really do get joy from saving a buck (or ten).

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June:  The Joy of Sweating

I took break from the gym this year.  When summer rolled around and life got pretty full, I realized that I wasn’t as committed to fitting it in as I had been for the three years prior.  So I gave myself a break.  And found other venues to sweat it out.  I ran two official 5K races with our amazing son Christian and was over joyed to be able to accomplish such fun events while getting a great sweat in.  I continue to need exercise to balance life and my anxieties.  But it continues to bring me joy to have a healthy outlet and it’s something that I’m extremely thankful for.

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July:  The Joy of Serving Overseas

In July, our family had the opportunity to take a Missions Trip to Costa Rica.  It was a dream come true for me, since I’ve always wanted to bring our kids with us to serve.  They both did an incredible job and it brought me so much joy to return back to our friends in Costa Rica and to be able to serve along side of them again this summer.

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July:  The Joy of Michigan

It was bound to happen, and I realized that I couldn’t share just one joy from July.  My second one was taking a trip to Michigan with Ellee to see my family.  Christian and Jeremy were at camp for the week, so the timing was perfect for a little getaway.  We spent a beautiful week with my family and I was absolutely thrilled.  Getting to see my thirteen nephews and nieces as well as my parents and sisters was extremely joyful.

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August:  The Joy of Boating

A continued source of joy this past summer, were evenings spent in our boat.  This was our first full summer to get to use our little treasure and we enjoyed it so much.  We spent many hot summer evenings, boating to the beach to fish, run or relax and sometimes all three.

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September:  The Joy of Spending time with my Best Friend

Of course I’d be remiss not to share that this man has been a great source of joy for me this year.  In our thirteenth year of marriage, we enjoyed quite a bit of quality time together.  We traveled the world this year and doing it together was so much fun.  I continue to be so thankful for the amazing times that God allows us to have together and could not be more thankful for the blessing that is my husband.

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October:  The Joy of Transformation

This fall, with the help of our sweet Ellee, we transformed our dining room and it was awesome.  I love a good makeover and was thankful that this one came together so nicely.  Hidden hard word floors and blue gray paint was all this room needed to take on its beautiful change.

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November:  The Joy of Bike Riding

With one of the warmest fall/winters on record, we’ve had the opportunity to fall in love with bike riding.  And being outdoors with our kids, riding bikes in the fresh warm air?  Incredibly joyous.  Ellee got a new bike for her birthday and Christian for Christmas and I am so thankful that this has been a year of the bikes.

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December:  The Joy of Family

And last, but not least, a tribute to our family.  December was an incredibly busy month, but I’m thankful to share that we had some pretty awesome times to share all together.  I’m so thankful for our kids and for the many ways they bring us joy.  Sure, we had our ups and downs.  But overall, I could not be more thankful for the many ways that our children bring us laughter and great joy.  Ellee continued to be a source of sweetness and Christian continued to amaze us with his determination and hard work.

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And those were just twelve (or thirteen) things that brought me great joy this past year.

I’m looking forward to 2016.  I’m ready to let go of the things that don’t bring me joy.  Like stress and anxiety and the little bits of nonsense that seem to try to take away my joy.  I’m ready to open my hands and hearts to what God has in store for me and my family and pray that throughout the coming year, I will focus on and hold tight to the things that truly bring me joy.

Written by lauraherr8

I love Jesus, my Youth Pastor Husband and our two beautiful children. I'm a professional photographer and I love people, especially kids. My best days include time with my family, Hot Yoga and a Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream cone.

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