My 2013 Top Ten List: Love, Home and Goat

What a beautiful first Christmas as a married woman. In addition to seeing most of our family at both of our parents and grandparents’ homes, we also traveled 9 hours round trip between the South Carolina Upstate and Atlanta in 24 hours. My husband says I slept all 9 hours; it was more like 7. I read the rest of the time.

In reflecting on 2013, I’m thinking back on all of the Blessings of the year. As with most of my friends and family, there’s some heartbreaks mixed in with the exquisite moments of happiness, and in typical Kelley-fashion, I would rather focus on the positives: the outcomes where God answered prayers, and even those where, looking in from the outside, you would think it wasn’t a God-answer, but I know from faith and experience living with Him as the center of my life, that all good things come from the Lord. Even if the “good things” come in the form of unanswered prayers or redirection, or has been the case of learning this year, of waiting.

Here’s the best stab at my Top 10 in 2013. Written off the cuff and with minimal editing, because if I spent a lot of time on this I may never hit the “post” button, cramped by spasms of writer’s remorse, editing-uncertainties and fear.

I’m also anti-Letterman. I’m going in order from the most amazing to the most unusual, or mundane. Or, in the order that my heart pours them out.

1. I married the love of my life on Feb. 16, 2013. Every day since has been a gift. A blessing I didn’t even know was possible and it’s all because my Heavenly Bridegroom has a big, beautiful plan for my life, our life, and we’re so grateful and excited to live out each day that we’re given.

sealed with a kiss
Right before we say “I do”.

2. I was offered and accepted a job in our new hometown of the Upstate of SC. I had searched for months and months, and my husband and I lived the first five months of our newlywed life apart during the week. I’m grateful for the grace of co-workers in letting me express myself and feelings during this time apart and who were happy for me when I accepted the new position. Meeting the love of my life was not something I expected when I went on that initial job interview at the former position. Starting my new job in Greenville allowed my hubby and I to finally live together, which I can only describe as finally being able to breathe without the assistance of a ventilator. Freeing and full of hope.

3. We bought our first home together in an area we love and that allows each of us a 30-minute or less commute each workday. Previously, we each drove 1.5 hours each way to work (in opposite directions). We still drive in opposite directions but we now come home to a beautiful home that is perfectly suited to our needs and taste, and even location!

Our new home.
Our new home.

4. We sold the LemonDrop. My single-girl VW Beetle Convertible that logged many hours on the road traversing Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. Lots of trips to the beach. Cruising out on county-wide drives with Oz, my late boxer bestie, jowls flapping in the wind from the front seat. I used the sale price for part of our house down payment – can you say Blessing?

The LemonDrop with Ozzie and me, in Pine Mountain, GA. Summer 2008.
The LemonDrop with Ozzie and me, in Pine Mountain, GA. Summer 2008.

5. I have lived this entire year in a body weighing under 200 pounds. It may not seem like a lot to some but I have lost and kept off 40 pounds from my body and I can honestly say for the first time since high school I feel healthy and confident about what Kelley looks like. I am happier in my skin — without a doubt — than I’ve ever been. Now, I am going to see how strong and fit I can get. 2014 will be a year to shed another 10 pounds (if not more!) and to achieve some personal fitness goals.

6. My faith in God has grown by mountains, and the valleys. I am happiest when I seek Him first, in all things. No matter what. And, I don’t make any excuses about it. My husband and I have grown closer together to Him and each other by doing a daily devotional each morning, something we’ve done every day (save one or two) this entire year. We first read a random verse in the Bible, but then we received a Marriage-focused Bible study as a wedding present from my sister and every day, since the first morning of our honeymoon, we’ve studied one of the Bible verses. The peace from knowing that He is in control of our happiness and our futures is without measure or replacement. I value that peace and relationship with Christ above all things, even the love that my husband and I share and have been given through God.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. – 1 John 4:11-13

7. I ate goat meat for the first time at a 4th of July Fair in Chesnee, SC. It wasn’t prepared by locals, but rather by a Caribbean couple transplanted to Atlanta who found a great market miles from home among the hungry patrons and unlikely mix of bikers, shaggers and locals. And, it was delicious. (I add this to my list of “weird” food I’ve ever eaten: escargot, cow’s tongue, goat’s milk cheese, rabbit.)

8. We drove to the highest point in SC, Sassafras Mountain. I plan to visit other high points in other states in the coming year, adding one as I go. I have already been to Florida’s and Georgia’s.

9. I found my voice in this blog. I have no worries that I’m trying to impress anyone (sorry!) but more that the blog meets my needs to express or share, beyond what is available to me in a journal or in the public world of Facebook. Blogging fulfills a need to create and share, one I’m planning to expand a little in 2014. No real expectation other than to enjoy myself.

10. (Oh the pressure!) I am using Pinterest like Google in searching for clothes and recipes. I think this is significant in my social media-influenced (and influencer) world. I spend more time on Pinterest than I do reading magazines or books – so I made a decision that I would limit my time on Pinterest, read more books (reading: Haywood Smith’s “Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch”), use Pinterest to my advantage by adding blog-related posts and boards with link-backs (and they are my most popular posts of the year!), and actually make some of those posts that I’m pinning. I’m still working on that last one.

2014 should be a year of firsts, lasts and hopefully, a year of love, laughter and yes, the little moments that make life worth the journey and effort. I pray you experience Joy in all things, and seek Him first. He’s got a lot of love to give and its always open and without fear or judgement. Love and hugs and kisses. I’m excited I can sit in my Father God’s lap this year and see where He’s planning to take us as He reveals it. God bless each of you and your families.

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