2012... What a year!

2012. What a year, y'all! It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the events and milestones that have happened this year. Here’s a brief (okay not-so-brief) recap: January ushered in a lot of change but, inevitably when things are torn down, there always comes renewal. A season of rebuilding. A mending of what was broken. A discovery of who you are underneath it all. I think in someways, this entire year has been that process. In someways, I think I carry that journey into the next year too. I’m okay with that, because I think it’s a worthy endeavor. Who am I? At the end of everything else, what’s left? Where’s God in this story? These are important questions and I want to keep searching for the answers.

In the next 11 months, so many beautiful things happened I can hardly believe it all.

I spent the first half of the year digging really deep and building an authentic brand for my business. It was so important to me to have a brand that reflected me – my values, my beliefs, my favorite colors, my love for black coffee and kittens, all of it. I wanted – no, I needed authenticity. So by July, Vine & Light was born. And it was good.

Vine & Light is a business based on Kingdom of Heaven principles. It is a business that believes in honesty, transparency, and integrity. It is a business that values family and desires deeply to foster community and facilitate spiritual and emotional growth in all that encounter the brand. V&L is about service, about inspiration, about colorful lives, about love, about victory. It is about Jesus magnified in my business, He is the good you find here. He is the vine and the light. V&L is the fruit of me living outloud everything I believe, instead of just talking about it or theorizing about it – It’s my faith, outloud, in action. And I pray God uses it.

Once V&L was introduced to the world, I celebrated by visiting my sweet sister best friend Adrienne and her babies in Pittsburgh in July. It was my first time in Pittsburgh. We visited museums and ate delicious food and made new friends and got new tattoos. The trip was a total success – as is any time I spend with A. My time there served to remind me of the beauty of enduring love and friendship. You can read more about my time in Pitts here.

After the brand launched, I went into a bit of a sleepy state. Still working on establishing my brand and fine-tuning it, but with a spirit of rest. So the past 5 months have been sleepy and slow – emotionally at least. Not in a bad way, but in a new way.

Outside of work, I’ve been learning a lot about myself and trying to step out into new experiences more often. I made new friends. Gosh – so many new friends. People who teach me constantly about adventure and about living in the moment. Enjoying today, right now and recognizing the goodness packed into one tiny moment. These lessons are of eternal importance. I am so grateful for my time with people who are fun and who are breathing life into places where for so long I thought no life could grow. You can read more about my thoughts on adventure here and here.

In September, my best friend Monica became a mother. Throughout her pregnancy I watched God transform her and her husband’s hearts. I watched in awe as the Lord drew them closer to Him, brought restoration and revival into their spirits, and prepared them perfectly for parenthood. And now Miles is here, and I’ve had the sweetest blessing of watching my sweet friend grow into motherhood. I love what God is doing in their lives. I am constantly encouraged by His faithfulness to them. In some ways, they are my own personal Ebenezer. A monumental reminder of who God is (Faithful King), and what His heart is about (restoration, healing, grace, love…).  See more of Miles and his family here and here.

I celebrated my 24th birthday in October and it was golden. No, really, it was golden. So many sweet friends came around me and celebrated me and all that God is doing in my life at my gold party. It was truly a blessing. It felt kind of like a movie – too good to be true. I am so grateful for the full life and deep friendships the Lord has ushered into my world. See more from this party and my thoughts on turning 24 here.

Throughout the year, literally every single day of 2012, I have been blessed by these two people right here. World, meet the absolute best parents in the history of parenting. Yep, bold statement and I mean every word of it. The Lord uses my mom and dad in such deep and permeating ways. The extra measures of grace and unconditional love that my parents have showered on me is the backbone of the woman I am today. Their love (and His love shown through them) is the reason I am who I am, the reason I love the way I love. I couldn’t have done a single day of 2012 without their constant encouragement and support and guidance. Cheers to you, Mom and Dad. I have no words for how blessed I am to be your daughter, how grateful I am to learn from you two.

And to you, V&L blog followers: thank you! Thank you all for journeying with me and keeping up with this little blog of mine. Family is crucial to the Vine & Light brand, and I couldn’t be where I am today with out all of the love and support and encouragement that the V&L Family pours into me. Find the link to the giveaway here.

It feels good to reflect on and remember where God has taken me, what He has brought me through this year and where we are heading next.

Because if there is one thing I am grateful, it’s to be ending the year with a sense of forward motion, a sense of expectancy on what’s ahead, a sense of purpose and direction, a faint hint of a mission and a calling. Where 2012 was a year to pause and to mend and to rebuild, 2013 will be a year of forward steps. A year of action. A year of leadership and courage and purpose and passion.  I will be more aware of my need for God this next year than ever before, because I will step into things too big for my shoes – the places He has commissioned me to go are the places I could never go without Him. The ministries I could never thrive in if it weren’t for Him being made perfect in my weakness, Him strong and faithful when I am messy and unsure.

A year of Jesus, glorified, is a year of Shannon, minimized. God, let it be so.

And finally, family, I want to be available to each of you. So please let me know how I can pray for you as we enter this new year together. It would be my honor to believe and hope with you as we look forward together. That's what family is all about, you know. Love you guys.