goodbye 2016, hello two thousand seventeen

December 31, 2016

I have been staring at this little computer screen for a long time... my mind racing with all of what I want to say as I say goodbye to 2016 and hello to a brand new year. I know that for many, like myself, 2016 seemed like a unique year that was extremely brutal and difficult in some ways with some very dark valleys and in other ways this year held some wonderful and exciting things that took place that created once-in-a-lifetime memories that will be treasured forever.
I have been thinking about how symbolic that is of life. There is always the good and the bad and sometimes it seems like the hard and the difficult outweigh everything, but most of all I find that this year gently and not-so-gently reminded me of my deep need for God's grace to meet me every single day.
And in many ways, I am ready to begin a new year and start fresh. Not to set a bunch of resolutions that are standards that are impossible to keep, because in many ways I don't have the strength to create a "new life" that will ensure that 2017 will be better than the difficult and hard moments of 2016.
I don't have the resources to do that but what I do long to do is fall more in love with God's grace and love for this upcoming year and to commit the broken and hurtful and weary past to Him, and look forward to his promise of redemption that everyday brings new mercies and that His strength will meet me in each new day that comes.
As I say goodbye to 2016 I am also challenged to know the truth of scripture of I Thessalonians 5:16 that encourages me to "Rejoice Always". To rejoice that despite living in a very broken world that is full of pain and suffering, God has blessed abundantly.
For 2016 the word that I picked for the year was "anew". As I shared last year, unlike in previous years the word was not as clear cut and didn't come immediately to me when I picked it. Instead I felt that there could have been 50 different words that would have been good words. But the Lord kept bringing me back to Jeremiah 31:2-5 again and again I knew that this little word, although uncommon was the perfect word for the year. 

And it has been. Anew is defined as: (1) Once more; again (2) In a new and different way, form, or manner (3) In a new or different way, typically more positive way and (4) Once more, again. My prayer for the year had been the following:

"Granted, it is not a word that is "common" or used everyday, but the definitions sum up exactly what I pray for this coming year. This battle for my health continues to be very difficult and demanding and I want to meet this challenge with the hope of what is coming. I want to perservere and yet live fully in this season. As I lean on the Lord's strength to conquer the "unknowns" of what lies ahead with my health, healing, relationships, my professional life, my shop, my writing, and some personal circumstancs I can can rest fully in the knowledge that His strength is going to give me the joy to face these demanding and difficult situations. Finally, I want to be a good soldier for the Lord in this difficult situation and have the quality of temperament to face the pain of illness, the strength to believe in the impossible, and the lovely peace comes from trusting a Sovereign God fully without fear."
So as I prayerfully say goodbye to 2016 and commit to the Lord the difficult, the painful, the confusing, and the unknown, I also look back with gratitude at all that God has done. I am truly overwhelmed by His goodness and His love. Here are just a few of the amazing things that the Lord did this year and some of the most read blog posts from this year:
Grateful, Humbling, Emotional, and Exciting News: In February I was overcome with emotion that I had been released from Cancer check ups every month to couple of months to every YEAR. It was beautiful news that we cried over and rejoiced over.

Beautiful Joy: In the midst of some very difficult pain and illness the Lord gave a few beautiful hours to enjoy at my favorite spot on earth with my sister and my mom that was a beautiful gift.

The Fourth Spring: In this post I struggled to adequately express the grief of dealing with approaching the fourth spring  of my world being turned upside down, while at the same time trying to adequately describe how grateful I am for the support and love that I have received. (I also posted my first video on the blog!) 

Path of Hope Book Release: This book was such a joy and delight to write as I was gently reminded of the precious truth of hope that is found throughout the Psalms. When it released in April it was beautiful.

Speaking in Phoenix, Arizona: Having the opportunity and being well enough to travel alone to Phoenix and speak on two subjects that are dear to my heart was an absolute blessing and unique adventure for the year. 

An Engagement Party in the Woods: It was so much fun to gather with dear friends and family in our woods for an engagement party this year. 

A Look Back Before Tomorrow: On the eve of my book release I shared more about the precious community whom the book was dedicated to and a special video of special pictures that hold incredible personal meaning to me.

December Caravan Book Release: And then three years after signing the contract, the book that I poured my heart into was released. 

A beautiful Nebraska Wedding: After many years of having to say "no" to special and one-of-a-kind events I was blessed with the strength to be able to travel to a dear friends wedding in Nebraska. It was absolutely lovely to be there for the wedding, see dear friends, and see a new part of the country. I always thought of myself as a mountain and lake gal, but after being in Nebraska, I quickly fell in love with the mid-west.

Magic Kingdom with Friends: Probably one of my favorite memories from 2016 was the day spent at the Magic Kingdom with my dear friends Ali and Kori. It was a day that I will never forget and treasure always!

The 11th Anniversary: In October I celebrated the 11th anniversary of being healed from Endometriosis. Perhaps more than any other year, this anniversary beautifully spoke hope into some very dark and difficult and painful days. 

A Season of Adventure: A Season of Adventure and getting to meet my dear friend Katie (from Always, Katie) in person was a treasure to my heart that I will always remember.
A Drive to the Von Trapp Family Lodge (Stowe, Vermont): Traveling to see this beautiful place that I hadn't seen since I was a child was a delight. 

Mother Cabrini Shrine (Peru, New York): Visiting this beautiful memorial was inspiring to me. As I researched and learned about Mother Cabrini I was so inspired by her famous quote: "I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus to those who do not know Him or have forgotten Him." For me this has deeply impacted me, especially in this season of life and has become my prayer. May the Lord use me however He chooses.

Wildflower Loop Trail, Desert Botanical Gardens (Phoenix, Arizona): While I was Speaking in Phoenix, Arizona, I had the opportunity to visit the Desert Botanical Gardens which was a beautiful reminder to me that even in the desert times in our lives beauty can grow.

Muir Woods, (California): This was one of my favorite places that I visited this year and the "Cathedral Grove" section was absolutely breath-taking. This is a place that I hope to return to again in the future.

Emerald Bay (Lake Tahoe, California): This was another one of my most favorite places to visit this year. It was absolutely breath-taking and I was in absolute awe of the beauty.

Disney Cruise with My Sister: This was a beautiful and amazing trip and one that I will treasure forever! You can read all about the entire cruise HERE

Atlantis Aquaventure Excursion (Bahamas): Emily and I had dreamed of doing this since we were kids and it did not disappoint. This was one of the most fun highlights of the entire Disney Cruise!

Castaway Cay (Bahamas): This island was absolutely stunning and breath-taking. It is definitely everything that you think of when you think of a "Caribbean Paradise".

Royal Caribbean Cruise with My Parents: This precious cruise is filled with lovely memories that I will treasure for a lifetime. You can read all about the entire cruise HERE.

Coco Cay (Bahamas): It was so delightful to be back at Coco Cay and absolutely stunning.
Lyme Disease:
Climbing Another Mountain: One of the most painful, difficult, and traumatic parts of 2016 was when "Nic the PICC" developed a serious and life-threatening blood clot. This situation changed the course of my treatment and was the backdrop for a very difficult and painful season this past year. 

#courtneytheportney: In June my mom and I flew out to California for a couple of weeks where I spent test dosing new medications and having #courtneytheportney placed. It was definitely a frightening time, but the Lord was so good in that there was no complications with the surgery and I was so grateful for all of the prayers.

Treatment Round #3 started off with several bumps in the road and eventually had to be changed and morphed into looking like something different. It was definitely one of the most difficult times in this entire journey and was a season where I struggled with absolute frustration.

10 Tips for Enjoying Disneyworld With a Chronic Illness: The theme parks can be fun but also entirely overwhelming for those who are struggling with a chronic illness. This post shared 10 tips on how to enjoy your time at Disneyworld if you have a Chronic Illness.

A New Season and Stage in the Lyme Journey: After many years a new season and stage arrived in the Lyme journey for which we rejoiced over!

Fourth Times the Charm: I started treatment round #4 including starting a med that I have tried unsuccessfully to use three times this past year. We continue to pray for blessings and favor on this treatment round.

10 Affordable and Helpful Lyme Disease Supplements for the Gut: This post shared 10 Affordable and Helpful Lyme Disease Supplements that I have used. 
Singleness and Relationships:
Feeling Unbeautiful: This fragile and sensitive topic really resonated with not only my readers who are singles but all women. 

The Power of Words in Relationships: This post really resonated with many of my precious readers in this community and reminded me of the power that our words have in another's life. 

Hope for the Future in the Single Journey: One of the real aspects of singleness is the heartbreaking reality of seeing days pass without our dreams fulfilled in this journey. It can be tempting to doubt God and His promises as each day passes without seeing our deepest longing fulfilled. It can be hard to hold onto hope, but the Lord is faithful.
Blogging and Writing:
Blogging Advice- Three years Later: It is hard to believe that in January Caravan Sonnet turned 3! I have been sharing on this blog for three years. This post gave tips and advice on things I have learned in this growing and stretching journey.

12 Ways to Support Your Friends Book Release: With the upcoming book release of my book, December Caravan, I shared 12 ways to support a friend who is having a book release.

Guest Post at Mundane Faithfulness: I was so honored to share my heart with the community at Mundane Faithfulness several times this past year. Blythe, is a woman whose friendship this past year is one of the biggest blessings that has come from 2016, is truly amazing. 

From Hope Valley Book: I was so excited to announce my upcoming book release in 2017 entitled, "From Hope Valley".
Etsy Shop:
Florence Altered City Journal and Small Journal Combo: This new combination for the shop was one of the most popular: a combo of a city journal (or state or country journal) with a small journal. 

Altered Planner 2016: Another new addition to the shop this past year was the opportunity for ordering an Custom Altered Planner. 
As I look back on all of these precious memories from this year, I am most grateful for the beautiful friendships and community that God has placed in my life. Thank you for your love, for your support, and most of all thank you for faithfully and consistently modeling God's faithfulness in my life. I look forward to growing in grace with you in this upcoming year. 

Happy New Years Eve friends. May our God bless you abundantly as we embark on a new season and year.

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