12 Things I Learned in 2018

2018 has continued to be a season of transition with a hefty mix of joy and sorrow. I’m still learning. Still growing. Still trusting God’s mercy for the past and relying on His Spirit to light up each day forward.

Often a quick look in the rear view mirror can give wisdom for the road ahead. It gives us a minute to shout out, “I didn’t think I’d ever get through that but looks like we made it after all!” or my favorite,  “Look how far we’ve come!”

With  “12 Days of Christmas,”  “12 Apostles,” 12 eggs in a dozen, 12 months in a year, 12 seemed like a good number to go with.  So here’s 12 of  hopefully many things I learned this year. Here’s lookin’ atcha, 2018 …the beauty and the mess …the joy and the pain …the stops and starts …the grace and healing.

#1. 16+ people can enjoy a happy week together in one very large log cabin.

At the beginning of 2018, our immediate family was spread across the United States from California to Montana, Alabama and Connecticut. Coming together was an epic event for us and one we still treasure. I honestly wasn’t sure we’d all get along for an entire week with 9 adults, 7 grandkids and a few extras here and there. Personalities and preferences vary with each family unit but thanks to the creative vision of Karen Tillery at Restoration Log Cabins, we all had enough space to call our own yet still have that cozy and warm feeling like home. And let me just say, 5 bathrooms sure did help!

#2. There’s an R.O.I. in relationships. You get a return on the relationships you invest in.

Those priorities you make in relationships are crucial. Your family learns from your actions and choices who is most important to you. Those you vacation with, plan your travels around, choose to be available for, call and visit often, take time to listen to and hear their heart — those are the ones most likely to come back to you.  People have a way of knowing when they really matter to you when you care about what really matters to them.

#3.  What you pray for, you move toward.

A few  (okay, maybe many) times this year I found myself frustrated with other people.  Yep!  Downright irritated.  As I begin to pray about my frustration and irritation and profusely confess my sin, of course! — something begin to change in my heart.  I began to move toward that person with compassion and understanding and a even a little empathy here and there.  Imagine that!

This is also true with situations in life and dreams for the future.  Praying about them helped me move toward actively engaging in a solution, relationship or being more intentional about stepping into that dream or passion.

#4.  Kansas and Connecticut are much closer to Alabama than Montana and California.

Along the theme of #3 and  “moving toward” something, when your kids move anywhere closer in proximity to Mama and Daddy, you do a happy dance.  Just sayin’ !

#5.  We have crazy cool kids!

Tattoos, pink, red or green hair here and there, quirky habits, anxiety, food issues, diabetes, hands up in worship, hands out in worship, worship in nature, neat, messy, introverts and extroverts — that’s our kids and we love them like crazy!

We have weather-man-forecaster-blogger, Roger …writer (new book published this year) and speaker, CarryeBreaking Silences and creative artist, Rachel, and singer-songwriter-turned-Sunday Postman, Ben.  What I love most is that they’re all in their uniquely, God-designed lane and learning more and more about how to be themselves and step further into their passions.

Years ago, I heard a Christian speaker encourage parents with a comment that if the parents are weird, the hope is that the kids will rebel and turn out normal.  I’ve hung on to that thought!

Our grace from God …Ben, Rachel Martin Raddatz, Roger, Carrye Martin Burr

#6.  You can learn a lot about what your husband was thinking in life by reading his newly published book.  

My writer/speaker/blogger husband, Roger, published his first book this year– Partly Wrong:  Admit it.  Embrace it. Live it!  It’s been a dream and vision for quite some time and I’m pretty proud of him.  You can check it out HERE.  (Side note:  I also learned how much I love promoting others.)

#7.  Your body has an incredibly intricate chemical balance.

Due to thyroid cancer (2 times now), my thyroid gland has completely been removed.  Turns out, your  thyroid is a major engine for your body and when it’s gone or not working properly, energy and well-being become a delicate balance to maintain.  We’re still working on that but I have a greater appreciation for how our bodies are created and how we need each part to feel whole and healthy emotionally and physically.

#8.  I need to worship God with other believers.

I had a little love problem with the church at large this year.  I struggled and wrestled and wanted to quit.  It brought much pain and loss that seemed irreconcilable but God …God loves to reconcile the irreconcilable.  There’s a beauty and richness in worshiping God with others from a diversity of backgrounds and cultures.  Simple church.  Word and worship.  Gathered together.  Sharing a love of Jesus and each other.

#9.  In order to give life you have to get life. 

Some things related to #8 drained life from me until I was trying to suck water through a straw from a bone-dry cup.  Nothing.  Empty.  Lifeless.

You can’t pour anything from an empty cup.  You have to find out what fills your soul and be intentional about regularly going to the “filling” station.  I was ministering in my lane but completely out of gas.  Then my thyroid issue caused my  engine to seize up.  Take time to fill up.  There’s nothing spiritual about blowing out, burning out, and running out.

#10.  Having regular, intentional time with friends and family who have known you a long time is crucial to emotional well-being. –they remind you of who you really are no matter how you currently feel.

See #9 🙂

#11.  Rearranging or changing  your furniture around for a more open feel can be like breathing new life into your soul.

Clutter and closed in spaces aren’t relaxing  and can cause an underlying feeling of anxiety.  Letting a room or space breathe helps you breathe better as well.  “Less is bes’,” as my friend always said.

#12.  Finding out the Dollar Tree has shower curtain liners … game changer!

For years I threw my shower curtain liner in the washing machine with a bunch of Clorox to get rid of the mildew stains.  No throwing away for me!  I was going to keep recycling.  Re-using.  This ranks right up there with washing your zip lock baggies and hanging them to dry on every wooden spoon and spatula or anything else that might be standing upright in the kitchen!  Really people!!  We don’t always have to do this.  Dollar Tree for the win! A dollar for the liner might save you plenty in hot water and detergent.

And what a difference a year makes!  Here’s to 2018 and a fresh start in 2019. 

May God give you joy and hope with each new day.  May the struggles lead you to a greater dependence on our Father Who holds you in His hand and may you enjoy the moments without looking too far down the road.

God’s grace and peace be with you all ~ Joy

Your turn!  Share something you learned as well.  Leave a comment below …

Joy Waters Martin

My kids tease me sometimes that my definition of a situation going well is often described as, "It was 'life-giving' " -- meaning, it may have had some conflicts or uneasy moments or stress but all in all , something about it breathed life into the situation and the people involved...something of the heart was moved in a good direction. I'm all about LIFE ... life with my husband, life with 4 adult children, their spouses and 8 grandchildren (to date, that is :), life in our home and life in a wild adventure we tend to label "ministry". In reality , all of these categories mesh together to make up the "organic me". Relational , redeeming and restoring are some of my favorite words and they give life to my soul as I walk it all out with Jesus Christ, the Giver of all life. Profile Photo by: Melody Martin

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  1. beckyjuettmiller

    Great writing. Look forward to a meet up in January!

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Debbie Mueller

    May you find much joy and peace as you walk out this life with Jesus in 2019. So glad you are feeling better!! 💖

    1. Thank you for your encouragement and blessing Debbie! Loves and hugs to you!!

  3. Helen Donohue-Waterman

    Your most welcomed self-reflection put a smile on my face and in spite of our long separation reminded me again of why you are so relatable!. God sure knows how to weave those threads!
    Loved the family photo!

    1. Helen, seeing your name pop up made my heart so happy. It was great to see you and it refreshed me just seeing your name. Thanks for your encouraging words. That meant so much! Happy New Year dear friend and may God bless you and your family with much joy and peace this season.

  4. Phyllis Borden

    Joy, you are a true blessing to me. I enjoy reading your blogs and I know your mom and dad are in heaven praising the Lord for what God is doing with you and Roger. Joy, you are so much like your mom. I remember her Sunday School lessons and conversations we had for I felt close to God when with her .

    I am reading a book for our Sunday School class titled Changd into His Image by Jim Berg. It is an inspiration to me; in my 42 years of being saved, I’m still growing in the Lord. I know I need God and the Holy Spirit’s strength to help me stand in trials and temptations, wisdom and guidance.

    Lastly, I’ve been blessed with good health and thankful for a nutritionist which I can get hair analysis done to check my body’s chemicals and maintain my body with supplements. As I. Am still working as a special education teacher for a residential placement for boys ages 13-17 who are at risk of dropping out of school.

    God is good all the time!

    Blessings to you Joy and Roger.


    1. Wow Phyllis. You’re an inspiration as well. Thanks for sharing the good things you’re learning along the way. God teaches us through each other’s journey. You encourage me and made my heart smile thinking of Mama and Daddy. I know the work you’re doing must be emotionally heavy at times. I’m proud of you for staying in there on behalf of those boys who need somebody to believe in them. Love you friend. May God bless you this year in amazing ways!

Go for it! Leave a comment. :-)