Light and Loveliness

Reflections of Emily Sue Allen

Family / Life & Faith

50 things I have learned in 2014

A random, mixed up list of reflections on what I’ve learned in 2014. I would love to hear about what you have learned this year. What has stayed with you?

One photo a week of our family throughout the year. 51/52

1) I have learned that solitude/quietness makes space for sweet things, even if it is uncomfortable.

2) I have learned that change can be good, and it can also be tough to accept. There are a great many things have changed in my life this year. Still, I’m thankful.

3) Some people think the ‘important’ parts of life are the milestones and the mountaintops. I think perhaps the most important things in life happen in the margins, in the time between milestones.

4) I have learned that after disliking mushrooms my entire life, I do like the taste of them. I still can’t say that I love the texture of mushroom pieces, but after learning to make cream of mushroom soup and stroganoff from scratch. Yum. Yes, I like mushrooms.

5) I have learned (or re-learned) that I can do hard things. I’ve done lots of them this year. I would do them again if needed. Hard doesn’t mean impossible, and even impossible things are possible with God.

6) I have learned that even when I have given away (or thrown away) more than half of my possessions in a quest to simplify, there is always more that can go. Having “enough” looks very different to me today than it did a year ago.

7) I have learned that fear does not have to run my life. I’m determined to make choices in faith instead of fear. I have had some success with that in 2014. More to learn, always.

8) I have learned that babies bring joy. Each one of mine has been another step toward surrender to God’s will for my life. Where I make room in my heart, He fills to overflowing with blessing and joy. It’s amazing, really.

9) I have learned that every incoming message influences me, and that I can and should choose wisely what I give my attention to…not because I am unable to handle disturbing or upsetting news, but because there is a whole lot of garbage out there and as with food, if I fill up with garbage, I can’t expect a whole lot of soul-nourishment out of that.

10) I have learned that God asks me to be faithful, not extraordinary. That is humbling and freeing.

11) I have learned that my children teach me many things when I tune in to them.

12) I have learned that I can let go. Sometimes I care about things so much that I have trouble doing this, but it is possible, and I can find peace in surrender.

13) I have learned that sewing is a really great hobby. It is super practical, and really pretty enjoyable with a basic understanding of how to tackle things, and some quality tools. At one time, I thought it was a total bore, but I have grown to like it very much.

14) I have learned that is possible for me to get healthy. This year I lost 50lbs in the span of 10 months after having a baby. I mean, 9 lbs of that was the baby, and I guess a few lbs might be accounted for by extra fluids during pregnancy but yep. A whole lot of pounds gone. I have never before made such an effort to be active, and I’m really happy about both how great I feel, and how the (not-as-important) numbers reflect that.

15) I have learned that I really do feel great when I am active and eating well. Before pregnancy #5, I was not especially healthy, but through a series of events, got started taking this health thing seriously, and I don’t think I really knew how ‘not well’ I felt before. Energy, strength, endurance…Things I have now that I never did before.

16) I have learned that I can finish things I start. It’s not always easy, and its not always pretty, but I can do it. I have also learned that I can table things I started if they just shouldn’t be finished. Some things just don’t fit.

17) I have learned that worrying gets me nowhere. I have spent far too much time worrying in the past.

18) I have learned that I genuinely enjoy watching football. The athleticism, strategy, collaborative nature of the sport. I surprise myself, but I have enjoyed it a lot this season. Go Hawks.

19) I have learned that I enjoy reading aloud to my kids. This has not always been the case. I struggled to enjoy reading to them through my earlier years as a mother, but we’ve found our groove, and it’s a happy thing.

20) I have learned that I am still smitten by the sweetness of a sleeping child. Especially when they sleep on me.

21) I have learned that things that are imperfect are sometimes more endearing and more meaningful than the ‘perfect’ alternative.

22) I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if I wear make-up every day. In 80%+ of our family photos from this year, I’m not wearing any at all. I have found a lot of freedom in that, and while I don’t love every photo of myself (or lots of them, really), I’m learning that editing out the undesirable things is not worth the trouble. Each one of those photos is meaningful to me, perfectly imperfect.

23) I have learned that ‘today’ is the most important day of my life. None of us know how much time we’ll be afforded on this earth. This year I’ve said farewell to a number of people who passed away, some unexpectedly. Reminds me that today is important, and that I need to make the most of the time I have now.

24) I have learned that parenting is hard. Raising 5 kids is totally kicking my butt…in the best way. This year, I’ve learned more about organization, stewardship, grace, self-discipline, and juggling than any year previously.

25) I have learned that park shirts are probably the most brilliant idea I  have ever executed.

26) I’ve learned that control is an illusion. There is far more out of our control than what is in it, and its ok. Let it go.

27) I learned that I am a writer. I have found it hard to own this in years gone by, and I have struggled to figure out if or what I might do with writing for a long time. Now I just own that I am a writer, and I write whatever I write.

28) I have learned that a two-year-old in a giant sombrero is pretty much the cutest thing ever.

29) I have learned that I like my boys’ hair buzzed. We tried a few different hair cuts for them this year, and none of them fit quite the same. Good thing is, they love it buzzed too.

30) I have learned that lovely things can tell an important story just like broken things can.

31) I have learned that I do not have to be working outside the home to be fulfilled. I closed my business earlier this year after nearly 9 years of it, and it is possibly the best decision I made all year. I still love photography and will likely pursue it again in the future, but quite honestly, in some seasons there are more important things than chasing dreams.

32) I have learned that it is ok to ask for help. Not just ok, actually its awesome. Share the load. You can’t carry it all. Plus, friends that are in it with you are the best kind of people.

33) I have learned that I can say yes to my kids. I used to be a ‘no’ mom. No to everything. I still say no sometimes, but I’m learning to say yes as often as I can. It’s all part of that ‘the years are short’ thing.

34) I have learned that who we are connected to and how we connect are important. Even the smallest connection impacts our lives. We are influenced by the people we are around, whether or not we admit it, and sometimes it is the fringe folks, the risk-takers, the unconventional, and the ones who are different from us that enrich our lives the most.

35) I have re-learned that my husband is a rockstar dad and an even better husband. He is always looking to make me laugh and support me. This year has been sweet in untold ways.

36) I have learned that my big feelings don’t have to run my life. They really try to. Sometimes they succeed. But I see now that I can direct my disproportionate amount of emotional energy in the right places and see a fruitful return.

37) I have learned that I can gain a lot by listening.

38) I’ve learned that I really love to read. I have read more books for pleasure this year than any other in my memory.

39) I have learned that if I want my home to be a refuge, I have to work hard to make it so, shutting out influences, stuff, and people that are toxic to cultivating peace.

40) I have learned that motherhood in the little years can be a desperately lonely season. It can also be overwhelmingly chaotic and full. Moms need hugs.

41) I have learned that laundry never ends. Ever.

42) I have learned that I can’t save the world, but I can pray. And I try to do just that, as often as I can. If you need prayer for anything, please reach out. I’m here for you.

43) I have learned that it is not necessary to overthink everything. Now if I could just stop doing that.

44) I have learned that sewing from a pattern and cooking from a recipe are not the worst things ever. I have never been a pattern or recipe-user (in the traditional sense), but this year I’ve done both a few times with (surprise!) great results. Who knew?

45) I have learned that delaying all screen time until the late afternoon help sets a peaceful and productive tone for the day, and the days I cave early, I always regret it. I have learned that my kids are ultra-sensitive to screen time. Come to think of it, I am too.

46) I have learned that contentment is something I have to intentionally cultivate. It is easy to be discontent with what I have, who I am, and where I wish I was. It is hard work to not compare, not complain, and just give thanks for what is in front of me.

47) I have learned that its best to buy the kids their own tape. If I don’t, none of us have any tape when I go looking for some.

48) I have learned that love disarms.

49) I have learned that sometimes the things we want most are not the things that will most benefit us. Sometimes wisdom is counterintuitive.

50) I have learned that new mornings, and new years bring new mercies, just as the Lord has promised.


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“For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” Romans 6:4 NLT

511. sweet Christmas memories, 512. reconnecting with old friends, 513. the first post-Christmas trip to donate stuff, 514. a baby and a juggling scarf, 515. unexpected blessings,  516. generous extended family and dear friends, 517. seahawks in the playoffs (woohoo!), 518. new vision for homeschool, 519. a butterfly calendar for the new year, 520. the beautiful and surprising year that was 2014

2 Comments 50 things I have learned in 2014

  1. Judy Genaway

    Hi Em!
    I read all 50! You are an AMAZING Mama…J is my
    Little heart-warmer! He’s the one I remember in a high chair in your 3rd floor apt in LA! All are handsome…but I watch for J! THANKYOU for all the pix….so I get to watch all of you grow. My heart is FULL tonight because I’ve had such fun with Emma, Noah & Lukey. God has blessed me so. Happy 2015.

  2. Pingback: What I learned in 2015, Part I @ Light and Loveliness

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