Lessons Learned in 2014.

2014 was an incredible year. I got to spend time in both San Francisco and New York City, and traveled all over the Southeast to see the Gators play football. I spent the summer in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina at Camp Rockmont. I graduated from the University of Florida. My brother Neil and his wife Casey had a baby. I found out that my brother Matt and his wife Morgan are due for their own baby in June of next year. My sister Laura got married to my new brother Kent. My sister Sarah concluded her incredible high school experience and began college.

Amidst all of these events, I learned a lot, and while I can’t put it all down into words, here are some of the major lessons I learned in 2014.

Life is sacred

There is truly so much beauty in life, and it’s so important and so sacred. Each day is bursting with with something special to be discovered, but will we be aware of it? It’s so easy to get caught in the pace of the day-to-day life, or stare at our cell phones whenever we have a free moment. But I would encourage you to keep your eyes up in 2015, don’t miss the details of each setting. I’m not saying you have to life some wild, adventurous life, and I don’t think that’s what makes life sacred. I think that life is sacred right now, as it is, and it’s up to us to open our eyes and our hearts to it.

Life is messy

This is something I am continually learning, and something I must continually say “yes” to. There are so many elements to life and when they interact, anything can happen. I think we often have a desire for life to be neat and tidy, but it’s not, and that’s okay. Let’s live in the reality of each day as it is, not as we want each day to be.

I am exactly who I am…and that’s great news

I have spent a lot of my life wishing I was “better” in one way or another. Wishing I had a better hold on something, or that I could just improve a little bit quicker. But I’m slowly learning that I am who I am, and that is great. I have confidence that God will move me along at His pace, and that no amount of whining or wishing on my part will change that. No more will I feel bad about myself because of who I am as a person with a lot of flaws. I can acknowledge those flaws, and still live in the light of being deeply loved by the people around me and by God. I am so far from perfect, but my goodness do I love that I can rest in who I am today.

Be grateful and generous

I think that being grateful is so important. Gratitude changes the game. When we are thankful, everything matters and nothing is worthless. I also believe that we are made to be generous, that it awakens a truer sense of who we are. I hope that we can all learn to be more generous with ourselves, with our time, and with our “stuff” in 2015.

God loves to bring newness

This was supposed to be the year when things slow down for the Ragland family. My youngest sister was supposed to go to college, and things would ease up from there, but nope. My oldest sister got married, my niece Cay was born, there’s another baby coming next year, there were lots of graduations, and we were all over the place in 2014. All that is an example that God loves to create and bring newness into our lives. He loves to dazzle, to invite us into a bigger story. There will always be a temptation to live in our own small stories and not move in life, but God is always inviting us into His story, and His story is big and beautiful.

God is faithful

He just is. This year has been hard in a lot of ways, and there was a lot of searching and confusion on my part, but goodness God was always faithful. He has carried me, and I love where I am today at the conclusion of this year.

My brothers and sisters are incredible

I have been blessed with four people who have been a part of my entire life, and it just keeps getting better and better with them. I am who I am because of who they are, and who they have been to me. The depth of our support of each other amazes me, and I’m so grateful for it. Again and again and again we show up for each other, and that is what it’s all about. I have learned so much from each of them.

So here’s to 2015. May you be blessed and may you learn. I hope you see the sacredness of each day, I hope you are grateful and generous, and I hope that you fully accept yourself every single day. Let’s lean into life.

Thank you for reading,

Mark

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One Comment

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  1. Loved this, Mark! I had actually waited to read it because I was working on a similar post, and it turns we learned some of the same things this year. Blessings to you in 2015!

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