9 Things I Learned in 2018

2018 was a very good year


Every day for the past 4-1/2 years I’ve written an online nightly gratitude post, called Counting it ALL Joy; in it, I share honestly about my search for joy and what I’m learning, because here’s the thing… it’s not really joy unless you count it ALL joy. Searching for joy is like searching for gold; sometimes you find the Mother Lode, sometimes you find nuggets, but you never come up empty handed. There’s joy in the searching and there’s always something to learn.

Here are 8 things I learned in 2018:


1. Momentum is built one moment at a time

It’s easy to build momentum when you’re headed downhill; it’s the uphill slog that bogs you down.  This year was uphill all the way for me. Redesigning and relaunching my blog, building an email list, learning a new platform, refreshing old content and writing new… whew! My secret to success? Keeping my butt in the chair! I couldn’t find my picture of the chair.


My writing spot is an antique teacher's desk that belonged to my Dad

2. Fitness can be fun

You’d never find me at the gym on January 2nd, or any day, for that matter. My idea of exercise is picking up my pen to write in my journal and taking long, rambling walks. I don’t like crowds, noise, TV (or multiple TV’s as is the case at the gym) and I’m not particularly fond of sweating.

Then we hired a trainer named King, a 6’10” tall, gentle tyrant and I am at his command. I’m down 12 pounds, have tons of energy and am setting new goals for myself.


Having a personal trainer has made all the difference.

3. Patience pays off

Discouraged that you’re sowing to the wind?

23 years ago my husband and I released an album called Expectantly. Never heard of it? Huh. 7 years ago I published a book called Holidazed, remarkably also not a best seller. In November as I sat at my computer trying to figure out yet another way to market my book, I got an email from a pastor who said he’d just read my book and was I the same Susan Ely from the above album? He then went on to  explain how both were lifesavers for him during an extremely difficult time.

Keep sowing, you never know how or when those seeds will turn into fruit.


4. A large life is found in the small things

I enjoyed reading Cozy Minimalist Home and began the process of de-cluttering. Less really is more and a minimal amount of stuff provides maximal enjoyment. This of course, does not apply to boots. You can never have too many boots.


You can't have too many


5. Ain’t no mountain high enough if you’ve got the right guide

I’ve learned over the years to do “alone” but together is better. I’ve got some new guides holding me by by the hand: Summer Gross, my spiritual director who is teaching me to be still and listen. Emily Freeman, Brian Dixon, Gary Morland and the whole gang of Hope Writers, worldwide and locally, encouraging me on my writing journey.

Encouraging each other in our writing ministry

This is Erica Baldwin and Jodi Grubbs, both survivors in their own way, both brilliant!


This is my new friend Niki Hardy; stay tuned for her book coming out this year!


6. There are only three patterns I can wear confidently:

Leopard, snakeskin and camouflage. Apparently I am a wild woman.

Snakeskin boots are in the pile above.

I am officially a wild woman

7. I love musicals

Actually, I always have but I guess I forgot. This year’s favorites were The Greatest Showman and A Star is Born. I haven’t seen Hamilton, but love the soundtrack. Yesterday I watched Fiddler on the Roof and judging from the fact that I couldn’t sit still during the dance scenes, I’m pretty sure I’m part Jewish.


8. Leave the past behind and step into the future

I’ve been slowly letting go of emotional baggage; this year I let go of some of the physical baggage in the form of furniture and accessories from our old house. Suddenly I couldn’t handle all the stuff, all the color, all the reminders of loss. So I donated, spray painted, recovered and replaced items and created a refreshing and soothing neutral palate. Ahh…


Console table and updated mirror spraypainted gold


9. I want to build a table, not a platform

There are at least two, if not more, books inside me but the powers that be tell me that if I want anyone besides my immediate family to read them, I need a platform. Ugh to that for lots of reasons. Platforms are lonely places. A table suits me better. My passion is to serve up tasty, nourishing food in the form of words that inspire and satisfy the hungry soul. Words that you’ll want to share with others around your table. Join me?


The coffee is ready, pull up a chair


Happy New Year, friends! Your encouragement and support mean the world to me. You are why I do what I do. I pray that as you usher in this new year, the Lord will usher you into His Presence and Purposes in a way that will exceed all you could ever ask or imagine. Blessings!







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