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A year in review

I've been debating writing this for a while. There are quite a few of these posts floating around on different blogs and editorial sites. Peoples experiences looking back at the last 12 months of their lives. This not uncommon. Its actually probably the most common thing to write about come January 1 on any given year. But recently - we all seem to kind of have a new yearly marker. Whenever COVID-19 really hit our areas. I remember back in March 2020 I was on instagram and saw a homesteader account I used to subscribe to posting about a homemade hand sanitizer recipe since she could not find any hand sanitizer in New Jersey.

I told my husband about it and he laughed and said that would never happen in Nebraska. We continued on with our life - laughing at corona memes with the rest of our community. Fast forward a couple weeks and our stores started running out of hand sanitizer. I decided to start an online book club to read about bravery and thats when things started to crumble. I stopped being brave and became really depressed and anxious. This is not a fun story to tell you, but I hope it will help or encourage you on your own journey. April and May last year was really hard for me. My mind thinks in the future more than the present - something my horses are constantly trying to help me correct. I remember being so anxious about the "what if's" of everything going on (it wasn't just and still isn't just the Covid-19 stuff, its politics and social unrest and yet I still have to decide what to feed my children supper every night? What?!") that I completely lost my appetite. I was so stressed and depressed that I lost like 25 pounds in a couple months. I fed my family, even made plates for myself but I couldn't eat. Some may read that and be jealous but guys theres a different physical look to losing weight in a healthy way, and losing weight in a state of stress. A friend looked at me one day and said "You don't look good. Your eyes are sunken in."

I also took a selfie with some young chickens we had then and when I looked at it, I didn't recognize myself. I looked so stressed and unhappy even with a smile by a silly looking chicken named Spot. I hate that picture but I will save it and share it because of how important that day was for me. I knew something had to change. I could not survive like this. I could not set this example for my children and anyone who came to Starting Gate. I wanted to offer hope not fear. But I didn't know how to do that in the state of deep fear I was in. My prayers were basically one word because it's all I could say. "Jesus." I needed... something. Everything. I started searching my bookshelves for...anything. Maybe an old Bible study could help? I can't explain it but there was my old childhood Bible. A book I've moved from apartments to houses and yet haven't opened for probably 20 years. I felt a very strong urge to bring that specific Book upstairs and look through it. I obeyed the urge. I wasn't expecting much. It was only recently I started to write in books. Any book let alone as special to me as the Bible. Really, there shouldn't be any marks in this childhood Bible of mine but I flipped through the pages anyway. I almost missed it. There was one single mark in that entire Book. It happened to be a small thin line under Romans 8:26. "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." Friends, this has never happened to me but I fell to the ground sobbing. God directed me to this Book in my basement that I have not opened for at least 20 years to find the only mark in the entire thing to tell me that even though I just groaned and said a single word in prayer - He understands. The Spirit himself intercedes for ME through wordless groans. The Spirit himself intercedes for YOU too. My prayer life flipped in that moment. I suddenly understood that I didn't need the right words or to even understand fully what was happening in my life to 'pray right' to get help from my all powerful Father. He knows. He knew. He will always know. From that day I found Romans 8:26 onward to today, it's been a daily

boosts up to a healthier and happier me. I started eating that day. I gained back all the weight I unhealthily lost (and then some) and now here we are back to classes and true bravery to face 2021 and anything that comes next. Because I know I'm not alone. I know that He is there, Jesus is the only Word I knew to say and that was all I needed. It was something, and it IS Everything. I hope you are finding your voice and finding your place in 2021. I pray for you and want you to know that you are important and there is hope. If you have a specific prayer request - comment on this post or send me an email at taylor@startinggatene.com And as always - Keep Learning.

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