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  • Writer's pictureGrace A. Johnson

grace & gratitude | 2024



“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year.

It is that we should have a new soul.”― G. K. Chesterton


Like a caesura at the end of a song, 2023 has come to an abrupt, soundless end. Without any forewarning, the year is over and a new one has begun. As most people, I get wildly existential when we reach the end of a year—I seem to enter a contemplative stupor, where everything must be examined, and I lose track of time and forget what day it is, and I reevaluate every single aspect of my life. I make well-intentioned plans and build up motivation, but once the newness of a year has worn off, I fall back into my old ways and let the year speed by.

Because of this, my main goal (or resolution, if you like) in 2024 is actually to simply experience the year. Enjoy my life. Make the most of each day. Take things slow, so maybe time will follow suit like it did in my childhood. But I’ll get into the particulars of my goals in a wee bit.

If you recall my “welcome to 2023” post, I actually shared the above quote from G. K. Chesterton. I’d forgotten I had done so until I decided to use it in this post, and even though it may seem redundant, it’s nonetheless true. (And no other new year quote hit quite like this one did.) We can view the new year as the simple passage of time, or we can view it as a clean slate. A fresh start. Not just to lose weight, but to be healthier. Not just to be productive, but to cultivate good habits. Not just to do better, but to be better. Not just to have new time to fritter away, but to have a new soul—a mind that’s at peace, emotions that are at rest, and a will that’s aligned with Christ’s.

That’s the idea behind my goals for 2024 and my heart going into this new year.


gratitude


  • my papa’s health

  • my family

  • my friends + new friends + meeting a precious friend in-person

  • worship

  • quiet time with God + fasting

  • studying the Word + growing spiritually

  • my church

  • answered prayers + dreams come true

  • opportunities + projects

  • stories I love

  • beloved books

  • beauty in the simplest things

  • God’s mercy & grace

  • music that spoke to me

  • discovering new things + becoming the woman God created me to be

  • womanhood + femininity

  • miracles & the God who performs them

  • prayer

grace


2023 didn’t quite go as planned. Y’all have read my complaints over and over about how fast time flew by, about how all my plans and projects slipped through my fingers, about how new things popped up to distract me. And that’s half of the issue—I did more procrastinating than progressing and let time pass me by.

But the other half is so much more wonderful. So many distractions and new projects and opportunities have blessed me, even if they derailed me from my original track, and taken me back to my first years as a writer. So many things have happened that I never expected or thought I could do, at least in 2023. So while most of my original goals were never met and I didn’t make as much “progress” in certain areas as I’d hoped, I accomplished and experience so many amazing things.

I…

  • published Tell Me You Love Me, which was such a beautiful experience

  • was published in two other anthologies (Springtime in Surrey & Heard in Silence)

  • met my friend Issabelle in person

  • spoke at my church’s ladies’ meeting

  • bought a car (with my sister) & FINALLY got my driver’s license (after two years of holding off)

  • graduated high school + turned 18 (which was gonna happen regardless, unless I died, but it’s still a milestone 😂)

  • joined my church’s worship team as a fill-in + helped lead youth worship

  • became a virtual assistant

  • started a ✨podcast✨

  • spoke at a virtual retreat

  • designed 6 (almost 7) websites

  • read 45 books

  • edited 7 works

  • updated my website

  • did a newsletter Advent calendar

  • observed Lent (more or less) for the first time, which was a blessing

  • wrote a novella, at least three short stories, and started various new projects that I adore

  • wrote a month’s worth of devotions + a several short Bible studies

  • prepared to launch my small press

goals


For this year, I’m reluctant to even jot down goals for my writing/publishing because they change all the time, and I’m the type that will be disappointed if I don’t reach the goals I wrote down, even if I did accomplish so many other things.

Plus, I really want to focus on making the most of my time, romanticizing life and slowing down a little, cultivating healthy habits, and growing closer to God. I want to learn more, read more, study more, experience more. I want to turn 19 and be able to see how I’ve grown. I want to leave 2024 full, if that makes sense.

So my tentative, guilt-free goals for 2024 are:

  • establish healthier eating/drinking habits

  • walk (preferably every day, but even once a week would be a win)

  • reach my ideal weight (aka, the healthy weight for my age/height) and stay there

  • finish reading the whole Bible by the end of the year (I’m in 2 Samuel currently)

  • write/publish a devotional/Bible study

  • launch Sky’s the Limit Press + publish Don’t Let Me Go by Issabelle Perry & Of Storm & Sea anthology

  • read & write more—and enjoy it

  • reestablish/grow my author platform

  • fast & pray more

  • cultivate relationships that bless, rather than stress


scripture of the year


Most people pick a word for each year, specifically something God laid on their heart as a reminder going into a new season. Personally, as much as I would love to settle on a single word, um…I love words too much to pick just one. So a couple years ago, when God really brought Psalm 91 to the forefront, I started selecting a scripture for the new year.

Last year’s was more of a theme with a bunch of scripture to go along with, but Isaiah 40:31 pretty much sums it up: “[B]ut they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (ESV).

I felt like I was entering a season of waiting, of asking “how long?” (Psalm 13). And I needed the reminder that waiting produces strength and cultivates endurance. Waiting seasons are a gift to help us produce the fruit of the Spirit—patience, joy, peace, faithfulness, self-control.

And in hindsight, the first leg of that season definitely resulted in the need for joy and peace and faithfulness. Yes, the first leg. The waiting has only just begun, so in part, Isaiah 40:31 and Psalm 13 still feel amazingly relevant for me. I’m still waiting for so many things…

But in the waiting, I want to learn and fully understand how to live out my purpose and grow closer to God. I want to remember that God has already prepared and instructed good works for me to accomplish.


For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10 ESV


I want to remember that God created me with something specific in mind, a destiny written in the very fabric of my soul.


Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

Jeremiah 1:5 ESV


I want to remember that God will fulfill the purpose He’s called me to and the promises He’s made to me, and that He will never forsake me or cease to walk alongside me.


The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Psalm 138:8 ESV


And I want to remember that even in the waiting, in the limbo, each moment of my life was preordained by God and orchestrated to carry out a divine purpose that I may not see entirely for decades. That every moment is the moment I’ve been created for, the moment God designed me to live in and serve Him with.


And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 4:14b ESV


So, yeah, long story short, my theme verse for 2024 is Esther 4:14. Like my pastor said yesterday morning, as Christians, we are called to slow down and live out God’s purpose. We don’t speed through life or condense God-given experiences like the world does. We don’t ignore the precious gifts He’s given us and the missions He’s called us to. No, instead, we are called to something higher. We are meant to surrender to His will and follow His voice, to live to further His kingdom, and to enjoy this life He’s given us.

We can never really, truly know until we enter Heaven’s gates what The Moment was. We can only live each one like it was the one we were created for, knowing every second was spun into time to fulfill God’s ultimate purpose.

Okay, I’m done preaching now…time for worship. Y’all know me, I’ve got to share 8,532,689,384 (*coughs* four) songs that fit my message. Enjoy. 💕





(Y'all can tell what I listen to a lot of. 😅)

 

it's your turn


What are your goals and resolutions for 2024? How can you be better in this new season? What's your word or scripture or song (or whatever!) for this year? What were you grateful for in 2023?

I pray you have a very blessed new year!!









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10 Comments


Lily Keith
Jan 11

Happy belated 2024, Grace! Ooo, that's so exciting you and Issabelle got to meet in person! (and congrats on the new car and graduation). I'm wishing you the best with your writing and publishing press!

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Grace A. Johnson
Grace A. Johnson
Jan 13
Replying to

Hehe, well, it's still 2024, so I don't guess it's belated, necessarily. XD Thanks so much, girl!! 💕

Like

Malana
Jan 02

Happy New Year!!

Wow, thank you so much for sharing this! I love what you said about slowing down and enjoying life, so encouraging!

Ooh, I'll have to give those songs a listen! (I often play the songs you share with my elder sister and not so little little brother while we clean up after dinner; special times <3 )

2023 was a bit of a crazy year with lots of ups and downs and challenges for my whole family, but I know we are all so grateful all that He's shown us in it all, it's hard to just pick one thing!

I for sure have hopes and 'goals' for this year, but like you said, just really wanting…

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Grace A. Johnson
Grace A. Johnson
Jan 03
Replying to

You're welcome!!

(Hehe, yay! [It is!!!])

💕

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Saraina Whitney
Jan 01

Happy New Year, Grace!!! 🎊 I very much relate to the whole theme of waiting, and I love what you shared about slowing down and living out God's purpose for our lives. I feel like I'm in a very rushed season of life, so that's something I want to work on. Just focusing on the present and finding joy in where I'm at.


(And I get it - Brandon Lake has some powerful songs XD)

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Grace A. Johnson
Grace A. Johnson
Jan 02
Replying to

Happy New Year to you too!! Aw, I'm glad that was relevant, then! We'll have to work on it together, girl!


(No kidding!)

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A.M. Revere
Jan 01

Okay... that song Pour Me Out is my favorite too.

Happy New Year, girly. God has done so much in your life already. I know without a doubt 2024 will be a wonderful year for you and your authorship. <3

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Grace A. Johnson
Grace A. Johnson
Jan 01
Replying to

It's so good!!

Happy New Year to you too!! I pray 2024 will be a tremendous blessing to you, sister! 💕

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