2015 | In Hindsight

IMG_1878.1lowrezThe New Year was welcomed in with the joy and fellowship of family and friends, and now 2015 is a not-so-distant memory. How to even being to summarize a year like 2015! What a year! I think of where I was a year ago, and I am amazed to see where God has brought me. Last night, I was writing in my diary and listing some of the highlights and surprises that God brought my way, and I was delighted at the list I came up with. A list like this helps me to see God’s faithfulness – This list of memories serves as a reminder of how God is truly active and involved and how He has put each of these opportunities in my way to grow me and give me joy, if I’m willing to grow and open to receiving gifts from God’s hand.

DSCN0006.1Looking back on myself at the end of 2014, I was exhausted, crabby, somewhat depressed, ready to be in South Dakota, and I was concerned. Concerned that I wouldn’t manage to pass my recital preview and I’d end up without a college diploma. Concerned about the snug living arrangements once we moved. Concerned about finding a church home. Concerned about finding a job that I liked. Concerned about making friends and developing relationships. Concerned that my writing would take a back burner to other things. Concerned about moving to a place where the opportunities for music would be different. Concerned about not having a piano…Just concerned.

Whorled MilkweedWhat wasted energy! What needless concern! Each and every one of these fears was graciously alleviated – God is good. I passed my preview and gave a successful recital. I received my diploma with the added surprise that I graduated magna cum laude.  The living arrangements here are snug but very workable. My church home is even more like family than I thought possible. I ended up with not one job but four, and enjoyed each and every one of them. I have grown closer to my sisters and we’ve also been blessed by a close circle of friends who all happen to attend our church. True, I’ve not worked as much on my fiction writing as I wanted, but this blog has been a wonderful, growing writing project, and I know my experiences this past year have served to grow me as a writer. The music opportunities have been fewer but my heated, passionate desire to pursue music has cooled. I attribute that to God’s goodness and His grace. No, I still don’t have a piano, but I have a very decent electric piano, and have finally been able to start playing and singing again, and have found that my enjoyment is better than it was before.

IMG_2029And many things happened that were never even on my radar. Delving back into photography, starting a botany photography portfolio, winning Best of Show in photography at the Custer County Fair, buying a DSLR camera, seeing one of my articles published in MaryJane’s Farm, working cattle in Wyoming, opening an Etsy shop to sell doll clothes, teaching Sunday School at church, and beginning work as a medical scribe in Rapid City.

IMG_2741.1lowrezOver the past year, I’ve learned more about what it means to trust God. I’ve learned more about God’s faithfulness, even when by earthly standards something seems impossible. I’ve learned that church truly can and should be a place of beautiful fellowship, loving one another in Christ, intimacy, openness, frankness, honesty about our shortcomings, brotherly and sisterly affection, all because of Christ’s love for us. I’ve learned that I have a long way to go. I’ve learned that it is possible to live in a tiny house and to still function normally. I’ve learned that my soul is truly refreshed in Creation. I’ve learned again that I love writing. I’ve learned that I love photography. I’ve learned that my heart is in this place, this wonderful place.  IMG_6044.1lowrezI’ve learned that contentment is more a function of my heart than it is a function of my environment. I’ve learned that God’s gifts are visible every day, even on the bleakest days. I’ve learned again and again that God does provide, and His will is powerful and undeniable. I’ve learned again and again that I am a fallen, pathetic sinner in desperate need of God’s grace on a daily basis. I’ve learned more about grace and acceptance and love and growth by loving and being loved by my new-found church family.

IMG_5918.1lowrezAnd now the New Year is here, and I look forward with eagerness and anticipation to see what God does with this coming year. I hope to get to the end of 2016 and not be the same person I am today. By God’s grace, I’ll have grown, matured, and been refined. By God’s grace, I’ll love God more then than I do now. By God’s grace, I’ll love my family with greater grace than I do now. All by God’s grace.

Laura Elizabeth


Writing in the Hills

The incredulous question, “What’s in South Dakota…?”, which I heard regularly before I moved here, was always a difficult question to answer. You don’t just say: “My heart is there! What more reason do I need to move there?”

People just don’t talk like that.

But now I’m here, and I love it more than ever. And each day, week, month that goes by, I find new reasons to never want to leave. I find new reasons to be enthralled by this corner of the country, this state with a population one third the size of the largest city in the state I moved away from. The state I moved away from has a population of nearly 13 million. The state I moved to has a population of under 1 million.

It would be reasonable to assume that a state this small would have proportionately fewer opportunities – Creatively, artistically, socially. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

I attended the inaugural Hill City Writers’ Workshop today, and am already hoping there will be another one next year. The fellowship hall of the Little White Church was full of eager writers, from ambitious amateur to seasoned professional, all excited to be around other people who all shared a passion for the written word. It was comforting to realize that I was one of three youngest people there – I don’t have to be in a hurry to write my life’s great work. I can wait and let my ideas ripen and grow bolder, better with age.

Although I opted out of the mentor sessions and missed out on the keynote because I only had one headlight and needed to get home before dark, I came away with inspiration and a fresh reminder that those of us in the writing world, no matter how big or small of scale we are working on, those of us in the writing world are all still learning. What a delightful realization!

This is a craft that is less dependent on native talent than it is on perseverance. This is a craft that is less dependent on native ability than it is on heart, passion, and sheer will power. The art and craft of writing requires really just a handful of simple, learnable things: observation, curiosity, and the will the follow through.

All I can say, this is a great corner of the world.

Laura Elizabeth