Tonya Damron Photography

2018 || Year End Personal Post || Growth


Seek First, that was my word for 2018 and up until Saturday night, I felt like I had failed at my phrase for the year. It hit me while driving home that night, that my phrase didn’t mean “do all the Christian things”. You know, read your bible, go to church, serve, give, quiet time…all the checkboxes of Christianity. Those healthy habits have always been easy for me, I’m a PK (preachers kid). Those things have been instilled in me. The phrase for me was supposed to have meant… not make a move until you know 100% it’s a yes from the Lord. Seek Him fervently in prayer about each step. From friends to my calling and everything in between, be slow to move, fast pray and wait.
This year I can say, I painfully did just that. By painfully I mean, I wrestled more with the Lord this year than I ever have. If anyone knows me well, I’m not very patient. I want everything now and I also want to know all the next steps. I’m pretty sure the Lord, laughs at this human He’s created when He watches my struggle with these things. So, what happens when there are things your heart desperately desires and God says, not right now or no? What if He just doesn’t speak at all? What do you do then? Me, throw myself on the ground like a three-year-old, of course!
To be exact, a three-year-old who was told no, they could not play in a busy street. I know that sounds so funny, but children do things like that. (google why my toddler is crying, you’ll be sure to laugh) Why, because children don’t understand big picture things. They have tunnel vision and they can only see what they want NOW. They don’t see what harm could come to them, or even what blessings could be around the corner if they obeyed. They see things in an emotional “I want it now” state. The one thing I’m learning, even in the uncertain times, God knows each next step and He wants the best for me. Sometimes the best is simply not right now, and sometimes it is no. Even if playing in street seems like a good thing to do, I know that it is not the best choice. I’m thankful I have a loving Heavenly Father who wants good for us and wants to protect me from myself.
Dealing with the loss of my dad, plus learning how to navigate new experiences (not all bad) was difficult at times. Some days it felt like learning to walk again. Learning to listen so I could start walking in the fullness that God was calling me to walk in next. Learning to pace myself and be confident what He has for me are only good things. I’m so thankful the Lord doesn’t mind me asking all the questions because I’ve had a lot of them. I’m not sure why some things don’t work out and why some do. I’m not sure how a heart can break a million time but yet love again. I’m not sure why some of the hardest things become simple and some of the simplest things become hard. I am thankful that He knows all the answers and that time tells all truths. Some answers I may never know this side of Heaven (and I can’t say I’m fully ok with that), but He’s teaching my heart to be still.
“Not reaching back for what was lost in my yesterdays. And not reaching for what I hope will be in my tomorrow. But living fully with what is right in front of me. And truly seeing the gift of this moment.” ― Lysa TerKeurst, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl

Inner Circle

This year, I could not have made it without my inner circle. There were some people that exited my life that I didn’t want them to leave and others that now I realize needed to. There were new people God sent into my life and there were people that continued being in it. My community is full of people who are all in, NO MATTER WHAT! These people will always speak the truth. These people will always speak life. They will never speak ill of me (even in the presence of ill talk) and who will challenge me in the things of Christ. It’s vital to my sanity to have “all in people”, that’s one thing I now know. I may have fewer people sitting at my table in 2019, but I am learning not everyone deserves a seat at it. That has been the hardest lesson! I love people! I want to have the biggest community there is and have every one I ever meet sit at it.
For those of you who have been there for me this year, I can’t thank you enough. Thank you for belling up to my table. Thank you for feasting at whatever was there at the moment and being glad in all seasons to be there. You make life so much better. You have added joy in the most unlikely places and in the simplest of ways.
This year I had to tighten up my bootstraps more than once. I had to realize at the end of the day, despite all the goodness in my inner circle, God had to be all I needed. That was hard for me. I’m not sure how we get so distracted that we get in a habit of letting others satisfy us. In reality, it’s only crumbs compared to the satisfaction He can bring.

Simple Pleasures

My travels took me to several places in the USA and two mission trips to Brazil and Jamaica. Travel is a must for me, it gives me a creative outlet and stirs my soul! I was involved with my church. I became more committed to running. I ran on average five days a week! I lost 15 lbs and maintained what I had lost in 2017. I enjoyed more beautiful sunsets this year than I ever have, which is one of my favorite things in the world to do. I had an amazing year in business. I began to enjoy more of the simple pleasures in life like sipping coffee on the porch while my pup Bailey played in the yard. I went to the driving range a little more. I skied and played in the snow. I ate at some fantastic restaurants. I fell in love with Knoxville all over again and enjoy downtown almost daily.
Most importantly…I loved hard, even when it didn’t work out in some areas as I wanted it to and I’m thankful in that area I can say I have no regrets.


Even though some of my hearts desires were not filled in 2018, I’m learning the importance of timing. I’ve grown so much in 2018. I am a better person because of 2018. It was an uncomfortable year full of great joy and great sadness. Sometimes I wish 2018 would have been different. I wish it would have been a year of nothing but good, but that isn’t logical. When I realize of all the good times and the people I got to love in 2018, even if for a little while, I wouldn’t change a thing!
Peace out 2018!
“And even though the year didn’t turn out how she planned for it to be, she rose up from shaky knees and continued to walk forward.” -Hannah Brencher