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  • Leah Outten

2020 Year In Review + Word of the Year

2020 started out exciting for me, mostly.

My husband and I started the year out on some shaken ground, but that shaking helped reveal the cracks in our foundation to build it stronger. I honestly am married to my best friend. When the lockdown hit in March, our family of introverts mostly thrived. The school packets of doom were a bit treacherous but we loved the slower pace of life and having more time together. Especially Mark and I, we truly love being together and him being home this past year has been the biggest blessing to us. We've had more time to see him! He's such an amazing man who supports my dreams, my goals, my motherhood, and keeps me sane. He's my earthly rock and I'm not sure how I would have survived this past year without his prayer, encouragement and strength when I was weak. We are most certainly stepping into 2021 stronger than how we started and I revel in what the Lord has done! We literally climbed mountains, both for fun and spirtually.

Another resounding positive thing of 2020 was my relationship with my birth daughter, Anna. This year she turned 16, which is full of emotional complexities for each of us in a full circle moment. But our visits...they are and will always be highlights of my year. We saw Lauren Daigle with her parents in February. We were able to have 3 weeks total together this summer! It is such a gift to spend such quality time with her, for all of us. I love watching the relationship between my kids that I parent deepen along with my own. We have had several smaller weekend visits as well, including a weekend where I showed her the spot on the mountain where God reached my heart and the places I grew up. These are parts of her story, too.

I felt my word for 2020 was Courageous, and as usual, it was spot on. We were rising. We were building Woven Together. 2019 was a crescendo of that growth and 2020 I was so excited to keep going. And it did. People believed in our mission and opportunities arose left and right. Opportunities that took courage. In April 2020 Woven Together officially became a non-profit. That is what I am most proud of this year. We made something with a purpose and it matters.

This year the story of Moses has been everywhere around me, from sermons to my Bible studies to songs. Usually that's a sign from God to "listen up, I'm teaching you something!" All year I have felt like Moses, wanting to obey but feeling like He has the wrong person. That I can't speak well enough, that I'm not brave enough, not bold enough to stand before hard hearted people like Pharaoh. Yet the Lord kept giving me strength, His strength. That's where my courage lies. I did so many things this year while scared.

My world was wrapped up in my adoption support and work. It gives me zeal for the Lord to be used to change lives and how families approach adoption or the support mommas who live in the aftermath of adoption complexities. That is my joy. That is where my purpose is.

We served hundreds of hopeful adoptive families in their profile book process. We equipped pregnancy centers with modern adoption education. We expanded our partnerships. Our adoptive parent course was taken by hundreds of families with rave reviews. I was able to write for Focus on the Family consistently. We launched several products and ebooks. We lead webcasts. We started a podcast.

Then there were the battles. When there's a good thing the Lord is doing, of course the enemy will do it's best to tear it down. This summer was incredibly difficult. So many tears. So many bridges burned. So many hurt people hurting people. Still the Lord was my courage and my faith to keep going. And I have. I will. Through the flames and lions den I will allow Him to reveal His power. In November we hosted our first birth mom dinner in Charlotte, NC where we lavished them with incredible gifts thanks to amazing donors, wonderful food and conversations. These moments are what keep me going. This the work that brings me joy. Extending His love, His hope, His safe place, His joy to others.

Yet, I...we...are still suffering from the battles. Suffocating suffering, sometimes. I feel like I can only trust a handful of people. Being burned repeatedly will do that.

Now I'm starting...falling...into 2021 feeling broken.

"Is it going to get better? Tell me it's going to get better." - Mike Donehey

My soul is so heavy. I'm weary. I want to stay in my newly decorated adult bedroom and escape the demands that I know it will take to keep going. Or just stay here soaking up moments with my babies. Christmas was such a beautiful distraction to be present with my family. I ignored my phone as much as possible. Didn't open my lap top but a few times. I pretended I was just a normal mom and wife without the weight of the Lord's calling on my life waiting.

I needed the rest. I needed the reprieve. I needed the quiet moments watching a movie with my kids snuggled on the couch. I needed two weeks with no phone calls or zoom meetings. Two weeks without the striving to grow and what that looks like. Two weeks of ignoring how inadequate I feel. Two weeks without thinking about all that has been lost, only focusing on what I have in front of me.

How will I ever be enough? Who will help me? Where's my Aaron now (Moses' brother who helped him speak)? All I see are my flaws right now. My failures and shortcomings.

I'm going into 2021 with so many unknowns and questions and a soul that aches and a mind that feels paralyzed.


I also know the tract history of my Lord. I know He uses these humbling moments to draw me in to His presence. To depend on Him, and not my own sight and strength. He's calling me to trust. To just step out. To still my rambling what if thoughts and be silent in this moment...and just trust.

I know it's in these moments that feel unshakable and unclimbable because our human eyes can't see what is ahead....that He is moving. He is rearranging. He is preparing and stirring hearts and organizing the next destination for His glory. He is for us. That is my hope. That is my faith.

In the morning, in the evening
In your coming, and your going
In your weeping, and rejoicing
He is for you, He is for you
"The Blessing" Kari Job, Cody Carnes, Elevation Worship

While listening to one of the Exodus sermon series by The Village Church recently Matt said something to the effect of, "There's nothing like the zeal of being used for God's glory."

In that moment I knew that is my word of 2021.


n. Enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal. synonym: passion.

n. Passionate ardor in the pursuit of anything; intense interest or endeavor; eagerness to accomplish or obtain some object.

In my brokenness right now I want to hold tight to that zeal for the Lord, for this calling over my life. To always remember why I do this, to remember the feeling of joy, the peace and fulfillment when I am in His will.

Zeal to propel me out to make a difference instead of hiding in my bed for 2021.

Zeal so that I can step into hard spaces to bring His light, hope, and healing.

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