Welcome to 2019! Raise your hand if you are entering this new year with a few misty-eyes glances over your shoulder at the old year? While I am excited and motivated about all that this nouvelle annee has in store for me, 2018 held the comfort of familiarity. I was used to writing it in my journal and on letters; there was a sense of predictability that came with set routines and old habits; I felt a connection with events and people that passed, yet somehow saying “this year” rather than “last year” when referencing them kept them closer. The new year is a blank slate on which anything can happen and that can be intimidating.
As a military wife, I have had to acquaint myself with the unpredictable, with extreme flexibility and with cultivating a positive outlook when things don’t go as planned or wished. I like to feel settled and secure, to know where things are and to have a community. The thought of ever moving again after I’ve put down roots in a friendly place can feel like a rough uprooting- something to resist and resent, worthy of complaint rather than joy.
But recently God has prompted me to look at a potential move as a transplanting rather than an uprooting. The latter has a negative connotation in which we think of the plant as not being wanted, pulled out and carelessly tossed aside. The former, however, indicates a tender transition of a growing plant to a predetermined location where it can flourish even more.
I don’t expect a move to happen in 2019 but I want to apply this fresh outlook to every unexpected encounter in this fresh year. God didn’t uproot me from 2018; He transplanted me into 2019. In this year, I have the opportunity to lay aside attitudes that hinder and cultivate helpful ones in their place. It will be proving ground for the lessons learned last year and a classroom for new lessons I have yet to learn. And surprises! I am sure there will be many delightful surprises awaiting me.
Let’s raise our glasses of sparkling cider to being lovingly transplanted from a good year to an even better one.
With our children growing in their ability to verbalize their awareness of life, I am seeing my own habits with fresh eyes. For instance, our 4-year old clearly sees things in black and white. If something is unhealthy to eat, then why do we still eat it? Or if he can’t watch a scary movie, then why do we watch it? My conviction has increased when I don’t keep my word in detail or neglect my own daily Bible reading. At the risk of sounding cliche, I want them to be able do what I do and not only what I say.
Which brings me to my renewed intentions for the new year:
- Compromise out of conviction not convenience~ I hope to reduce the number of times I compromise because it’s the easier thing to do. Perhaps I am too lazy to fix a healthy meal so we eat snacks instead; I might not feel like getting out of bed right away so I skip my devotions; I lack motivation so I put off an important task or ignore a friend’s request to chat. These are things I want to leave in yesteryear. Instead, I would like to show my children that at times we compromise because we seek peace with those around us and meeting in the middle acknowledges that we are not all-knowing. Other people have valid points that are worth considering.
- Live the gospel~ Jesus and His truth are becoming more and more a part of our little ones’ vocabulary and that THRILLS my heart. Out of a passion to nurture their desire to learn more about Jesus and genuinely love Him, I want to be passionate about living for Him daily. This doesn’t mean becoming missionaries to Africa; it does mean reading my Bible, audibly praying for wisdom, asking for forgiveness when I make mistakes, and explaining biblical truths that apply to our mealtime conversations.
- Practicing balance~ the young people in our home are busy forming their “norms,” and what they see us routinely doing plays a significant role in those formations. Balance is a necessary practice in healthy living, physically and emotionally. If they see me on the phone more than they see me doing anything else, they will assume that’s what is done; if they hear me talking about my looks or what I dislike about myself every day, they will speak critically about themselves or obsess about appearance too; if I initiate conversation that criticizes others or is cynical about life, this will likewise influence their speech. Alternatively, I hope to speak uplifting words about myself and others and the world God has given to us; I desire to read books and a variety of them at that; I plan to continue to listen to music and theologically rich sermons; and we will be spending much time outdoors every day.
It goes without saying that I am not going to achieve these good intentions right away or all the time. And this allows me to practice showing grace and resilience- to myself and those around me. Perhaps in 2019 the children in this home will learn that just as God shows us grace through His Son, we likewise show grace. And just as He continues to perfect His good work in us, we will continue to try again and again and again to live well and righteously.
What are some of your new year’s intentions? Share them with us.
Does faith come easy to you? Does your implicit trust in Jesus overwhelm those dogged emotions of anxiety, doubt and fear? Is your faith stronger than your exhaustion at the end of a wearying day or the endless waiting game life likes to play with you?
My eldest daughter (who is newly 3) loves her room and her big girl bed that is filled with cozy blankets and snuggly stuffed animals. She has a string of pretty lights woven through the headboard of her bed. She naps beautifully in her bed and is ready to be tucked in at night; but around 1:00am every. single. morning she wakes with a fright and nothing will appease her except sleeping on the floor in her Poppa and Mama’s room. Every night we assure her that she is safe, that her room is cozy, that we are just a few steps away and that she can stay in her big girl bed ALL night long. To no avail.
At times my faith is like that. When other people are struggling, I have faith that Jesus will see them through. When my eyes are wide open, I can clearly see that God is good and trustworthy. But when the darkness of a difficult time closes in around me and my emotions are in a turmoil or if if I am facing a new circumstance, my trust in the Almight God slips away. The only thing I can do is fly to Him and plead for reassurance; I want something tangible to hold on to in order to know that He is really there.
His patience is everlasting. Just like our door continually opens to our little girl, every. single. night. Jesus opens His arms to me. There are times when the answer isn’t immediate; I think in those moments He is building my faith. But then again, we don’t always rush to the door either. We encourage her to wait a little bit for her to see that returning to her safe room is a viable option. But, closed door or not, the love remains. And it is the same with my Savior. Even when I can’t see Him or feel Him, even when He makes me wait, His love is strong and faithful.
Pause. Let your mind drift back…and farther back…and farther still. Where did you go? What memories floated to the forefront of your thoughts? What mental doors did you start to open and then slam shut? Where did you linger? Which faces brought warmth to your heart and which ones sent chills through your spine?
My memories pique my interest. At times I am surprised by the names that pop into my head – people I haven’t seen or talked to in years. Other times there will be a recurring thought, perhaps things I played as a child, or places I visited, or events in which I was a participant. Certain memories cause me to recoil; certain people bring tears of joy or sorrow or bitterness to my eyes. Every so often I regret missed opportunities and wonder what fond memories they would have brought had I seized the day.
I believe that the circumstances and people of which our memories are comprised are what shape our identities and have influenced the people we are in this moment. Each person has left a fingerprint upon our values and opinions; each event or situation or cause in which we spent time has given us experience to reflect upon and, in turn, prompts our future decisions. With this perspective in mind, it prompts me to pose the question: how will we live tomorrow?
There is less than a month left of the year 2018. It behooves us to reflect on how we are going to move forward in the year ahead:
- How much time is spent with Jesus each day?
- Which individuals need more of my time and attention?
- Are there habits that need to be removed or cultivated?
- How can I keep my mind from stagnating?
- What opportunities do I want to seize?
- Do I need to refresh my priorities?
Every moment that I live is an investment into my future. I want it to be worthwhile.
I’ve strayed a bit from my 2018 goal of blogging twice a week, haven’t I? Lately I have been preoccupied with “finding myself”: my writing self, my married self, my mommy self, my friend self, my (fill in the blank) self. There’s been a lot going on with the extras piled on to the daily responsibilities. My husband continues to travel; our youngest was recently dedicated to Jesus; we had delightful house guests for the past 11 days; Thanksgiving; Christmas planning. You know, the usual busy – no more or less crazy than your life is, I’m sure.
But in the midst of it all I found myself getting extra impatient with small (and big) mishaps; I grew weary of interrupted sleep; I was angry at all the things I couldn’t get done; I resented the clutter; I was humiliated that my visitors were seeing the real side of my family in all its chaotic, noisy, smelly, messy glory. I felt a bit hypocritical at our son’s dedication where we were promising, before witnesses, to raise him in a way that pointed him to Jesus. I want to live Jesus for my husband, kids, neighbors, friends, neighbors and strangers every single day, but as of late I’ve been falling far too short. And so, I’ve been withdrawing from many things in order to determine what is necessary in each of the selves that make up who I am called to be. It’s easy to go through the motions of living and not be connecting to who you are in the midst of it.
What is necessary is a peaceful heart and a restful mind. I need to allow room for the unexpected extras. I need time to move at a toddler’s pace. I need ears that are eager to listen to chattering preschoolers who have very busy minds. I need a heart that savors the repetitive responsibilities that come with a home and family. I need expectations that match this season that is mine. It’s a slow season that moves all too quickly; an exhausting season that energizes the soul; a painful season that refines and sanctifies; a hands full, heart fuller, blessed season that may appear to last forever but is really only temporary. With Christ’s help I will identify my priorities for this season so that at it’s close I will have no regrets. It’s
With that said, I still plan to take some time each day to do things that decompress and refresh my own mind and spirit. These include daily devotions and reading, as well as weekly correspondence and blogging. I truly hope that you will be hearing more from me than you have in the past few months. Thank you for sticking with me in silences. Happy belated Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas season!
Have you observed yourself doing something because you have always done it? Do you hold on to certain activities, styles, methods because you have a reputation for them? Do you do something because you know you’re good at it and you might not be good at doing something else?
I have observed these things about myself and realized that I am avoiding change because it hurts my pride. I like having the reputation of being well-balanced in all that I do. I like the idea that I’m well-rounded and able to juggle motherhood and everything else. I have held myself to a certain standard of quality and consistency and hate admitting that I can maintain that standard without letting go of certain activities I’ve always done.
It’s humbling to say I can’t do it all. That means I’ve dropped the ball on more than one occasion. It means I’ve messed up more than I care to acknowledge. It means I have to say “ta ta for now” to things I truly enjoy doing and people I enjoy interacting with on a regular basis.
But it’s also freeing. It means I can linger a little more, breathe a little deeper, and focus a little longer. It means that I know what my priorities are and I’m upholding them. It means that what I’m keeping is going to flourish with extra cultivation and I have made peace with the things I’m letting go.
Change is hard but it is healthy. It is indicator of growth in life and in character. It’s ok to be wistful when encountering change, but it’s also ok to allow it to refresh you.
I am taking your birthday photos for the third year in a row. I dressed you up in a new outfit and you loved every minute of the process. We brushed out your hair and chatted about whether or not we should put in a hair clip. We decided not to. Then we gathered up the photo props and went outside. You eagerly climbed up on the rustic stool and held the flower I gave you. “This is fun!” you declared. Every moment of your special day has been treasured by you- and that’s simply one more precious thing about the person you are. Special moments, no matter how small, are savored by your sincere heart.
We chat as I snap different poses. I’m trying to capture the essence of who you are but I doubt that can be done in a photograph. It takes spending daily life with you to know exactly who you are. I savor the little conversations overflowing from your busy mind and expressive tongue. You verbalize deep ponderings in quiet moments and I’m thankful we live slowly so you can articulate them and I can listen.
You flourish at being you! You appreciate your own skin and are comfortable with your likes and dislikes. I know that I am a deeper person, a more appreciative person, because I spend time observing you. I am thankful for every instance I put down my phone so that I can look in your eyes or snuggle you in my lap or chat with you. No moment spent in your company is wasted. Gratitude fills my soul at every one of your birthdays because I know I have treasured every single day of those years. I am learning to linger, to not mind the midnight slumber parties, to let you help whenever you ask, to repeat answers, to not make little messes a big deal…because I know the years slip by…just like that.