I really hadn’t planned on setting many goals for 2015. At the beginning of 2014 I had about a 35-point list of things I wanted to accomplish. And it was perfect for 2014 that felt full of hope and potential and promise. I probably only accomplished half to two-thirds of those goals, but it got me motivated, spurred me on, and gave me at least a small sense of accomplishment at the end of the year. But 2015 came in with a different vibe. So much felt unknown and hazy. I felt (and still feel) big changes on the horizon, but nothing concrete. Setting a couple dozen firm, ambitious goals felt wrong somehow.
But my friend Chelsea posted about her own goal-setting time and it inspired me. Hers weren’t lose 10 pounds or eat more real food or read to the kids more. They were about living well, living full, and I realized that’s part of what I want for the coming year. Ending 2014 feeling small and hollow created a deep desire to make 2015 a year to live life courageously and abundantly.
And so I pondered my own answers to the Eric Liddell quote she shared: When I _____, I feel God’s pleasure. What makes me feel closest to the Lord? What makes me feel alive in Him? What desires and passions did He place deep within me, flames that still burn like embers, quiet but ready to fan to flame? And I came up with my list:
Run (more accurately, finishing a run; but in order to do that, I have to get out and run)
Dance. I have always always always loved to dance. It makes my soul happy. It makes my body happy. I don’t do it nearly often enough. I want to fix that this year.
Write truth and beauty. Writing is a balm for me. It’s how I process life and relate to God and the world. Words are one of my great loves and stringing them together is, I believe, one of my gifts. Words are also incredibly powerful. I want the words I write to bless those who read them and please my Savior.
Laugh easy. I love to laugh. But I don’t do it nearly often enough. I take life too seriously sometimes and in my effort to just have peace and order in the home, I can stifle my own laughter and be too stuffy. And, seriously, who wants to live that way? Life is hard enough – I might as well laugh when I can, which is a lot more than I do. And stop taking myself so darn seriously.
Soak up the sun. Sunshine warm on bare skin – it keeps me going through the cold winter months. Last summer got a little crazy. Part of that is the season of life. But we bought a house with a pool to enjoy it – because Matt knows how alive and at peace the sun makes me feel. Once the mercury breaks above 70 again, I want to be in the sun as much as I possibly can. Or even days like today, when I can sit in a sunny window and enjoy the warmth soaking in.
Travel. I love to travel. Go places, see new and old things, visit friends, share the world with Matt and with my girls. I would love to take a couple of road trips this year, if the Lord wills, along with a couple of our “standard” get aways.
Learn. Oh goodness, I love to learn. I think God placed in me that drive to be a lifelong student. I love (or at least used to love) the classroom environment. I thrived there. So, one of the things I’m most excited about for this year is a return to school. Lord willing, I will start taking classes at the local university again as of next week. I have no idea what I’m doing or what direction this is going to go or honestly how this is going to fit in our already full lives, but I’m almost beside myself with excitement and nervousness.
Create. I don’t always feel like I’m a creative person, but I know deep down I am. I need to create beauty from time to time. Whether it’s spray painting a piece of furniture or garage sale frame, creating photobooks to chronicle our lives, decorating a room in our home, or making a gallery wall of art and photos, I feel so much joy and satisfaction creating beauty in my home.
Open the doors. This not only refers to my insatiable need to open every door and window in our house as soon as the temperature breaks above 60 and until it’s so hot outside everyone is sweating inside the house and cranky at me, but also to how much I’ve come to realize I love hosting people in our home. I’m not a great cook / entertainer / hostess, but I still love having people over. I may serve the same menu of chicken tacos / guacamole / Summer Brew every time you visit, but we will laugh and relax and hopefully you will walk away feeling loved and cherished.
Be brave. My word of the year – Brave. Staring down a year that felt (feels) so nebulous and undefined, with scary adventures like returning to school and the real life truth of kids growing up and preparing them for the world, Brave is my theme. To face the anxiety that bubbles just under the surface, to take on the fear that I can’t do this (whatever this may be at the time), to confront the lies that Satan whispers in the dark. Brave is my theme and my challenge, but He makes me brave.
What about you? What goals do you have for this year – big or small? How can we spur one another on in this journey of life?
Matt sent me away for overnight last Friday. He reserved a hotel room here in town and told me I was to go, read my Bible, drink some wine, write, and pray. I was in need of a serious attitude adjustment and only extended time alone was going to cure it.
I’ve wanted to do something like this for years, but either the timing was never right or I felt selfish spending the money that way. But I came away as refreshed and renewed as I always imagined I would. It may become a regular thing. My “mental health retreat.”
As I sat in my hotel room Friday night and Saturday morning, I worked on a couple of mindless projects and watched a mindless movie. But I also spent some significant time in prayer and in the Word. My depression has hit hard this year. Some marriage issues in November and December knocked me off my feet and really opened the door for Satan to slither in and fill my head and my heart with lies. Already feeling weak and insecure, I quickly bought all he was selling until I found myself in an emotional vortex that had nothing to do with weather or grey skies and everything to do with my identity.
But I came home on Saturday with a renewed understanding of God’s love for me, His truth, His promises, and His overcoming, overwhelming grace. Below is a short list of the “Lies I’ve Believed and the Truth I’m Clinging To”:
What I do doesn’t matter / isn’t important enough.
I think this is a big one for us as women. And I want to say it’s bigger for us SAHM’s, but I don’t know if that’s really true. The world has convinced us that we can have it all and do it all and we (and life) can be awesome all the time. And that’s just not true. Working moms wrestle with feeling like they’ve let their family down by not always “being there”. SAHMs feel like they’ve let the world (and God) down because we’re not out there “using our gifts”. (<—- That one has been on repeat in my mind for years.) The truth is, we can’t have it all or do it all. Some of us can handle / juggle more than others, but we all have to make choices and sacrifices. And those choices and sacrifices are personal and real and should not be trivialized. And we’re all using our gifts, or growing in new areas, and most likely both. Nothing is wasted with God. Nothing.
I’m not using my gifts by being a home school mom.
This may be true (haha). In a lot of ways I don’t feel like I’m using my gifts. Teaching is **not** one of my gifts. And, honestly, that’s okay. There are days I don’t love home schooling. Sometimes those days will string together into weeks, maybe months. I’m thankful for the privilege and the freedom it offers, but it’s honestly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s exhausting and challenging and only occasionally rewarding in this season. I do it because I honestly believe it is what God wants us doing; I have all along. That is the only way I could have persevered all these years. I also believe that the rewards will come. Someday. When my children have their own children. Hopefully. All of these things do not make me a bad home schooling mom. I care passionately about my children. I care passionately about their education and I make sure it happens, even if it’s not in the form of me doing science projects in the kitchen or tacking up historical figures all over my house or writing impressive blog posts about what we’re learning at home. My diligent concern for my children and their education is what makes me a good homeschooling mom.
There are a limited number of good things available in the world.
This one is a fairly new struggle for me. I don’t recall typically being a jealous person. But I realized this weekend that over the past year or so I have begun to believe the lie that something good happening for someone else means there’s less good in the world for me. As if God could run out of good gifts to give! And so when I would see someone else doing something I wished I could be doing (going back to school, for example; or writing a book) I would find myself all knotted up inside, trying to be happy for them but simultaneously feeling like I had missed my chance at that life dream. And so, I am choosing to remember that my God is the giver of ALL good gifts and He cannot run out of good things to give. And the things I may think I want most may not be the best for me, at least not right now. And I have to trust Him for that.
I will never be enough.
This one is actually true. But that’s okay, because it’s true for everyone the world over. Only God is enough for any of us. And there is awesome freedom in that.
Depression is destroying my life and the lives of those I love.
The past ten weeks or so have been really, really hard. My mind has grown increasingly dark and desperate. As soon as I thought I was making forward progress a new wave of lies would crash over me and I would be drowning again. The lowest point came as I laid in bed one night and honestly thought, My family would all be better off if I just left. Moved away. Started over. They would be free from depressed me and everyone could start again.This is obviously a lie from the pit of hell, but it rang so true in my head that night. And I knew something had to change. Depression doesn’t write the story. God does. And the story isn’t over yet. He has used depression to write beauty in my life before. He can (and will) do it again. And He can make my darkness something beautiful in the girls’ lives too. (<—— please note – I am not going anywhere! This is not a “cry for help”. It’s just me sharing honestly. My head is on much straighter than it was the night I had those thoughts. All is well. Everyone is stuck with me for a very long time again. 😉 )
I’m not valuable / talented / significant.
In an effort to keep things real in a social media world where everyone is trying to put their best face forward at all times, I know that I can often highlight my weaknesses / struggles / failures more than my strengths / talents / victories. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, as I regularly have someone walk up to me and thank me for keeping life real here and on Facebook. But, again, somewhere in the past 12 to 18 months, I started believing that was all I had – I can’t bake, I’m not a great cook, I’m not a teacher, I can’t keep my kids’ schedules straight, I sleep through half marathons, and generally am pretty lame. And that’s not true. I do have gifts and talents and skills and strengths. God gave them to me. And while it is healthy for me in some ways to be fully aware of how not-perfect I am and put that side out there for the world to see, it’s also okay and glorifying to Him to recognize my gifts and talents and enjoy them and, without being obnoxious, maybe even share them with the world.
God is so good, my friends. He is our healer, restorer, defender, and redeemer. This week has been a refreshing change from the past several. It hasn’t hurt that the sun has been out almost daily, but I know that the true change has come from the restoration of Truth to my heart and mind. Thank you to the friends and family that have prayed so diligently for me these past couple of months. Your love and concern were a candle that kept light in my world when everything was so dark. Depression is part of my story. Oils help. Sunlight and warm weather help. Proper nutrition helps. But I’m coming to realize more and more that it’s part of the story God is writing in my life. And as I said above, depression doesn’t write the story, God does. And His story is always redemption, restoration, healing, wholeness. Maybe not here, but one day. And so I can rejoice because He lets me see His glory and bring Him glory in my brokenness here and now. And because I will one day live in whole, restored glory with Him forever.
You don’t think of yourself as fearful. You have faced big things and overcome. You have put up a fight and don’t back down. You are stronger for what you’ve been through. You do not cower or run.
A fearful person is someone who sleeps with a gun under their pillow or freaks out over your kid with a head cold. A fearful person is someone who watches too much Fox News and has countless buckets of freeze dried food in their basement. You are not that person.
But then you wake up and realize it is fear that is paralyzing you. Fear of the future and change and every good thing. Fear of letting others in. Fear of being let down or being a let down. You find yourself riddled with fear and you find yourself captive to it. Your heart walled in by a prison you built to protect yourself. And you know that you were not made for captivity, but for freedom. Not for fear, but to be brave. And so you claim Brave as your word for 2015. You choose to step out and do brave things. You risk falling. You risk failure. You choose to tear those walls back down, brick by ugly brick, until your heart can see the sun, the Son, again, and feel it shining warm and free. And on His wings, you will fly.
Here’s to a new year and God always doing a new thing.