Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: A Year in Review

At the beginning of 2016, I had prayed and pondered over my theme word for the year, and it soon became clear....Savor.   There were 3 areas in which I wanted to savor things in my life:
From the beginning of the year, our family flung ourselves into building deeper relationship and loving more.  It was absolutely one of the best things about 2016!  We hosted more parties, had more gatherings at our house, and I cooked countless meals that we shared with others in our home.  Every bit of it we all loved and will continue to do more of it in the years to come!  There is nothing better than sharing our home, loving on people, and filling their bellies!  Our home is never perfect and sometimes quite messy, but I love having our home be a welcoming place to whomever comes over where we can savor our time together!

Lastly, I wanted to savor the year by slowing down.  I was longing to slow down and that's what I did.  I became better at saying "no" to things -- even good things.  I cleared the calendar during the summer and spent intentional time with the kids.  I can honestly say that we all loved it!  We took trips downtown to go to museums and other outings, but our favorite time was our mornings at the track field.  The kids wanted to run track and I was all for it too.  Three mornings a week, the kids and I headed off to practice where they would run and play games and I would have some quiet time and spend an hour walking.  On my walks, I would pray, listen to podcasts and enjoy the much needed vitamin D that I wish I now had since it's winter!

I also prioritized my health.  I made some big changes back in 2015 that I carried with me through 2016.   I should write a whole post about it because I get asked so many questions!  However, as the year continued into the fall things changed for me.  We were still guarding our quiet Sundays and I was trying to rest, but the stress of life crept in.  Although I had been really intentional about not overcommitting to things, I realized that life in general was wearing me down.  I began cooking a lot more because of my diet, which was good, but it meant more work for me.  We began our 4th year homeschooling and even though we had lots of great days, there were certain days that seemed to drain the life out of me.  Lots of normal things were wearing on me in ways they hadn't before!

What I truly noticed this year was that I still needed help with managing stress and allowing myself to slow down.  I hold myself almost to an unreachable standard.  I have an amazing work ethic but I was putting way to much pressure on myself.   I headed into late fall feeling frustrated, a bit depressed and lackluster.   I admit, I was allowing doubt and discouragement to feed my depressing thoughts.  I felt worthless, like I didn't have a purpose...which is a total lie, but I was believing it all!  What was really happening was that I was letting all the doubt, negative self-talk and frustrations feed my stress, and it was literally destroying me.  I felt exhausted and worn out and desperately wanted it to be different!

I was living out the verse in John 10:10 which says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy..."  I felt joyless, tired, and I wasn't going to God who is the One who could fix it all.  I had become so focused on caring for others, that I skipped caring about myself.  Although I was caring for myself physically I was lacking the time to care for myself emotionally and spiritually.  That doesn't mean I wasn't in the Word, because I was, but I was not investing the amount of time that I really needed.  I felt like I was one of those African babies that you see on TV; so malnourished, just getting a little bit of food to keep me alive but not enough to make me thrive and live life to the fullest.

As I began to think about the second half of John 10:10 which reads, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full," I realized that I was not living life to the fullest!  Jesus spoke these very words and desires for me to live life to the fullest.  That doesn't mean I'm going to get whatever I want and that it's not going to be hard or tiring anymore.  Rather, my focus need to change.  I was focused on all the wrong things...what I wasn't getting done, how much more I needed to get done, and was I making a difference or not?  I was spending a lot of time doing instead of trusting.  So many of the things I was focused on were really out of my control.  I was adding more stress and pressure on myself with all the wrong thinking and I felt that it was up to me to get it done.  This is not what Jesus wanted for us when he said for us to live full lives.  Add more, do more, work harder...that's what comes from our culture not Jesus.

Obviously, as much as I tried to slow down (and there really was some great progress made!) I was still missing something.  Which brings me to 2017.  It's no coincidence that my word for this coming year came straight out of this, and I can't wait to share it with you soon!

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