One Little Word 2017 Reflection

December 31, 2017.

How did this day get here so quickly? Where did 2017 go?

I’ve been reading and following some others who have reflected on this year and I’m seeing a mix of reactions to the past year.  Some had an incredible year, and others had difficult years but what I have noticed is that regardless of how the year was everyone has been grateful.  Some grateful for how wonderful their year was and some grateful for the challenges and lessons they brought.

I am definitely in the latter category – the year was difficult, far more difficult than I was anticipating yet I am so grateful for 2017.  We welcomed a beautiful baby girl who is our miracle girl.  She is feisty, determined, stubborn, and so so sweet and she fits perfectly into our family.  It’s safe to say she is so loved and so adored by us all.  We watched and followed as our now four year old grew and matured and learned so much.  His deep desire for knowledge is inspiring, his drive to learn is what spurs me on daily to live as a present parent and teach him what he wants to know.  Truly our schooling has been 100% led by him and he has advanced leaps and bounds.  Every goal I set for our homeschooling journey has been hit and it’s only because he has so desired to learn.  Carlos finished his schooling despite so many obstacles that would have stopped many in their tracks and made them quit.  His perseverance in the face of trials has always been inspiring for me.  Truly, he is incredible and if anyone can inspire you to chase your dreams and crush your goals, it’s him.

As I watched my family have an incredible year I tried so hard to follow in their footsteps.  I had so badly wanted to reach so many goals, to accomplish so much and it seemed the harder I fought the less I accomplished.  Last year at this time I felt the Lord was asking me to use REST as my guiding word for the year.  I honestly didn’t anticipate just how much rest I needed.  I didn’t realize how broken and worn down my body and spirit was.  I didn’t realize how much I needed to stop and rest.  Quite literally I spent this year in deep rest – almost like a hibernation.  The first part of the year was spent resting, having a baby and resting more.  The second part of the year was me feeling like I was ready to go, to accomplish, to be productive and being shut down every time I tried.  I fought hard against REST, sure that my body was ready to GO.  Maybe my body was but my mind, my heart, and my soul needed more rest, more reflection, more intentional attention.

When I look back at the year, I’ll be honest, it’s a hard pill to swallow.  It’s hard not to be disappointed, and not to dwell on that disappointment.  It’s hard to not feel like it was a “year wasted,” but I know those are lies designed to make me feel inadequate.  The truth which I’m reminding myself of minute by minute is that my year was EXACTLY what I needed.  The truth is that my year was orchestrated perfectly to give me what I needed – time to REST.  I’m thankful for the challenges of parenting two children, for the joys of watching those children grow and learn (even when that means more challenges for me).  The truth is I was stretched in ways I wasn’t anticipating, I discovered parts of me that I wasn’t proud of.  The impatience, need for perfection, the struggles for control – all things that came out and tried to rule my life.  I struggled to fight against those things, I struggle(d) to know my worth and adequacy.  I struggle(d) to mother in the midst of being faced with my worst self.

Yes, 2017 was hard for me, but it was necessary.  I was forced to rest in the hands of my Father, to search for and know His truths in my life.  I was forced to cling to a God who knows and loves me and I’m going into 2018 with the knowledge of these deep truths:

  • I am worthy
  • I am adequate
  • I am beautiful
  • I am enough

The beautiful thing about my truths, is they are your truths as well.  So whatever your year brought I hope that you can also cling to these truths.

One Little Word Check In

As part of my One Little Word (R.E.S.T.) this year I’ve decided to intentionally focus on one thing each month that will help me to dig into resting.  I recognize that this year is going to be full.  With adding two people to our household – one being introduced to Canadian culture for the first time and the other being a newborn who will need a lot of care and attention – it’s bound to be crazy and at times stressful.  So resting is even more important for me this year, it will be absolutely necessary for my health in every way.  My mental, spiritual, and physical health will all need to be nurtured and paid attention to.

January I decided I would do a “spending freeze”and not spend any money beyond groceries, medications and gas.  I wanted to be able to not stress about money and wanted to start the year off with responsible and healthy spending.  Well that was a complete and utter failure.  I brought it on myself by not planning properly.  I didn’t look ahead at the month and anticipate expenses, and so necessary (and super expensive) things like car maintenance came up and because I hadn’t budgeted or anticipated for it I ended up feeling like a failure.  After that I just threw it to the wind but at the same time I always had this nagging in the back of my head.  So instead of completely giving up on my financial goals this year I am picking myself up and trying again in February.  Today I sat down and mapped out a budget that included expenses that I could anticipate.  My knitting obsession was included in the budget so that I didn’t feel like a failure when I know for sure I would give in and just go buy yarn.  I also know that I have a ladies date day with some friends that will cost money so that was included.  Lastly this month is seed starting month and I need a few extra supplies, so I built that in to the budget.  I’m ready to be financially free this year and I am determined to make it work.

Instead of just use my January goal for February I decided to keep on going and also focus on meditation as planned.  This summer I started practicing meditation in the early mornings but once I got pregnant all of that fell to the wayside.  I know that there are so many benefits to meditation and I am looking forward to including it into my prayer life as well.  Mentally I know that I will need an outlet and a coping strategy when things get overwhelming this year.  If this pregnancy goes as predicted that stress is probably going to start soon with a babe born a bit too early (although we are trucking along very well so here’s hoping the predictions are wrong!).  I know that I am going to become obsessive over certain things like pumping enough breastmilk to meet the demands of a growing preemie and getting the house ready for two new people.  On top of that I know I will be stressed about splitting my time between home and the hospital.  I am hoping that being intentional with meditation and learning coping strategies to deal with stress will help me to recognize my stress early and take time to deal with it instead of push it aside.  I rarely feel stressed mentally but I have come to realize that although I don’t feel it mentally I am still stressed and my body eventually manifests the stress in other ways.

I am so looking forward to this year, to being able to have the capacity and time to focus on becoming a happier, healthier me and in turn becoming a happier, healthier wife and mother.

One Little Word 2017

Christmas is over and I’m feeling all sorts of emotions over it.  On one hand I’m sad that I don’t have my pretty tree up anymore.  I’m sad that the anticipation and Christmas with a toddler is over.  On the other hand, I love the new year, I love the new start and everything that comes with it.

This year especially we have a new start as our family grows.  Not only are we welcoming a brand new baby, but we will also be welcoming my husbands first son into Canada around the same time.  A short time after that my husband will start to work in the area he’s been studying for the past two years (and another 2-3 years before that he was studying English just so he could get into the program).  So 2017 is going to be a big big year.  I’m not huge into changes – yes I love fresh starts and new beginnings like the New Year, but these big changes and new starts that are coming are a bit over the top for me.  I like routine and predictability.  New borns are easy enough to deal with, beyond exhaustion and the normal newborn challenges you get to pick the routine as a parent to some degree.  You get to decide how that first year will go and from that a routine is eventually formed and it’s usually within your comfort level. Add a full grown child into the mix with their own ideologies, and ways of doing things at the same time as getting used to a newborn and a little bit of anxiety creeps in.  Then add a husband with a whole new routine and the unknown of where or when a job will start and my routined predictable life gets thrown out the window.

When I think of each of these situations on their own, none of them cause me any anxiety.  I can break them down, rationalize and deal with the changes (in my head of course).  If I put them all together into a timeline and how fast they will all happen, I get a little overwhelmed.

2016 was nothing like I had wanted or imagined.  It started with a lofty goal and dream that quickly got brushed to the side due to multiple health issues.  That dream is still on hold and I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever pick it up again.  The health issues that the year started with are still there and not figured out, although they did start to improve slightly in the summer.  Then, enter pregnancy and EVERYTHING that entails this go around and I feel like I spent the year barely surviving while trying to juggle family life and working like crazy to keep our heads above water.  Of course there were a lot of good times and good memories, Ezekiel grew in every way possible and seems to get more and more amazing with each day.  We are beyond elated to have been surprised with a pregnancy and cannot wait to meet this little one (well we can wait until March!).  We had a few little day trips and a couple longer trips that were all fun and worth it.  I discovered just how much I really love growing things and my gardening hobby grew a lot.  So yes 2016 wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t terrible.

My one little word for 2016 was INTENTIONAL.  If you go back to this post you can read how I broke down that word into how I was envisioning it to work into my life.  When I read through that post again the other day my initial thought was that I had completely failed to work “intentional” into my year.  Yet as I reflect on 2016 I see that I was quite intentional in a few areas.  My health being the first, I finally allowed myself to recognize that something was wrong and I spent the first half of the year at appointments and tests trying to figure them out.  I had started to exercise again more regularly with walking.  I was intentional with my health.  As a mom  I was very intentional with Ezekiel and continue to try to be just as intentional – this one is simple for me, it’s actually just my parenting style.  I was also intentional with gardening and making sure that I was prioritizing my hobby into my life because I realized how much JOY it brought me.   I was intentional with my time off of work, I cut back my working days a lot and made sure that I prioritized time off with family and I allowed myself to not feel guilty about it or anxious about it.  So although my one little word didn’t get worked into my year like I had imagined it was still a year of being intentional.

When I was thinking of what my word would be this year it wasn’t hard to realize where God was guiding me.  December has been spent with scares of pre-term labor and other pregnancy related complications which has landed me on modified rest.  It was and has always been one of my biggest pregnancy related nightmares and here I am on week 4 of rest (with hopefully 10 more weeks to go).  Ironic that the last two years have been spent on high speed just trying to survive and finally I literally have no choice but to stop.  It was a rapid stop, one that almost gives you whiplash.  Once I settled into resting I realized that this is exactly what 2017 needs to be.  Not literally sitting and doing nothing, but making REST a priority in my life.  It will come in many forms and ways and I’m not going predict or theorize how it will happen.  What I will say is that I’m going to be reminding myself often that 2017 is about RESTING.

Have you made resolutions or picked a word for 2017? I’d love to hear them!

Reflection – A Season For Everything

IMG_8554I truly believe there is a season for everything.  In fact the Bible talks about this concept pretty specifically;

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.

What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.  So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-15

I’m rarely an emotional person, not that I’m cold and don’t feel emotions, but I tend to react to things on a rational level rather than an emotional level.  My first reaction to things is not usually tears – whether happy or sad – it’s usually a rational conversation with myself about the implications of whatever the situation may be.  Part of not being overly emotional is the lack of questioning “why”.  I tend not to ask, and really don’t care why something is happening.  I know that the question of why can be incredibly debilitating for some people.  People feel like if they know the reason for a situation that they will be able to cope better.  I’ve always been the person who accepts the fact that whatever God does is final.  Let me be clear that this does not translate as me having incredible faith – there are so many times in my life that I can point out where my faith was lacking on so many levels.  A good example of that is my faith that God will heal – I’ve seen it happen several times and I know it’s possible but I struggle to have faith to say that God is going to heal me or anyone I know.

Getting back to “there’s a season for everything” –

I feel as though I’m moving into a season of reflection – for lack of a better description.  Working in both pediatric and adult oncology I am inundated with life and death on a daily basis.  There are victories and there are losses – it’s the nature of cancer, and I’ve been ok with it.  There are days that are much harder than others, but there is so much joy in my work as well.  Often people look at me with pity in their eyes when I explain what I do for a living – as if to say “oh poor you having to deal with that everyday.” Let me be straightforward here and say, I am not the one fighting the cancer, I am not the family walking through this journey, but I am blessed to be able to walk alongside so many people during one of the most difficult times in their life.

I am not cursed with this – I am blessed with this.

I’ve generally been able to go about my work day without a lot of spiritual reflection – whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing – I’m not sure.  This week however, I have been far more reflective.  God has been whispering quietly, urging me to stop and reflect.  I’m not sure where this season in life will take me but I’m thankful for a reminder to slow things down to take time for reflection.  He is the reason I am here doing what I’m doing and I’ve not given him much of that credit lately, nor have I invited Him to be part of the process.  I suppose it’s time to change that.

What are you being challenged in lately? How is God speaking to you?