A Year in Review: Intentional

Photo Credit: marianna armata (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit: marianna armata (Creative Commons)

 

Way back in January, I decided that my word for 2014 would be intentional. I listed several areas in which I wanted to be more intentional with the way I spent my time. So…how did I do?

Before I get to the specific areas, I want to just come right out and say, I started the year strong, but really fizzled out pretty quickly. I still spent way too much time on unimportant things, or just not being intentional about my time.

Here are the areas I wanted to be intentional in:

  1. My relationship with my husband – This year turned out a LOT different that I planned, in a lot of ways.  But I do believe that my husband and I have a stronger relationship today than we did a year ago. We are talking more, not just sitting next to each other (though, that happens too!), we are learning to depend on each other more, and more importantly, to depend on God more. What could we have done differently to make this year better? More intentional time together away from the kids…date nights, maybe even a weekend away here and there.
  2. My relationship with my children – Wow…this one is hard for me. There are days that I feel I did REALLY well here, and there are days that I feel I failed miserably. Don’t we all feel that way sometimes though, mamas? I do think I’m still learning and growing here, though. I think I’ve become a more observant, attentive parent this year, I’ve learned things about my kids, and I’m enjoying them more. I still need to work on this area, and one way I know I can do that is by spending more focused time with each of them individually.
  3. My relationship with God – I started out so strong here, and fizzled so quickly. I’ve let the demands of my day, the busy-ness of my life, the exhaustion of mommyhood fill me…instead of seeking to allow God to fill me. Sure…I have days (even weeks) where I truly seek Him…and then I have days/weeks/months at a time when I barely crack open my bible (electronic or actual pages). I do believe that my prayer life is stronger, as I find myself praying regularly throughout the day…whether a praise, prayer of thanks, or call of “HELP ME!!!”
  4. Reading/completing books – I’ve actually done OK here. No, I’m not reading every day…but so far, I’ve finished all but one book this year (the one I’m reading now…I have 4 days, maybe I’ll actually finish it before year-end?). I’ve read a mix of fiction and non-fiction books…books that have challenged me, encouraged me, and even some that simply entertained me. I look forward to reading more in the new year.
  5. Making my house a home – I started out the year printing a cleaning schedule. I knew I’d have to slowly work my way up to completely every task every day…but I was doing a decent job of doing a few cleaning tasks each day. Then, we decided to put our house on the market, and the cleaning got intense. I really felt like all I did was clean for a couple of months. We moved in August, and I’ve made it a goal to try to keep up with laundry and dishes…but there is SO MUCH more I could do every single day. I could do a much better job of cleaning up after my kids (and getting them to clean up after themselves), as well as general pick-up/cleaning throughout the day. But…I don’t want cleaning to be the only thing I do all day. So, I’m still working on finding the balance.

Overall, I actually feel that I did better than I originally thought. However, I still see room for improvement in all 5 areas, and that’s why I’ve decided that intentional will once again be my word for 2015. I’m going to do things a little differently this time around. For starters, I have 2 sweet friends who will be praying for me, checking in, and holding me accountable, and I will be doing the same for them.  Also, I will be making my relationship with God the most important priority. I know that none of the other items on my list will work if He is not first in my life.

What was your word for 2014? How did you do?

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Something More

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I’ve always loved reading, but have let that love fall to the wayside as I’ve allowed the demands of motherhood take over. I just kept thinking “I don’t have time to read,” when in reality, I wasn’t MAKING time to read. So, this year, I’ve made a little more of an effort to not just START a book, but to finish it. And as a result, I’ve finished more books this year than I can remember reading over the course of any year since my daughter was born (and maybe in all the years combined since then…).

Have all of the books I’ve read been inspirational? Entertaining? Fun? The answer to all of those is No! I’ve tried to read a mix of fiction and nonfiction. To be honest, I LOVE a good fiction book. I can get lost in a novel and tune out the world around me…just ask my husband. But, I know that in order to be well-rounded, I NEED to read nonfiction as well. So I have made that a goal this year, and I feel like I’ve been at least somewhat successful. I have read books that have challenged my thinking, opened my eyes, and made me long for more.

All of that to say, the last 2 nonfiction books that I’ve read (one I’m still reading), have challenged me, quite literally, to dig deeper and stop hiding from the calling God has placed on my life. In one book, Let’s All Be Brave: Living Life With Everything You Have by Annie F. Downs, I was challenged to face my fears – fears of failure, of the unknown, of saying yes (and saying no)…and to do the brave thing–to follow the passion God has placed in my heart.

The second book, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa TerKeurst, has challenged me so much already…I’m only on chapter 3! One quote that has stuck with me is: “A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.”

Is my schedule so overwhelmed with stuff that my soul is underwhelmed? Have I put so much on my plate that my soul isn’t fully connected to God, listening for His direction? Have I blocked out His voice so much that I no longer hear His prompting? 

Oh, I pray that the answer to these questions is a resounding “NO!!” Yet, I know, many days/weeks/months/years, my honest answer would have to be “Yes.” 

These books have really gotten me thinking…what IS the thing that God has called me to? Being a wife and mom are definitely top of my list…but is there something more? My soul tells me there is. What is my something more?

While discussing this with my husband tonight, he said something that really resonated. He told me that sometimes you have to experiment. You have to try new things to see if you really enjoy them. Have you always wanted to learn to knit? Buy some yarn and watch some youtube videos. Ask a friend who knows what they’re doing to teach you. Give it a shot. Hate it? No one said you had to keep doing it!

Then, he told me that he thought I would thrive on mentoring new and expectant moms. Ummmm…wow! When I look back over the dreams that I’ve suppressed over the years, helping families/women has always been at the center of them. But, I’ve never allowed myself to fully experiment with those ideas. Sure, I’ve participated in women’s mentoring programs, I’ve joined mom’s groups, led Bible studies, etc…but every time, I’ve held a piece of myself back. I don’t think it’s been a conscious decision, to be honest, but I do think that I’ve always been afraid to give 100%–afraid that I would fail, that I would lead someone down the wrong path, that I wasn’t good enough. But isn’t that the point…I’m NOT good enough. But God, who places those dreams in our hearts, IS good enough. He uses imperfect people every single day to accomplish His perfect plan. The only thing He requires is that we’re willing to go where He leads, making ourselves available, and listening to His prompting.

 So, where does that leave me tonight? Honestly, I’m not really sure. I know that I need to dig into this…maybe even get a mentor of my own. I need to pray, HARD. I need to spend time, daily, reading and studying and allowing God’s word to transform my life. And, I need to open my eyes, ears, & heart, to the promptings of the Holy Spirit…and when He leads me to action, I need to be obedient. Isn’t that what we all need?