I really enjoy words. The process of putting them together, the way certain words go together (or don’t). The way words have so much meaning, even if you use very little of them. They have so much power and ability to define situations. I often have trouble understanding numbers…but words and how to use them…Word Nerd perhaps? Probably 😀 But I really do enjoy having a word a or two rolling around in my heart and in my brain. Something to focus on, something to give me direction. Last year our word was “Engage”. And I believe we accomplished just that! We found and purchased a house, and have done our best to connect with people in our neighborhood. (Although I’m sure some people are a little scared of us and might head indoors when we head outside…we are kind of loud and chaotic looking!) We found and joined a local church and have enjoyed getting involved with that group and their various ministry opportunities. They have welcomed our brood with open arms into their family and we know it’s place where God is working. We connected with our kids in new ways by starting homeschool, swimming, and taking them on some fun adventures. And we took a vacation back to our home state/town and re-connected with many friends and family.
However, we kind of felt like last year we were still in “survival mode”. Figuring out out to parent two early-elemtary aged kids and two babies who were fast becoming toddlers has been a challenge. Putting down roots in our new home and church takes work and energy. Also figuring out how to manage and clean a large house with 6 people living in it has been quite a learning curve. Managing our little girls medical issues as she grows and learns new skills has been good but hard. Our finances were lacking direction and we couldn’t seem to dig ourselves out of debt we had accumulated, mostly due to the aforementioned medical issues of our sweet girl. My Bible reading times were short and sporadic. I know my spiritual well-being was not well at all. Not to mention we both felt out-of shape, unhealthy, and just lacking the joy and energy we knew we needed. When you are in survival mode, you kind of lack direction and purpose. It literally effected every area of our lives.
Everytime I went to a sermon at church I could feel myself be filled. It was like I was walking in so thirsty and left feeling satisfied. But I knew once a week “feedings” were not sufficient. As I sat there every week (or least anytime I could go!) beginning to feel refreshed I could hear the Spirit say to me “be satisfied. In Me.” And every week I would hear the same challenge over and over in my heart “You need to enjoy Me. Seek enjoyment, in Me.” Oh that’s so what I want. I want to be so satisfied and enjoying Jesus. I know in my head that if I could learn to look to Jesus for my satisfaction and enjoyment…everything else will fall into place. I will be a joyful mom. I will be a respectful wife. I won’t look to junk TV, articles, or social media to “fill me” during my down time. I would be a willing servant of Jesus, no matter what He asks of me. BUUUT…making the choice to do or not do some of those things…so hard. When the kids are napping/having quiet time, watching something on Netflix while I do the dishes sounds way more relaxing than listening to a podcast. Checking my FB feed every 15 minutes to see what everyone else is doing becomes a habit that’s hard to break. Clicking on the article about this or that topic that I really don’t even care about in the first place seems like a good idea at the time that won’t really matter anyway. Browsing through that email I got from some website about their “super-cute dresses that have free shipping for today only!” because I’m having a hard day with my kids and I need some retail therapy dang it. Eating a leftover cupcake from small group the night before for lunch is faster than making myself some real food. Easy and quick enjoyment. But it isn’t always satisfying…especially long-term.
I don’t like to throw around the word “depression”. For one thing I think it’s used too often. For another thing I know there are people who have LEGIT depression and need counseling, medication, and so on. So for that reason, I don’t want to say “I think I was depressed” because I think it downplays their struggle with their mental and emotional well-being. But, I do know that last year (and for possible a little longer than just 2016), I was not in a good spot…emotionally, mentally, financially, physically, but most of all, spiritually. (I’m pretty sure Nathan would say the same about himself too). And it wasn’t anything I could even put my finger on really…I just plain didn’t feel like myself. For one thing, I felt like I couldn’t focus…on like anything. I felt constantly distracted but I couldn’t tell you why. We got plugged into our church here in KC in March of last year…but previous to that, we hadn’t been regular attenders, let alone members of a theologically sound, healthy, growing church since March 2014. I know that’s the foundational reason for our “survival mode”. There’s been a lot of transition in our lives over the past couple of years, and the Lord has been good and we are confident we followed His leading through it all and we know He didn’t just abandon us. But it is HARD to be satisfied without regular connection to the Body Christ. People who remind you of truth, who spur you on to love and good deeds, who ask you the hard questions and remind you that there is grace in Jesus. Of course there is no perfect church…churches are full of sinners after all 😉 But He can most certainly use the Church for His purposes and for His good. (I would like to pause here and say that we did find a wonderful church body in Columbus, Ohio in the spring of 2015…but then shortly after I ended up in the hospital, then we had two babies who were immunocompromised and we couldn’t go to church and then we moved! But, for the short time we went there, we knew we were among healthy, growing Christian brothers and sisters! Also, the pastor and his wife of that church ultimately connected us with the pastor of the church we are at now in KC. See, God knows what He’s doing! He’s got the connections!)
I could go on and on about why I think we ended up in the survival mode…there’s many reasons. But I want to tell you two things: our time in the fog or darkness…whatever you want to call it…is still for His glory. He is going to use it for something. Mostly for our growth, but perhaps for other reasons. And the second thing: I feel the fog/darkness lifting. I don’t even know when it was really. I think I first felt it during the Christmas season. Nathan and I never even talked about our feeling this way either. I think we just knew we were struggling and just kept going hoping that one day we would snap out of it. On New Years weekend Nathan and I sat down with a calendar and looked over the coming months and planned a few things and I said “do you feel like we’ve just been kind of…I don’t know…I don’t want to say depressed but I don’t know what else to call it?” He looked at me and said “yes. But I don’t know what to call it either.” Then I said “do you feel like we are kind of coming out of it?” He smiled and said “yeah. I think we are!” We decided our word for this year should be “Satisfied”. To remind us to look to Jesus for satisfaction and enjoyment. But, we don’t believe the definition of being satisfied in Jesus means you just do whatever makes you happy. We know it’s going to involve some work and tough choices…also new habits! We’ve already made some changes…and here they are!
Physically: Try to, as much as possible to go to bed and wake up at the same times one weekdays. (9:30pm & 5am) When we wake, we work out. Nathan joined a gym and I do some toning and stretching at home for 20-30 minutes. Better portion control and no eating after 8pm. Obviously more fruits and veggies and better choices in general 😉 Get ourselves Primary Care doctors and routine bloodwork done. Get outside with our kids more (biking, walking, hiking, swimming, etc.) and sign them up for some activities this year. Our kids are only going to get more active as they get older, and we want to be active right alongside them!
(I’ve left the house in work out clothes like 3 times this week…I’ve never done that before you guys.)
Mentally/Emotionally: read more books, less online articles. Play games with the kids. For me specifically, no more scrolling the FB feed. I check my notifications and/or messages, and I get off. I’ll tell you something…I’m already noticing my ability to focus has improved SIGNIFICANTLY. I know they’ve done studies of what social media does to our brains and lack of focus was one sideffect. I’m not missing that feeling. Will I miss out on pregnancy announcements, comments about school cancellations due to #allthesnow, and friends vacation pictures? Yes. But will I focus on my kids and husband more? Yes. There’s some awesome stuff on FB, don’t get me wrong…but man it can get distracting and fast. That video of that dog doing that cute thing is funny…but do I really need to spend 2 minutes watching it? No. I’m still on IG and Twitter. And I’ve been using Hootsuite to post to my blog FB page…but otherwise I’m a FB ghost. (Feel free to “Like” my Eventually Complete page so you can see when I post something new!) This year I want to consume better content which also means less Netflix and more podcasts and music when I’m doing my chores. (Right now my fav podcasts are “Inspired to Action”, “Mom Struggling Well”, and “At Home with Sally”!) I want to craft and blog more too. I think that will help me both mentally and emotionally.
Spiritually/Emotionally: reading regularly after my workouts, also focusing specifically on prayer. Getting plugged into a discipleship group and praying with Nathan regularly. Honestly I also think the better content I consume, my spirit will be filled in a more satisfying way. Currently I’m reading “Listen, Love, Repeat” by Karen Ehman and it’s totally encouraged me to be more selfless, thoughtful and encouraging to those around me. I want to be more others focused to spread Jesus’ love…I know that will get my eyes off me and on Him and people around me who have needs!
Financially: this one is probably the hardest one to talk about! We don’t like talking about money do we? We accumulated quite a bit of debt over the past year, mostly due to Miss J’s medical needs (we put most on the credit card, which was high interest. In hind sight, that wasn’t smart. But we’ve learned our lesson and we wont’ do that again!) We sold our first house in Washington and will use our earnings to pay off our debt. We are managing our budget better and not spending money to make us “feel better”. Like lattes in the drive thru once or twice a week? Not happening this year. No coffees out unless we are meeting someone for coffee. This month we aren’t eating out at all (which also helps the physical side of things, amiright?!) and it may continue into the next couple months! We want to feel the freedom to bless others with the money God gives us…and when you’re in debt, you don’t feel like you have that freedom at all. We are so thankful to start out our year debt-free! Woohoo! And by God’s wisdom and grace, we want to keep it that way! We also have a plan to begin to teach our older two about how to budget by giving them chore charts and allowances. We want them to have the freedom to spend money but we also want them to realize it’s 1.) God’s not theirs 2.) money is earned not given and 3.) we give money to the church, we save money, and then we can spend money. Oh the joys of managing money 🙂
I know that’s a lot of changes, but we know in the end, it will leave us enjoying God and being satisfied. We have great hope going into this year. We are looking forward to seeing how God grows us closer to Him and one another. I am so thankful to God for every blessing, but especially the blessing of bringing us out of the fog. He lifts our heads. He heals the broken hearted and binds their wounds. And now, we continue on and look to how we can better serve Him. Cheers to 2017!
What’s your word this year? Like I said, I love words 🙂