I'm a youngest child y'all. My mother probably wouldn't be able to tell you how many times I arrived at kindergarten without my shoes or how many social events I missed because I just could not keep my room clean. I couldn't tell you how many babysitting jobs I was late for because I couldn't find my car keys; how late I went to bed (or didn't at all) so many nights of my undergraduate career because I had a paper due the next day and I just started research at 6:00pm; how many books are on my bookshelf that are highlighted and written in with great interest until about page 30. Conversation was pretty much the only object of intentionality in my life until about eight months ago.
That's when I discovered POWERSHEETS, a goal setting resource created by Lara Casey. Her team's genius marketing had me convinced that this goal setting method could actually work for me, a person allergic to order... so I purchased a set and began the intensive goal setting prep. The beauty of her method is the "why." It didn't take long for me to realize that my lack of organization and follow through had less to do with my birth order and a lot more to do with guilt, fear, and shame. My head wasn't somewhere up in the clouds... it was hung way down low in paralyzing self doubt. My ears rang with a perpetual song of all I wasn't doing right, wasn't doing well, or wasn't doing at all. Every task in my life: packing David's lunch, meeting someone for coffee, weeding the bed of flowers, changing my baby's diaper, taking a shower, preparing a meal, serving at church, doing the dishes, folding the laundry, going for a walk, sweeping the floor, sewing an outfit... EVERYTHING felt like work. My speech was riddled with excuses and "have-tos." It all felt like work because all of these smaller tasks existed in the framework of proving myself. My self worth hinged on my performance and my joy rose and fell on my ability to squeeze into the mold of that ideal image of myself.
But what is life in Christ supposed to look like... ?
I've been a Christ follower for about 20 years now... and I couldn't say that any of them could really be characterized by the words "rest"ful, "easy," and "light." Could you? I'd experienced grace quakes and pockets of this feeling of relief... but did I live each day that way? No way.
TWO THOUSAND SIXTEEN
Post pregnancy hormones and disenchantment did a number on me and on our marriage last year. I felt like what should be precious memories in the life of my young family were just passing me by as I held on to all the wrong things. Hence, my word for last year: ENJOY. God provided perspective to set realistic goals that had to do with creating the systems and boundaries I needed to dwell on the truth and fight paralyzing lies. He provided strength and self control to accomplish daily tasks. He provided grace to repent when I wasn't faithful and offered abounding and steadfast love, forgiveness, and assurance of pardon when I felt like a failure. He also offered JOY. I began last year feeling like I was "surviving" and I ended it feeling a little more like I was "thriving." It was still messy around here... but this year I enjoyed God in the knowledge that he rejoices over me not because of anything I do, but because he regards me as righteous through the blood of his son Jesus.
TWO THOUSAND SEVENTEEN
Last year I focused on the "enjoy" part. Last year we put the horse back in front of the cart. Understanding what God has done for us in Christ pulls us out from under the heavy load of guilt and shame. It releases us from the feeling that we have to somehow prove ourselves by what we are able to accomplish or how well we preform. It frees us to enjoy and delight in our tasks because we aren't on trial for our ability to do things perfectly or do them at all.
This year I feel like I am emerging from the postpartum fog and truly seeing that if every scary thing that I am afraid of about myself is true, God is still good, powerful, available, kind, and forgiving. I feel motivated to live into who he is and out of his grace. I feel ready to stop being paralyzed by fear, motivated by guilt, or weighed down by the heavy shoes of self justification. This year, I am focused on the "glorify" part. How can I bring God glory with everything that he has given to me? What duty does God require of me? As I filled out my power sheets prep this year, one concept continually came to mind. I finished the prep, got out the gold foil seed card and wrote what I knew had to be the word of the year:
It looks cute on that little card (or at least I think so #amateurhourhandlettering)... but it's kind of a boring word. And if viewed in the wrong vein it might seem burdensome or laborious. But let me walk you through the beauty and rich goodness and truth packed behind those 7 little letters:
Everything I have is a gift from God to be used for his glory and his purposes. Understanding my responsibilities, possessions, and relationships this way cultivates a spirit of thanksgiving instead of grumbling. My duties and actions become "get tos" instead of "have tos." My whole life can be a joyful expression of praise instead of a fearful performance. This changes everything about the life I lead in the context of my home. I am able to truly delight in my entire to do list because each item reflects a gift from my good Creator God.
TWO THOUSAND SEVENTEEN GOALS
So what are the things I have been given to steward? These categories emerged as my "goals" for the year:
1. MY SPACE [1 Peter 4:9-10; Romans 12:13; Titus 2:5; Gen 1:28; Gen 2:15; Col 3:23]
- Develop and implement systems for cleanliness, ornamentation, and organization to create a safe and hospitable dwelling that is conducive to the flourishing of the family within it and the refreshment of all that visit
- Plant, water, weed, and care for our yard to govern creation to highlight its beauty and serve as a welcome mat
- Keep the car free of clutter and trash so we are always ready for a passenger and not a haven for ants
2. MY RELATIONSHIPS [John 15:12; Prov 27:17; Gal 6:2; Matt 28:16-20]
- Intentionally invest in the lives of my friends, near and far, through prayer, acts of kindness, and regular communication
- Pursue accountability and pray out loud with friends
- Cultivate relationships with unbelieving friends and intentionally share the good news of Jesus
3. MY GUYS [Col 3:16; Prov 22:6; Mark 13:31; Eph 4:6; Matt 19:4-6]
- Be a safe, inviting, and supportive place for both of them by being self controlled, joy filled, and more eager to understand than to be understood
- Pray for them daily privately and out loud over them
- Speak the word of God to them
- Seek their rest (especially David's time on the boat) and their flourishing
- Take a vacation with David without Will
- Once monthly do something intentional as a family just for fun
4. MY GIFTS [1 Peter 4:10]
- MUSIC: Serve on the church worship team monthly
- SEWING: Sew and complete a project monthly
- WRITING: Blog 2-3 times a month
- BAKING: make a yummy treat to bless someone once a month
5. MY FINANCES [Luke 14:28; 1 Tim 6:17-19; Prov 21:20; Prov 3:9]
- Update Quickbooks Monthly
- Create an operating system for collecting and filing receipts
- Double alms giving in 2017
- Prayerfully bless someone with a gift each month (to be decided with David)
6. MY SOUL [1 Cor 4; John 15:4; Matt 6:33]
- Daily OT and NT reading
- Follow a weekly prayer guide at the same time each day: Friends, David's Family, My Family, Institutions, Ministries, Persecuted Church, Unbelievers
- Read a book or listen to a sermon daily (walking or doing chores through hoopla app)
- Commit to memorizing a chapter of the bible each month one verse at a time instead of "social media scrolling" or idle internet searching
7. MY BODY [Luke 14:28; 1 Cor 6:20; Gal 2:20; Rom 12:1]
- Relieve pressure on L4 L5 discs to be pain free within 6 months by walking, building core strength, and stretching muscles through gentle yoga
- Establish boundaries with sweets and sodas. Keep fresh produce in the fridge and house.
- Drink 64+ ounces of water daily
8. MY TIME [Prov 31:15-17; Prov 21:5; Eph 5:15-17]
- Use powersheets and planner together
- Print and Laminate a Daily Habit Tracker and post on fridge as a regular reminder and source of accountability
- Limit Social Media misuse
- Volunteer in some capacity once a month
9. MY "PERSON" [Gen 2:3; Psalm 139; Romans 8:1; Psalm 126:2]
- Create habits of rest and stillness
- Stimulate my mind through articles, news, TED talks, and conversation
- Spend time alone regularly
- Avoid temptation to self justify and self deprecate
- HAVE FUN AND LAUGH
Each of these goals has a friend of mine assigned to it for monthly accountability. Their role isn't so much to check up on me as it is to remind me of why these things are important, why faithfulness matters, and of the abundant life that comes from abiding in Christ, rooting your motivation in his word, and living by the power of his spirit.
I'm really excited for this year. I'm excited to grow in faithfulness and to thrive in margin. I'm watching with eager expectation to see all that God will do in, through, and around me this year. Being a wife, mother, and homemaker is a big responsibility, but it doesn't have to be a burden. By God's grace I pray that this year would be a year that my gifts would be stewarded well, that he would multiply them and use them to get glory all for himself. These goals are not about me and my self improvement. These goals are about God's kingdom and being a part of his work in my world.
What verses are you clinging to in 2017? What are some of your goals? I would LOVE to hear from you.