Reflections on 2013, and the choices of 2014

I started my blog in January of 2013 as a way to journal about my personal struggles to determine my value.  Value as a woman, wife, mom, employee, friend…you get the picture.  These particular struggles stem from old tapes that play in my head that try to tell me that my value is limited.  I have to continually remind myself that these lies do not define me.

As I mentioned last year, I do not typically make resolutions, though it worked really well in 2013 for me to have a “theme”.   I closed my very first blog entry with the following statement:  “So 2013, be good and gentle with me and my family, and may I be met with constant reminders of my declaration to return.”  I cannot tell you how many times throughout the year I was reminded that I declared to return.    Here is very brief summary of how well I did in my return to these areas in 2013.

Sanity:  Depends on how much I sleep, and what I eat, but the fog continues to lift.

Sensibility:  We are acutely aware of our chemical burden.  This continues to be an area of passion and research for me.  We made a huge change in April of 2013 to cut processed food from our diet, and switch to what is considered “Real Food”.  Still a battle to eat wisely each day.  Budget…continues to be a struggle.  More to come on this in 2014.

Service:  In early 2013, I began serving on the board of a large local mother’s club.  I am coordinating a program which organizes meals and other service-related tasks for moms that welcome new babies.  Food, and new mamas.  Perfect fit.

My God:  I wander.  Therefore, I am not sure that God will ever stop calling me to return.  It is something that I hope to be a life-long pursuit.  Both Him calling me back, and me chasing hard after His goodness, love and scandalous grace.

This new year, I plan to pursue more perspective in the things that really matter in my life.  Often, it takes a great sacrifice or tragedy to put life into perspective, but I am not waiting.  I am choosing over the next 12 months to sacrifice selfishness in search of character development.  I will not always get to control my circumstances, or the outcome of my trials, but  I do have a choice about my attitude, and response.  This will be my 2014 theme.  The ability to choose.

I plan to begin 2014 in January by choosing stillness.  This will initially mean developing a discipline of giving the first portion of my day to God in quiet and prayer.  I LOVE sleep, so when I tell you that this is a sacrifice, please believe me.

Honestly though, this is about SO much more than morning quiet time or prayer.  How will my relationships, parenting, work/business life, budget change if I choose to be still?  Can I be a better listener, think/pray before making a decision or purchase, pause before speaking, consider others before acting?  Will the manufactured hustle that I create in my life subside?  What will I learn about myself in the silence?  What will God speak to me in the quiet?

Looking forward to January’s journey and the insight.

~S

Advertisements

Baggage

Life is a series of experiences.  Some more memorable than others.

In the recent weeks, my teeny L has made some fabulous strides.  He sprouted teeth, he crawls SO fast both to me, and away from me.  He stands up on everything, and is cruising the furniture.  He is in to stuff!  Baby books, instagram and facebook feeds are not enough to record these events. These milestones are memories I want to keep readily accessible in my brain.  I want to be able to recall them in years to come and have them be as clear as they are now.  Like a mental picture.

L

My mind does not work that way.  Things get muddled and noisy.  It is almost as though my mind is a daisy chain of suitcases that I drag behind.  They are filled with my life experiences.   Memories from childhood, and today.  Thirty some years of life is not long, I am aware, though my chain is long.  The chain is full of memories both good and bad; truth and lies.

The heavy items, the baggage, keep me from moving forward at my desired pace.  They pop open on my life journey, spilling their contents into the forefront of my memory.  They surface lies told in years past that I have accepted as truth.  Wounds are reopened as I struggle to close the lid on them.  Like gremlins, the lies multiply.  “You are not appreciated” they scream….”You are not valued!”

In addition to dragging items behind, it feels like I often have glasses on that change my view of a situation or interaction.  I see something different through these lenses of regret or hurt that makes me behave in a way that is not warranted.  I lack patience and grace believing that I know how things will turn out.  I do not take risks because the effort of pulling any more items is too daunting.

The process of unpacking, and choosing to let go of baggage is just as overwhelming.  Some items can just be unhooked from the chain, and allowed to drift away.  Others require that they come out of their case and get washed with truth.  Who has time to do all of that laundry?!?!

I need space in my cases for the good stuff that is worth keeping.  The valuable daily little milestones and victories.  The sweet laughs of my boys, that tell me I am doing some things well.  I need to lighten the load to be a better mom, and a better wife.  One that does not look behind at the road traveled and make decisions based on fear.

Bottom line…

I am loved and VALUED by God.  My life, my family and my outlook would be different if I chose to carry this truth with me on my journey.

The Return

2012 was hard. I understand that it is relative, but for me, it was hard. New baby, new address, new job, new financial challenges.

I am not a person that makes resolutions at the beginning of a new year. Mainly because they typically last about 4 days. This year, however, I am finding myself re-evaluating, and desiring a simplification of sorts. I am uncomfortable with my current state of complacency. I am hungry, and unsettled. After much thought, and a few circumstances, I need 2013 to be the year that I “return” to…

Sanity. I became acutely aware of the difference between the baby-blues and post-partum depression following baby number two. Before this experience, I naively thought PPD was something you could choose to smile your way through. I mean, you just had a baby…shouldn’t that make you insanely happy?!? While I will leave the details for another post, L is 9 months today, and the weeds are getting shorter every day. My plan is to sleep more, to write out my thoughts, and to find some quiet amidst the noise.

Sensibility. At the end of 2012, we determined that our first son T would require some developmental assessments and possible therapy. (They no longer call them “late bloomers” btw) The Google machine led me in many directions, but one that particularly resonated with me was environmental toxins. What role are toxins playing in the development/behavior of my son? Could I be exposing him unknowingly to dangerous items which manifest in these delays? There was no way to be sure, but just in case, we did a home detox. We said goodbye to ALL chemical cleaning products, all personal care/beauty products containing questionable ingredients, and we committed to knowing exactly what is going in our mouths. In our home, I can and WILL control what we breathe, what we put on our skin, and what we eat. I am also learning to control our budget. By learning I mean the elementary school, possibly kindergarten, kind of learning. Like…the “let’s practice our letters” kind of learning. Yeah, I am thirty-some, and have never lived on a budget. This B word has led me to go on the hunt for value. At what store can I find the cheapest (fill in the blank) and still not sacrifice food/product quality. I am finding both areas of sensibility exhausting in the read-every-label and bust-out-the-calculator-to-find-the-per-ounce-price kind of way, but I am unwilling to drop either cause.

Service. Before I was married, I gave much of my time to our church’s high school ministry. I cherished this time, and made some of my favorite memories with this wonderfully amazing group of young people. After my PPD adventures, in a way that I cannot really describe, I felt connected to other new moms. Not just moms with multiple kids, but any mom with a new little tiny. Most new moms go through feelings of inadequacy, but not many speak up about needing help. I am still sorting through how this will play out this year, but I want to help. I will find a tangible way to help. Given my paralyzing inability to talk to people I do not know, this will stretch me. Bring it.

Lastly, I will return to my God. Roughly five years ago, I went on a women’s retreat to Montery, Ca. In one particular exercise, they had us take a rock from baskets on stage, and write a word on the rock. The details of the whole process get a bit fuzzy, but I came home with a rock that was promptly stuffed into my sock drawer. You know, I wanted to keep it and all, but it was not really a convenient time for me to follow through on any kind of promise I had made to myself at this conference. Rewind even farther back in time, and a tough broken engagement shook my faith. Hindsight is perfect, and I can now see how choices I made had consequences. So…shaken faith, selfish attitude, but persistent God. In June of 2012, our family moved to a new home. When putting our bedroom together, what did I find in my sock drawer? Oh how I needed this…

return

It is quite clear that I am not capable of much without God. He has been calling me back to him for several years, but the mud is THICK, and I have so.much.baggage. He is patient, and very very gracious. It is time that I return. I need community. I need accountability. I need study. I need grace. I know I will find all of these things when I return.

So 2013, be good and gentle with me and my family, and may I be met with constant reminders of my declaration to return.