The end of the year comes as a natural time for reflection. I don’t believe you can set realistic goals for going forward until you’ve considered where you are and where you have come from. 2015 has been a year of transition for me: a season of change. I have often sat down to try and blog about the changes going on and though I’m very aware of them, it is at the same time hard to define them. I’ve come to the conclusion that is because the tumble of change is still going on; it hasn’t happened – it is happening. There is change in my family as my children grow older, there is change in my capabilities as I grow older, there is change in our church life and service, there is change happening in Peter’s work life. Of course life is all about change, nothing ever stays the same, but there are some years where everything hits at once, and this has been one of those kinds of years. Instead of writing during the process of change – which would have sounded like a grumble session and not very edifying – I believe those things will come out in my life, and in my writing, as life goes on. So with that in mind I’m sharing here 15 lessons I’ve learnt – some are very practical, some are heart lessons that will guide me in the future.
1– I built a new website. This year I moved my blog to a self-hosted blog, which maybe to you, my readers doesn’t look anything more than a facelift with a new layout, but to me there was lots of learning going on. I also joined a blogging course – Christian Bloggers Bootcamp, which has taught me lots and introduced me to some great bloggers who have been a great support for building a blog, but also an encouragement to my own heart as I read their blogs.
2– It takes time to heal – In 2014 we had a church issue which was very hurtful – it resulted in us moving to a different church. I have had to be reminded, a few times over the year, of my belief that God is bigger than mans’ stuff-ups. I have also had to give myself permission to take time to heal.
3– God has confirmed the heart message He has given me; to encourage the body of Christ. Regardless of the hurt and pain church life has caused us – our heart is for the family of God; to be involved, to love, support and encourage – to see each person grow to be more like Christ. I’m accepting that God has put this on my heart even though I can’t see what that always looks like.
4– There’s a change in my homemaking. Over the last 15 years the focus for my homemaking has been to create a learning environment for my family and a welcome place for friends. But now that most of our homeschooling is done, my heart is turning towards making my home a place of welcome and rest. I’m starting a renovation, a repaint and a redecorate – fun projects ahead for 1216!
5–The truth behind the statement: if you need a friend – be a friend. Though our church move hasn’t changed friendships, it does open up a new group of people who though we knew before we didn’t see that often. Our journey in 2014/2015 has made me be more intentional about catching up with friends. I have set myself a goal to catch up with one growing friendship a week – to be an encouragement to them, or to get to know them more.
6–Asking for clarification before reacting. Once I started thinking this way I started to see applications all around me – when I feel a reaction starting to rise in me, pause and ask for clarification, ask for understanding. When we ask the other person to explain a little more it stops us from jumping to conclusions. This helps in all relationships – but certainly in the marriage relationship.
7– Expectations that put pressure on me come from my own heart not from others – Sometimes I think I have an over developed sense of commitment or responsibility! This year has been a year of saying ‘no’ to things that I would have previously not even thought about but just did. I did those things out of habit, out of expectations – that I put on myself! So taking timeout from just doing – and thinking through the things that I take on and making sure they are consistent with the things that God has put on my heart.
8– The crockpot is wonderful! I bought myself a new crockpot and have been using it more and more over the year. One goal I set myself was to freeze some crockpot meals ready to throw into the pot and cook. I ended up doing this a couple of times – it was easy, efficient and felt so good to be that organised!!
9– Housework escalates when you don’t do a little every day. I have had a sore shoulder for close to 2 years which has left one arm weak and often in pain. The daily stuff was happening because the kids all do their bit but since the deeper cleaning is my bit this often got left undone. The result is by the end of the year we have cobwebs growing in places we’ve never had cobwebs before. Though there is nothing I could have done about this (other than getting a housecleaner) it did show me the benefit of doing a little bit every day.
10– Peoples words can be like ear worms. As a part of the church issue there was some hurtful things said. I have been surprised that even though I knew those words to be untrue throughout the year I caught myself believing those words – which distracted me or limited me from doing the very thing that God has called me to do – strengthen God’s family! People’s words can be like ear worms – they stick in your head and you can’t shake them. When this happens with those silly song tunes the only way to dislodge them is to fill your head with other songs – the same goes with people’s words. The only way to dislodge them is to fill my head with someone else’s words – God’s words which are true and everlasting!
[Tweet “Words become earworms; they get stuck in our head, go round and round – be careful what you say.”]
11– Parenting teens and young adults is time consuming. I had an assumption tucked away in the back of my mind that I would have more time to myself this year – my kids are growing up, only homeschooling one etc etc etc. But wasn’t to be the case!! Though parenting certainly changes as they grow older – and that change happens from about 13 onwards – the reality is our big kids still need support. They don’t need teaching or training but they do need support. I am very thankful that I have the ability to arrange my other responsibilities and activities around the times where my big kids need me.
12– Homeschooling the last child is like homeschooling an only child – We have homeschooled our children all the way through – and now have only one more to go. Homeschooling one child has been different – I’m not needed so much, but the negative has been there isn’t as much iron sharpening iron going on – and this is the role that I need to step into. This is one of the key changes we’ll be making next year – finding opportunities for either me, or the family as a whole to spark Daniel’s thinking deeper than his own ponderings.
13– My One Word for 2015: Give. Though I didn’t maintain specific monthly study on this one word – which was my intention, this word was certainly a thread throughout 2015. It was a message to myself that was constantly on my heart. Give. Though I may not have ‘given’ in ways where I used to give – giving to others even in my pain, has been a healing. I’m thinking about my one word for 2016 and I think it will be ‘order’.
14– Our whole body is connected – spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, intellectually. I think our body is an amazing thing; it is complex and interwoven. As we have dealt with changes in our life all aspects have been affected, but also all aspects have been a part of getting things back together. I think we often ignore some aspects of our body in our struggles – we may go through a spiritual struggle but ignore the effects of that on our physical body, we may go through an emotional struggle and forget the impact that will have on our intellect. In hard times and in good times we need to look after our whole body.
15– I love living with older teens and young adults. My kids have been my biggest support through this hard year. When I have fallen they have reached down and pulled me up. They have encouraged me, they have told me off so I get my thinking straight, they have been sad with me, laughed with me (and at me!). They have cared for me in so many different ways, they have reminded me of what is important and at other times kept the moment light. I could not have got through this year without my kids!
So there you have it – 15 lessons. Each one of them could be a blog post in their own right – but for now I’ll leave it as a list! What lessons have you learnt this year? And how are they shaping how you approach 2016.