Oh how good it feels to be in a new year and a new decade. If you know me, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know how very much I love me a fresh start. I love getting a clean slate to begin again taking those steps towards the person I want to be and the callings I feel God has put on my heart.
Yes, I am painfully aware that if I didn’t keep stopping, I would never need a clean slate to start over again. Trust me, I know that truth well, and I suspect I’m not the only one, otherwise what would be the point of resolutions anyway?
But in any respect, something I put down (I don’t like the word ‘quit’) towards the end of 2019—as you may have noticed—was this very blog. As much as I don’t love that I stopped being consistent with it, I promise you that it was for a good cause. I needed to focus all my writing time on finishing that dang book I’ve been trying to write for eighteen months now and guess what… it is written! Praise God it is out of my head and onto paper. Now, whether it’s good or not, helpful or not remains to be seen, but we’re not quite at that point just yet.
As is the case in all new endeavors, we learn so very much by just stepping into it. I have learned so much about writing a book. If you’re thinking it’s as simple as… writing a book… well, you’re painfully mistaken (as was I). But alas, I am figuring it out and navigating the pot holes and I will be faithful to see this thing through to fruition. I do not yet have a release date, but for those of you who have asked me for a status update on the project, I can tell you this:
– I have joined a writing group with amazing connections and I am confident that this door has been opened for a reason and I am excited to see what comes of it.
– I have a publishing agency contracted and paid!
– I think I know which direction to head in terms of editing, which I feel is my next (and hopefully last) big step before submitting to the publishers.
– And most recently God told me to just wait. I know that sounds weird, and the achiever in my hates this command every single time I feel convicted of it, but I am waiting to see what doors open before I am to walk through the one that I see in front of me.
So hang in there with me and know that there is no one who wants this project done and fully out of my hands more that yours truly.
BUT, because the actual writing part of that project is done for the moment, that means that I can come and be a touch more consistent with my blog that I love oh so much. I know it’s kind of funny, but I feel as I’m writing that I’m sitting down with some good friends and we’re about to have a conversation. That’s probably pretty ego-centric, given he fact that I do all the talking on here, but it brings me joy all the same. I hope it does you as well.
So let’s talk a little bit about 2020…
First off, the OCD in me is just thrilled that we’re in such a nice, round, even, visually pleasing number of a year. I happen to LOVE the number 2 and 22 is my lucky number so I have a feeling some good things are in the works for this year—and I’m not just talking about a presidential election (that was a joke… God help us all, whatever happens there). But hey, if I’m wrong about 2020, the good news is that 2022 is just a few years away and so I’ve got two really good chances at luck coming up!
This year, like the last five (at least) before it, I have chosen—or rather been given—a word for the year. Last year, the word I chose was ‘Self-Discipline.’ What’s funny is at the beginning of last year I was so desperate to finally get rid of my bad habits around food and eating that I chose a word that I felt would really make me focus on that particular goal. Of course, the word itself isn’t a bad word to help one focus on ANY goal in ANY area of their life, and so I figured the word was a perfectly fine fit.
I didn’t pray about it. I didn’t ask God. I didn’t really let the word come to me. I went and chose it.
Well, come February, as you might recall, God corrected me and told me that the word He’d rather me focus on was ‘Generous.’ I thought it was kind of a strange word, in relation to the goals I had set and were pursuing for my year, but I liked it just fine and figured I could work with generous. I almost immediately, upon hearing this word from God in the shower, bought one of my best friends a plane ticket to come visit me in Nashville for her birthday. I felt generous and I was excited to be in a position to bless someone.
Turns out, although the trip was a blast, that’s not at all what God had in mind for me with that word in 2019.
My best friend, Tori, needed a place to live between moves and so we ended up sharing a roof—her, her husband Matt, and their two kids and dog, and us five—for three months. That’s a long time, and it wasn’t the most seamless thing to navigate, but it was an absolute blessing to both of our families and I will cherish those months for the rest of my life. That’s what generous looked like for us this past year.
God also called us into sacrificial giving to our church in ways we’re still walking out. That means that we’re giving beyond what we are really financially able (or some would even say beyond what is financially responsible) to be giving. But it’s growing our trust and our faith in ways that we REALLY have needed. That’s what generous has looked like for us this past year.
We have poured generously into my book project, financing this calling from God not because I think I will make a dime off of it or because I’m attempting to launch some writing career, but because we feel we’re supposed to.
Tom and I, and Tom’s business partner and wife, have fully funded (so far) their farm tech start up called Grazr. This is scary and unknown and unfamiliar, but God has called us to pour into it generously in this season and so we are. We look forward to getting that up and running early this year, so stay tuned as that project takes shape.
Of course, we continue to pour out as much generosity and abundance in experience to our kids and to our family as a whole. This is so important to us. So there is always that blessing in play as well—no more so than in our many adventures (including Disneyworld, swimming with manatees, and a road trip) in 2019.
So the word ‘Generous’ served me well in many unexpected ways last year, and the lessons and blessings continue into 2020. But when I look back at my year, the word that was almost like a family motto—the word that almost seemed to haunt us as much as it helped us—was ‘Surrender.’ It wasn’t a word I chose, or a word that was given to me, but it is the word that I walk away from that year with. It is a lesson I can’t unlearn, and it is a heart posture that I have adopted moving into this next year and next decade.
2019 changed me as a mom, a wife, an entrepreneur, and as a friend. Although I might have said while it was happening that the hardships changed me in ways that were not all good, I feel confidently now, that every change, every pruning was not only beneficial but necessary.
And honestly guys, when you stand at the end of a year feeling completely stripped down (but newly clothed), broken (but healing), and unsure (but fully confident)… it’s hard to set goals for a new year! When surrender is your new MO, the new posture of your heart, it’s hard to know what to step towards.
Like I’ve said in the past, though, don’t mistake the word ‘surrender’ for being passive. Surrender is an ACTION word. Surrendering takes intentionality, it takes humility. Often more humility than you might currently have, which means you’re about to be humbled. And being humbled is most certainly an action—I promise you on that one.
So it’s not that I stand at the gates of a new year and a new decade in the fetal position, that’s not it at all. Surrendering means that I’m in a position of openness. I’m ready to receive as opposed to take. I’m listening as opposed to talking. I’m looking as opposed to seeing.
And this year, learning my lesson from last year, I decided to let God take the lead right out of the gate and hand me my word before I jumped the gun and chose it. I am waiting for Him to tell me where we are headed this year, instead of asking Him to lead me to where I want to go.
A few days before the year ended I heard the word ‘Transformation’ and was super excited to grab ahold of it. I liked it, I needed it, and I could work with it. But something told me that this word wasn’t the whole picture. I didn’t fully lean into it because it felt like there was something more coming.
Not something more… LESS.
My word for 2020 is ‘Less.’ Honestly, at first I didn’t want anything to do with that word, but I knew it was from God. What is less? Less seems like a negative word! Less seems in opposition to abundance! Give less? Make less? Have less? Less feels like taking away… I wasn’t a fan.
But then God said… Give more… to Less.
Y’all, I started out 2019 with the most gigantic goals and aspirations. I was going to write my book, triple my business (not double, but triple), earn an incredibly difficult trip to Africa, get out of ALL of my debt, be a more present and intentional homeschool mom, write three times a week in my blog, control my diet and stop those bad habits, work out everyday, focus on my marriage, focus on my faith, lead a bible study, and start a marriage ministry at my church.
Click here to see actual footage of what that looked like.
It was just too much! I started out really happy, all smiles with all kinds of high expectations, but ultimately, I just couldn’t manage it all! Don’t get me wrong… I did a lot of those things. I just didn’t do any of them well.
So 2020 is about less. Less things. Less distractions. Less stress. And yes… for me, this year, that even means less goals. And that is hard for me to type because I LOVE goals. I’m all about the plan! I’m all about dreaming big and making it happen. But 2019 made me feel like I was a cocky Babe Ruth, stepping up to the plate and calling my shot like I could do it all in my own strength.
This year, I am focusing in on what matters most… not just what matters. There are a lot of things that matter to me (see giant list of 2019 goals) but there are only a few things—there can ONLY be a few things—that matter the most.
And because of this new posture of surrender that at first felt really foreign and uncomfortable, but now feels like a wise guide and friend, I am focusing in on daily goals rather than giant goals for the year. I’m focusing in on the 3-4 things that matter most, and I’m going to give them my all every day.
For me, that looks like boundaries! That looks like protecting my Sunday sabbath and not compromising on that boundary (I tend to stretch myself too thin and I’m realizing how very important rest is for those who desire to make big impact). It looks like intentionally saying NO! No to coaching. No to spending. No to commitments that don’t fall within my top priorities. No to some of the things that I like and even some of the things that I love. It doesn’t mean less forever. It means focus on less so that I can accomplish more.
In this case, Less really will equal More… I’m sure of it.
And so here I go… It’s not that the goals are smaller, it’s that the focus is. It’s not that the plan is any different, it’s the strategy that’s narrowed.
I invite you on this journey with me, as I always do. I invite you to choose one word to serve you throughout the year. I invite you to set goals for the year, absolutely, but more importantly, set goals for your day! And commit to accountability. Do the things you said you’re going to do. THAT’s how you start to really move towards those massive goals for your year. It starts TODAY.
Make it a good day!