My word for this year is slow. My personal resolution for this month is to improve our family meals--slowing down for cooking and conversations. And my creative goal for this quarter is less learning and more doing--especially writing on inspiration I've had and has continued to grow since 2012.
Put all of those things together and we get the rest of this blog post.
Our 2-year-old saw me working on peeling and cutting potatoes for breakfast and asked, "Is that apples, mommy?"
Um, no, son.
I've clearly not made real potatoes in a long time. At first I almost skipped it. I mean, being up all night with a vomiting toddler is a perfect excuse to pass on slowing for homemade. But I did it anyway, peeling, cutting, seasoning. And I realized how much I miss it. I've never been much of a cook, but I've definitely done considerably less of it since Baby 3. And I miss the slow rhythms of feeding my family.
These days, slow isn't natural for me and sometimes it's just flat-out not desirable.
Sharon Hodde Miller shared her experience of taking the long, slow path to writing her book on my friend Merritt's podcast. She shared the lessons she has learned along the way, and at some point Merritt asked her what advice she would give to someone wanting to skip that long, slow path. How might they learn from her struggles to get to the end result a little quicker? (Listen to the episode to hear the full conversation.)
It got me thinking about how we always want the shortcut. We want the meal without all the prep. We want to skip the fall of mankind and think of how we might have done things different than Adam and Eve. We want to not wander in the wilderness and think of how we wouldn't complain or misbehave like the Israelites did. We want the book without the life lessons to fill it.
Yet, by doing that, by looking for the shortcuts and imagining ways we wouldn't mess up, we're unknowingly removing Jesus from the equation. We're saying that we don't need His salvation, or we'd like to avoid needing it if at all possible. We forget that the fall and the struggle and the wander is the very reason we get to experience rescue and hope and grace. (Lots more on this to come, because it's the heart of the message inspiring me.)
Trying to find the shortcut only shortcuts our stories.
Last night our 6-year-old threw a huge fit about the meal I had spent 45 minutes preparing, before he even got to the table. So, later after everyone else was done and gone and my husband had spent a good while diffusing the situation, I returned to give my husband a break.
As my son finished the part of the meal he finally decided he liked, and I washed the dishes, I tried explaining to him what it's like to work hard cooking a meal and then be met with whining and complaining before the food had even been tried. That it's a little like how he felt the day before when he worked so hard meticulously placing tiny beads on a heart formation and his little brother knocked it all on the floor. I asked if he remembered how that felt.
He seemed kind of thoughtful, even sad thinking about his hard work that had been swiped away in a second. Then, as if something clicked, he responded, "It's kind of like a wish not coming true."
You bet, bud. Every meal I labor over that my kids refuse to eat is like my wish for them, for me, for our family, not coming true.
Today, those words came back around to me in a way I didn't expect.
I've been in a rut of growth and writing and figuring out what I'm doing "here" and what I'm doing next. Last week I answered some questions in a sort of interview over the phone and talked about my faith and writing and blogging. When asked what I hoped would eventually come of it, all I could admit was the unknown. And it's true. I'm so hopeful for God to come through and lead in ways I don't even know to ask for right now.
Still, I used to get a little more specific. I used to be brave enough to admit I felt God calling me to writing and speaking. Now, thinking that makes me feel like I don't even want it anymore. I feel scared that God might actually come through to lead me to speak and write and I'd fail. That perhaps my 7-year-old dream of being a secretary (because I didn't know writing could be a career) might be the safer, more comfortable route. Or maybe God doesn't want to use my writing and speaking as much as I've pleaded with Him to do so.
I've been turning this all over and over in my mind. Thoughts that carry away and prayers that formulate as I slow to peel and cut and prepare food or as I fold and stack and put away clean laundry. Words that come as I slow. The everyday mundane where a mustard seed of faith is all you need to grow something beyond recognition.
The laundry is what I was working on today as I listened to a podcast. God said words that hit me deep enough, clear enough, personal enough I had to pause the episode to go sit on the toilet seat and cry.
I heard God say: "Trina, every time you procrastinate on writing that message I've been scripting into your heart and every time you say 'but this calling isn't a real thing for me to do,' it's like My wish for You isn't coming true."
That's the last thing I'd ever want is for God's wish for me to not come true. Yet, I discredit Him or chicken out or quit following His plan because it's just taking too long. And it hit me, that's exactly what I've been doing--or rather, not doing. Looking for any reason to believe His wish for me has changed or I somehow got it wrong, then not following through.
There are no shortcuts. Clearly. Just lots more pieces filtering in these slow moments. More to what God is speaking into my life and where He is leading. More of His words growing in my heart and flowing through my fingers.
If I would just let Him.
So, with all of that, I'm continuing to slow, continuing to homecook more of our meals, and continuing to write words that have been growing in my heart for years now. It's time just as much as it was 4 years ago. And I can't let the lack of shortcuts cause me to give up on Him.
God has a beautiful wish for my life.
And I believe He has a beautiful wish for your life, too.
Let's slow to hear Him. Then be faithful to follow Him the long way.
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New beginnings are my jam! Seriously, it's no accident "beginner" is in the title of this blog. I am perpetually beginning, and I love it. I love making goals and new starts and filling in new pages of new journals. New years, new quarters, new months, birthdays--all just an excuse for me to make goals and plan new beginnings.
My one problem with new beginnings is I always start with an epic mentality--Go big or go home! Do all the things! This is my year and I'm going to make it all happen! (Hence the reason for my ebook and accompanying journal: Epic Beginner.)
It hasn't taken me long to realize all the things don't happen. I sometimes have fun trying, and sometimes I just get burned out or bummed out from accomplishing only a couple things on a never-ending list.
I'm learning to embrace a slower, more realistic pace to my goals. (That's why "slow" is my word for this year.) In 2012 that meant doing monthly resolutions: Having one goal or focus for each month. By the end of the year I accomplished TWELVE resolutions. It's still one of my favorite years to-date.
My friend, Alysa, read The 12 Week Year (*affiliate link used; see full note below) and inspired me in doing quarterly goals. So each 3-month period is a new beginning--yay!
This year I caught myself diving into my goals wanting to do everything all at once again, and my sister-in-law, Michaela, had the brilliant idea of focusing on one personal goal each month (like my monthly resolutions) and working on one creative goal each quarter (like Alysa's 12-week year). I love it! So that's what I'll be doing this year. Still attempting A Lot of The Things, but one at a time.
And be sure to checkout my friend Merritt's podcast where she interviews devoted dreamers who share their experiences in going from dreaming to doing--which is really what goals at new beginnings are about, right? It's so inspiring to hear how others are actually doing their dreams.
Wherever you're at with your goal-planning for this year (or even if it doesn't exist, because we can't all be nuts about beginnings), below are six resolutions you won't regret trying. These are changes that I've never gone wrong on. Every year, or every goal-planning session, I see some form of these pop up, and I've never regretted any time or effort I've put into these changes. I take my next right simple and specific step in each one. The changes are lasting and build on each other each new year and new beginning.
Keep reading for ideas to make them your own.
Move MoreThis resolution, along with the one below, is a little more specific and doable than losing a set number of pounds. Moving more might be doing a daily 4-minute HIIT exercise, using that gym membership a certain number of times a week, taking daily walks, stretching in the evenings, or all of the above. The key is to start small and doable and work it into your daily/weekly routine. Make it something you can keep up for the long haul. I'm still working on my simple morning exercises and we're getting back into our 3x/week gym routine. We finally worked out after a too-long break and were wiped for a few days--we are done being out of shape!
Also see: Monthly Resolutions
Eat BetterSame as moving more, eating better is a little more specific and doable than focusing on an ambiguous number on a scale. Instead of a fad diet, make real lasting changes to your meals. Last year, this meant trading out my dessert-like coffee for a simple tea Monday-Thursday. It was a tiny, very doable change, and helped me lose a couple stubborn pounds that weren't going anywhere. Now that it's set in my routine, I can work on other small changes. Look for the key problem areas in your own diet. Replace unhealthy drinks with a healthier alternative or more water; take healthy lunches and snacks to work a certain number of times a week; eat at home more than you already do. This year, I'm tackling our family's meal times to try and get back to healthier home-cooked meals and nudge my kids to less picky-ness. Wish me luck!
Also see: New Year's Fasts
Self-CareI can't be the only that has replaced positive de-stressing routines with "unwinding" each evening in front of a Netflix binge sesh. At first it was fun and felt like a break. Now it feels a little like wasting my life and not giving me the room I need to actually de-stress. So, self-care was on my list starting the middle of last year and is lingering on my list this year. It includes more baths, more reading, more intentional use of my evenings after the kids are in bed, and even scheduling more doctors and preventative care appointments. I also include my devotional time in self-care, because Jesus is the only One that can really heal me and fill me up, but that gets its own line below.
Also see: 5 Things Only You Can Do
Be PresentThis is an ongoing priority for me, but was a big focus especially in 2014 when we were getting ready for Baby 3 and a move. When things get busy it's easy to miss the little everyday meaningful moments that we'll never get back. Sometimes this means planning specific time with the people I love, sometimes it means letting my To Do list go for an afternoon while I watch my kids play, or taking a deep breath and capturing a moment with my camera or with my mind before I go on to the next thing. I have never regretted moments I've spent focusing on being present with the people I love.
Also see: Success is What You Do While Everyone Else is Distracted
Read MoreThere's a saying that you'll be the same person next year besides for the people you've met and the books you've read. Over the last few years, the books I've read have definitely had a huge part in my growth in all areas of life. That wasn't always the case. Up until 2012, I was simply not a reader. It took forever to read a book and I often got distracted or lost interest. Then, I read a book in a week and realized maybe I'd just been making excuses all my life. So I read an average of 1 1/2 books each month that year and have been reading ever since. You won't regret picking up the habit of reading or the person you'll grow to be because of it.
Also see: Book-a-Month Resolution
Devotional TimeI saved the best for last. At all of my new beginnings, my devotional life is top of my priority list. Growing closer to Jesus through reading His Word, memorizing and focusing on scripture, praying more specifically and earnestly. I've read through the Bible a couple years ago and am working on reading through The Message, a habit that I'll keep up ongoing. If I'll be the same person this time next year besides for the people I've met and the books I've read, well, devotional time will be the most life-changing thing I'll do. Because I'll be getting to know Jesus at a deeper level, reading His truth and letting it soak in a little more, and following Him to the people, places, and experiences He has in mind for me. Seriously, best choice ever.
Also see: Thoughts on Bible Reading
Those are the six resolutions I've never regretted making a priority. Some I'll be continuing this year in the form of my next right small, doable habit change. Allowing them to settle into my regular routines even as I focus and work on other goals. This may not be my best year yet, but I'm sure to end it thankful for new beginnings and slow growth in the process. I hope you will to!
Happy New Year!
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Not every day has to be special; and not every special day has to be over-the-top memorable. This is a reminder I needed myself today, so decided to type it up just in case you also need to be reminded. Feel free to insert your own name if it fits, or not. It's up to you.
Trina, on this first day of the kids' winter break and the day before Christmas Eve, I give you permission to have an "off" day. To not feel like doing all the things or creating all the special.
Sure, you could have had something planned today. I mean, deep down you probably knew togetherness and laziness wouldn't be enough of an agenda when the kids all woke up at 6:30 in the morning needing something to do. You're not to fault for being hopeful.
And those looming clouds and that ongoing rain? You're not in charge of that. Sure, you live in Nebraska and if anything should be keeping your kids hulled up inside it should be sleet or ice or bitter coldness. It's not your fault that this year, instead of a winter wonderland you're looking out at cold gloomy wetness.
Also, that headache? Not your fault either. (Ah hem, thanks monthly cycle.) Sometimes your body is the boss of you. The best you can do at that point is turn on The Santa Claus for the kids and hope that some of that holiday special-ness will pour out of the TV screen as you rest your head on the couch pillow.
It is not your job to make every moment of your children's young lives magical. Even through the holidays. You do your best to insert some fun traditions and be intentional about moments that matter. The rest of it? Let it go. Let them learn to use their imaginations and see the magic of what happens when they witness their own boredom blossom.
Listen to them downstairs while their baby brother is napping upstairs: They're playing pretend. As short as it may last, that is the magic of childhood, and you had nothing to do with it. Actually, yes, you did. You gave them space to be kids while you wait for the Tylenol to kick in. Good on you.
Now, I know you already know you didn't need to be scrolling through Instagram when you were feeling your lowest. When you already felt like you were failing your kids for not having more energy today or not planning all the baking and holiday fun you
You didn't need to see everyone else's over-the-top special moments from this season. Not on this day when you needed more than anything to be assured that normal and mundane is okay and not going to scar your kids. That as long as everyone is taken care of and loved and there's perhaps some sweet holiday melodies flowing from Pandora (because there is), that you're doing enough.
Relax. Today is special simply because it exists by no power of your own, and you and your people exist in it together, also by no power of your own. You feed them and bathe them and keep showing up for them and that's great. But we all know this one chance at precious life is by God's goodness and His breath and power moving in and through you and your home and your family.
So just chill when you start feeling like you're failing everyone, or like you're personally ruining this holiday for everyone. They're still breathing and the world's still spinning.
Today, that's special enough.
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