Happy New Year! I am diligently working on my goals for 2011 today and looking forward to what this next year brings. But in doing that I also looked back on the goals I wrote last year at this time and although this is typically a December 31 sort of topic I thought I would start this year by reflecting on how 2010 went.
Although I did write my typical goals that look like this:
Spiritual: study bible more, go to bible studies, etc
Physical: work out more
Mental: Read more, finish crafts
I also did something new last year which I think I shared last January but am too lazy to look back and check. I wrote out several "I want" paragraphs. Not like "I want a new pony" but new things I want to do or ways I want to improve my life. Sort of like goals only phrased different. Although I don't know that I meant them as such, they turned out to be a prayer of sorts. And as I re-read them I saw that although not all of them played out exactly how I had in mind, God did reveal himself in each area.
"I want to spend this year focused on what is really important and not get caught up in the trivia of the day to day." Now my thought here was to avoid being a pampered housewife and instead find some significant activity. However, as I look back on a year of serious financial difficulty I see how God caused me to re focus my life by stripping me of the ability to be trivial and create a great need to solely rely on Him for each day.
"I want to be 'gazelle' intense regarding our money." Now I was thinking I would intensely save money and plan ahead for all the purchases we wanted to make. However, God still answered this by creating a situation where we had to reevaluate what was a need and what was a want and teach us to live more frugally. When money is tight you have no choice but to be "gazelle intense". If you look away for a second it could all fall apart.
"I want to learn to spend more time with my family...eat dinner together, etc." While I wouldn't say this really happened, I am going to put this one on my 2011 sheet, but definitely as we have stripped away so many activities what is left, what we still prioritize, are things we do together as a family. Whether it is finding a way to take a weekend at a friend's cabin or just all going to watch Jake wrestle, those are the things we find really important.
"I want to do a marathon for my 40th birthday." OK this turned into a triathlon within a few weeks of the new year and I did do it! Hurray.
"I want to grow in my faith.." Here is what I wrote in my journal on Dec 29th, "Lord, as the year comes to a close I am grateful for my relationship with you in a way I have never experienced. I have seen you work in my life and change me in new and wonderful ways. I see you with new eyes, experience life with new confidence." I told some friends recently that I feel like I have grown more spiritually this year than I have in many years. And I know it is because of the financial trials of this year and my need to totally rely on Him.
"I want to live a life of simplicity that turns my focus to my family and to Christ..." I don't know exactly what I was thinking here but it definitely wasn't a simplicity that comes from having nothing and no choices. I wanted to CHOOSE simplicity, not have it thrust upon me out of need. Still, I have learned lessons through this year that I would have otherwise never fully grasped. I know how little I really need to be happy.
"I want to find joy in feeding my family every night..." Of all the struggles I think this is the one that was the easiest and best. I would be lying to say that we never ate out this year, I am sure my quicken file would still reveal more than I care to admit, but mostly this became true. We choose to eat at home over eating out. And we like it. John and I find ourselves talking about eating out and realize we no longer crave any of our favorite restaurants as much as we crave our own home cooking. It is a MAJOR change in our life and one that we are thoroughly enjoying. However, I will admit that if our finances had not forced it upon us I don't know that we ever would have made as significant a change and broken the eating out habit.
God may not always answer our prayers exactly the way we have in mind but he never fails us. He always shows up and gives us not necessarily what we want but exactly what we need. Praise be to God.