2015 was a bit of a roller coaster for us. we had extreme circumstantial highs and lows over the course of this year and a lot of changes to adjust to. Through these varied circumstances two big lessons that we continued to learn and re-learn were (1) to find our joy/ peace/ value in our identity in Christ and not from our circumstances and (2) to be grateful for each moment/ item/ relationship that we have.
The highs from this year included buying and moving into our new home, the release of Jeremy's third book: The Table and the Dream, the birth of baby Zeke, new relationships, starting new groups and businesses, some travel in the US and abroad for Jeremy to speak and minister and more.
The lows included the loss of two very close friends within 2 months of each other, the multiple times that the contract on our home almost fell through and we had to scramble to make it work out. Lots of annoying circumstantial challenges from cars breaking down, to a fire in our house, to several of our major appliances dying. Because we don't tend to focus on the bad/ hard things and because we believe that God uses ALL things to work for good we are able to see the gifts that these challenges brought though... the gift of having a greater appreciation for the relationships and things that we do have with us. #perspective
The changes from this year included Noah starting school with pre-k and us all adjusting to him being gone during the day and having a homework routine in the evening. Eli had several changes this year also as he got potty trained and moved from a crib to a big boy bed. With our new home came a new neighborhood to adjust to and settle in. We have also adjusted to becoming a family of five, and couldn't be more happy with the addition of Zeke to our family.
We've been learning and processing a lot this year (and hope to always be doing so). Some of the main themes have been;
-five influences: A big topic of conversation for us this year has been the idea that each person is going to be influenced by and become like the 5 people that we spend the most time with (or most time being influenced by via books, shows, podcasts etc). That whether you like it or not, the people that you spend the most time will start to rub off on you and shape your attitude and behavior. We've talked a lot about who these people are for us, what we are learning and picking up from them (intentionally and not) (good and bad) and being intentional to spend more time with people that we want to be like or be shaped and influenced by.
-a commander mindset (as Jeremy discusses in The Table and the Dream). The idea that we have a lot of freedom in life to co-create with God, that He doesn't need to dictate every single step that we take, that He has given us passions, talents, desires and gifts so that we can be creative. That when we are living out of our oneness with Him, our thoughts and desires are His thoughts and desires so we can freely follow them rather than being consumed with worry over the "right" step to take next. Knowing that God is limitless and infinite and that His fullness dwells in us and that we can tap into His unlimited resources at any moment.
-relationships and community: People, relationships and community have continued to be some of our greatest strengths, values and ministries. We each have started and led various men's, women's and couples groups this year and really enjoy the time that we get to spend interacting with others. Because of this, group dynamics, conflict resolution, what true community looks like and other related topics frequent our conversations. We're always processing ideas about what makes a healthy group, how to handle difficult things within a group and how to live life closely with others.
-self-care: I've done a lot of processing this year (see this blog post) on the idea of self-care and whether it is a biblical concept or not.
Similar to that, I've also done a lot of processing this Brene Brown quote "until we can receive with an open heart we are never really giving with an open heart". I've never been a very good receiver, or ask-for-help-er and I've spent a lot of time processing that this year and growing in there areas.
-how I relate to God: Several months ago God had told me to call Him Adonai. While I had heard this term before, I wasn't sure of it's specific meaning. When I looked it up and realized that it means "Lord" something within me flinched. When I first became a Christian years ago I was most comfortable relating to God as Lord and taking orders from Him. Over the last few years I have grown much more comfortable relating with Him as a friend, co-creating with Him, being empowered by Him. Him essentially telling me to call Him Lord/ master/ boss was hitting a nerve in me. I think that was just the point. He was completely aware of the hang up that I had unknowingly adapted. After talking through this with Jeremy he had mentioned how God is multi-faceted and how He is equally Father/ Son/ Holy Spirit/ Lord/ Friend/ Comforter and more. Jeremy had suggested that although God is dynamic, that people aren't used to dealing with Him that way and that most of us interact with the side/ face/ attribute of God that we are most comfortable with. This has had me pondering how much of God I have been missing out on by limiting my interactions with Him to one facet of who He is. So now I've been trying to engage Him more holistically, and not just through the lens of whatever teachings/ theology/ ideas of Him I am most comfortable with at any given time.
Here are a few of my fave photos from the year
(special thanks to Sarah Becker Photography and Elizabeth Lafargue Photography for the pictures above)
Here are a few questions that I've been asking myself as I reflect and close out 2015;
-What worked for me/ us in 2015? What didn't?
-What were my/ our highs and lows this year?
-What's something (or things) that I/we want to leave behind in 2015?
-What main lessons did I/ we learn in 2015?
Stay tuned for a post tomorrow looking forward to 2016 and some of our plans, goals and dreams for this coming year and beyond...