I love the New Year for dreaming and re-focusing, and I love taking time to reflect on where we've been. I prefer to take my time entering a new year, giving myself these first weeks for dreaming and planning the year ahead. These are some of my reflection questions on 2016:
Single best thing that happened in 2016: Changing my diet, eliminating sugar, gaining greater health. Choosing to homeschool the kids another year.
Single most challenging thing: LUCY.
An unexpected joy: that I would not only learn to live with Lucy but also grow to love her. (Most of the time). Watching the kids grow and mature, seeing their strengths emerge.
Best books I read in 2016:
Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson
The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard (still making my way slowly through this, so much to mull over!)
Big Magic was good, too, and The Allure of Gentleness by Dallas Willard. I listened to both of these on audio.
Best fiction was The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, a read aloud with the kids.
Biggest personal challenge: learning to say no, letting go of guilt
In what ways did I grow spiritually? In various ways, at various times this year I have sensed the Lord showing me that I am trying too hard. I feel guilty alllll of the time. I feel like from the moment my feet hit the floor, until I fall into bed at night, I am trying as hard as I can, and I still fall asleep feeling like I'm failing. One Sunday our pastor gave a message on the older brother in the story of the prodigal son, and it hit me hard. The older brother is working really hard. The older brother is angry. The older brother doesn't realize he too is lost. I am the older brother. I have to admit, the message made me mad. I felt hopeless. I felt like saying, no matter what I do I am still doing it wrong. I give up. For the first time I took a long break from everything- a break from guilt, a break from trying so hard. I am still working this out, I know I need to sit here for a while and understand how to abide as the beloved, how to rest in imperfection.
In what ways did I grow physically: I originally contacted a health doctor for one of the children. But it was the week I turned 39, and suddenly I wondered if I was taking care of myself. I considered myself a pretty healthy person, but I was also considering going on a mild anti-depressant. I'm so glad I started by learning about nutrition instead. After cutting out sugar and grains and adding supplements, I have very little pms symptoms, no more insomnia or anxiety or brain fog, more energy and balance. Over Christmas I indulged a bit and instantly experienced anxiety and insomnia again.
What was the most enjoyable area of managing your home? Cooking, meal planning, decorating, planning our schedule and just going about our life together, cooking with the kids, reading together, having people over.
What was the most challenging area of home management: homeschool
Single biggest time waster? The internet. One of the frustrations of being home with my kids all the time is the sense that I can't do anything without being interrupted. As a result, I often default to mindless things which don't require deep attention. One of my goals for the new year is Deep Work- to train myself to give focused attention to my work; whatever it is I am doing.
Best way I used my time this year: any time I was present with the family, the nights that I didn't work, reading with the kids, family suppers, Sunday evenings when I sit down and relax, visiting friends and taking trips. Not trying too hard to read, write or blog this year weren't things I'd have chosen, but ended up being a necessary choice.
2016 was a year of peace and goodness in our home. It was another year of God's beauty and grace. I am so grateful.