Looking Back and Moving Forward

Looking Back - 2012

As I reflect upon the last year, my heart is filled with thankfulness for God's grace, provision, and guidance. I did not meet all of the dreams, goals, and plans that I had for 2012, but by God's grace, our family did meet a few of our major goals.

On February 14, 2012, my hubby and I had a coffee date night at Starbucks. We asked ourselves, "Where are we at in life?" and "Where are we going?" We only had our receipt to write on, but we came up with a brief four year plan to ponder and pray about. We made four small blocks and picked out a word for a theme for each year. We took turns writing down goals for each year with a total of four goals in each year. We logged how old we would be in each year and the ages of our daughters. It was a sobering moment, as we considered that the years were passing by, and our girls were growing up rather quickly. We had a few fun moments, where my ever good-humored hubby wrote the years beyond 2012 were not relevant (due to the Mayan issue), and he started up a quick game of Tic-Tac-Toe. Overall, it gave us a starting point to consider the path ahead, as we tried to discern where God was leading us as a family. I kept that receipt in my wallet and we have revisted it many times this past year. It was just a simple little scribbled sheet of thoughts and dreams, but it was a starting point which propelled us to make needed changes in direction.

2012 was a year of major course correction for me as a wife and mother. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, I worked full-time, took a heavy college class load, and my priorities became misaligned. I didn't do a very good job of keeping boundaries in my life between work demands and college responsibilities. I excelled in areas of work and school, and this constantly competed and took away precious time from my ministry to my family as a wife and mother. At one point I said to our oldest daughter, "I am failing in life as a wife and mother." She replied, "You are succeeding as an overachiever." It was such a bitter truth that kept me up at night. Through God's grace, my family helped pick up my slack, and they supported me through the entire process. I knew that I had failed in my primary calling in my life, and for a time I did things in my own strength. Inevitably, I did burn out. After a few major health setbacks with my asthma and high blood pressure, I listened to the warning to slow down and establish some margin in my life.

Through study, prayer, and the leading of God, I wrote out my primary priorities:
1. Devotion to God
2. Wife
3. Mother
4. Teacher
5. Overall health (spiritual, physical, emotional, and relational)
6. Vocation (a fraction of my time, energy, and focus)

I stepped down from my full-time position, at a busy homeschooling company, and realigned my priorities according to God's plan for my life. Change was difficult for me, as I battled fear and anxiety for the future. I had many sleepless nights worrying and fretting about what the future held, as our household income reduced by half. We had a lot of transition in 2012, and through it all, and despite my struggles with anxiety, God was completely faithful to lead, provide, and guide us through the year.

Through God's grace and provision, our family was able to accomplish in 2012:
-Focused on relationships with the Lord, our family, extended family, and friendships.
-Downsized our home in half (to 1200 sq ft) by moving in July.
-Moved one house away from my hubby's parents who are almost 70.
-Learned to live on one primary income.
-Made improvements in our lifestyle and hubby lost 55 pounds.
-Shaiya completed her first year of college while working a full-time job.

Through God's grace and provision, I was able to accomplish in 2012:
-Quit working full-time in June to focus on my family and health.
-Increased my efforts towards intentional Bible study and prayer.
-Joined a gym in the Spring and logged 406 miles via cycling and walking.
-Lost 20 pounds, but fell very short of my goal of losing 50 pounds in 2012.
-Took courses in the spring and summer for my BA Education.
-Began homeschooling Malachi and Zolie (nephew and niece) in the Fall 2012.

My biggest failure was that I did not lose the weight that I needed to in 2012. I made a few steps in the right direction, but I fell very short of this goal, that should have been attainable. I set a reasonable goal of losing 1-2 pounds per week, and I only lost 20 pounds total. My husband inspired and encouraged me daily, and thankfully he lost 55 pounds, which put him pretty close to his overall goal weight. I was motivated over the spring and summer months, and met some of my exercise goals. However, during the fall, I really slacked off going to the gym. After we moved in the summer, I no longer lived one mile away from the gym, and I always found reasons why I was "too busy" to get my workout completed. I don't want to dwell on this failure, but once again, I must evaluate the serious health risk that I face from being obese. I look back on journals from two and three years ago, and they all are filled with my goals of losing weight. God willing, I have to lose this weight in 2013 and reduce the negative impact it is having on my health.

Moving Forward - 2013

In 2013, our family word theme is purpose. We want to experience intentional, purposeful, meaningful moments with God, with our family, with friends, and our extended faith community.

Life is fragile. Time is precious.

Here are a couple of Scripture passages that correspond with our purpose theme:

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

Romans 8:28
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Thinking ahead to 2013, I made a listing of my own personal goals which I hope to focus on during the year. I may fine-tune and change these through the year, but they are a starting point for further prayer and reflection.

Personal - Health
-Get to the gym on a weekly basis!
-Weight loss: lose 1-2 pounds weekly until goal is met
-Improve blood pressure through diet and exercise

Personal - Spiritual
-Be faithful with wholehearted devotion to God
-Read through Bible in a year
-Luke - Good Morning Girls study
-Continue Prayer Journal
-Read devotional books on a regular basis
-Continue being plugged in at our church and seek avenues to serve and love others

-Cherish my calling as a wife to a wonderful husband
-Encourage my husband to follow Christ
-God help me not be a grumpy, tired, or nagging wife
-Date night once monthly (at least)
-Couple Bible study - need to find one!
-Celebrate our 12th anniversary in July with a mini-vacation getaway
-Read a few books together in 2013
-Plan a family mission trip

-Cherish my calling as a mother to two beautiful girls
-Encourage my children to follow Christ
-Spend quality time
-Plan family nights
-Create good memories sharing life together

Extended Family
-Cherish my family
-Encourage my family to follow Christ
-Plan dinners and gatherings
-Celebrations for holidays and birthdays

-Encourage my friends to follow Christ
-Cherish my friends and encourage them
-Provide hospitality to friends in our home
-Visit friends at their homes and gatherings

-Plan, prepare, print on weekends
-Log our weekly plans and goals
-Classical Conversations Anderson
-Plan fun field trips
-Create Project Life Homeschooling books with kids

-Weekly meal planning
-Continue to tighten grocery budget to $400 monthly
-Continue to simplify our lifestyle
-Declutter/organize garage
-Plant the largest heirloom garden possible!
-Plant extra food for local food bank
-Create garden beds and water collection tanks by sourcing recycled materials

-Work part-time for A Journey Through Learning

-Create and post meaningful content on a regular basis
-Participate on review teams
-Complete and post regular reviews from Christian and Homeschool Publishers

-Continue Financial Peace course at church
-Work with husband on monthly budget planning
-Work towards goal of buying home

-Continue finishing courses towards my BA Education. I have 17 credits left to finish.

Just for fun
-Read good books
-Play outdoors with the kids
-Go bike riding
-Work on art projects
-Write and Journal more
-Learn to knit or crochet
-Do at least one 5K
-Complete 52 weeks of Project Life
-Complete at least one Pinterest project a month
-Summer camping trip
-Summer canoe trip
-Increase WordPress skills
-Learn Photoshop

Some of my goals are simple and others are lofty. A few are on-going and are carried over from 2012. My greatest challenge will be losing the monumental amount of weight that I need to lose to regain my health. I know that God will give me the strength to make positive changes, but it is up to me to work hard, and be disciplined to shed the pounds. I am tired of failing in this area!

So what about you, dear friends? Have you written out your dreams and goals for 2013?

I would love to read them if you can share a blog link in the comments section. I pray you will experience success in attaining your goals and dreams, according to God's will and purpose, for the glory of His name and kingdom.



Shannon said…
Hi Sharra,

I love your heart for the Lord, and your reflections on 2012, and plans for 2013! From personal experience, I can say being devoted more to God, marriage, home and children will far outweigh any "over-achiever" sort of career, etc. :) Not to say I don't fall short--because I do. However, I cannot imagine how different our family dynamic would be had I not decided (actually, God called me!) to stay home and take care of my family.

God bless you in 2013!
LOVE this! I am excited to see what God is going to do in your precious family! I love that He is FAITHFUL to perform His Word! Thank you for sharing your heart - it is beautiful and upright before the Lord indeed!