Heading into 2016 I had an idea of the areas in my life I needed to grow in, but I had very little understanding of what it would take to actually move forward. I knew growth would be the theme word for 2016 and attempted to set goals that would move me into a deeper relationship with Jesus.
I set goals in five separate areas and set out to seek to walk the path I felt God was calling me to walk. Reflecting on the five areas I pulled out I thought it might be a good exercise to consider the ways I have experienced growth.
Family: Our oldest entered middle school and chose to take home ec. He’s discovered he loves cooking. Not just eating, but the process of cooking. We’ve had fun making omelets, cakes and cookies and even dinner. It’s been a stretch to let him into my kitchen, but it’s been a ton of fun. Our youngest and I have spent some quality time in the car this year. We spend about 30 minutes alone each afternoon as we drive from his school to his brothers and then waiting for his school to dismiss. I’ve learned a lot about his likes and dislikes this year. He’s a kid of few words, and this short window has allowed for a daily check-in giving me a constant idea of who he is growing into being.
Ordell and I have had a great year. This doesn’t mean we haven’t disagreed, but the reality is we’ve been together long enough to anticipate the things that will wound each other and avoid them. We’ve had a great time together just in daily life as well as on trips. Personally, I’m finding a new balance in my time alone and time with others. Ordell is still my favorite person to spend time with whether I’m working out, shopping or relaxing.
Wellness Coaching: I’ve developed my coaching career this year in fun ways. I’ve expanded my reach to two campuses which had included learning to balance things differently. I continue to look for new ways to make wellness relevant and attractive to those I’m assigned to serve.
Health: This area is one I am not sure I expected to be able to report much on, but I’m pleasantly surprised to be able to report my thyroid seems to have leveled out. I’m still on medicine, but after meeting with a holistic counselor this summer, I stripped my diet of gluten, dairy, and sugar for 30 days. I’ve continued to keep gluten and dairy out and have backed off sugar as well. I feel that I’m functioning at my optimum levels and my blood tests reveal that to be true as well. I’m hopeful things will continue to improve or at the minimum stay the same.
Relationship with God: I think the biggest way that I have seen growth in my relationship with God has been through experiences. God has done something interesting for me this year. I had a series of experiences that occurred that could be described as Deja Vu. Not necessarily the same people, but the same scenarios came up. For example, we found ourselves for the fourth year in a row feeling hopeful our home would sell only to discover it would once again be put on hold. With each experience, it was clear to me God was working on my response. Whether it was to look to him in worship instead of to ask why or to pause instead of respond impulsively. I could hear God in my thoughts reminding me of my previous response and coaching me to do better this time around. I can’t begin to explain how grace-filled it has been for me to be given second or third or fourth chances to get it figured out. I was not perfect in these times. Some experiences I completely missed. Still, God was so gentle and specific with me this year in the area of responding.
Ministry: This area was the most surprising for me in the way God has called me to grow. In September it became clear to me that I needed to step away from the structured group ministry, I started at the college my husband works for. Through a series of sermons, books, blog posts and interactions, I was made keenly aware of my exhaustion in ministry, as well as my need to take the step of obedience to walk away from something dear to me when asked to do so. After a year of being given second chances in responses, this was not one I was going to miss. The peace I felt with each step towards walking away was undeniable. This doesn’t mean that I’ve given up all of the ministries. It simply means my time informal, large group ministry is on pause. This might be a permanent change, it might be just for a season. What I know is that where I’ve grown in ministry this year includes honing in my best ministry area. I’ve also grown in stepping in obedience in ministry, even when it is hard or doesn’t make sense.