Friday, January 20, 2017

Year to Thrive

I'd still consider myself a "rookie" when it comes to choosing a word for the year. 
Myriads of others have done it for many years, but this is only my second year. I recently wrote a post on my Year of Rest.

As we approached the end of 2016, I really had no idea what word God was leading me to for the coming year. Yet while reading The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines I became increasingly inspired. The risks they took to pursue their dreams. The ways God had to show up for them because they stepped out in faith to pursue those dreams. The way some of their dreams had to die for a season and then God resurrected them later in life. It was inspiring to me. Then I came across the chapter where Joanna spends several pages discussing a season in which she felt as though she was simply surviving life and what it looked like for her to thrive. 

She was speaking my language. 
Through the ups and downs of the last few years (along with the challenges that come with three littles), I have often felt as though I were hanging on for the ride, letting life live me rather than living life. 

It felt a bit ridiculous to choose the word Thrive because I read it in someone else's book. 
It felt like cheating. 
But Holy Spirit kept bringing me back to that word and that desire deep in my soul to truly thrive this year. 

to prosper; flourish; bloom

That's the one little word that is helping direct 2017 for me. 

And for the first time in a few years, I feel that I have the freedom to truly flourish in the ways God is directing me unhindered by man's opinions. There's freedom to bloom in my areas of giftedness rather than feeling as if my gifts are "less-than" because they aren't as outwardly useful to others. 

Now my questions have become, "What does 'Thrive' look like for me?"
Holy Spirit keeps graciously whispering answers to that question in my mind. He keeps guiding me. 

I believe the first thing I'm called to on this journey to thrive is to attend IF:Gathering 2017 in Austin, TX. Girls, that feels daunting! Leaving babies, flying across the country alone, staying with people I only know through social media...

Totally NOT typical Rachel. 
But since when does God do "typical"? 
He's calling me to step into the unknown and follow...and so I must. Anything else would be disobedience and that's simply not a place I'm willing to live. 
Risk is scary. It requires faith. Isn't that what the gospel is all about? 
Its risky. It requires faith. It goes against every logical bone in our being.
But its good. 

Other things Holy Spirit keeps whispering is that "thriving" looks simple. mundane. ordinary. 
Like investing in time with my family. Cooking meals. Running errands. 
Just doing those things with intention and focus and (are you ready for it?) JOY! 

He's impressed upon my heart a few categories or areas of my life where I can easily put a spirit of thriving into practice: 

those things I always want to do with my kids...but never do because of time? yeah. do those. make time. Focus on joy in parenting even in the hard. Spend special time with Michael to invest more deeply in our marriage. 
 Its simple things--like feeding kids early, putting them to bed and eating our dinner late...alone...and actually talking! 
Putting phones away, not even charging them in the bedroom, being less distracted.
Reading more to the kids. Playing outside more. 

recently my menu plan has gotten so "blah!". I like to rotate meals and make easy things that everyone enjoys, but I'm ready for some pep! Adding some new things and being a bit more adventurous. 
So I checked out some cookbooks from the library and despite having food limitations, I'm going to adapt some recipes from Pioneer Woman (and others). 
We picked up some maize flour at Jungle Jim's I can make my kids a Ugandan meal. 
Taco Tuesdays anyone? We've talked for a while about implementing a simple monthly taco night where the door is open for anyone to join. With littles and our schedule its hard but we want to make it work.  

books. piles and stacks and heaps of them! We love books and enjoy reading yet so often I get halfway through and find something else to read. 
Three specific things this year
finish books I've started
read at least 10 books I already own but never read
read more fiction

spiritual growth
in all my years as a believer, I've never made it through the Bible in a year (check the above section on reading...). I found a plan this year that is only 5 days per week which gives room to miss a day or two and not be completely defeated.
So that's the plan. Read through the Bible with this reading plan. I've done okay so far! We'll check in later in the year!

I'll be honest, so much is not nailed down for us this year. We see many changes on the horizon. Changes that in years past would have scared us. Things we would have said "definitely not" to feel like a peaceful "yes" now. We are even excited about things we said we would "never" do! Isn't God funny? He gives us our desires and changes them as He sees fit (Proverbs 21:1) for His purposes in our lives and for our Joy.

May you bloom into the person God has created YOU to be this year! 


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