2018 – A Year of Cultivating

 

{ Pursuing Pearls Blog } 2018 - A Year of Cultivating

For the last several years I’ve chosen a word as my “goal” instead of New Years resolutions. Cultivate proved the perfect tone for 2018. What I was most drawn to about the word was that it didn’t imply perfection, but did require action. I longed for a year of pursuing growth, and while it was anything but perfect, I know I will continue to reap the harvest of what I experienced and learned.

Faith
Marriage & Family
Relationships
Home
Dreams

All of these things take time, they take work, they take intention. Last year my goal was to cultivate it all; not to passively wish for things to be a certain way or merely hope for change. I believe reflection is a vital part of growth – it keeps us encouraged (seeing where we’ve come from) and builds momentum (pushing us into deeper, bigger things). So, here is just a handful of reflections on 2018:

My Faith // This was and always will be ongoing growth, never the same as the day before. I’m so grateful for God’s endless grace, which covered me with peace and joy during an amazing yet challenging year. Setting aside time to be in the Word, in prayer, and in fellowship was not always easy but always left me filled to the brim. When I abide in him, he is lavishly faithful.

My Marriage & Family // The months passed quickly with a newborn, but things really shifted gears when I left my job to become a stay at home mom. I had originally planned on waiting until 2019 for this change, but after meeting some financial and personal goals earlier than expected, I knew the time was right. I’m thankful to have a husband who is more supportive than I could have imagined. I’ve thought long and hard about my “dream job”, and while I have still have many personal aspirations, the decision to invest my days in Noli truly is a dream come true.

My Relationships // I was very fortunate to surround myself with some amazing friends and mentors this year. Participating in diverse Bible studies, joining my local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, and making time for friends without kiddos present are a few ways I was intentional about this. Relationships require investment. Looking back, I’m immensely grateful to the kind souls who invested in my life even when I struggled in reciprocation.

My Home // Our home was so filled this year, exactly the way Stephen and I wanted it. It truly brings us joy opening our doors and letting people in. Loved ones gathered for holidays and celebrations, new and dear friends came for play dates and meals, relationships with neighbors blossomed, and a few others also called our home theirs for several months. I’ve been convicted that home has nothing to do with the size of a house or the trendy decor, but rather what takes place within its walls.

My Dreams // As for my dreams beyond motherhood, I have so many building. I am quite an expert at keeping my dreams in my head, allowing them to steep – possibly for too long – before pursuing or implementing them. However, some dreams have been intentionally placed on the back burner for this busy season of mothering a toddler. And I am perfectly happy with that choice.

As I think about a word to adorn in 2019 (I’m still pondering a few!), I look forward to this day next year, and the reflections I’d like to have. What did I learn? How am I different? Did I use my time wisely?

For now, regardless of what 2018 held for you, I want to wish you a very happy new year! Leave a comment with any words or goals you have for this year upon us – I would love to cheer you on!

Becoming Mary in Martha’s World

sunday brunch hospitality

At first glance, I would consider myself a fairly balanced person. I try to make time for my family, my friends, myself. I exercise regularly, enjoy my job, eat well and determine to learn or create something new each day. Sometimes I look around me and see those whose schedules are jam-packed, never seeming to get a break – whether they wanted to or not. As a culture, I believe we’ve come to wear busyness as a badge. Somehow as if the busier we are, the higher the quality of our life.

I’ve found myself comparing these stories to what I believe is my own, thinking, “I’m so glad my life doesn’t look like such chaos!”

Yet recently when hosting some friends unexpectedly, I found myself in a frantic disarray – even after our guests had arrived. I wasn’t enjoying their company, by any means, just scuttling about trying to tidy this and finish that. Now I wouldn’t say I was necessarily proud of my busy state, but I was adding priority to things that did not deserve that level of my focus.

When my sweet husband approached me and quietly asked if there was anything he could do, humility overcame me as I was reminded of the hospitality of Mary and Martha.

You may be familiar with the story. Jesus and his disciples were traveling through town when Martha opened up her home to host them. She held a reputation for hospitality and this was a very generous gesture, as it was a particularly large group to entertain.  As Martha busied herself with all the preparations, her sister, Mary, sat at Jesus’ feet clinging to his every word. When Martha realized her sister was not helping with the details of the dinner, she approached Jesus out of frustration and said:

“Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I was Martha.

Though there is nothing wrong with wanting the food you cook to be a mouth watering work a art and your house to be immaculate, the dilemma arises when those things take priority over relationships…because before you know it, the Lesser Things find a foothold to achieve victory over you.

I can be Mary.

Not long ago I was challenged to write the story of my life from the perspective of 5 years in the future. In that reflection, I described our future home as “a cozy, safe, and welcoming place – the gathering spot for our family, friends, and friends-to-be.”  It was a powerful moment to compare my future dream to my current reality. But it also gave me hope that the way I was wasn’t the way I had to be. Over the last few weeks, I have been reaching out to God for help becoming more flexible and learning to show myself grace when things do not go quite as I would hope. He has provided opportunities quite generously but I am thankful for new challenges that help me become more like his loving, patient Son.