Last Friday, Lance and I had our first date night in a while, and it was amazing. One of the pieces of advice we both seemed to hear a lot in pregnancy was that you must prioritize your marriage when you start having kids. Already, I can see how true this is. The reality is that life is so much busier and more structured than it used to be and if we do not intentionally make the time to just be Lance and Kelli, husband and wife; we will live our lives solely as mommy and daddy. This is not good for anyone, including Hudson, especially Hudson. I want my son and any future children we may have to look at our marriage and see a strong Christ-centered marriage that sets an example for them. We realized that we need to be more intentional about having date nights once a month. Since this date fell just a few days before the New Year, we ended our date at Urth Cafe and set intentions, goals, and habits we hope to strive after as a family. We first attempted to come up with what we wanted our overarching theme for the year to be. What one word did we want to really focus and embody in 2019? While a few words were tossed on the table, we landed with open. I wrote it in big letters in my planner: “2019: The Year of Open.” In many ways, this directly aligns with a vision and campaign at our church entitled The Open Campaign. In the way that our church is striving to be more open to the surrounding community, Lance and I also hope that we can live 2019 well with an open heart, home, and hand. The aspect I really love about this concept of openness is that it is two-fold. In one sense, being open allows us to pour out into others, but the opposite is true as well. Embracing a posture of openness, also allows us to be filled up. Both are essential. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to hyper-focus on the pouring out, that I forget to fill up. This year, I personally want to better embrace this idea of allowing time and space to be filled up. I wanted to share 5 ways in which I am attempting to do a better job in this area.
- Get Up Early. When I was teaching, I woke up every morning at 5am. While I initially dreaded that early morning alarm, it allowed me to be so much more productive and efficient with my time. I did not realize it at the time, but that early morning commute was a really important time for me to wake up, plan the day, and pray. It gave me a pause before the day fully started. Once I stopped working, I stopped setting the alarm and chose to have Hudson be my new alarm clock. This worked initially, but I began to realize I was starting my days grumpy and unprepared for the day ahead. Even if it is just 15 minutes of uninterrupted, quiet morning time, I am able to start the day at peace and in joy. While I don’t quite feel ready to set my alarm back to 5am, setting it to 6am this week has allowed for time to sip my coffee, drink a glass of water, light a candle, write down what Hudson did the previous day, and spend some time alone with the Lord reading my Bible and praying for the day ahead. These sound like such simple things, especially the one on drinking water, but I am finding it is these simple acts that put me in the right frame of mind to be open to loving and pouring out to the people in my life.
- Write Daily. Writing is something I really enjoy to do. I have always been the journal keeping type of girl. Journaling and just writing in general really helps me process how I am feeling and why I am feeling that way. While I really love writing, I have not prioritized it. I hope to keep a daily practice of making sure I am writing on a daily basis. It might not always be a full blog post in one day, but regardless of the type of day I am having, I hope that I can take at least a few minutes of it to practice my craft of writing. Even in just a week, I have experienced certain days where the words just rolled off my fingertips and others where the interruptions were abundant and the words scarce. I am not concerned about length or even initial quality, I really just want to write because it is something I love to do. The other goal in writing is that I can share some of what I write to be open and vulnerable. It does not come naturally to me to want to share personal pieces of my life, but I want to be more open in this way. I know that I am not alone in a lot of my experiences, especially recently in motherhood, so I hope some of what I write can connect well to others.
- Read Daily. Like they say, garbage in, garbage out. Some of my very worst days are the ones spent scrolling on Instagram at every free moment. Some of my very best days are the ones where I forget where my phone even is and I pick up a book or am outside. What I consume in a day greatly affects my mood and outlook. While I am a very slow learner at times, I am finally coming to terms that I cannot handle Instagram. In the past few months I have deleted and re-downloaded it basically every single week. I delete it because I am consuming too much of it and then re-download it just to check one thing and the next thing I know I have scrolled away an hour. Time is now even more precious now, and I do not want to waste it away scrolling through content that often times does not even motivate or inspire me. I close the app and I feel tired and unmotivated to do anything at all. I am done with it (hopefully for at least a longer stretch than just a week). I am very intentionally training myself to pick up a book rather than my phone. Similarly to the writing intention, I am not expecting to finish novels in just a couple days. I am a slow reader. This week I have just been reading a chapter a day. This may seem small, but it is a whole chapter more than what I previously would read in a day. To me, it is not about going through all the bookshelves. It is about slowing down and just reading. And not just reading to read, but really delving in and being invested to the people and the lives I read about. This past week I keep having an image of myself as a little girl staying up past my bedtime reading The Boxcar Children in bed. I can still remember how those books made me feel. All I wanted was to be in bed reading about the adventures of Henry and Jessie and the other Alden siblings. I craved those stories. For quite some time now, I have not craved reading like I used to. I think schooling and being forced to constantly read material that was not always the most riveting created this lack of desire within me. I also think I became tired. Reading is more effort than Netflix. Whatever the reason, I stopped reading for pleasure and I am really missing it. I want to return to that little girl curled up reading The Boxcar Children. Reading, along with listening to really great podcasts, fills me up. It opens up my perspective and feeds my love for words and storytelling. Reading is good for me, Instagram is not. So here’s to hoping in 2019 I read more and scroll less.
- Invest In Friendships. We are built for connection. God intended for us to live in community. I love community and I love people, but I am learning more and more that I am naturally more introverted. It takes more internal convincing and pushing to get myself out to meet with friends. I always leave a phone call, a brunch, a walk with a friend in such a better mood and mindset. I love connecting. I long for connection, but I often times forget that this is a need of mine. This year, I want to be more intentional about having an open schedule and calendar that allows for planned meetings with friends and even last-minute ones (because sometimes these impromptu meetings are the most important ones). Friendship is a gift of God. He is so kind to place people in our lives that make us laugh and make us better. I never want to be too busy to take the time to invest in the friendships I already have and reach out to make new ones as well. This year one of my hopes is to be slow to say no when it comes to friends and connection.
- Take Sabbath More Seriously. Recently, I have been extremely convicted in not taking the Sabbath as seriously as I should. When I was running in college, I used to be annoyed that our coach always had long runs on Sundays. The longest run of the week was on the day that was meant for rest. I felt like I could not fully practice a Sabbath when I was running 12 miles at 7am on Sunday morning. Now I am no longer tied to this obligation of Sunday long runs, yet still I find myself not fully embracing the Sabbath. I still find myself scrambling to get things done even on a Sunday. I am not fully satisfied with the work that I have done, so feel like I still need to get a few loose ends taken care of. This is not the Lord’s desire for us. If even the Lord needs the seventh day to rest, how much more I need it. He does not care how clean our house is by Sunday; he wants us to rest regardless the state of our home or the length of our to-do list. So much of my days and weeks are filled with obligations and things I must do, I really want to strive towards using the 6 days of the week in more intentional ways that will open up my Sundays so I can really have no agenda other than church and small group.
Did you notice that word open pop-up in each of the 5 intentions? 2019, my hope and prayer is that I can live out these intentions, not with obligation or pressure, but with joyful willingness because I know these things will allow me to ultimately be more open to your will in my life.