What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Measuring up in 2011: Reflecting on Last Year

I am a HUGE New Years Resolutions fan! HUGE! (but you probably already knew that....) In my case, they truly DO help me to grow and stretch and challenge myself in ways I wouldn't ordinarily. I know this isn't the case for everyone. But for me, it is. And I will submit that nothing but GOOD can result from reflecting on how you have been living and ways you can improve. Yearly. Or monthly. And even daily. I have found that looking back always help point the way to what is next.

My tradition, about this time of year, is to look back upon last years goals and see how I measured up.

Imagine my surprise then, when I couldn't find my 2011 resolutions post! Where did it GO? Well, searching my blogger dashboard, I found that I had the post written but had never actually POSTED it. (doy.) And the post spoke of how I had measured up to my 2010 resolutions but had not a.SINGLE.GOAL for the coming year.

The end of the post was " So what are my goals for this year, you ask???" and then nothing.

Apparently, you DIDN'T ask. ;-)

Truth be told, I don't know that I would have measured up to any real goals this past year anyway, what with the new business venture, and then returning back to work, the flood, the emptying of Grams house and the moving into it as our own. All of it, unknown territory. It was one crazy year.

While I don't have any specific goals to measure up to this past year, nevertheless I would like to reflect on the past year a bit.

Because you DIDN'T ask:

On Finances~ Matt was able to quit a job and start a new one using money we had saved in preparation for the business~ The Network Dragon Fund. During those 5 months, we had to dip into our savings fund only once but that dip did not exhaust the fund. Paying off our car and all debts was an incredible burden lifted. I am immensely proud of us for this feat.

The Lord opened up some great ways for me to make money during this time too, allowing me to help contribute financially over $2,300.00 by taking photographs for a magazine and a few individuals, having yard sales, selling clothes to consignment shops, cleaning a church, and selling a few craft goods. Along with using it for groceries, I was able to buy a topnotch dehydrator (ours broke) and a fabulous used grain mill, two things we have been needing in our putting-by repertoire for some time.

Also during this time, I stopped my weekly shopping trips and only would go to town for diapers and milk or cheese. The cash only budget system went down the drain when Matt began his home business because we were on a strict no-spending budget, as money coming in was very unreliable. It was a time of very tight belts, making me realize anew how easy money can (and does) pilfer away little by little without you even realizing it when you don't have a budget and/or go to town often.

Matt did accrue some some business debt~ not much~ but you know how I am with debt. And we bought a house so for the first time ever, we have a mortgage to worry about. Thankfully, mortgage payments and rent checks look an awful lot alike with the exception of your name on the deed, so we can deal with it.

On Health~ Since I still have about 20 pounds to lose since Judah was born (YES, he IS a year old. sigh) , you can see I have a big L on my forehead in this department. I wasn't doing so bad until the stress of Matts' going back to work and the reality of moving hit me. We ate more junk during those months and I drank more soda than all year. COMBINED. What can I say? I have to do better. HAVE TO.

On a positive note~ last year I became very interested in herbs and learning the benefits of certain foods to your system and healing properties of herbs. Unfortunately for me, sugar doesn't fit into any of those medicinal, healing or healthy categories.

On Preparedness~ We opened up our home during a devastating flood to a family of 7 for a week and had provision to do so. And before that, we had staples enough for us not to worry about not being able to get to a store at a time when a great many people were very very worried.

We butchered two cows and two pigs and got TONS of meat from it. I wished, too late, that I had kept detailed books on the cost of feed and butchering so I would have a good idea how much our (quality) meat ended up costing us. I didn't even record how MUCH meat was our return! (shirk) I don't know if it was financially worth it, but money isn't everything. I certainly know better for the next time.

We had a great garden harvest but I regretted not planting certain things-like potatoes. What family garden does not include potatoes?!?!

On Education
~ I feel always the failure when it comes to education, and no more so than this year, when so many things seemed to thwart my good intentions. I have fallen so short this year on my own expectations for myself and my hopes for my children that I can hardly wonder at what I have done RIGHT this year. I fail miserably at making education what I want it to be in my mind and sometimes have to fight the doubt that I am just NOT the best option. I know that many homeschoolers struggle with these same feelings and I wonder if my perfectionist tendencies seem to harden the blow.

No one is perfect, but to hold myself to that standard means that I will ALWAYS FAIL and will always be unhappy with what I HAVE accomplished.

That said, Corynn and I found the groove we needed to get math (her most frustrating subject) done and done well. Andrew is excited and ready to read and is well on his way. He knows his letter sounds and can sound short words out~ so it is only a matter of patience and perseverance before we have TWO bookworms on our hands. We are catching up on the work we missed during our move, and are on the fast track to a great rest of the year. In this area, more than all others, I call for the grace of God and thank Him for his mercies, new, each morning.

On One Anothering One another
~ our pastor says (and I often chuckle) that the Greek word Koinonia is a call to "One-another one another". I chuckle because it is funny (it is!) but it is also a great challenge for Christians to hold fast to the body of believers. I have loved holding to a tradition of writing widows and the elderly (and friends and family) on Sunday afternoons as a way to keep the Sabbath and did well at it in the beginning of the year. Several of those I wrote to passed away this year and then the latter half of the year happened and I was too busy even to write the few people left. I miss that.

I tried (and pretty much failed) to counsel some loved ones with great difficulties in their lives.

We gave financial gifts as we were able.

Matt helped neighbors repair their driveways when flooding happened (even though he was sick! Sorry, brag moment.) and we helped his family empty his grandmothers house, a daunting task to be sure.

But it all seems inconsequential when I look at the whole of things. I can't help but feel discouraged about the fact that we could have done so much more to help, encourage, uplift and bless the saints around us. Even in the small, hidden things like not taking offense when I do. In forgiving. In judging myself rather than my brother. In praying, without ceasing, for those in need. In giving of my time and myself, even in the messy, dirty times. In letting my faith alight upon my sleeve, so without fail, without question, I can declare God in all things.

This leads me to:

On Spiritual things~ I learned one thing this year, what with the home business and all~ there is never enough time for worship unless you MAKE time for worship. Even when Matt began a home business, time was precious and it was a challenge to make time for family worship. We didn't do it every single night, sadly, but I did see great improvement from last year. So thankful that even as he has gone back to work, that has continued.

I continue to read, discuss and quiz scripture, pray and sing to/with the children during the day, but I need to make a concerted effort when he is away on business trips, to lead the family in worship during the evening meal. I hate leading evening meal worship alone. I hate eating our evening meal alone those nights.

I didn't do as much memorization as I would have liked either. For myself OR the children.

There it is in a nutshell. How we failed, succeeded and everything in between.

Coming up next~ my goals for the new year.

Whether you like it or not.


PS. All photos in this post are taken the month we moved in, when my father-in-law gave us the tractor tour of our new property. Which, as you can see, has just about everything from fields to corn, to quarries, to woods. Including a secret cabin in the woods!


Anonymous said...

a great pleasure to read your always-eloquent words and see so many glimpses of your property ~ really looking forward to your next post!

I'm right there with you on saying farewell to too much sugar in '12 ~ a parting that's sweet sorrow, for sure!

b in va

Mr. G's Mrs. G said...

A dear friend just called this evening and said much like what you had said about not measuring up to our own expectations with schooling our children. I tried to encourage her to "keep the main thing, the main thing" and everything else will get done eventually. Many times our jobs at home are done from our knees. I know that in my own strength I wouldn't have made it to where we are now at 11 years of home schooling. If it were not for the strength of my Lord, I would have given up long ago.

Now, as for resolutions, I've stopped making them. I usually set them with good intentions to find that by March, they've all gone by the wayside. Instead, I set goals, but not at the beginning of the year. I'm consistently setting goals and reassessing. I look at the month ahead, the week ahead and so forth and really try to get certain things accomplished. I've released the guilt associated with my own failure to keep resolutions and granted myself grace to do something different.

I admire you for making resolutions and having the internal fortitude to follow through with them, Rebecca. You are inspiring! :)

Thank you for sharing your adventures, your successes and your failures with such refreshing realism.

Much Love,

Tracy said...

You're doing well, Rebecca, as always. Room for improvement? Doesn't everyone have some? And yet, how far you've come! Persevere!

Anonymous said...

secret cabin in the woods sounds like so much amazing fun! which brings to mind a favorite book of mine: mandy by julie andrews edwards. have you read it? run to the library and get it now! it's one of my favorites. i am certain god has amazing things for you in 2012, how could he not.

jamie in michigan

Cathy said...

Rebecca, I have been enjoying your blog for a couple years, so I know we are kindred spirits in loving our families, Being Home, and thanking God for His new mercies every day. But we must have very different personalities, because I don't remember ever in my life making a list for the year of my
goals/successes/failures! Ha, I just am too much of a loser, and couldn't bear the disappointment. :) But if I may encourage you about the home schooling. Every mother feels inadequate and overwhelmed, and worries that they aren't doing it right. I did. When my five oldest were young, we homeschooled, and that includes while babies 6 and 7 were born. So there were lots of times when we didn't "Do Much" school. But those first five are all married now, with godly families of their own. And they are not lacking a bit. The husbands are excelling in their business, and the wives are excelling in their homemaking. So don't worry. I think the main thing they are getting is YOU. Your wisdom, your fear of the Lord, your appreciation for the blessing of being home, your sense of beauty and loveliness in everday things. Your sense of awe when you look at them. They are getting all that. Which books you get through isn't the big deal compared to that.

Bonnie said...

Consider this a friendly and loving way of me "getting in your face": You being home, and loving your children and loving your husband and serving the Lord in your position as a wife and mama far outweighs and outshines and glorifies the Lord than "having it all together". You honored the Lord in the best way you could when you had E. and family stay with you during the flood, caring for their needs and giving them comfort and rest. Matt's helping the neighbors through sickness was a witness to those around you of Gods help. Those acts of service will long be remembered and felt.
Just because *we* think we've failed in counseling, doesn't mean that counsel wasn't heard. If we are willing to be God's instrument and mouthpiece to others (and through much prayer that His words would shine through our own) we are planting and watering HIS seeds, whether we see it or not.
Feeling you have not taught the children well, and that they/you could be doing more is nothing more than lies Satan is poisoning you with. The least they are learning taught with love (admittedly mingled with frustration) by you, is FAR more than they would be learning in a classroom with 30+ other children their age. Be released that you are not coming up short with them.
You know I love you dearly, but my girl, you are MUCH to hard on yourself. You want to be able to look back on life with more "Look what we did!" and less "Look what we didn't".
Love to you and a letter being illustrated between ginger-ales and schooling-

P.S. Any good herb books to recommend?

Bonnie said...

I forgot! That picture of Adele and Matt's dad is to precious, it makes me want to cry for sweetness!

Mary said...

Very much echoing the 'do not be hard on yourself' part. You give people grace, please consider giving yourself some. We can only try our best and leave it to God. I do not have to know you personally to see that you strive to do your best in everything. From what I see you do it with love, putting others before self. One cannot ask for more than that. Happy New Year !

Rebecca said...

Thanks to all who left encouraging words for me on this post. I wasn't beating myself up or being too hard on myself, I really wasn't! I tried only to leave an accurate assessment of the year. Putting yourself out there, the good and the not-so-great, is always a bit intimidating, so I really appreciate your encouragement.

I am not discouraged about how far I still have to go, on the contrary. That is why I really ENJOY this yearly tradition of evaluating and resolving. It is exciting~ becoming refocused.

So thank you for your kind words, I loved them, but don't worry about me beating myself up either!

Jamie~ I will look into that book. I haven't heard of it unless you are talking about the preteen Mandie series I grew up on. ;-)

Bonnie~ Rosemary Gladstar has some great books on herbs with great recipes and how-tos but I warn you, she is a bit whippy when it comes to some things. I remember reading something like "Hey! If you want to say an enchantment when you put the salve on-GO FOR IT."

????? WHAT?! ????????

Bonnie said...

I think I read one of her books, maybe a wild medicinal or something like that? Thanks for the warning!

...they call me mommy... said...

Love the word "whippy", Rebecca! What does it stand for exactly! :)

Great post, friend! I really enjoy looking back at everything also!

I also think you a bit hard on yourself yet I admire your determination!!!!