Thursday, April 21, 2016

Setting Goals in Reverse: How Our Goals for 2020 Begin Now

I have to admit that I was an avid FRIENDS fan and saw every episode for 10 years.  And the experience I am about to relay to you, dear reader, made me think of an episode when Rachel sits down to make some life goals during her 30th birthday party...
Check out the clip:  Setting Goals in Reverse, Rachel-style!

As she is backtracking to her present situation, she realizes that what she wants is never going to happen if she continues just "seeing how it goes" in her current life situations.  My husband and I had a similar experience when setting our New Year's Resolutions for 2016 and beyond.

It was going to be a long day in the car, and it was the first day of a brand new year!  My husband, Kyle, and I had spent the previous evening/night celebrating New Year's Eve with friends in Tulsa, and the next day we were driving to a suburb of Branson to pick up a wood-burning stove we had purchased off Craig's-List.  We had had a pretty crazy holiday season, due to having our van totaled just days before we traveled to 3 states for the our Christmas celebrations - yaaaay...  But what looked like a disaster had turned into a blessing.  See, a couple of weeks before someone rear-ended our van, we had been given an estimate of what it would cost to get our fireplace to work properly... let's just say A LOT!  And then we were in a car accident... so we were headed into the holiday season trying to keep the "merry" spirit in our hearts.  It just worked out that we found a van exactly like the one we had (except the color) and it was cheap enough that with the leftover insurance money we could also purchase a used wood-burning stove to set in our fireplace!  So, that was just a side-story, but how awesome is that?!

So, we headed out for the Branson-area with thankful hearts that all had turned out fine, in fact much better than we had hoped!  And our kids were staying with my parents, so a day-long road trip with the love of my life... yes, it was just to pick up a stove, but it felt like a New Year's date day - even though it would all be spent in the car.

It surprised me how I hadn't really thought about what 2016 would look like... I figured it would look a lot like 2015... me being home while working a few odd jobs, my oldest starting school in the fall, and spending more time with my little guy who would be turning 2 soon.  But it being New Year's Day, the conversation naturally rolled around to what our goals and "resolutions" would be for the new year.  And while I'm not sure if this is how every couple is, but like all our planning conversations go, the topic of future children came up.  We have always talked about having 4 kids, and adopting... we have debated on whether adopting was included in the 4 total or not... but that's beside the point.

We currently have 2 kids, and we used to want all of our kids to be really close in age.  Our youngest is turning 2 soon, so it was needed to talk about what our future plans were in the "when to have more babies" category.  The reason we hadn't discussed it much is because we haven't been able to agree on how our next babies are getting here.  I had been feeling quite done having the babies myself, but Kyle wants one more biologically.  And since we can't agree, we just compromised and decided that we would wait a while before making any decisions...

But during our conversation we eventually agreed that we want to have one more child biologically and then adopt... one... maybe more... we'll see how it goes...

The planner in me instantly reacted with, "So, when? And how?  How much will that cost?  How will we save that much money?..."

We agreed that we wanted to put some time between our first 2 kids and the next "batch" is what I kept saying.  But we don't want too much time to pass. We very much want to do open adoption, and we have a specific agency we keep coming back to... and they require a parent to stay-at-home until the adopted child is in Kindergarten... so that is definitely something that plays a big part in "the plan".

And then there is the practical financial side to things... I am a stay-at-home mom with a few part-time jobs that pay for a little fun here and there... how were we going to save the thousands of dollars we would need to go the adoption route we want to pursue?  And having another baby (via c-section) would cost money too.  Where would this extra money come from?

As we continued our discussion, we reminisced about how we didn't know how God was going to work out our finances for me to stay home in the beginning... and looking back over the past 2 years, we have seen how God has glued together this framework for us to work and support our family while still being able to have more flexible schedules for the things we have wanted to accomplish in our family and ministry...

So we know we can live on less money that we did when we both worked full-time.  And our daughter is starting school this Fall.  So we would only have one child in childcare if I went back to work full-time.  And the job I had before will be opening up again... hmm... I really miss teaching.  I worked before when we only had one child at home... hmm...  We could live off the same budget and put all the extra money in savings for a c-section and open adoption...

So, all of that being said, we came home that day on the same page with a very different vision for 2016 and beyond than we did before... Definitely a working backwards way of doing it, but we realized that what we want to accomplish years down the road starts today and is built upon tomorrow.

But we also agree that our plans are just that - plans.  Tentative plans.  Plans made by human minds with finite understanding of the big picture that God is weaving together.  With school budgets the way they are currently, I may not find a teaching job at all.  And if that is the case, God will give us children in His timing, and He will continue to provide for bills He has given us - just as He has time and time again in the past.  There have been times in the past that money was just handed to us for no reason, sometimes by secret-givers.  There have been times when extra jobs became available, and we were able to earn some money for a special need.  There are other ways of paying for adoptions... there are other types of adoption that cost a lot less or practically nothing at all too.  The point is, God is still God.  This world is still His creation.  I am a steward, not an owner.  I am the servant, not the Master.  I only control my obedience, not the journey or outcome of any of this.

But I did learn a lot that day riding shotgun with my husband on the way to pick up a stove.  We came home that day with a reunited front against apathetic passing of time.  We headed home with a new glimmer for old hopes.  And we keep reminding each other months later that however it works out, we are open.  We have a plan held out in flat hands for God to shape into mirror-images of His plans... or to make it easier for our hearts if He snatches our plans out of grasp.  He is the Lord, and He has every right to "exercise His will over our lives".

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Freedom from Junk 2016 - Day 57... Um, I Mean Day 68

Can I just be honest and say that these past 6 weeks of me working full-time while trying to keep up with my other part-time job, helping my husband with his ministry, trying to spend meaningful time with our kiddos, and just trying to keep up with the basics - clean underwear, food, and clean dishes - has been a blur - an impossible blur!  So trying to finish the Freedom from Junk Challenge in the month of February on top of all that was an insane idea!  In the beginning, it seemed like a great idea!  But the awful embarrassing truth about me is that I think I am Superwoman.  I do!  I might never say that, but I just keep saying "Yes" when I should have learned by now how to say, "No", "Not now", or "Never"... but I am a very unteachable stubborn person.  And every once in a while I have to face the reality that I am not now, nor have I ever been, super anything.  Except maybe super stuck on pretending that I am. Those 6 weeks of working full-time again in, what I feel, is one of the hardest jobs... I felt pulled in many directions at once.  And I had to once again admit that I am only one person only capable of being in one place at a time, doing only what 2 hands, 2 feet, and a Bachelors degree can accomplish.  But I learned a lot about myself, I got to teach professionally (which is something in my blood, it literally pumps life into me... as it also drains it out, ha!), I Was reminded what a true partner my husband is as he took on a lot to help fill the gaps I couldn't fill anymore, and I got to see what it is like to work full-time while having 2 kids!  There are pros and cons to pretty much everything in life, and those 6 weeks (and what they were all for) is another blog post coming soon!

I bet you noticed that the title of this post says "Day 57"... this was supposed to all be done by the end of February.  It is the end of March, and we are only halfway finished with this challenge.  It was so long ago, I even had to reread my last posts about this uncluttering challenge just to remember what my goals were, let alone actually reach any of them!  We still have all the previously cleared out items for give-away and selling, some of it currently being in a huge car seat box in our bedroom.  Kyle has been awesome, throwing in new items for give-away on occasion.  And each time he tells me he has added something to the box, I chuckle, mentally pinning my chest with a failed challenge badge.

But, the great news is that I made up the goals and the challenge... so I can restart the challenge!  Today was my first day back to my normal life of full-time mom, part-time babysitter... tomorrow I go back to my part-time preschool assistant job.  I spent most of the morning just putting everything back in its place in my home, and it feels so good to look around and know that my house is put back together, for the most part.  I hated the feeling for 6 weeks of walking by clutter, dirty laundry,  both sides of my sink full of dirty dishes... and not having the time or energy to take care of all of it the way I want.  It seemed everything in my home was only partly done, and it drove me crazy!

HA!!!  That first part was written almost 2 weeks ago!  I am still so deranged at times that I believed getting back into my regular schedule and catching up wouldn't be demanding!  So I have been back in the "Stay at home mom while working 3 part-time jobs" schedule for 2 weeks, and I just now feel like I am caught up.  And by "caught up", I don't mean all my dishes and laundry are clean or that all my projects are completed... all I mean is that I feel present again.  Before I felt like I was drowning a bit, and then I felt like I needed to be in recovery from drowning... I now feel like I can manage my life again, or manage within reason and no worse than before!

So, back in the saddle again for the challenge to declutter my home, and I really am excited to get it done this time!  I am going to give myself a more realistic deadline this time around, and I promised my family not to take on any demanding projects or other jobs until this one is finished.

When we left off last time (Day 14 - gasp), we had cleared out 389 items from our kitchen, entryway closet, my son's/my husband's/my closet and dresser.  While I was not able to consign the clothes I cleared from my son's room in the children's resale event I usually participate in every 6 months, I was able to give it all to a friend who is having a baby boy soon!  The due date is close to my son's birthday, so I was excited to know that most of the clothes will be the perfect season for her son to use!  And putting all these sweet, precious memories in a box to give to someone isn't as difficult when you know they will be used to make new memories for someone else.

So, we still have half the original goal list to tackle, and at least 111 items to get rid of!  The places in my house left to attack and clear out are:
Our bedroom
My daughter's closet
The toys in the living room and play room
Laundry room
Downstairs desk
Upstairs desk

And let's face it - since it has been 2 months since I cleared out the first spaces, I will need to re-unclutter the kitchen counter that I cleaned the first day of this challenge!  Such is life!

What my bedroom usually looks like - except sometimes there is even a hamper of clean clothes next to the bed with random shoes and clothes on the floor.  This must have been a good day!  There is a hope chest at the foot of the bed, but you can't see it because I hate to hang clothes up, so they usually rest here until I make myself do it.  Also, the chair next to the bed is my side... I am realizing that I should probably actually use the chair for all those items sitting in the floor underneath it!  Sheesh!

This is the upstairs desk I have listed above as an area in need of uncluttering... I have no idea what are in any of those boxes.  And all the random things on the left wall are leftover decorations and other miscellaneous things from Emersyn's birthday party almost 5 months ago!

The closet (which my handy husband designed and built) was also looking pretty good this day!  There are always random pictures, papers, hangers, and other items sprawled on the floor.  And that car seat box is full of give away items... it has been sitting there since the second week of February.