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".

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