Wednesday, January 6, 2016

In 2016

In 2016 we're planning to do things joyfully. That's our theme for the year.

Good attitudes, contentment, and a habit of living joyfully. We want a year filled with choosing joy and peace. We want to joyfully face our days with good attitudes and the assurance of the peace of Jesus.

My favorite book I read last year was Ever After by Vicki Courtney. I could almost relate to every single word. It was real, it was encouraging, it was funny, and it was full of truth. At the end of the book, she wrote about the Greek word for joy, chara, which means "cheerfulness" or "calm delight". That's how I want to experience this year during the day to day in the trenches of motherhood and marriage and balancing home and work. With cheerfulness and calm delight. I want our family to enjoy our year. And I'm pretty sure that begins with me. If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy is a pretty true statement. =)

She also wrote The pursuit of happiness is based on external circumstances. Joy and contentment come from an internal, settled peace that resides deep within our souls. And of course that peace comes from Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

This past year I struggled with my attitude at times. I struggled with pity parties and letting myself get down over things not going my way and even struggled with choosing peace and joy. Both little things and big things just got me down and stole my joy.

Terrell having to work late or go out of town would send me into a little pity party. I'd let myself get stressed or worked up and would end up with a bad attitude or just feeling sorry for myself.

This past Fall we had to make the really tough decision for me to return to working outside the home in some form or fashion for the upcoming school year. I've struggled big time with accepting this reality and with having peace about it and choosing to trust God's plan.

In 2016, I want our family to go about things joyfully and with good attitudes. This doesn't mean being happy all the time or never allowed to have a bad day or that things will always be sunshine and roses. But I do pray that we will choose that calm delight that Jesus gives us. And since making this very intentional change in my attitude and outlook I can feel a difference already. A weight has been lifted. Even though we still have some challenges and unknowns when it comes to a new job for me, and even though out of town trips and late nights for Terrell won't be completely gone, I have peace. This is God's plan and He knows exactly what He's doing.

This year I also decided to set a few goals. Personal, home, and family goals. They're straight forward and very much achievable.

This is the first year in a long time I've made some real, actual, spelled-out goals. But I've felt God leading me to these and placing them on my heart. Putting them in writing will help hold me accountable and serve as a good reminder when I need it.

Terrell and I have talked about each of them and he's been supportive and in agreement. Even though they've been my ideas and convictions, they effect him and family life and upcoming plans so we really needed to talk about them together and just make sure we were on the same page. So. We're moving forward... into 2016 with some goals set before us and a brand new theme for the year.

*2016 Goals*

*Put my phone away in the evenings. I am terrible about carrying my phone around with me everywhere. When I'm working and have Baby A it's a really good thing. When it interrupts our family time, it's a not so good thing. The main reason I keep it with me all the time is not so I can scroll through Facebook or text family and friends constantly but because I want to be available to answer the phone if someone calls or respond to a text if needed OR possibly check any notifications I receive. However, while we're eating, while we're doing bath time with the boys, while we're unwinding before the boys' bedtime, while we're reading books together or enjoying Family Game Night, the phone must be put away. Unless it's an emergency or something urgent, in which case you can call me back to back, it can wait. My phone will remain on the kitchen counter until our babies are in the bed. Our family time in the evenings is precious. It's sometimes crazy and wild too... which is another reason I should have my full attention on my guys, but it is mostly precious. And I don't want to miss out on any of it. Terrell and I have also talked about setting a good example for the boys who will one day very, very far into the future have their very own phones. And those phones won't be welcome at the table. Or in the middle of anything important and family time related. So putting my phone away during some of our most precious family time is a great start at setting a good example and showing them they are most important during that time.

*Continue Family Game Night. This was something we just started at the beginning of the school year when we realized we had Tuesday nights free every week. It has been a huge hit and so fun for our big boys. One day Layton will participate but while he's still too little we'll keep shooting for once a week after putting him to bed. Family Game Night has been the perfect way to spend quality time together having fun. We laugh, we celebrate, we have teachable moments, we work on good attitudes, and we learn. There is a TON of educational value to playing games. Huge bonus! We may miss a week here and there but this is something we want to continue. Even on the nights we're tired. =)

*Paint & Decorate Our Room. When we bought our new house Terrell and I agreed that we'd have to exercise some patience (mainly me) and slowly paint rooms and make them our own. We've painted the living room, dining room/foyer, and next up is our bedroom. I'm ready for it to look like ours and to be finished. I want to decorate a little after painting too. I'd love to hang a few things and find a throw to go on the end of our bed and maybe even find some curtains for the 3 windows in our bedroom. Our goal is to make it happen sometime this year.

*Move Forward with Pool Plans. We know we won't have a pool this summer and we may not have one next summer, but we're going to slowly but surely keep moving in the right direction. This year our goal is to have new septic lines put in so that when we're ready, the pool can go in the center of our backyard. We can't do much of anything until we have new lines... and they are coming soon!

*Implement an Open Door Policy. I saved the big one for last. This is our biggest goal and the one most out of our comfort zone. This year we really want to implement an open door policy... hosting, inviting, welcoming, hospitality-ing. Haha. We want our home to be open to others. And we want to literally open the door and welcome people in. Something that's sort of brand new to us.

We only lived in Gainesville 18 months and family came to visit us a handful of times but mostly we came home. Most of our neighbors didn't speak good English and honestly I was overwhelmed and lonely and too nervous and uneasy to host or invite someone over.

In Covington we were once again away from family and mostly just came home. We hosted a few family get-togethers but that's it. And it was always just family. We never dreamed of inviting friends over. Too much pressure. Too uncomfortable. Not enough space. A dog who barks non-stop at anyone new. All the excuses. Garrison never had a play date at our house with a friend because of Bailey, the barking dog, and because we thought our house was too small, we didn't have much of a backyard, no room for playing. All the excuses. Again.

Since having babies and a barking dog, whenever someone comes by unexpectedly... a neighbor or sales person, or even a child selling cookie dough, we never invite them in. Sad but true I'm afraid. We step outside with them. There are crazy kids, a barking dog- who some are scared of, and a messy house in the background. Who wants to walk in to that? Ha!

It's super rare for us to invite people over just because. It can be expensive to feed people and we're on a tight budget. It can be hard work preparing to host. There is lots of cleaning and prep work involved. And honestly the thought of inviting friends over is just something new to us. Which makes it sort of intimidating and out of our comfort zone.

We've finally started hosting our kiddos' birthday parties and we've had family over a couple of times, but this year we want to do more. We want to be intentional about opening our door and our home to friends and family. And whoever may be dropping by. Things aren't perfect here. We live here after all. This isn't a staged home that never sees messes or craziness or crumbs or dust. And that's okay. It's normal in fact. It's real.

So this year we're inviting family over. For no particular reason. We're inviting friends over... for pizza or to grill out or to just let the kids play while we hang out and eat whatever. We're inviting people in. We're hoping for play dates for the boys here. We're hoping to host a few more family gatherings. In 2016, we're hoping to implement an open door policy successfully and with ease. Barking dog, 3 wild boys, possibly messy house and all.

It will be out of our comfort zone and a big deal at first, but hopefully we'll relax and get the hang of it as we go. We want our house to be an open door for the boys' friends as they grow and get older and we want our home to be a place people feel comfortable coming to. It's our biggest, most exciting goal for the year... and from this point forward.

Here's to a good start towards reaching our goals this year and living joyfully. =)

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