Monday, December 31, 2012
As I mentioned my last Stewardship post, God has been giving me new priorities, that He has for me. Not that I think my previous stewardship priorities weren't theologically sound or anything :) but as I also mentioned, God is guiding us in a new direction, into a new season and the priorities of this season are just different.
I am happy with how my focus on stewardship has changed me over the last few years though, moved me away from my natural tendency to control (through LISTS!) and instead the emphasis was on taking inventory of the 'talents' God has blessed me with and how I can honor Him the most with them. I do not intend to stop this practice, it just may look slightly different now, but for now I say goodbye to the Stewardship series and I hope somehow somewhere I have inspired someone with it.
Stewardship of My Finances
1. Reuse/Recycle before New – before Pinterest this one really stretched my imagination but I have been able to pull off a few reuse/recycle ideas and have several more stored for future use. While I try and balance this temptation to save stuff for reuse with my increasingly minimalistic paradigm, I think I'm doing fairly well at both. I have bought the majority of new clothes this year at a thrift store and plan to continue to do so. The sewing machine is getting closer, I'm hoping for early new year.
2. Pay off ALL debt and invest smarter – as I mentioned, all debt is paid off other than the vehicle and house, and we have an aggressive plan to pay off the vehicle in 2 years instead of the 4 more years on our loan.
3. Give more tithe than we already give – we were able to give our large donation to our Church's building fund, it's not like we're going to get a 'wing' named after us but we feel very good about our obedience in this area because I'm very much the 'save for the future' kind of paranoid and knowing what that amount could equal at retirement time, I thought it would be harder to part with.
Being the 'I budget for fun' person that I am, this is an area constantly re-examined, especially once Sean went back to school, and again last month, thanks to a radically new and different lifestyle called 'living on support'! As I've mentioned, Sean is in the midst of raising support for the offered position of HR Manager at Youth For Christ Winnipeg. We have been preparing for this since Sean first got an interview in August when we found out the salary was 100% support, and we've been willing to make the sacrifice because we know God wants Sean there, but we have also been encouraged by Sean's pastor/mentor who has lived on support/tithe most of his life, and he told us to remember, when God wants something to happen, He moves in the hearts of those who need to give, and almost always people give what is needed. We are full of faith that God will give us enough and we will be the best stewards of what He blesses us with.
Stewardship of My Home
4. Cleaning – I have to face the facts on this one. This is not the season in my life for a home that looks guest worthy at any moment. I don't know if it ever will be actually. I have told several friends over the last while that they better not take the time and effort (that I know they don't have) to 'fix' up their home for a visit, and when I visit, their home looks lived in, not 'clean', and I barely notice! I have made progress in minimalism, which helps because there is less to clean, and I think I'm just going to be fine with a healthy kind of tidy for now.
5. Establish a Meal Plan – So, having been through my approx. 100 recipe plan once all the way through, I have paired it down significantly, finding the favorites and the easier meals to make my kitchen more of a food factory than experimental laboratory. I realized during my summer break from my meal plan that baking/grilling a whole bunch of chicken breasts and freezing them worked for a LOT of my recipes so that is a new staple in my freezer! I think I've successfully given myself what I originally wanted, a wide variety of favorite recipes that about 80% of them can be made in less than half an hour (not including once-a-month prep/pre-cook) for the season of very busy evenings we have.
6. Make food from scratch – this goal was one that was building towards a home that provided my future kids with healthy food to eat, bringing back family traditions of food preparation, and starting a new habit of respecting the earth. I'm still building, I have cut out SO much processed food, some replaced by 'from scratch' but more often I found it unnecessary to replace them at all. I still look forward to days at home with my kids, teaching them (and myself!) the fine art of baking buns or canning beets, like I wish I had learned from my grandma.
7. House Improvements – other than making sure our home stays safe and 'in a state of repair' :) this isn't even close to being a top priority any more. Funny how hubby's list disappears when he's preoccupied with school and soon a job he will love!
Going forward I want a balance in my home between healthy and quality time with loved ones, which ever balance achieves both of those best will win out!
Stewardship of My Body
8. Exercise. period. – This is one of those priorities that's been an experimentation, with our schedules in the evening changing a lot since September (school, 3 different small groups, CR Fridays). I am improving at doing it even though I don't feel like it, but now my available time is shrinking. My goal is to find 20 min. every day and just do it, my own 20 mile march. Now my priority is to drill this into my head, and look for the first opportunity in the day, not the last!
9. Drop to 175 and maintain – the goal weight I’ve had for myself is still 18 lbs away. I already talked about the activity side, but God has really been working on my control of weight through the knowledge of healthy choices I've built up and showing me it's not about the knowledge, it's about turning to food rather than God. While to a degree my goal weight is based on how I felt at that weight (including felt about my appearance), but now I want to make this about obedience not an amount. If I don't feel good about my food or activity choices, or why I'm making them, the number doesn't matter at all, it's the heart I need to work on with God, not the body.
10. Run/Jog the Father’s Day 10 K – I have to be honest about this one, this one was not really about stewardship of my body. I wanted to use it to learn discipline over my body. I wanted to do it to prove somebody wrong. I admit running is growing on me, it may become part of future self-discipline but not sure if I'll have an end goal other than self-discipline.
11. Quit an unhealthy habit – if I want to quit an unhealthy habit, I already had quite a few to choose from in this list, quit eating poorly, quit avoiding exercise, quit avoiding cleaning your house....lol, I'm going to keep it simple and succeed at quitting other things I'm already working on before adding new things to this list!
My new goal for my body is to discipline (from the same root as disciple by the way) myself so that food and inactivity are no longer the masters of my body, my body will be obedient to God. This body was developed over 30 years, only the last 5 have been working at rebuilding it, I have to work at this from the perspective of undoing the faulty foundations first before I can work on the supporting structures!
Stewardship of My Earth
12. Continue composting and gardening – this one was strongly connected to my 'from scratch' goal, but this one has required much more effort, time, and supplies I am running very low on these days. I've realized I jumped into it head first rather than dipped my toes in and progressed at an achievable pace. From now on I am going to perfect one plant at a time, and only compost if I manage to buy one of those self-containing units.
13. Eating local – like my last point, this is going to be a slow and steady integration, I'm going to find one local food to stay loyal to until I've got it as a habit I don't even have to think about, and then I'll move on to the next food. Eventually it will build into a significantly local diet for us.
14. Acts of Green – just holding the ground I've already covered.
This one is a little like my body goals, I am learning to make different choices than I have made the first 30 years of my life, I have to relearn certain habits and realize there is a better way. But a better way doesn't mean an easier way, so I'm going to have to work at this one in baby steps.
Stewardship of My Talents/Purpose
15. Blog/Journal- While there has been a recent slowdown in this, overall my journalling is still more frequent at the end of the year than it was at the beginning. I am excited to discover what God wants me to learn/relearn about my body/health through recovery journalling, and I am working at journalling conversations with God as part of my 'God time'. Blogging however has suffered since fall, partly because I would often take my lunch time to blog, but even that free time has been shrinking. It's also because some of my insights or blog-worthy experiences are a little too personal for the WWW. I hope to find a way to gain momentum back here again soon.
16. Capture memories in books – my wedding album is on track to be finished before our 10th anniversary in March! Amazing! I have continued to work on digital scrapbooking in small doses as the time allows.
17. Continue developing my creative tendencies - nothing new has developed here since my painting earlier in the year, and other than my growing passion for modifying clothes with my future sewing machine. I have one painting left promised, just waiting for a selected subject.
18. Celebrate Recovery – this is now a husband and wife team effort, we are both leaders on the core team and it has renewed my passion for the ministry, I see a place for it in my life more long term now and I see how it will continue to evolve to in our lives, changing as our lives change. I see more and more growth in our consistent participants, it's amazing to see God's transforming power in person. I see potential for so many people I know to have a place there were they can help others. It's truly an inspiring and humbling place to be.
This is an ever evolving category, having been blessed with more gifts than I feel I'm capable of using, God keeps stretching me and using what He gave me in new ways. It's exciting and scary and sometimes overwhelming, and I feel like a lot of it is for the moment to bless people (and me in the process). I can wish I had more time for what I prefer, but really when I weigh the blessings I feel have been heaped on me since I allow my gifts to be guided by God, it's no contest. So that is what I will continue to do.
Stewardship of My Communities
19. Marriage community – In the last 6 months I can't believe how I've fallen in love all over again with my husband. Not because of some book we read (although I've tried that too), not because of that intentional face-to-face or shoulder-to-shoulder quality time we learned about earlier in the year (but coincidentally, these have improved as well), not because of anything we've done on purpose to grow closer. Some of it is a happy byproduct of a happier husband, a few key shifts in where we've aimed our future, but I'd say 80% of it is serving side by side each other for quite a few hours every week. It has given us so much to bond over, pray together over, invest in together, uplift each other in, get ambitious with together, etc.
20. Winnipeg Community – Volunteering at a program like CR I feel is having impact outside our Church walls, into not only the neighborhood, but city and province too. Donating blood is something I hope to continue more of as well.
21. Friend/Family/Neighbour Community – We volunteered at a block party for our neighborhood, hosted by our Church, which was such a blessing to see, witnessing parents be able to enjoy their kids enjoying all the free activities, a lot of things they may never have been able to afford to give them on their own.
22. Aunty Community – surprisingly I was able to spend more time with my nephews from Altona than my neices and nephew in Steinbach this year, but mostly in Winnipeg due to my sister's effort. I did get 2 visits at work when Jodi once brought Avery and once brought Landon though. I hope to carve in some intentional time, 2 times a year per family next year.
23. Friend Community - we have had no shortage of chances to hang out with friends, I can hardly recall a week that has gone by without the chance to spend quality time with one dear friend or another, some of it has been overlapping small groups stuff, technically part of our Church community, but our best friends are from Church so that's just the way it happens!
24. Church Community – my intention was to host and get to know more people at Church through hosting, but hosting hasn't been necessary for this to community to explode in our lives. I did however get to host 3 events in our home, exceeding my goal.
25. Small Group Community – we finally started our small group at the beginning of November and even after the first night we knew we were a community that would become a family, we were all in and eager to dive in deeper together. This has been proven absolutely true over the last 2 months, God brought this group together for a reason.
This year taught me a lot about cherishing the people in your life now while you have them. Nothing is as important as investing in the life-giving communities in your life, those that are like extended family, who you are really sharing life with. Find more reasons to be with them. Be life-giving in return.
Stewardship of My Growth
26. Continue to step out of my comfort zone – I'm finding I don't really say 'that's not me', it's more like, "it needs to be done? ok, I'll try!" My comfort zone has been expanded though!
27. Media fast Tuesday evenings – This has been actually quite easy to do most nights of the week, because we are too busy or t.v. has become a quiet hubby & me time, so I don't watch much without him. My desire was really to say God time is more important than my media 'addiction' but there isn't much of a media addiction to speak of anymore. However, now it's a lot of God related activities that I have put ahead of my God time, and I just heard recently, don't even let Bible reading get more important than God time. So I'll speak to that in a few points.
28. Read at least 6 books, at least 4 non-fiction – I read 5 books, all non-fiction. I picked up but never finished one fiction book. I think I put more effort into reading books about God than actually spending in His Word or with Him. This is leading me to a new challenge for my spiritual growth.
29. Bible Reading and Prayer – In more frequent amounts I have been reading scripture and praying, thanks to a lot of intentionality on my part. I have started reading the Bible with highlighters on hand so I can colour code what stands out to me as to why, and while it makes for slower Bible reading that's really what I wanted, more comprehension. Now I am trying to be more intentional about my actual God time, the time I spend talking to Him, not just interceeding for others, and the time I spend listening to what He's trying to tell me. I am blessed that I feel like my 'tuner' is finally on His station, and I can pick up on His voice even when I'm not intentionally listening, but it is the intentional times I want to increase with Him. I want to build a deeper relationship with Him.
I am amazed at where God has grown me and how much He has grown me this year, placing just the right people and information in my life at the right moments to propel me forward. I wish I knew what I did to open this floodgate into my life, but I will do whatever I can for more of Him and less of me.
Stewardship of Living My Life
30. Take a short road trip within Manitoba – I've taken 2 road trips down south since the beginning of June, a birthday party in Altona for my nephew who turned 2, and then as I mentioned down to Winkler for the birth of his little brother.
31. Go to some kind of art showing – while still of interest to me, I have found other ways more definitive of 'living my life'.
32. Pamper myself – I think I've had sufficient 'me' time in my schedule, and just having the time is pampering, although I did get a mani-pedi and 'real salon' hair appointment in there too.
33. Relax – Thanks to hubby, I'm much better in tune with when relaxing is needed, and I act on it much quicker for my and our sakes. I now realize I want this time to be separate from my quiet time with God, because while sometimes relaxing does mean needing quiet - away from noise and hustle and bustle, it isn't always. And God deserves time for Him that isn't shared with time for my own recuperation.
'Living my life' was an intentional item I wanted to build stewardship over because I used to let lists dictate my life. I have grown so much in this area and even though I still have a bunch of lists, they are what I can do when the time or inclination is right, or for reference, but they are not the same as my schedule and I don't have to put a lot of effort into making sure I'm actually living my life rather than doing it.