Archive | 5:02 pm

Thirst {2023 Focus}

14 Jan

Last year, my “word for the year” was Hope, and it was sooooo applicable, and helpful, and I probably reminded myself to Hope in God and Not Give Up at least once a day, if not multiple times a day. Because it was a haaaaaaarrrrrrrrddddddd year. Like, the hardest of my life. Not the hardest in the sense that at any one thing really hard happened — for example, not like the year my mom died, or the year I had a miscarriage, or the year I had emergency surgery for an ectopic pregnancy. But hard in the sense that Travis and I were both stretched beyond our limits, every day, without reprieve. A quote from Madame Hohlakov in The Brothers Karamazov says it well, “What’s killing me is no one thing in particular… but everything together, that’s what is too much for me.”

It wasn’t just having a fourth child, or just that she slept (and still sleeps) terribly at night, or that she wouldn’t (and still won’t) nap on her own, or that my preschooler was (and still is) stubborn and contrarian, or that my husband works from home while we also homeschool, or that we homeschool period, or that my husband’s job was really stressful (for the last several years), or that our fourth child needed surgery for Hip Dysplasia and then to be in cast and a rhino brace for four months. It was all. of. it. together.

But we are, finally, starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. Neola is out of the rhino brace during the day and started walking right before Christmas. She can handle the stairs now, so we took our stair gate down. Corbin has grown a lot in preschool since September, and can now actually sit through an entire church service (which he has done twice!). Emma and Annabelle are learning how to make basic meals like quesadillas and mac & cheese in the kitchen, and often include Corbin very well in their play, which is especially helpful when I’m holding Neola for a nap. So the kids are gaining independence and getting easier to manage on the whole.

A consistent struggle our family still has, though, is dealing with messes. Because we homeschool, we are home. A LOT. And things get messy. Fast. We are still following the routines I mentioned in a previous post, but there’s still so much stuff to deal with on a daily basis—toys, hair brushes, dirty dishes, water cups, laundry, papers from preschool and church, winter gear! I decluttered and organized a bunch last year. And we changed our Christmas gift-giving this year to decrease the amount of new toys received. But we still struggle!

My order-loving personality thinks that true happiness would be found if I could just once and for all solve the problem of house messes and clutter. I thrive in a tidy, peaceful, welcoming, cozy environment. But trying to keep the chaos at bay in a house of four young kids while homeschooling makes me feel like I’m spinning my wheels and going in circles.

So when thinking about what I wanted for this year, I really wanted to choose a word like Tidy, Order, or Predictable. I’ve been yearning, desiring, thirsting for more order, balance, peace—less mess, confusion, stress. But I knew choosing a word like that would be missing the point. True, lasting, deep-seated happiness isn’t found in a clean, tidy house (and a clean, tidy house isn’t realistic anyway!).

I thought about what was beneath those urges and yearnings, and realized it was a thirst for more. Last year, I had a lot of desires and wishes that I didn’t have the ability (energy/time/hands) to carry out. I am so thirsty to engage with more of life.

As I thought and prayed about the word Thirst, God brought these verses from Isaiah 55 to mind:

Isaiah 55:1-3

The Compassion of the LORD

[1] “Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
[2] Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
[3] Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.

Everyone who thirsts…

That’s me.

He who has no money…

That’s also me, bringing nothing to the table.

Come to the waters! Come, buy and eat!

God provides generously, abundantly, compassionately, intentionally, initiatively.

Why do you spend… your labor for that which does not satisfy?

That’s a good question. I don’t want to spend my labor on that which doesn’t satisfy. God, show me how to not waste my energy, time, attention, moments.

Listen diligently to me… incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live.

God, it is Your ways that lead to life. Help me choose Your ways over mine. Help me prioritize prayer more this year, in my own walk, in my homeschool, with my husband, and in our family. I want to listen diligently.

Thirst.

This year, I want to thirst for the better thing. If something isn’t serving me well, or increasing my thirst for God, His Kingdom, and eternity, out it goes! I have finite time — I need to use it wisely on the things that satisfy.

To that end, I have made changes to my social media habits. I took the month of December off from Instagram and Facebook almost completely, and I am not planning to reinstall the apps on my phone. I can view the sites in a web browser, but it’s kind of a pain, so it’s not as enjoyable to scroll. I also am not posting to my stories any more, will only post to my wall (or whatever you call it) about once a week, and I unfollowed almost all accounts of people I don’t know in real life. I do better in my own life with less social media.

I have also already used my focus word when deciding between chores and family fun. One night, we decided to go on a flashlight hike in our neighborhood after dinner. (It actually ended up being the night of the full moon in January, which was super cool, and meant we didn’t really need flashlights!) Going on the hike meant that the house didn’t get tidied up like normal, but I thought about the verse, “Why do you spend your labor on that which does not satisfy?” Needless to say, I chose memories over routine. And it was amazing! One of my favorite memories with the kids of all time.

I’m excited to see what God has in store for us on 2023. I also hope it involves a little—make that a lot—more sleep.