So how was Christmas for you? And what are your plans for the New year?
I am a great believer in making New Years resolutions. The problem is I struggle to remember and therefore..ermm…action the changes I’ve resolved to make. I get so frustrated at the mahoosive discrepancy between my aspirations, intentions and my actions. Why can’t I do what I so want and intend to do – as a Jesus follower, a wife, a mum, a daughter, a sister, a godparent, a friend, a community member, a global neighbour?
Anyone relate or is it just me?
What are your expectations, hopes or dreams for 2018?
Get fitter? Or just attempt to get off the sofa?
To read more and scroll less?
Become a domestic superfood cooking goddess? Or just eat less cake?
Read the bible in a year? Or excavate your bible from under the floordrobe?
Never ever yell at your kids? Or not in view of the neighbours anyway?
Have a marriage full of romance, passion and adventure? Or at least have a date night once a week?
Ever wonder if your New Years resolutions will become ‘rollovers’ like the ones you didn’t quite achieve last year? How many of your great expectations, like mine, have morphed into grating reality?
I always had a childhood dream of swimming with dolphins. In 1996 I spent 9 months teaching in a school in Uganda. We had a month off for the holidays and travelled by train through Kenya, Tanzania and down to the Victoria Falls on the Zambia/ Zimbabwe border. One highlight of the trip was the chance to get to swim with dolphins off the Zanzibar coast. The day came, the boatman arrived, the dolphin pod was in sight, and we set sail with bright sun overhead, a calm glasslike sea and uncontainable excitement in our bellies.
And then everything changed. The sun disappeared behind dark grey clouds. The cool breeze became a howling wind and the calm waves whipped up into angry white horses lashing against our boat. Torrential rain pelted us, and thunder and lightning turned our dream into a bit of a nightmare. The boatman looked terrified as his boat began to take on water and had to be continually emptied with a leaky bucket.
Two of my braver friends were determined not to be deterred by the changed circumstances. They courageously leapt into the wild waves, dived under the surface to find the dolphins, and fulfilled their dream! (even though they couldn’t see them as clearly as they would have liked to).
The rest of us clung to the side of the boat trying to stop ourselves from throwing up, crying or both. Expectation and reality couldn’t have been further apart.
As we head into a new year, and leave 2017 behind what are our aspirations, intentions or expectations?
What are we passionate about pursuing despite curveballs, disappointments or changing circumstances that come our way?
We don’t know what the sudden changes in economic, political, medical or familial climate will bring.
2017 has taught me to expect the unexpected. In the good and the bad. The joy as well as the pain. The miracles as well as the mundane. God’s faithfulness through all the twists and turns of 2017 has also taught me that its more important than ever to make every moment count. To not wait for the perfect day. To not wait for clouds to pass, but to courageously leap into the wild waves, (as my brave friends did on the leaky boat in Zanzibar), and not be deterred from pursuing the passions and purpose which we’ve been created to pursue.
So what are those passions and purposes going to look like for you and your family, and me and my family this year? Which waves might we have to plunge into?
As parents or godparents, aunties and uncles, friends, community members and global neighbours, how can we help our children, or those we influence, to navigate the storms and disappointments of life, as well as celebrate life’s miracles and surprises?
What could it look like to create a thriving family culture this year?
Family may mean parents and children but may mean a community of friends or wider church family group. What could it mean to help each other stay focused on our goals, and live from our values? To help each other to be undeterred by life’s challenges and able to sustain turbulence, sudden storms and unmet expectations?
I have just finished an incredible book looking at this very area – called ‘Belonging and Becoming ‘ by Mark and Lisa Scandrette. It is written from a Christian perspective and this radical couple hold out a compelling vision for all that family can be. They offer wisdom and insight from the joys and struggles of their own life and practical ideas for creating a healthy and deeply rooted soulful family culture. The areas they explore are: living from vision, carrying out purpose, finding a rhythm, discovering a common story, fostering connection, nurturing growth, and celebrating abundance.
I want to explore these areas here through this blog and would love your input so we can journey and learn together. If you are keen to explore how to create a thriving family culture in 2018 then I look forward to chin wagging with you along the journey-sharing our trials and errors, our epic fails as well as our edited highlights.
My prayer for 2018 is that despite the changing weather, the curveballs or disappointments which will inevitably come our way, we will experience God’s ‘immeasurably more than all we ask for or even imagine.’ Ephesians 3:20
He is the one who calms our souls despite the storms of life, and says ‘Peace, Be Still.’ as we step out with Him to face whatever adventure lies ahead.