Todays post was graciously written by Kristen Kill – mother of four precious children, world traveler, seasoned editor, and seeker of all things beautiful…
This January First found our family snowed in at a beautiful house in Connecticut. There was little to do but share meals, play games, watch family movies, and knit by the fire, but my mind was racing. The fresh fallen snow was making all things new, bringing beauty to our surroundings, refreshing the earth in a bright blanket. As I looked out the window, the flakes reminded me of God’s distinct gift at this time of year: a chance to dream with him about all that he wanted to renew in our midst, all the artistry and creativity and beauty he wanted to unleash in our own family.
Its no small thing when a woman realizes that the God of the Universe wants to be intimately involved in the course of her days and weeks, in the very small details that make a home, that nourish the hearts of those in her care, and that he whispers vision even among the very mundane tasks that must be attended to each hour.
The New Year often brings a natural inclination to plot out goals and to rip open crisp calendars with our hopes that in this new year, the activities that fill those empty pages will bring the progress and growth we’ve been hoping for. Entire markets rise and fall by the faith we place in our own plans. I tend to dive in with gusto, and in the past, as January comes to a close, I’m already a bit beaten, overwhelmed, exhausted by the exertion of my own strength and faced with the reality that its never going to be enough. That snow outside? It rains down something fresh and new not by flexing its own muscles but because of the One who sends it to fall on the dry, thirsty places. Our own hearts are much the same. There is only One who can make all things new and he longs to talk to you about his plans for your New Year. So if you’re already a little weary or wonder how the dreams you are holding in your heart will ever come to fruition, here are a few ideas about how our family dreams with God and how we make our goals a practical reality:
Dream with the Master Designer
Take time to pray over all the areas of your life and the people in your care. Consider the needs before you, the areas that you feel the Lord wants to grow you, the risks he might be calling you to take faithfully, and the natural interests that he has placed in your heart. I like to keep a blank page open for each member of my family and myself and pray with my husband about ways we can work to develop the gifts we see in each other and our children, and also, pray over the gaps or areas of weakness. We take time twice a year (once in June and once at the New Year) to seek God’s heart about our activities and commitments and to spend time with each of our children one on one to ask them about how they are feeling, what interests they would like to pursue and what skills they would like to develop. We take a weekend and just pray and ponder and see how God speaks to us about all these things, and ask that he will faithfully continue to guide and direct our family in all our pursuits. Coming before him breathes life into our goals and rest and peace into our hearts.
Reclaim the Art of Domesticity
One of my greatest joys as a woman is the artistry that comes with making a home. We are cultivators and nurturers of life, of beauty, and of light. Like an expert builder, you are able to lovingly and intentionally craft what the structure of your home looks like. What are some of your dreams for your home? For your physical space? For the relationships that unfold there? Plan to build in time to create at home and don’t be afraid to write down ideas big and small! The time you spend crafting beauty and cultivating your home is an act of worship to the Lord and service to those in your care. This year, I want to tackle urban gardening, so I can steward our resources a bit better and can some vegetables for winter like we used to when we lived in the country. I also can’t stop thinking of ways to redecorate our living room so that it can be opened up for more entertaining. My girls and I all want to spend more time together in the kitchen, and they’ve asked me to teach them some of our favorite family recipes.
Reverse Engineer The Art of Goal Setting
At the start of every year, I print off a calendar for each month. I fill in vacations and conferences and dates we know we already have blocked out, but on the back side, I dream. With my running list of ideas, for each individual and for our home, I start to plug in how we might make these things work together. Camp in July is a dream for our 13 year old, so it goes on the blank side of that month with a notation in March to make our final decision. Our son wants to learn to play baseball, so the Little League sign ups make the dream list for February right along our daughter’s request for voice lessons. My longing to spend more time in the kitchen with my girls? I block out two Saturdays a month and one evening each quarter to host a baking class with their friends and their mothers because spending intentional time in community is one of my own goals this year. What about that living room, what will need to happen to afford new furniture? I figure out the cost, and then how I can adjust our budget for six months accordingly in order to make that goal a reality. We reverse engineer our year.
We slowly plot away like this, seeing how all the pieces fall together, how our goals and ideas for making 2014 thrive for our family might actually fit in all those blank pages. Part of your art, is this molding and engineering of your days, intentionally living with a purpose, not of your own strength, but designed by the One who makes all things new. We have the great joy of dreaming with him and walking in the wisdom he gives in order to navigate our days. Inevitably, there will be conflicts and scheduling fails and pieces that seem to fall apart, but I am consistently amazed that the things God has laid on our hearts in times of intentionally seeking him are the things that there is always room for. He really does longs to design our lives and our very minutes with beauty and artistry, and we can be so blessed when we let him. He is the Master Designer.
Is he whispering into your heart this year, asking you to follow him into the plans He has set before you?
About the Guest Blogger:
Kristen is a Northwest native who grew up surrounded by family, books, alpine peaks and lots of green. She never thought she’d leave. And when she did, she landed in a lot of concrete in a city that shapes the world’s culture. Now she’s figuring out a life that she longs to have marked by gratitude and grace, good food and conversation; beauty, art and homeschooling all squeezed into a Manhattan apartment. She writes about living with intention and hunting for beauty in the midst of a city that makes her heart beat just a little bit faster every time she walks outside at Hope With Feathers. Kristen has a background in Early Childhood Education, spent years as a missionary in Asia and Europe, and now relishes in her role as the content editor at I Take Joy.com You can also find her musing on Twitter at @KristenKill