What did you learn in 2014? How do you apply it to this year, now?

Things I learned in 2014

2014 was an interesting, unexpected year for me. Here is some of what I learned and how I am applying it now to 2015:

1. I can’t have my cake and eat it too. For the last 4+ years I have worked tirelessly for freedom. The past 18 months I was working 40+ hours and maintaining a crazy pace. My husband travels a lot and our families live out of state, so it took a village (and still does) to keep all the plates spinning. One day in April, it all stopped. I left my job the next month. I spent the summer re-evaluating, spending time with my kids, and seeking the Lord a lot. My whole family changed and began to thrive. Our son began singing around the house. I hadn’t realized he had stopped singing, until he began singing again. I hadn’t realized how the pace had affected my, my family, and my friends around me. It was with all these marvelous changes that the realization came: I can’t have my cake and eat it too. It works for a lot of people, but for me and my family, we are not in a season where I can work 50 hours and minister to my husband and children well. Yes, I was caring for them, able to do some ministry, but not well. For me, if taking care of and ministering to those in my home can’t be done well (for me), nothing ends up being done well. A hard and painful realization for me.

You might be asking “So now what? How do you not get there again?”. I have put some boundaries in place, some friends to hold me accountable (I had one friend who is fantastic at that, but for me, I need multiples!!), and I got to bed at more normal, healthier time for me. I am now “out of the habit” of working so much, so late at night. When I begin to falter, or lose determination to maintain this new pace, the reminder is not far away…it pitter-patters down the hall, or attacks me with hugs, or needs a drink. I am less distracted, more present, and overall, feel like I am connected again to the things He has entrusted me with.

2. God is a jealous God. I will never forget the conversation with God, lamenting where I was, how I had gotten there, and just flat out saying “Why? It was so good. I loved what I did. It was my first love.” I gasped. My job was my first love, not God. It was at that moment that all the stories of God being a jealous God made sense. It wasn’t overnight that what I did replaced Him, nor was it strategic or intentional. It was just like the Israelites…it was a heart issue that resulted in not seeking after Him. My heart and soul was not seeking after God they way He calls us to. With that, other gods replaced Him in my life.

I confess I  had always wondered how people would choose other things over a relationship with Him. I would read the Old Testament stories and shake my head thinking, “Don’t they see what they are doing? Don’t they see what they are giving up?” And then it was me. Looking in the same mirror, glimpsing my reflection in that same pool. How do we guard against this? I am not sure I have a good formula for that, or know if there even is a formula. What I do know, is that I consistently ask the Lord to reveal to me what is in competition to replace Him. I might have asked Him that in the years before, but was unwilling to listen. Or would argue that it was all “good” stuff and surely it wasn’t competing in my affections. Loving other things before Him is a heart issue though, not a deeds issue. While it is painful and feel like being stripped, when I ask now, I do my best to listen. I have walked a road now that does know what I give up when I put other things before my relationship with Him and it is not worth it. That knowledge is enough (for now) to keep me asking and listening. If you are in the battle of trying to get other things down lower on your heart-priority list, I will pray for you. It is the battle of a lifetime and will take all the support and prayer you can get. We do not battle with things of this earth, my friend.

3. What may look like the end of the road (and feel like it), is actually the beginning of a new one. I have always loved the Sound of Music and the wisdom that comes from the Reverend Mother “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” When I left my job and that door closed, I wasn’t sure what was next, but He had been working on something all along. I had lost count at that time of how many people had come to me asking for help with their artisan business, a store looking for a certain product, or a retailer needing something different than what the current company I worked for provided. I had so wanted to help, but couldn’t. Over the summer a mutual “intentional business” friend asked me again (after a couple years of asking) if I would be interested in joining the Work of Worth team. It was similar to what I was doing, but with a diverse product line, but focused purpose: dignified employment for those who had limited or no access to it. We launched in September and the Lord has done some amazing and surprising things with it. Anything good that has come out of it has all been Him. I thought I was a failure and what I knew what useless, but He doesn’t create failures, or waste what we know and have learned.

I had thought with a closed door that it meant a closed part of my life all together. The Lord uses the experiences and talents He gives you for so much more though. Everything builds on itself, creating you to be who He wants you to be. Nothing is wasted in the Kingdom of God. I can look back now and see how none of my experiences over the last 36 years have been wasted. It has taken me this long to get here and I suspect I will take steps back sometimes, as I look to move forward. I do not know what this year has in store. I do know that more than anything, I want it to be full of Him and His leading. I have a better understanding of what it means to trust Him and entrust things to Him, but that does not mean I have learned that lesson for the rest of my life.

I’d be honored to know what He has taught you, what you are learning, and how you think you will apply it to 2015. Here’s to a great year ahead!

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