I'm a little slow in posting this, but that's how I tend to roll into each new year. I enjoy the holidays to the fullest, and then I take some time to reflect and evaluate during the first few weeks of January. So on January 6, 2021, I am ready to share my thoughts.
In 2020, I made a commitment to take my success or failure in hand. No more waiting around for fate to bring things to pass! If hard work was what it took to become a successful writer and speaker, no one would outwork me. Educated, motivated, and prepared - I was going to make push through fear and a little laziness and have a full speaking engagement calendar and write a new book!
We all know how that turned out.
I officially launched my book two weeks before the world shut down. I was not only unable to do speaking engagements, but I was suddenly responsible for the education of my three little ones who either couldn't read yet or could barely read. We scrambled to come up with classroom space and technology tools. We had to overcome the lack of available childcare. My plans of writing book #2 were pushed aside. Those first two weeks were total chaos. Then Grandma Sharon stepped in and did Preschool at Grandma's for Redmond five mornings a week while the older kids and I established a routine. I still didn't have time to write a book, but I didn't feel like my head would pop off chasing around a little tornado while I tried to interpret instructions and navigate 987 new education apps and Zoom meetings for the older kids.
I pivoted, trying my hand at a YouTube channel. After begging all my closest family and friends to watch my book trailer video and leave comments, my subscribers grew to a whopping 40, and the people who claim to love me most didn't even watch the whole video. (YouTube tells me.) The one that I put so much time and effort into, with the possibility of 12,000 viewers because of an event that I sponsored, got 212 views. (The big event had to go virtual and didn't translate well because the whole purpose of the event is to get away and recharge.)
One thing that DID go well was my house flip. Whew! All of my disappointing investments in launching my book and speaking ministry were offset by the 15% return on that investment. Thank God for that! I was able to improve the look of a little town I adore, raise property values there, employ approximately 20 independent contractors and small businesses, and give myself a renewed sense of purpose.
As I shifted to working more hours at home, I was able to create a home office that delights me to my core. It's beautiful and cozy, and a lot of work was done in that space. I also hired a personal assistant to take care of the everyday things that sap my creative energy. In her, I discovered an artist who creates beautiful graphics and photos for my blog and social media platforms. She's good at such a wide variety of things that my stress level has gone down significantly.
After blogging sporadically for 10 years, I launched a new, comprehensive website with a blog, store, and events section. I tried out blogging once a week, then twice a week as I partnered with my local fitness training center to track my efforts to become fit and healthy in every way. I focused on building up my Instagram following, growing that platform from approximately 450 to 1250 with no viral posts. Just consistent, creative content.
I lost some weight, woohoo! Beat back a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, and then gained a little back due to injuries and my love of good food. 😩 (Back at it again in earnest now.)
2020 was the year that Redmond consistently ate food by mouth, gained weight appropriately, and started preschool. He worked hard in hippotherapy and speech therapy, returning to physical and occupational therapy once preschool was back in session. He's really trying to talk now, running, jumping, and getting into EVERYTHING.
We survived virtual learning for Eliana and Charlie, in first grade and kindergarten, but just barely. 🥴 Thankfully, they were able to return to in person learning this fall, and even though both Charlie and Redmond had to quarantine for a few days, they all stayed healthy. Many teeth were lost, Eliana broke her arm badly and needed 4 casts in 11 weeks to heal (over the summer), and I discovered that I have a torn meniscus and arthritis in my knee.
Through it all, a message has emerged in my heart. As I threw myself into work this year, determined to fight my way to success, and found myself exhausted and disappointed - I emerged with a sense of certainty. I came through it all more secure than I've ever been before. I am loved by the God of the universe. No matter how hard I work, no matter what success or failure my efforts produce, no matter what! I am absolutely secure in who God created me to be. Beloved. Adored. Chosen. Cherished.
If all my efforts lead to worldly failure, God is teaching me something through it. He is cradling me in the palm of His hand with more love than I can imagine. When and if the time comes for me to have a measure of success as a writer and speaker, it won't be because I worked harder or pleased God more. It will just be His time.
I don't want to devalue hard work. I believe it's essential to success. But it isn't the only key to success. God's timing is the other essential key. We don't have to work so hard with the weight of the world on us, like it all depends on us. I don't believe that God raises up people who haven't been willing to do the hard work either. The two go hand in hand.
My plan for 2021 is to work as unto the Lord and not unto other's (or even my own) expectations. I look to Him alone for approval. I will work, and I will rest. I will revel in the freedom and wonder of God's incredible love for me.
In the spirit of that commitment, I have asked God to show me some specifics about what to plan for ministry this year. I feel led to continue to blog consistently, once a week, and to continue the YouTube channel. I am building up content to encourage you in your relationship with Christ, your spouse, and your family. I will also continue to focus on becoming fit and healthy in every way by specifically posting about that journey once a month. I keep reading about the need to utilize SEO and keywords in blogging, so I am going to try to understand them better and apply them to my blog posts. As usual, with new things, I am dreading it. But I will take a deep breath and do the hard things anyway. I have already started to research a new book idea and hope to write a second book this year.
As a wife and mother, which are my primary roles, I commit to keeping my work contained to my set office hours (with rare exceptions). I will make a point to walk away from the phone and interact with my family regularly, I purpose to spend time one-on-one with them so I can stay connected to their hearts. I have already looked over our calendar for the year and written in vacations and intentionally set aside time for fun and relaxation.
This year, I am planning to use a chronological study Bible for my daily study time. I've felt led to write some daily goals to stay consistently moving forward. One is to keep a wellness journal so I can track how the way I take care of my body affects my health and mood. I have other business and personal goals that I want to stay at the forefront of my mind, so I've set goals for them as well. This week I've been plagued by exhaustion, so I've gotten off to a rocky start. I'm believing that next week I'll be energized and ready to get started in earnest. I'm got to sign off now. I just bought a kitchen full of healthy food that needs cooking.