Each year, as the calendar counts down to 1-1 again, I start to pray about what word would be the theme for the coming year. As we roll into 2017 I felt like God was telling me that it was a year to rest. (Lord knows I need it....2016 was....tough)
Rest is the one action that I’ve never been able to get right. I guess because I forget it really is an action.
As a wife and a mom it's seemingly impossible to look around and NOT see something that needs to be done/taken care of/handled. I feel like I'd be of much better use if I had 6 arms and wings like a hummingbird.
But rest….there’s no time for that.
On December 27th, my first day back to work after the holiday, my co-workers noticed that my cough had stopped sounding cough like and started sound like a barking seal.
The next day I could barely hold my head up. I was down for the count.
Let me just interject this point of knowledge, for those of you who already know where this story is going...
When God asks you to rest...it's not a request. It is a call to obedience. (One that I CLEARLY didn't heed.)
SO....here we are, six days later, and I still feel like a zombie version of myself.
I haven’t been able to do anything. I jokingly told the kids that I was going to have to start paying one of them to hold my head up!
For us...well…me, 2016 was a year of manufactured happiness.
I tried everything in my power to move our family out of one season into the next.
I was working as much as humanly possible, taking on as many side jobs as I could, trying to make sure that we could still afford to keep our lights on and buy our kids yearbooks.
Mark was drowning. Depression and anxiety are beasts of another realm that can't be conquered with sheer willpower. If I started now I don't think I could ever count the number of hours that our community of believers poured out prayer for this man.
Camber was dealing with giants of her own. Thirteen is a tough age. Girls are mean. And this world is trying to do everything in its power to drag our babies down with it.
Then there was Coop. This kid y'all. He's either going to cure cancer or take over the world. This las year was rough for him as well. I'm pretty sure the vice principal of his school had me on speed dial.
So...with all that drama I was desperately trying to keep our family together...and functioning...and growing....
Many times my efforts failed miserably. We cancelled a lot of plans because one or more of us was having some sort of existential crisis that day.
You see, as much as I wanted to be...I’m not the author of grace. (Gasp. I know you're shocked)
I got exhausted. And honestly, I just stopped trying. I didn't schedule anything. I didn't say yes to anything. I started shutting down projects that were floundering because I.CANT.MAKE.THINGS.WORK.
Slowly but surely, as I sat on the couch and watched 1 million hours of Netflix in hopes to connect to the husband that I was sure I was losing, little bits of light started shining through.
After a fairly dramatic (And we Thomas girls KNOW dramatic) knock-down, drag-out, we were able to talk some sense into our struggling 13 year old.
We discussed the life-cycle of a friend. How important it is to keep those who are like-minded close to you, how important it is to keep those who continuously stir up drama at an arm’s length, how hard it is to genuinely love someone and see them set out on a path of destruction that you can't do anything about, how to earnestly pray your guts out for those people...and how to set them free from your life.
Redemption for Coop came at the changing of schools. We had always known that he was a grown up trapped in a kid’s body. This summer/fall we really got to see that in action. It started at youth camp…
*****Side bar - I can’t say enough how important youth ministry is. Get a group of leaders who are in it to win it. Don't cycle through babysitters. These kids are smart enough to know that it's not worth it to build a relationship with someone who is going to be out the door when a "better opportunity" comes along. Secondly, pray for these people....Seriously...you've met your kids...and their friends. This job ISN'T easy. Kids are nuts and annoying and barely listen (except when they do and all the hard work pays off). Third, support them. Donate. Get a crappy car wash. Buy a bad cupcake. Just write a check to cover a couple of kids going to camp. Don’t make these guys beg you to support the next generation of disciples.*****
Ok...enough from the soapbox...
Youth Camp - Y'all I was TERRIFIED! This kid hadn't gone a week without having some sort of major breakdown with a classmate....how was he going to survive a week at camp without me there to thump him in the head and get him back in line???
Well, thankfully, the leaders know him all too well. They put him on the team of a
girl woman who
loves him almost as much as I do. She knows him, knows his heart, and
protected him and gave him space to learn to interact with his peers. She
believed him (honestly, the kid REALLY doesn't lie) and went to bat for him
against people who didn't have his best interest at heart. She is my
Somewhere in this week away Coop showed these people who he really is. Not just the rowdy kid who that they had seen before...but who he was evolving into.
I'm still not sure on the details...But the bits and pieces of the story tell me that there was fire (of course there was) and Coop prayed over the people in his grade...and the entire group as they prepared to go back to school. (Although, all I could get out of him was that there was fire...)
In November, a friend from church hooked Mark up with an interview at the Starbucks in the mall. He was hired right away and started the week after Thanksgiving. He seems to enjoy it. It's a much more extroverted position than he's used to, so he usually comes home completely exhausted. But everyone who has seen him in action say that he's amazing (I TOTES already knew that). A little bit of purpose (and two different anxiety medications) have gone a long way. I'm excited to see what God has for this man in 2017.
As for me. I feel like I've been hit by a bus. My head is WAY too heavy to hold up and my chest burns when I attempt to breathe. I CAN, however, successfully make it from the bed to the couch. (High five me!) But....I can rest. I have two kids and a husband who are willing to entertain my ridiculous wishes for a dusted and vacuumed living room (even though we're the only ones who will be seeing it). I have a job that I've been at for a year and still love. (And because I've been there for over a year I can take a few days to rest up without worrying about how we're going to pay the light bill). I've closed doors on all the ventures that had me running like a chicken with my head cut off and I enjoy the down time watching old episodes of Smallville with my main squeeze.
I look forward to a year of rest. Nothing too pushy. Just organic growth and genuine joy.
What is your word for this year?