Well it's that time of year when everyone is talking about what they plan to do in the new year to make them thinner, happier, more organized, healthier, more productive, or just a better person. I've never really been a big resolution person but I will usually talk about a few things that I'd like to do. A couple years ago, I started choosing one word that would be my theme for the year. I've chosen words like "Shine" & "Reckless".
As I was thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in the new year, the word "Intentional" came to mind. In my busy world, it's easy to revert to just surviving the day to day craziness and not feel like I've accomplished anything. This year I want to take time to be intentional as a parent, as a wife, as a friend, and as a student of God's Word.
I love the definition of intentional- "done on purpose; deliberate". The synonyms for it are great too.....purposeful, preplanned, knowing, calculated, willful, and designed. Yes!!! that's what I want for 2014, 2015, 2016.....and every year until Jesus calls me home. I want to be proactive in my life. I want to be intentionally focused on doing those things that draw me closer to God. I want each day to be purposeful and designed to please God.
If I want my relationships to grow stronger, I must be intentional in how I spend my time with those that I love. If I want to learn more about God's Word, I must be intentional about spending time reading and studying it each day. If I want to accomplish anything, I must be intentional about the choices I make each day.
I must set aside my own personal agenda and to-do lists and focus on creating to-God-be-the-glory lists. He must increase and I must decrease if I want to make 2014 a successful year. I know there will be many days when I fail to put God first. But on those days I know that I can come to my Father and he will lovingly embrace me and remind me that his mercies are new every morning.
In 2014, I will focus on being "intentional" ......one day at a time.....one choice at a time.
The year is quickly coming to an end and that means it's time to take a look back over some of the memorable moments of 2013.
We started this year as Upward Director's for our church. We had over 280 kids participating. Thanks to all of our coaches, parents & volunteers for making it happen.
Madison broke her wrist during one of her basketball games. We spent a long, hilarious night in the ER. We learned that she has a very very high tolerance to medication. After being given enough meds to knock out a grown man, the doctor was finally able to set her displaced bone and cast it. Thankfully she did not require surgery, but her basketball season ended early.
I had the privilege of being on the planning committee for the Women For Christ luncheon in Cincinnati where Pam Tebow was the keynote speaker. She was such a sweet lady and so down to earth.
My alma mater LU made it to the first round of March Madness which was played at UD. We attended an alumni party in Dayton and I won 2 tickets. So Noah & I went to the game and had a great time. It was such a close game but LU lost by 3.
Christian entered a rotary speech contest at school and came in 2nd place. His speech was on what it means to be a leader.
We were able to take the whole family to OBI for FCA Week. Rich spoke in chapel in the mornings and an evangelist from Nashville preached in the evenings. Worship was led by a great group of young men known as "Uncaged Lion".
We began our summer with college football camps, Seneca Lake kid's kamp and Camp SWONEKY. We put lots of miles on our van and made lots of memories serving & playing together.
One of the biggest highlights of 2013 was being able to take our entire family to Managua, Nicaragua on a missions trip with our church. It was great to share our love of the people of Nicaragua with all 4 of our children. Seeing them jump right in and serve made me so proud of them. We're excited for open doors for us to return to Nicaragua very soon to serve full-time.
Tyler decided to make the trip to Nicaragua even more memorable by falling off the top bunk and breaking his arm. He & Rich got to check out the medical facilities in Nicaragua.
Shortly after returning from Nicaragua, it was time for some football. It was a very special year in the Carlson house. Christian and Noah were both playing high school football....together. Their team broke lots of school records and made it to the 3rd round of the playoffs. One of the highlights for me as a mom was seeing Christian congratulating Noah for a big tackle as he came running off of the field!!
We were so happy to have so many friends and family come out to watch the boys play this season. It was especially great to have my parents be able to walk with us on Senior Night.
Another big highlight for us was the PAO Conference in Florida. Rich & I were able to refresh and recharge while worshipping and hearing some amazing preaching and teaching.
The best part of being in Florida was being able to visit with Rich's family. He had not seen his brother in 30 years.
With the passing of another year, came some milestone birthdays.
Christian turned 18 in September and will be graduating from high school in June. He's planning to attend college next fall.
Noah turned 16 in December and is looking forward to getting his driving permit in the new year.
Madison turned 12 and is enjoying her first year in the youth group. She's got quite the busy social calendar.
Tyler turned 11 and is still wild and crazy as ever.
As we say goodbye to 2013, I am so thankful for all that God has done for our family. As I think back over the year, I'm reminded of the lyrics from one of my favorite worship songs by Matt Redman.
Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us
Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us
Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
I'm so excited to see what God does in our family in 2014!!!!
One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to walk with your children through disappointment. It can be a betrayal in a relationship, a failing grade or losing someone close to them. As parents, our first reaction is to help our child "fix" whatever is causing them pain. We may give them relationship advice or help them figure out ways to get their grades up. We share Scripture with them to show them that God cares when they're hurting. But there are some disappointments in life that we can't fix with a simple checklist. Sometimes there are questions that we just can't answer.
Right now we are walking through the questions and disappointment of the youth pastor from our church being let go. With 3 teenagers in the house, this situation has brought up lots of questions, sadness, confusion and even some anger. Many of the questions about the "Why?" were addressed by our Lead Pastor. He shared with the youth and parents the long difficult process that led up to this decision. We are grateful for his leadership, openness and his heart for the youth ministry of our church.
This situation has been a huge lesson for our teenagers. A lesson that our oldest articulated extremely well when he said "We don't come to youth group to hear a certain person. We come to youth group to hear from God. It doesn't matter who is on that stage teaching or preaching. What matters is what God wants us to hear."
When I heard my son say that, I was so humbled and proud at the same time. I was humbled because sometimes I'm guilty of wanting to hear a certain person more than I want to hear from God. However, I was also very proud of him for understanding that concept at his age and for sharing it in a room full of parents and youth.
We don't know why God has allowed this to happen right in the middle of our oldest senior year. We don't know why the former youth pastor chose this route. We don't know if there will be a new youth pastor before graduation. There are many unknowns.
As parents, all we can do is listen to the questions and point our children to the one who has the answers.
We know that God is sovereign and He knew this was going to happen and He has a purpose for it. We may not understand it or even like it. And that's ok. We just need to realize that God sees it all and works it all together for our good and His glory.
And even if we never get all of our questions answered, we will continue to trust in the sovereignty of God.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.