I spent an hour chipping away at the accumulated ice on the driveway at my mom's house this afternoon, and managed to clear a 2 foot x 10 foot strip. I had to stop a number of times to catch my breath because breaking ice with a spade in -3 degree weather is hard. The last time I used the snow blower (10:30 pm on New Year's Eve...) it ran out of gas after only 1/2 the driveway was done. I shoveled for awhile, but I lost interest around the same time I lost energy. I've been back to work all week and today was my first opportunity to deal with a job I'd only half done.
I feel like a loser in The Maintaining an Ice and Snow Free Driveway Challenge of Winter 2017. The driveway is SO large (can park 8 -9 cars on it) and I am so ill-equipped, physically. I sit at a desk all day. I walk around looking for Pokemon and pretty pictures. My body is not in any condition to be shoveling hundreds of pounds of snow. And Fraser Heights received and kept more snow than any other community in the lower mainland. (We still have a foot of unmelted snow in our yards, not to mention the mention the 5' high banks along the roads where folks have piled their curb, sidewalk and driveway snow.) I have no winter clothes, I just add 6 layers of summer clothes when I work on the driveway. I have no winter boots... I wear my (fashion?) boots, that I wear with skirts to work, which have zero grip on the bottom. I am The Best Whiner in The Whole Entire World.
I was not disappointed when The Snowstorm of This Weekend and Next Weekend disappeared off our radar at the last minute. I really honestly didn't know what I was going to do with another foot of snow. My mom hasn't left the house since early December, and if we'd gotten two more weekends of snow, I don't know if I'd have been able to dig a safe passageway for her to get back into the real world.
So for those of you who've been praying for more snow, I'm sorry. I've been praying the opposite. And I guess God loves me more.
Anyway, after that hour of cardio, I threw a change of clothes into my backpack, grabbed some chicken and a bagged salad, got my laptop and Kindle, and headed east.
I'm at the lake. By myself. To check on things up here.
And to check on things in here. (Pointing to my heart.)
I love the solitude and silence. (And the compete lack of snow.)
No background noise, just beautiful, serene, gentle quiet.
And with the new year just barely started, I thought I'd do that thing.
That thing being the Year End Guide to Reflect and Reset.
(I mentioned it in one of my three December blog posts, here.)
If Steve Brown suggests you do a thing, you should do that thing.
1. Pray first. For things like focus and guidance. Which I did. But my mind wandered regardless. I suck at shutting the world off. So I prayed again, then closed all the tabs on my laptop and put my phone out of reach. I promise not to check the weather app for the snowflake icon or Pokemon Go to see if there's a squirtle close by.
2. Remember and Recall "Try to recall some of the past year’s events by starting back at New Year’s Eve and reflect on some questions to help bring back your memories. What were you doing last New Year’s Eve? Who were you with? What were you hoping for in the year ahead? What challenges were before you? What was going on in the lives of the people close to you?"
I was by myself at the lake last New Year's Eve.
I was praying about the year ahead, and asking for His will to be done.
Plus I was lookin at the pics that Kim had posted of her New Year's Eve. In Cambodia. And I'd said to God, "I don't think I'll get a chance to see Vietnam or Cambodia in my lifetime. I'm OK with that as I'm assuming You've got a Vietnam or Cambodia corner in heaven that I can take my time exploring, as I've got all eternity to check out Your beautiful things and places."
On my mind, also, was the recent engagement we'd just celebrated as well as the upcoming wedding. And the one year anniversary of my dad's passing would be in March, and my offer/decision to stay with mom for one more year was ending and I was looking forward to buying a house with Drew and Danica; so the search for housing would begin later in the Spring. Max was talking about going back to school. Clint was suggesting he was almost finished with school. And it looked like 2016 was going to be a year full of change.
• What’s been hardest? • What surprised you most? • What are you thankful for? • Where did you fail? What did you learn? • What’s been disappointing? • Who or what do you need to grieve? • Where have you been stretched? Where have you grown? What have you learned? • What have you been encouraged by? • What should you celebrate? • Where do you see blessings from waiting? From struggle? • Who or what have you invested in? • How have you seen God at work? • What have your learned about Him?
- The hardest part of the year was the whole housing situation. I started 2016 thinking I'd be in a house by the end of the year, with Drew and Danica living with me in the suite. Instead, I had moved out of my 3 room- basement set up to an upstairs bedroom, sharing a small bathroom with my mom. My 'space' is now a room that contains a twin bed, a small table, and Drew's TV. I've got my belongings in baskets on the floor around the room and this is like the exact opposite of owning a house. The real estate market went stark raving mad this year, and the money I had to buy a house in Jan 2016 could only buy a shed by July 2016. I am choosing to believe He has a plan and it's a good one. In the meantime I check out houses Every Single Day and wonder what He has in mind.
- The thing that surprised me the most? HAHAHA. Was definitely the random invitation to join Sue on her trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. I thought I was going to see those spots in heaven.
- What am I thankful for? My list is 365 items long. It's here.
- Where did I fail?/What did I learn? Well. I just failed all over the place, over and over again, didn't I? I am The Queen at Failing. My biggest fail is completely private and I'm sure God is disappointed in me. How is it that the older I get, the less 'good' I am? Same damn sin, over and over again. Arggggh. My next biggest fail was in regards to ME and the wedding. I wanted to be well-rested, feel pretty, and ooze confidence. I wanted to have a dress that fit and was flattering, I wanted my hair to be wow and hairsprayed in place, and my face to be a better version of itself, with make up that would last all day so I wouldn't have to reapply every few hours. I wanted to be confident in who I was and how I looked so that I wouldn't even give those things a passing thought on the day. I wanted to be in the moment when my boy and his girl got married. I didn't want to think a single thought about me. And, in a perfect world, I would have less of a stomach and more of a perky ass. I wanted to be gracious and welcoming and sparkling and fun. This was not to be. None of those things came to pass. I was a self-conscious, exhausted, emotional, hot- mess all day. So what did I learn? I learned I really need to lose weight. And I should not let some random hairstylist who doesn't know me, cut my hair 3 weeks before a big event. I should have gone to a few make up artists to find one who could work with saggy baggy old skin. I should have tried my dress on more than once, and had it altered. I should have not stayed up til 4am writing a speech. And I should not have looked at any of the side-angle photos taken by the photographer. Through all this, though? I have also learned that what I looked like didn't matter to Drew or Danica. They love me regardless. And if they noticed that I looked fat, frumpy and frazzled, they never mentioned it.
- What's been disappointing? Hmmm. I hate dwelling on, or thinking about those things. That's why I choose to concentrate on things I'm thankful for. But, OK fine, for purposes of this exercise, I'll visit a thing or two that have been disappointing. One would be the ending of relationships. It's always sad when one ends. Or when you acknowledge it's ended. I guess this year closed with me realizing that some are over. And I'm disappointed in myself for not doing better. The second thing, and this is me sounding like an absolute broken record, is I'm disappointed in myself. Seriously. Just eat less and move more already. WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM, woman?
- What or who do I need to grieve? I need to let go of, and be sad/grieve some incredibly fun and totally wild day-dreams/fantasies I've been having a lovely time imagining. They're not going to happen, so I need to accept that I am a middle-aged, divorced, project manager/mom who spends her Saturday afternoons chipping ice on her mom's driveway, and find joy in that.
- Where have you been stretched? Where have you grown? Well the whole Vietnam trip was a stretch/growth experience. From sharing a room with someone for almost three weeks to almost-naked massages in every city we visited, the entire trip was outside my comfort zone. SO good though, in every way.
- What have I learned? This year, more than any other, has taught me that I need to use my voice. Time and time again I've been asked, "but why didn't you say something?" (Like when the guy who was going to 'just curl my hair' decided to cut and thin it. Or when I had to take off all my clothes in Cambodia. Or when I didn't agree with certain arrangements and plans.) I hate confrontation, so I usually don't speak up, but I have learned that it's OK to say something in a respectful, inquisitive, kind way. I need to do that more.
- Things to celebrate: I HAVE A DAUGHTER. Clint graduated from SFU, he has a BA. Max successfully completed 3 BCIT courses and is getting ready to go back. Amy is making amazing headway on getting her degree. I managed to stay employed. I've caught 105 Pokemon. I was in Vietnam and Cambodia this year. I didn't have a cow on Christmas like I did last year - yay, I'm maturing.
- Where do I see blessings from waiting? Where do I see blessings from struggle? How have I seen God at work? Sigh. I don't know. These past three years it's been all about The Waiting. When I sold my house and boxed up my life, I was ready for whatever God had in store. I wondered if it was a grand adventure. My money was in the bank. My possessions, which to be honest, I haven't missed, were in storage in the basement and garage. My kids did (and do) not need me. I was perfectly positioned to go. Or be someone else. To be embarrassingly honest, I wondered if He had a husband in mind for me. I was ready. I couldn't imagine getting married again while parenting the Oboys. But those days were over... Maybe I was good enough/grown enough/learned enough to be someone's wife? Or maybe he had a travel-job in mind for me? Or a service opportunity overseas? I remember telling a friend that with all the exciting options that could take place, how willing would I be if He said, "How about if the people I want you to care for are your dad and mom? And how about if I ask you to live in Surrey? And what if I want you to work close to home, managing projects? Would you find joy and contentment in that?" I told her that in all likeli-hood, despite my vivid imagination of all the creative options God could surprise me with, I was probably going to spend my spare time visiting my dad, keeping an eye on my mom, making lists at Focus and coordinating dinners with my kids six times a year." Which is exactly what happened. The blessings? Some fun travel opportunities. Alot of exploring local walking areas. Many, many evenings in coffee shops with friends. New friendships. Freedom from house-cleaning, summer yard maintenance, preparing supper for anyone. It is enough. Most women in the world do not have a smidgen of what I've been able to enjoy. I've been blessed beyond what I deserve.
- What did I learn about God this year? 1. That He hears my prayers. 2. That He answers according to His will. 3. He loves me. 4. He likes surprises. 5. He is creative and He loves colours. 6. He loves my kids. 7. He thought having a typhoon hit Vancouver the day before the wedding was a good idea. 8. He can do amazing things with a tiny design team that is struggling with health issues. He really doesn't need an entire army to fight battles... he can raze a walled city with a few hundred men carrying lanterns and horns.
3. Reflect on the following questions:
• What’s on God’s heart for you this next year? • How could you better nurture your relationship with God? • If you were to ask God, “What one area of my character would you like to see more conformed to the image of Christ in 2017,” what might He say? • Where do you need to lean more into community in 2017? • Who should you be spending more time or less time with? • Is spending time with people who don’t yet follow Jesus a priority for you? • How can you better steward your time, gifts/skills and resources in the 100 plus waking hours you have Mon.- Sat.? • Is there a word or phrase that helps bring into focus your priorities for 2017? • What disciplines or rhythms do you need to establish to help reset for 2017? • Whose help do you need to reset for 2017?
- I don't know what's on God's heart for me. I imagine whatever it is, it will come to pass. According to His will and in His timing. And it might make me uncomfortable and I'll probably whine about it. But in the end, I'll be a better person as a result.
- How could I better nurture my relationship with Him? Read my Bible more regularly.
- What area of my character would He might say needs work? Listening and loving more.
- Where do I need to lean more into community? I need to go to church more. Get involved even?
- Yes, spending time with people who don't know Jesus is a priority.
- How can I better steward my time? Less social media.
- My word for 2017. Intentional.
- What discipline do I need to establish? Eat a salad a day. Stretch/exercise daily.
- Whose help do I need? Some things you just gotta do on your own.
4. Surrender to God’s plans and priorities for 2017. Invite his help. Ask for his blessing and protection.
Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Guides like this one that make me analyze and think.
2. 2016. It was a good year.
3. Warmer temps that will hopefully melt that bloody ice on the driveway.