Simply Sather

january | cultivating what matters

It’s my first Tending List of the new year!

It should be noted that ALL of the things that make it onto my tending list are directly connected to one of my big rocks (shared here) and living simply.

MONTHLY

  • create February editorial calendar
  • write wedding vows
  • register for Financial Peace University
  • 6×6 for work
  • A Simple Year coursework: January
  • Read 5 books
  • find a general practitioner in network for my son
  • do a S.A.C.K. (Simple Act of Kindness)
  • collect all of our family’s birthdays
  • operations advisor: meet with advisee, attend goal setting session, sign-up for chapter meetings x 2

WEEKLY

  • email Mister 2x/week
  • post twice a week
  • draft two posts each week
  • wedding work
  • move
  • signing off for Sabbath
  • financial/paperwork organization

DAILY

  • drink two Hydroflasks of water
  • Bible study
  • write in M & R journal
  • read
  • fiancé love text

I’ll be back in early February (after I get married) to share how I did cultivating what matters the first month of the year.

Simply Sather

priorities, big rocks + goals

Call them whatever you like.

“Priorities” carries an air of importance that many can relate to.

The “big rock theory” can be helpful to us visual learners, reminding us to put the biggest, most important things into our day first.

And then there are simply “goals”. These are important because they can look like anything and be in any form and be set for any length of time.

Like I said, call them whatever you want to.

I don’t use the term “resolutions” anymore, but I do set goals each year. The biggest thing of importance for me though, is to be sure to invite God to be – and remain – in the center of what I’m hoping to do. 

Failure to meet my goals comes for me when I stack unreasonable, crazy high expectations on myself (and others) without stopping to pray and listen to what God may be trying to whisper to my soul.

If that sounds a little cuckoo to you, I get it. But, one thing I can tell you from experience is this…

Trying to do it on my own, with little to no consultation of the Word and/or prayer has led me to frustration, distraction and being overwhelmed, even to bouts of depression.

And then, I quit.

And then (eventually), I start again. I guess I’m not a quitter…

The tool that has most significantly helped me to navigate the planning process prayerfully has been the Powersheets created by Lara Casey and the Cultivate Team.

They have helped me dig beyond just creating lists that are easily and quickly abandoned in favor of latching on to more intentional, reflective, prayerful goal setting.

This is my fourth year using the Powersheets and the most excited I’ve been as I’m finally getting the hang of them. Though the prep work can be a bit intense and deep – if you prioritize it and keep it real with yourself –  it is a simple and effective tool.

You can see my process on my “Powersheets” Highlight reel on Instagram (@myjournaledlife), but I’m sharing my actual goals here.

For 2018, the biggest priorities for me (and why they were chosen) are included here:

BIGGER ROCKS | daily efforts

1 | to be a godly wife

I’ve been married twice before. The first made me a widow, the second a divorcée.

God has done some w-o-r-k in me to get me to this place and help me see that He loves me and is blessing this coming union. I want to be a godly wife because both Mister’s children (21yo + 19yo) and my own son have been through divorce and have been hurt by it.

We believe that pursuing marriage God’s way as an example to our young adults is our best, most significant ministry and what He is doing to heal and grow us from our past experiences, sin and marriages.  It’s bigger than us. We are sold out on maintaining an eternal focus and being a godly example; as a partnership.

Our women’s ministry leader at church is often heard saying, “one team, one plan” and that’s what we’re focused on. And my being a godly wife – focusing on the verses in Ephesians 4 + 5, Proverbs 31, Titus 2 and others – is my primary goal for 2018.

Prayers welcome. I’ve been single for long enough to get comfortable with it, readjusting to sharing space with a man is going to be an…adventure.

I’m excited!!!

2 | to write

I want to share my heart with other women. I want to write about common experiences we share as women, mothers, friends, daughters, siblings, volunteers, leaders, advocates and warriors in a dangerous ongoing battle. I want my words to be of encouragement and to point women back to Hope.

And mostly, I want to find a way to share the “real talk” I seem to be comfortable telling my gal pals over a cup of coffee in my living room or at a Starbucks or in the parking lot of our church. 

I’ve often struggled with wanting to be relevant, comparing myself to other bloggers and women and have desired to have a huge following to make me feel like my words matter feel like I matter. I have forgotten at times that it’s an opportunity to connect and help rather than to feel important and wise.

I see writing as an outlet for me and prayerfully a help to you.

An outlet I pray truly impacts women and the people they love and influence for God. I just want us all to walk more boldly and confidently in Jesus’ love and knowing of us.

And laugh a lot while doing it.

3 | join Mister in being a godly steward of our finances

Finances have been a source of stress for me for as long as I can remember. Even when I had a huge insurance payout after my husband’s death – it was still a stressor.

I’ve always only wanted to know just enough about money to take care of what I’ve absolutely needed to.

I. Hate. Admitting. This.

But it’s true.

I dislike dealing with money – and laws about money, and taxes and retirement plans and health benefit packages and savings accounts.

Mister “loves numbers” (he’s actually said it a few times – with a huge smile on his face!) and gets enthusiastic talking about 401Ks and retirement packages and will tithe for a whole year at a time and has no debt.

I want to be his partner, not his burden in this area. And an example for my son, who is better than me at this, but needs more direction and guidance than I’ve given him.

We will be participating in Financial Peace University this semester and doing the work as a team to eliminate my debt and plan for fabulous experiences (like #FranceatFifty) and having plenty of money to support missionaries and organizations that we are drawn to by God. And the class has my “one little word” (peace; post to come) right in the title, so I’m seeing that as another positive sign.

Living simply is also a big part of our focus for the coming year as we move in together and merge two apartments full of stuff – we’re constantly having to ask ourselves – “what’s most important” before we toss and before we spend.

This is an area of great opportunity and growth for me. I believe God has already worked out my victory (for His glory) in it.

4 | flourish at work

I am degreed in education and am looking for ways to implement my training into what I do at my current job as an administrator for a very large group of volunteers at our church.

It’s a big job and I constantly feel like I’m dropping the ball, missing things and wanting to improve everything I do for the experience of our hundreds of volunteers.

I also want to build up the folks I work with and encourage them in their work – even if we’re in different departments or responsible for different things.

This year is about getting past what I went to school for and doing things well where I’m planted for the glory of the Lord. Colossians 3:23 | “Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident you’ll be paid in full when you come into your inheritance.” MSG

It’s got to be less about trying to do things perfectly and more about loving people well and looking for what God wants me to do and doing it with love, authentically.

______

SMALLER ROCKS | weekly and monthly efforts

5 | complete “A Simple Year” coursework

I started it last year and did not finish it.

Gratefully, once you pay and join, you have access to your coursework for e-v-a. So here’s to starting again!

Mister and I have agreed that we want to live simply and pursue minimalism. It will start in our home and our relationship, our communication and even in how we manage our stuff.

I am hoping Mister will do at least half of the class with me (though he already lives pretty simply) and that I will be able to finish at least 3/4 of the classes this year.

6 | be/have fun

True to my introversion loving activities (quiet, sitting in quiet, creating quiet environments for processing, being quiet, being quiet by myself, turning pages in books…quietly) I began asking myself what “fun” is for me.

I want folks to enjoy being around me and for me to be a life giver (not an energy zapper) and for there to be lots of laughing l-o-u-d-l-y (the only non-quiet activity I like – he, he) when people are in my company. But, I don’t know if I really know what fun is; or my version of it.

This really is about me knowing what fun is for me, defining it clearly and making plans to make it happen – not someone else’s version of what fun is or should be.

Does anyone else sense adventure in discovering this?

7 | make healthy choices

I am still recovering from major surgery. And this particular one – an abdominal hysterectomy – takes a full year to recover all of your stamina and body to return to it’s best self; so I’m not going nuts on this one.

But, I do want to eat better, do some sort of activity outdoors and experience a toner, stronger self.

I’ve got some ideas about some challenges I’ll participate in that will help me keep this goal in mind, but I think it shouldn’t be too difficult. My guys are both healthier in their eating habits than I am, so I’ll have to come to their side in lots of ways.

Simply put, I just want to feel good.

8 | intentional love toward family

This is the year of prioritizing learning how my immediate family ticks. And Mister’s too.

Who are they? What do they enjoy? Why do they think or feel that way?

Moving aside my expectations and past experiences in favor of loving them well is the goal. And gratefully, there is margin to be intentional in this. I’ll have to let go of what’s always been done or said and not try to change them to my viewpoint or perspective, but to simply love them as I’m loved.

This is also important to me because when I’m a grandparent (a bunch of years from now, Lord willing) I’d like for our adult children and their children to want to spend time with us. We need to model that in how we love our parents and siblings now.

9 | serve others

So. Many. Opportunities. for this one.

There will be acts of kindness for our loved ones, people we work and serve alongside and even strangers.

We are praying about which organizations we will give time and resources to and ways that we can meet needs beyond prayer. It’s exciting because I think this will be the first time in a long time where I will be able to have the room in my life to sit back and listen and then act on the prompting all the way to follow through.

Like I mentioned above,  there are so very many opportunities to do this well – not for myself and not repay others for what they’ve done for me, but out of love.

_______

Stay tuned for what these look like in detail when I share my January “tending list” from my Powersheets in the next week or so.

Hey you! Something to consider if you’ve not started yet…

Lara Casey has shared that can help alleviate the pressure that can come with this kind of planning and preparing is the reminder that you can start anytime.

“There’s nothing magical about January 1st.”

So, if you’re reading this and January is already underway or heck, maybe it’s July – squash whatever negative thoughts are coming to you and go ahead and get started.

Simply Sather

the year in review | 2017

Last week (the one between Christmas and ringing in the New Year) is quite possibly my favorite; which is saying something – I don’t like or play favorites. But, there is something incredibly special about it for me.

I think it’s the relief that comes with making it through another set of holidays and all of the stressors and expectations that can come along with it. The realization and gratitude of surviving another holiday season – which was just unfathomable 14 years ago – is a huge blessing in itself. I carried so much grief into this time of year for so long; every year after that very tragic one all those years ago.

But, when Christmas passes and the decorations come down – the very next day – I get giddy for the week ahead. It’s the hope of and excitement of a new, fresh start. One that everyone gets. It feels like a leveler to me. Like permission to leave behind all of that stuff and freedom to go ahead and dream a little, to dare to express some excitement at having – what feels like – a clean slate. And everyone is having to do it, not just me.

The slowed schedule brings about time to reflect. To remember. To look more deeply into what was or wasn’t, what I longed for but didn’t experience or make happen To reflect on things hoped for and that were surprisingly delivered.

It’s worth the time it takes to think about the year you just lived through, no matter how it looks on this side of it. It truly is meaningful and powerful and beneficial to make time to reflect on the past year. Especially when it’s done intentionally…

Cait Flanders was reflecting on her year and the way she did it – see here – motivated me to do the same.

Here goes:

1 | What makes this year unforgettable?

I have a lot of choices here…

I say this because there are many big markers for why 2017 surprised me as completely unforgettable. But, because I’m getting married in February, I’m gonna save all the gushy stuff about my Mister (what I call him) for this question next year.

I’ll probably often look back at 2017 as the year I had an abdominal hysterectomy – my first major surgery – and learned a lot more about my desire to people please, perform and hustle for the approval of others. I was blown away by how our spiritual family, that we’ve only known for about 2 1/2 years, came to our aide and cared and loved beyond what I expected.

The recovery taught me how to rest. To let others serve and care for me and how important it is to pursue authenticity and vulnerability in favor of connection rather than isolating and pulling away out of fear and shame.

It’s been a difficult recovery, one that has humbled me greatly – but what makes the entire thing most unforgettable is the lengths I believe God will go through to demonstrate His love for us.

2 | What did you enjoy doing this year?

I enjoyed traveling to Seattle for the first time.

For the record, we had no delays or flight frustrations, no rain the entire weekend and the city just charmed the mess out of me. I’m excited to visit it and Mister’s folks again and to take another go at climbing Mt. Rainier.

3 | What/who is the one thing/person you’re grateful for?

Okay, here I’ll share about my Mister.

I’m so very grateful for him because he is living proof of answered prayers. I had been dating online for a few months before we were matched. I was jaded and feeling tempted to settle for what I was experiencing on dates with so many other men. I really wanted to give up.

There are a lot of reasons I’m grateful for him, but it’s been because of him and the way he treats me (and my 18yo son) that our relationship is like this. I am so appreciative that God heard my prayers and brought us together.

Hold on single ladies, stay in prayer and believe; godly men who want to love and encourage and lead you in a biblical way are out there!!!

4 | What’s your biggest win this year?

Learning to be more of a coach and support to my son than mothering him.

Up until April of his senior year, he had no plan to go to college. Which was fine, we were planning and preparing for a “gap year” instead.

Let’s be clear. I really wanted him to go to college but, I didn’t want him to do it because I wanted him to. So, I prayed and prayed and asked other praying mamas to pray. And I let it go.

By early May, he’d set up a tour at the Art Institute of Dallas, completed his application almost completely independently and actively pursued the opportunity to be enrolled in college for the fall. 

He did take my advice to delay his start until October – even though everyone else was going back in August, I sensed he needed the break. And he did well.

I know it’s his college experience, but the win was that I as a mother trusted that he would make the best decision for this next season in his life. I guess I’d say, it’s OUR win.

5 | What did you read/watch/listen to that made the most impact this year?

The Bible is always going to be the most impacting thing I read each year.

I did glean some insight from Brené Brown’s, Daring Greatly about everyone’s need for vulnerability to grow closer together but how that very thing (being vulnerable) can open up us to being shamed and push us further apart. The chapter about men and vulnerability hurt my heart.

I’m still working through the American Film Institute’s Top 100 rated films. And though I don’t ever expect to “get” why those movies are in the list, I’m constantly being impressed. At the prompting of this list, I saw the entire Godfather Trilogy.

There is also a growing appreciation for how creativity will not be buried. Artists, creators, developers will use what they have to make the songs, tell the stories, create the art – that’s powerful.

6| What did you worry about most and how did it turn out?

I worried mostly about my surgery and its impact on my son. 

Though I did well physically, the emotional weight on those who love and care for me was heavier than I expected. But because of spiritual family, much of the burden was lifted and allowed my son to have home cooked meals, continue to work part-time, carry a full load at school and finish the internship at the church.

He finished well because he knew I was taken care of, but worrying did not help.

7| What was your biggest regret and why?

I regret not continuing to blog past July.

I wish I’d kept writing even when I wasn’t posting to share.

Writing is a creative outlet for me and when I don’t journal or write, I get swirly inside.

Powerful dams to my continuing to write were me not having a bigger/eternal focus, worrying too much about what the blog looked like rather than focusing on its content, allowing myself to be overwhelmed by comparison, perfectionism and fear of what people might say.

Some folks just gotta dance, I’m one of those folks that just gotta write.

 8| What’s the one thing that you changed about yourself?

Hmmmmm…

Something must have changed inside of me because my behavior changed, but I’m not exactly sure what that change is.

The behavioral change was walking away from Facebook for 6 months without checking it once. Before my hiatus, I was addicted to it. I let go of allowing myself to be pressured by the idea that I need to brand myself and navigate multiple platforms on social media. It was also a change that I no longer feel I need to strive for followers on Instagram (the one social media platform I use almost daily, Pinterest maybe twice a week).

Perhaps it is that I’ve allowed God to change my perspective about these platforms, but leaving Facebook was one of the best decisions I made this past year. In fact, I’ll be deactivating the account on the last day of December for all of 2018 with the option to return in 2019 if it’s clear that I absolutely can not function without it.

This change speaks to my desire to have more quality, intimate relationships with others, so I am more intentional about staying connected through Voxing, texting and will call and use Marco Polo from time-to-time too.

9 | What surprised you the most this year?

I “interviewed” my mom earlier this year.

I sent her emails with questions about her childhood, dreams, education, life experiences and was surprised about how little I knew about her. It made so many things make sense, but I minimized my mom’s story because I’d never taken the time to learn it.

Her candor and raw responses would leave me in a bit of a tailspin for a day or so afterwards trying to digest and align what I was learning with what I recalled and experienced. I’m glad she was willing to share with me. I think I understand myself a bit better as a result of those exchanges.

10| If you could go back to last January 1, what suggestions would you give your past self?

  • learn how to sit in uncertainty before reacting – don’t make hasty decisions or speak before you’ve been still to hear what the fear is revealing
  • stick with Blue Apron, even when you feel overwhelmed by it
  • practice speaking up without letting your emotions take over
  • make time for journaling everyday, not just when you’re experiencing stress
  • practice being bold
  • find more ways to explain (not defend) your introversion
  • take two stay-cations each year – the one I had was fantastic but just not enough

2017 threw some curveballs I didn’t even see coming on January 1st, so mostly I would want her to love God and let Him love her well. He is Trustworthy.