2019 was a BIG year of change for our family, and for me personally. I am moving into 2020 as a changed person, and it is fun and encouraging to look back and know at least a small idea of what the agents of change were in a period of time. Part of goal setting is assessing from where you have come, so that you can move forward with intention. So naturally, tracking the things that bring about change is a motivation all its own, and affects our future in ways that we both can and cannot see.
Here are six things that changed my life in 2019. They are not in any particular order.
- I prayed through the book of Psalms 12 times (once per month) using this simple method. I don’t think I will ever be able to adequately express how the discipline of doing this daily has changed me. It opened my eyes to amazing patterns in the book of Psalms, challenged me to pray for things I had not given much consistent consideration before (like the persecuted church), and gave me a deeper love for praying Scripture that feels almost addicting. My goal this year is to pray through the entire New Testament. There are 260 chapters in the NT, and guess what? There are 260 weekdays in the year! One chapter per day is my goal, which is actually less than my 5 chapters per day in the Psalms. BUT I will cover more ground in the Bible in the course of the year. I am three chapters into the Gospel of Matthew and already jotting down and praying through things I’ve never considered before. There is something about turning Scripture into prayer that changes everything.
- We moved overseas. I can’t possibly write down all that has changed and how and why, but suffice it to say that our entire lives have changed. Having navigated culture shock twice before in two other countries, we know how living internationally changes us over time. I am already aware of this in myself, and we are only 6 months in to living on a new continent. Culture adjustment is such a hard but healthy agent of change- it gradually expands our worldview over time. Taking the longview, we couldn’t be happier to be raising our children this way, and to be experiencing it ourselves. It’s not perfect by any stretch, but it’s good for us and the hard days shape us more than we realize. I am grateful to have a two ended perspective living here, which I did not have in our previous country. So as changed as I already am, I know I will “emerge” an even more changed person this time next year. Stay tuned. 🙂
- I read 32 books. I expounded more on this in my “What I Read” post, but I wanted to mention it here as well because the books I read in the run of a year are some of the biggest agents of change in my life. Aside from the Bible changing me, I see God changing me through the books I read. He leads me in my reading choices, impresses on me the timing of reading certain books, and holds me back from reading others. Some I have started and not finished until years later, when I realize that I couldn’t have read it any sooner and gleaned from it what I did. That book was meant for that specific time, and no other. I don’t mean to make this sound weird- it’s not. I just believe that God is interested and involved in my reading life in a very personal way. Each time I finish a book, I pray about my next book, asking God, “What should I read next?” I challenge you to make prayer a part of your reading life and see how it shapes what you read. Then notice how what you read shapes and changes you. It’s really quite amazing. This is why I call books “friends” because my interactions with them leave me different, hopefully always in a good way. 🙂
- I started taking classical guitar lessons. If you’ve been reading this blog for a few years, you know that I love to learn. I intentionally choose at least 1 new skill to learn or improve on each year. While on deputation, my husband was gifted a very nice left handed guitar. And our son received a guitar for his birthday. While we are fairly eclectic with the instruments we play, guitar had never been in our sights. But we are responsible for our gifts, so when we got here I decided to look for a teacher. Two teachers never replied to my inquiries, and I landed a spot with a guitarist who is a South African legend. I didn’t even know who he was when I signed up…and then we discovered that in his tours around the world, he has played in the very towns where we lived in Canada. But we didn’t meet until God brought us here. The stories God weaves are unique. Now when I sit down to practice and strum songs, I realize that my music world has gotten a bid broader and wider, and I’m paying attention to an instrument and a learning process that I never have before.
- I stopped homeschooling. After nine years of homeschooling, we put our children into public school in our new location overseas. I knew it would be a drastic change for both of them, but I didn’t anticipate how big of a change it would be for me. To be honest, I never felt totally equipped or confident while homeschooling. I have trained to teach piano and theory, not math and history. That said, we utilized many tools and helps to make sure our children were getting a solid learning experience. (It paid off, too, when we realized that they were ahead of students here in some subjects.) Anyway, I had gotten very used to having them home all the time, and I loved it. Our children adjusted well over all, with some bumps along the way. What surprised me was how difficult it was for me to adjust to them not being home all day anymore. I have enjoyed the break from having the full responsibility of teaching them, but I miss them. They have been home for a lengthy break this summer/Christmas, which will end up being 7 weeks, and I’ve truly enjoyed it. But it’s about to change again…and so I will adjust again. All that to say….not homeschooling has changed my routine and life in a big way.
- I kept a bullet journal. I had heard friends of mine talk about keeping a bullet journal, and how amazing it was, etc. I watched from afar for a few years and then decided to give it a try in January 2019. I bought myself a knock off moleskin, lined journal. And I basically made it my “brain dump” book. Using colored pens, I filled it (halfway, so I can keep using it) with packing and moving lists, shopping lists for our big move, details about the history and care of my grand piano, book lists, Scripture memorization lists, guitar lesson notes, titles of music pieces I want to play on the piano, funny things my children said, quotes I wanted to remember, phrases I wanted to hand letter, church planting ideas, counseling certification reading requirement list, song choices for our concerts, life hacks, goals big and small, piano teaching notes, blog post ideas, financial details, and so much more. I listed all that to give you an idea of how to use a bullet journal. It’s a place where you can take something out of your brain and have a book remember it for you. I don’t know about you, but that is a win in my book…literally. It took losing years worth of notes on my iphone during an accidental delete to show me that I needed to interact more with paper and pen, and less with technology. I am hooked on using a bullet journal. It’s never far from me at any given time, and it relieves a great deal of stress. In a thousand tiny ways (and words), it has changed my life. 🙂
There were, of course, many more than six things about 2019 that changed me. God is the ultimate change maker, and His ways of sanctification are infinite and creative. I’ve listed just six to hopefully encourage you to do things that stretch you in ways that make it easy to look back and see how you’ve changed. Sometimes we look for the big things, when it’s little things that create the most change in the long run. What little thing can you change today that will in turn change you?
A Kindred Spirit