I realise I’m a bit late to the party, but happy 2017 friends! You might have noticed that I disappeared for a while there – my whole website disappeared for nearly a month! I was alerted by loyal reader Fran just before Christmas and thought, ‘oh no!’ and also ‘ah well, I’m not going to sort that out over the holiday’, and so I ignored it until I got back. And then it was a bit more complicated than I thought to get up and running again. I’m sorry if you missed me. I even wondered if maybe the fates had ordained the end of my blogging days, but here I am back again. Turns out I still want to be here after all.
So how has the year started for you?
We welcomed 2017 from the north coast of Ireland where we were happily huddled with old friends, sipping some fizz and eating some tasty homemade food. I’m pretty sure everyone’s highlight of the evening was the moment they discovered my back catalogue of raps from the early 1990s (Betty Boo’s Doin’ the Do being my personal favourite). We made it down onto the blustery beach at Portstewart on New Year’s Day, and lasted about two minutes before scurrying off to the cafe. My favourite way to mark the new year is to hole up somewhere near the sea with great friends, and walk and eat and chat…and we haven’t really done that since the kiddos arrived, so this New Year was a real treat.
And then we came back to Luton and hit the ground running with our new rhythm and schedule. With more than a little trepidation we sent Jesse out to Forest School in sub zero temperatures and he had the time of his life. I started my new job (woohoo!) and feel really excited by what’s on my plate. Andy is back at work and has quite a lot of gigs coming up in the next few months (you can check here to see if the When Faith Gets Shaken Tour is coming near you). And Jubilee, our intrepid little girl, has just turned 1. Which has given me another reason to reflect back over the last year.
I was nervous at the outset of 2016. I was desperate to meet our little girl and yet I had found the first year of Jesse’s life so hard. And here I was (we were) embarking on another year of newborn-ness, but with a toddler in tow too. I wasn’t sure how well I would cope, and what, exactly, we would do every day. But, do you know what, it was a happy year. It was tiring, and sometimes a bit boring, but mostly it was fine. And our littlest has elbowed and giggled her way further into our hearts every day.
And here we are in a new season. 2016 was a year of bedding down and inwards. We didn’t feel isolated, because an amazing community swarmed around us this past year and kept us afloat; but it was a safe community, made up of people a lot like us. They were mostly our age or our colour or our religion (or all of the above). Which isn’t at all representative of the diversity of this beautiful town. We moved here on purpose, not just for an easy life, and I feel a hunger to be more engaged with the fabric of the town, and with people who aren’t like me. And if the political landscape of the year has taught us anything, or driven anything home to me, it’s the urgent need for us to be building relationships across racial, socio-economic and religious divides. With people who aren’t like us. So I guess that’s a kind of resolution for the year – or maybe more of an intention. My new job will bring me into relationship with some of those people, and some other ideas we are brewing might do that too. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.
Plus, we are finally going to have the neighbours round. Why do we take so long to do the easiest things?
I realise that I’ve kind of missed the wave of blogs about resolutions and words and health blitzes, but as you can probably tell, I’m still trying to jump on the bandwagon. I have an unquenchable passion for making plans, and what’s more, I managed to squeeze a whole hour without the kiddos into our time away in Ireland (thanks to Andy) in order to think about the new year. I wrote a list of 17 goals for 2017, but really they were the not-so-serious or life-changing things like stop writing in biro in my journal (thanks mum and dad for the fountain pen), start running again (maybe when it gets warmer) and get my nose re-pierced.
I also finally decided to give up shopping on amazon because their ethical credentials are just so terrible, and they dodge so much tax. And frankly, internet shopping is sometimes just an unhealthy mood-booster for me.
But there are also some deeper themes that I want to pursue this year, things that have emerged from my reflections on the direction of my life, or challenges I want to embrace more fully. If I were to do the whole ‘one word’ challenge (where you pick one word as kind of theme for your year) it would be intention. I read Present Over Perfect back in December and it made so much sense to me, in a very timely way. It reinforced some things I’d been thinking about choosing what I do with my time, rather than just cramming too much in. I underlined this bit:
This is actually my life, and it doesn’t matter a bit if it would be lovely for someone else to live. What does matter: does it feel congruent with how God made me and called me?
The fact is that in this season of having two small children, there are limits on what both Andy and I can do with our time. Working full-time, having lots of quality time with the kids, volunteering, studying, doing stuff at church, creating, keeping a beautiful home, they just don’t all fit. So I’m focusing down, and it has taken some time to really decide what is most important. Right now, for me, there is part-time work, and there is time with the kids, and there is some creating time. And the desire for all of them to take me outside my safe and cosy places. Then there isn’t really room for much else. And I want to be more careful than I have been in my previous 36 years about other things rushing in.
So 2017 is going to be a year of activity, but thoughtful, intentional activity which will means saying some big nos (I’ve already had to say one, which I hated) so I can say some big yeses.
Anyone else trying to say some more meaningful yeses to the important things?by