Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Reflections, 2014 Anticipations

One of the healthiest practices I have started in the past few years has been to reflect and plan at the end of each year.  I've never been a big one for New Year's resolutions, but I do think that it is important for Christians to take time of reflection and goal making on a regular basis, and the end of the year is a great time to do this.  Doing this yearly is probably a minimum, and some women I know do this more like quarterly or even monthly.
'Even when you can't see what we're holding, our body language tells you that we're talking on a cellphone' photo (c) 2009, Ed Yourdon - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Motherhood can be busy, and sometimes we as mothers can run around wasting our time because we haven't thought through how to use it best.  I encourage you to find a babysitter and get away to a coffee shop or some other place you enjoy to think through these questions.  At the minimum, take a whole nap time (if you are still fortunate enough to have all of your kiddos napping every day!) and sit down in a comfy chair with a hot beverage.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you think through the past year (I like to write out my answers in a journal), focusing on strengths and weaknesses...

1.  What was the best thing that happened to you in 2013?
2.  What was the hardest thing that happened to you in 2013?
3.  In what ways did you see the hand of God in your life this past year?
4.  What are you thankful for from this past year? (Go ahead- make an exhaustive list.  You should be able to come up with 1-2 pages... God is good, even in the hardest years.)
5.  What aspect of your work did you enjoy most this past year?
6.  What spiritual discipline did you grow in this past year?  How did it affect your walk with God?
7.  What were the best books you read this past year?
8.  How did you grow this past year emotionally, physically and spiritually?

And after you think/write through those things, ask yourself these questions to help to be intentional about your time in 2014....

1. What is one thing you could do you to be more satisfied in God this year?
2. What domestic skills do you want to learn or grow in more this year?
3. What books would you like to make it a point to read this year?  Which one will you start with?
4.  What distracted you from God this past year and how will you change that (by God's grace) this upcoming year?
5. Whose salvation do you want to pray for most fervently this year?
6. How can you best love and serve your church this year?
7. What is the biggest step of faith you want to take this year?  How will you trust God with this?
8. What relationship(s) do you want to grow in this year?  How will you invest in them?
9. In what ways would you like to grow as a wife this year?  As a mother?
10. What single thing do you plan to do this year that will matter most in 10 years?  In eternity?

[Thanks to Justin Taylor and Tsh Oxenrider for influencing my personal year end reflection (and contributing to some of the questions above)].

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Our First Full Week in Indiana

Yesterday marked our first full week as residents of Indiana.  As most of our life has been the past few years (especially the past few months!) it has been hard but good.

God has provided in so many ways, its hard to even list.  The other day, I made a list of all the people who helped us in a major way with this move, and I came up with a full page of names.  That is God's grace to us, an undeserved present from Him for which I am grateful.  This move could not have happened without the love and support of many friends and family members.  I am humbled by it all, but also reminded of how much God is in this move, by his provision (several major things he even provided before we knew we needed it!)

This move has been such a sweet reminder to us of how good it is to be in fellowship with God's people.  Our church in California helped us majorly with the move: friends put in many, many long hours to help us pack up and clear out and clean up our house.  And our church here has welcomed us with open arms from the first day we got here, feeding us, helping us find a place to live, even loaning us folding chairs right now while we don't yet have furniture.  Our Christian brothers and sisters are truly family in every sense of the word.

Thank you for all of your prayers for us.  So much of this move was a step of faith: moving here without a place to live or a job for Alex or even health insurance for my pregnancy.  But we knew that God, who is a loving Father, is more eager to provide for us than even we are to provide for Esther.  And he has shown much kindness to us.

Please continue to pray for us, as we are still trusting God to provide in some big ways in the next few weeks.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Its all gonna burn...

One of the things that I try to live by daily is the fact that only three things in life are eternal: God, God's Word and the souls of people.

Along with that is the idea that one day, its all gonna burn.  What I mean by that is that one day, all of our material possessions will be gone.  Nada.  No more.  And I make it my goal daily to live for those things that will be eternal, not temporary.

As as side note, I don't believe that all physical items are necessarily bad.  The new earth, too will be physical, and I believe that the physical things we experience here prepare us for that future joy.  Just to be clear.

But, as I mentioned before, I do believe that everything here will burn one day.  And we should live in light of that.  I have really experienced this reality through our move so far.  As we downsize, we are giving away items that we use daily, and selling other items for pennies on what we originally paid for them.  Other items are being placed in our back ally and taken by people who will just sell them for scrap metal.  One example is our chicken coop, which we spent hundreds of dollars to pay for the material and Alex spent hours upon hours building.  We hoped to sell it for a few hundred, but ended up giving it away to someone who disassembled it to use for the parts.  We didn't get any money for it and it wont even be used as a chicken coop any more.

And sometimes its really hard to see stuff like this happen.  Things that we had hope for, things that we saw being a part of our future.

But it has taken one important reality deeper: one day, its all gonna burn.  ALL of our stuff will be gone.  Even the small (comparatively) amount of stuff that we love and use enough to actually move with us is going to burn one day; it will all be gone.  And I want to live in light of that really, truly, tangibly being true.

And on the other end of that is another important reality:  all of our stuff is a gift from God.  As each item goes, I think about how it came to us: some items were gifts, some (actually many!) were hand-me-downs (we like hand-me-downs!), some were garbage picked :), some were paid for from our hard-earned money, some were long sought after and hunted and finally found at garage sales and thrift stores.  Everything has a story and a purpose in our household.  And all these things are gifts, just for the time being, to point us to the loving hand of the Father, who provided them.

Do we need stuff?  No.  We are realizing that more and more as we downsize.  But stuff isn't bad.  We are hopeful and prayerful that God replaces a lot of it after we move.

But as with most things in life, I am sure he'll do it in a much different way than we are hoping or expecting.  And that is a bit scary, but also a bit exciting.  Its always an adventure to follow Jesus by faith.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Short Update

Its been a while since I've posted but we're still alive over here.

Five days from now I will be getting in a car and leaving the place we have called home the majority of our marriage.  In a way I am very, very excited, but in another way it barely seems real.

Moving is a lot of work.  We are making progress daily, but we are working from sun up to sun down. I will be really, REALLY happy when this is all done.

God has been good to us.  My cousin is here right now to help with the move, which is a huge blessing.   We would not have gotten nearly as far with things at this point if it wasn't for her!  Our garage sale was a big success.  Our chickens *finally* sold, the exact day that we needed them gone.

Please continue to pray for us.  We don't yet have a place to live, and we expect to be in Bloomington in just over a week (eek!  but God can and will provide!).  Pray for the final logistics of the move to work out, especially in getting rid of the last of our stuff, cleaning up the house and garage and for a safe trip.

Thank you!

Monday, December 2, 2013

November in Our Home

Its hard to believe that November is over.  Every day of November seemed like ten days packed into one, for how much we had going on.

A week into November, much of our waiting was over.  We knew that Baby Boy R was going to live with his cousin, Alex's job came to an end and we settled on a plan that had been in the works for a while: moving to Indiana.  Since making that decision, it has been a whirlwind.

A few days after deciding to move, we also found out the gender of our baby: we're going to have a boy!  We would have been happy with a boy or a girl, but its fun to pray for and look forward to James Hudson Taylor Costa joining our family in just 4 months.

The ultrasound that revealed Hudson's gender also brought some grave news: doctors are seeing something in his chest/diaphragm area that they are unsure about.  After several follow-up ultrasounds, it looks like best case scenario is that its nothing (its really hard to discern what it what on a fuzzy ultrasound) worse case is that it might be a lung cyst, which has a good prognosis.  So, while its a bit concerning, overall we are not too worried.  But please keep our baby Hudson in prayer, that he will be healthy and moreover that he will love and serve God with his life.

The middle of the month was full of logistical matters relating to our move, including starting to pack and downsize, and Alex flying to Indiana to look for housing and a job.  I've barely had any downtime since our decision to move, because there is so much to pack into a few short weeks (except for Sabbaths... I always Sabbath and am thankful for that gift from God.)

The last week of the month, a couple days before Thanksgiving, Baby Boy R went to live with his cousin and we once again became parents of an only child.  We are happy for the time the God had him with us, and prayerful that his new living situation will be good for him.

Last Bootcamp! (see all the sweat?)
The day before Thanksgiving was our last bootcamp.  I made it one of the hardest workouts in a while, haha.  It was also bittersweet for me.  I will miss my mommy friends, and Esther will miss her kiddo friends.  And what will working out look like after we move?  Will I be motivated to workout by myself indoors all winter?  Many things will change when we move.  I will have to wait and see how these areas of life play out.

Thanksgiving was exactly how I'd hoped: we spent the day as a family and with a few friends from church.  The food was delicious, the day was relaxing and we all laughed a lot (especially while playing scattergories :) ).

And now the countdown begins.  We are less than two weeks away from our big move, and I expect that the days are going to fly by.  This week we will continue to sort through our stuff, deciding what will be packed and what we will sell or give away.  Later this week, my sweet, godly cousin will be flying out to help us pack and move.  Next week (our last week in Cali) will be lots of packing boxes and cleaning our house before we go.  I can't believe how close that is.