In Retrospect: My Word for 2016

Aside

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I never have, but thought this year might be a good time to start because I’m really good at adding things to my already full plate. When I was trying to come up with a resolution for 2017 I just kept thinking of things that were more fitting for a bucket list. Visit a new country and continent (New Zealand in July, check!), master a new song on the ukulele, eat leafy greens with every meal, and visit all our favorite Kansas City places before we move. These things also remind me of my to-do lists where I write down things that I’m already planning on doing so that I can check them off. I’ve already decided we’re moving to New Zealand, so does that count?! And we’ll already be visiting all our favorite KC places before moving, so that probably doesn’t count either… Another thing I thought of was inspired by a fellow Holy Yoga instructor that I follow on instagram. She is committing to doing ten sun salutations every day in 2017. Wow! “That is a great workout”, I thought. Doing ten sun salutations would tone my arms, my abs, get my heart rate up, and would be amazing!

But then I thought, “Hmm… would I actually do that?!” Or would it just be another thing on my list that I never accomplish so it gets moved to the following week? Would I forget for a whole week and then start the next Monday with the burden of completing 70 sun salutations to make up for what I missed?
I’ve already confessed that I expect a lot from myself and so I’m thinking I have a couple choices here:
1) Commit to ten daily sun salutations and fail.
2) Not commit to ten daily sun salutations.
Maybe I could do it every day in January, maybe even February too. But I also know we’ll be traveling several weekends to speak at different churches and staying in other people’s homes. I know we’ll be MOVING TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD in July and our days will be messed up for a bit. I know that parenting is hard, and there’s often no time “on my own” to complete ten sun salutations. I know that challenging myself is good, but I’ve found it’s also wise to have realistic expectations. When would I do these sun salutations? After a long day of momming and teaching where I DREAD this commitment? Or setting my alarm early so that I wake up angry about missing an extra half hour of sleep? No. As much as I want to see myself commit to this and succeed, I just can’t do it. Not this year at least! As yoga has taught me, I’m learning to LISTEN to my body and not force it to do something that would eventually cause damage.
Almost everyone I know chooses a word instead of a resolution for the new year. Some call it a phrase, a mantra, or an intention, but it’s basically something that you focus on and it can encompass many things. The end of 2015 was hard for me (and I’ve talked about that in a different post), but I was not prepared to select a word for 2016.
Retrospectively, my word for 2016 was “renewal”. My emotional and physical health has been renewed and because of that, my relationships are stronger, my marriage is better, I can offer myself grace, and I can extend more grace to others. My expectations for myself are becoming more realistic, I’m getting better at letting go of things that are unimportant, and also at focusing on things that are truly important to me and my family. This renewal didn’t occur in one simple moment, but has been an ongoing transformation that will continue throughout my life.
We will see what 2017 brings and what word I find myself holding once December rolls around, but for now I feel myself moving from “renewal” to “embrace”. 2017 will involve SO MUCH CHANGE that may make me feel compelled to go hide in my introvert’s corner, but I want to be an active participant in this change and truly embrace it. I don’t know the extent of what my family will be embracing in 2017 but i know it will include a new home, a new country, maximizing time with old friends and meeting new ones, getting rid of meaningless stuff and acquiring new things, creating fresh routines, and finding what’s normal for us. It will require a boldness to move forward when things are difficult, a humility to lean on each other and those who have offered their support, and a faith to continue trusting God with our lives.
(photo cred: Hannah Beers at harperrosephoto.com)
Happy New Year!
Embracing 2017,
The Carr Family

Forward Motion

It’s hard to believe it was just a month ago that we left Northern Ireland. 4 weeks have passed since we dined regularly with our friends, volunteered alongside fellow church-goers, and felt rain on our faces daily. 29 days have gone by where we haven’t driven on the left side of the road, hung our clothes to dry on the radiator, or taken a trip to ASDA.

Oh, Northern Ireland! I’m forgetting the sound of your accents, the lilt of your voices as you sing, banter, or share with me. Already I’ve forgotten which shop had the cheapest butter, or when they restocked the fresh produce, and the name of the cashier we saw there EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Sometimes people ask about you, sometimes they don’t. They ask about the weather, the food, the clothes, the church-life. They ask how the boys did, what they thought of the whole thing, and how they adjusted to the culture. They ask what we did every day, and what was the point of us going there anyway? These are all great questions but honestly, they are hard to answer. I know IN MY HEAD the answers to all these questions but one response leads to another question and another explanation and more and more chatting and conversation and after it’s all over, I am “feeling all the feels” (internet-speak for, a lot of emotions have been stirred up in me). I love talking about my time in Northern Ireland and am so honored when people take time out of their day to ask but, if I’m being truthful, how can I sum up a year in a short conversation?! Would it take me a whole year to talk about it? Or longer because a lot happened that requires even more explanation? I’m not sure of the answers to these yet but I’ll keep you posted. I do know one thing: we just keep taking steps forward. But like my tween self’s favorite band says, “We all struggle with forward motion, ’cause forward motion is harder than it sounds.” (Reliant K) But alas, we keep moving forward, although difficult at times.

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Sometimes, Northern Ireland, I think of you like a lightbulb. We “plugged you in” to our lives for eleven months but now that we’ve moved away, a new lightbulb called Kansas City has taken your place. But oh, thank heavens, that is not how it works! The places we’ve lived are not just household items we throw away once we’ve moved on. They are like chapters in a book. Chapters that hold information you cannot continue reading without knowing. Chapters that contain stories of people, changed hearts, new perspectives, tears, laughter, skills obtained, and lessons learned. My life journey is like a book and Northern Ireland, you hold a chapter. A chapter that I refer back to every single day.

…a chapter that impressed so much upon me that it has changed the trajectory of every subsequent chapter in my story.

A month ago we boarded a plane and instructed our 3 year old to “wave goodbye to Northern Ireland!” like we were going to be back in a few days or something. Unfortunately, it’ll be a few more days before we go back. This has probably been one of the most difficult things about coming “home” to Kansas City… Hosea thinks we’re going back soon. Every time we get in the car he asks if we’re going “home” to Northern Ireland and it’s almost like living with someone who has memory loss. He keeps asking and we keep telling him but for now, that’s just how it is. Forward motion is taking place and we’re reintegrating ourselves into this community, but we are different than we were before. “Home” is where the heart is, and our hearts are spread across the globe.