It wasn’t a particularly unique or pretty rock. In fact, it was quite dull gray and plain-looking. It had some chips knocked out of it as well as some scratches. The rock looked like it had encountered some difficulty in its time. So, what made this rock so extraordinary in my life? Read on and see the gallery of pictures below to find out the answer and be sure and scroll all the way to the end of this post to see my new scripture print that goes along with this rock story…
As I sat surrounded by other mamas at our MOPS (Mother’s Of Preschoolers) meeting, we were instructed to choose a rock from the small pile in the middle of the table. This was at the beginning of 2017 and we were instructed to write a word or words on this rock of something we wanted to focus on in the coming year. I honestly don’t remember what the speaker said that meeting or why this rock exercise went along with the theme of that day’s meeting topic, but I dutifully picked out my rock and stared at it for a few minutes as I contemplated what I should write on my rock.
The Lord had already been working on my heart in other ways and this rock was just another “stepping stone” (Pun intended! 😉 ) in that journey. I’m not going to go into the details of the struggles I was facing at that time, but there were some MAJOR things going on that were out of my control and were greatly affecting my family. I remember feeling so burdened through the previous few years (you can read a glimpse into those trials in my post about my Year of Brokenness). The weight of those burdens was taking a toll on me both emotionally and physically.
One aspect that I will tell you about that I don’t mention in my Year of Brokenness post, was that during that time my husband had taken a job out of town. It was too far away to commute daily, so, for almost two years he stayed out of town during the week and we mostly saw him on the weekends. We were grateful for the Lord’s provision and work, but it was not the most ideal situation for any of us. It left me feeling like a single parent for many days on end. Then, when you add in the other extremely difficult life-stressors that I alluded to previously, well, let’s just say my cup was overflowing. Not running over with good things, but running over with stress. (My husband is no longer working out of town as of this new year-YAY!!!)
Earlier the year before, a sweet friend gave me the book “The Magnolia Story” by Chip and Joanna Gaines of the show on HGTV called “Fixer Upper” (If you haven’t seen it you totally should!). I am a huge fan of Chip and Jo because I feel like I can really relate to them. They are down to earth people who love the Lord and love their family. As I was reading their story, I almost felt like I was reading my husband’s and my story because there were so many similarities. Kyle and I enjoy real estate and fixing up houses. Kyle is super spontaneous like Chip and I’m very planned and like stability like Joanna. Not to mention, that Kyle is great at construction and I love interior decorating like Jo.
Anyway, as I was reading their book I came to the chapter where Joanna was feeling similarly burdened like I was. She said she just felt like she was trying to survive instead of thriving. She wanted to turn that around and begin making changes in her life so that she could thrive. Reading that was such a poignant moment for me and the start to a NEW year of THINKING and DOING.
Back to the rock…the words I chose to write on my rock were two simple words “HAVE FUN”. To the outsider, these may not have meant much, but to me, this was a visual reminder of the ways the Lord was working in me. You see, I had let the cares of this earthly life get to me and during all of the stress I was just trying to survive. However, I realized that I didn’t have to stay in that pit. I couldn’t change my circumstances or those around me, but I COULD change ME and how I RESPONDED to those circumstances!
The Bible says in Romas 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” The Lord was really trying to teach me some things if I would only listen and do what He asked of me.
You know the saying “If mama isn’t happy, nobody is happy”? Well, I don’t think that is entirely true, however, I DO think that we as moms can and do affect the tone of our family dynamic. Since mamas are usually the ones who are around the kids the majority of the time, we have a pivotal role that can make or break our family. I realized then and there that I was allowing my circumstances to dictate my actions rather than my actions dictating my circumstances (and attitude).
I had a powerful role that I wasn’t utilizing. By my actions, I could set the direction and the tone for the new year. I could lay those burdens at the feet of the cross and walk in victory in spite of my circumstances. All I had to do was CHOOSE to be different and then ACT on that choice.
I decided to change ME. I decided that I was going to put off my old self. I decided to choose JOY and LIFE. I decided that 2017 was going to be a year of THRIVING and not simply surviving. I decided that with the Lord’s guiding I would make a positive change in my family. I didn’t do things perfectly, but 2017 was a whole lot better than the year before that, even though some of my circumstances actually worsened. How easy it is for us to feel a victim of our circumstances, when instead we need to be the victors and choose JOY!
I determined that I was going to get out of my comfort zone and seek out opportunities to have FUN with my family (and friends). Just so you know what a HUGE step this was for me…I almost never go anywhere. Seriously, 90% of the time I am home doing school with the kids. I am the type of girl who is pretty much a home-body and would not be described as adventurous at all. But why was I living under that label? I could CHOOSE to be and do something different even if that wasn’t my natural bent, so that is what I did.
Every month, I tried to think of new and different ways that we could spend time together having fun. Many of the plans I made were simple things like taking more walks together, enjoying nature more, jumping on the trampoline, watching fun shows together, snuggling and making silly face pictures and videos. Other plans included traveling to visit family, friends or an attraction. Many of the things we did were free or very discounted because I was able to find special deals, so I didn’t break the bank while we were having fun. I have probably done more this year alone than all of my other 16 years of motherhood combined.
Also, I want to mention that most of the things we did I initiated doing. So often it is so easy for us to get frustrated because of a lack of being invited to things. We can feel stuck at home and like no one cares. I decided I didn’t want to wait for someone else to plan and invite us, because that may or may not have happened. So, with a few exceptions, I planned/initiated most of the activities and did the majority of the inviting and suggesting. If you think you can’t do something because you don’t have friends with which to do things, then maybe YOU need to be a friend to someone else. Chances are they will enjoy it and maybe they are waiting on an invitation from you.
This is the spot in my bedroom where I sit and nurse the baby or snuggle with my kids, so I placed the rock behind a picture frame where I could see it each time I was sitting in my chair or lying on my bed as a daily reminder to me to have fun.
Don’t wait for your circumstances or the people around you to change, YOU be the change!
And that’s how “The Year of Fun” was born…
The pictures below are a glimpse at 2017 and the intentional moments we shared. At first, my children were fairly puzzled at the change in Mom and all of the fun things we were endeavoring to do. They would ask questions like, “Tell me again why were are going out of town to the water park in the middle of the week?” or “Are we really going zip-lining over a canyon?”, or “Why are we going to visit a wildlife safari?”, or “Why are we going to Waco to visit Chip and Joanna’s Silos and the Magnolia Store and Bakery with friends?” or “How come are we having friends over to play and have a picnic?” or “We are going to NASA?”… They soon caught on to the theme of the new year. This was the “Year of Fun”!!! Not only did the mindset-shift really boost my spirits and those of my family, but it allowed us to build closer relationships with each other and with friends. It ended up being one of the best years we have ever had!
How will you spend your year? The choice is up to you…choose wisely, choose FUN, FAMILY, FRIENDS and FELLOWSHIP!
Trip to Waco to visit friends and go to the Silo’s, the zoo and more.
Day trip to the local safari with friends.
Snuggles with my kiddos.
Day trip to NASA with friends.
Spending time with friends.
Nature studies from critters we found in our yard and on our daily walks together.
Visits to the farm to see and feed the cows and a picnic at the farm to help Daddy with baling hay for the cows.
Spending time with cousins and family.
Fishing with my dad, brother and Kyle.
Dinosaur museum with friends on a free admission day!
Quick coffee shop date with my sweet girl.
Free food during “Cow Appreciation Day” at Chick-Fil-A plus other free and discounted food fun outings!
Date night with my honey at a live Dinner Theatre in a historic home.
My first plane trip in over 11 years to visit a childhood friend for a few days.
Taking school outside to work by the pond.
Visiting my sister and her family and pool time with cousins.
Spur of the moment Tennis games at night with my sister and her kids.
Water Fun with friends at the pool and water parks.
Local Benefit Rodeo.
Day trip to the renown Antiques event at Round Top Texas.
Mother Daughter Tea Party
Buiding blanket forts at home.
Quick trip to celebrate our 17th anniversary!
Loads of fun making funny face pictures and videos to share with Daddy while he was gone.
Trip to visit family in West Texas. While we were there, we went to a fun Prairie Dog colony and a neat park for kids.
Free day at the children’s science museum.
Day trip further west to Paloduro Canyon.
Ziplining over the canyon together. It was so exhilarating! We all had a blast!
Turns out, that was a pretty special rock after all. As impactful as that simple gray rock has been in my life, it is no comparison to the ultimate ROCK that made the difference in my heart. That dull little rock pointed me to a greater Rock…the Rock of Ages. With Him and through HIM all things are possible.
The scripture in Psalm 61:2 “Lead me to the ROCK that is higher than I.” was very comforting to me throughout the last few difficult years. In fact, that whole chapter of Psalm 61 is very moving, so I want to share it here:
Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
2 from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
3 for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
4 Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah
5 For you, O God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
6 Prolong the life of the king;
may his years endure to all generations!
7 May he be enthroned forever before God;
appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!
8 So will I ever sing praises to your name,
as I perform my vows day after day.
The portion that I kept meditating on in verse 2 were the words “Lead me to the ROCK that is higher than I”. I have penned this in my calligraphy and my friend Nancy has painted a lovely watercolor to go with it to share with you all. If you would like a copy of this scripture print, or maybe you know someone who would be encouraged by this scripture you can purchase one in my brand new ETSY shop HERE! We must always remember the ROCK that we can trust in all times and all seasons. Please share this story of hope and let’s have FUN in the coming year!
Visit my new ETSY Shop where you can buy your own scripture print (pictured below) for you or maybe you know of a friend who needs to be encouraged!
Joyful Jane Artistry Shop
I have also made this scripture print into note cards and hope to have those available for sale soon!
I loved reading about your year of fun!! How fun!! 🙂 I like how you said not to wait around for an invite. That is something I for sure need to work on. Very inspiring!
I’m so glad it inspired you Rachel! It was definitely a learning process for me and it turned out to be a great year in spite of the difficulties.
Just keep being you! Smile!!!
Alicia Bonnin says
I am so glad that the Lord used my devotional in such powerful way in your life Kristen! What an answer to prayer! That was what the rock was from that MOPS morning, the idea behind it was the scripture 1Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.” That’s what I have written on my rock, the reference, and it’s on my desk. When I am particularly troubled or in prayer about something, I move my rock to the other side of my desk and pray, reminding myself of my dependence on Him and that I can give him my worries because He cares for me. Praise God for what He has done in your life and in the life of others through you!
Thank you so much Alicia! You are a blessing and inspiration to so many! =)
Shelley Cooper says
God Bless you and your willing heart!