A good friend recently challenged me to write down my five year goals. Not just any five-year goals, I was to write down the ideal. If money, circumstance and time were no real issue, what would I want my life to look like five years from now? Its an excellent exercise, and I'd encourage any of you to try it.
I've personally been thinking about this a lot lately. Which is weird, because I didn't used to be a goal setter. I liked to just do stuff as it came to mind. But the older I get, the more purposeful my life gets. There are things I really want to do in life, and I only have one life to live! So its either make plans to do it, or let go of the dreams. And since I'm rather attached to my dreams, I've decided to make plans to achieve them, and live the life I want to live. So, though I haven't mapped out the myriad steps required to reach this point, here is my ideal situation in 5 years (or a little longer).
I am not just an aspiring writer, I actually get regular freelance jobs, and bring in enough extra money to supplement Caleb's income and make ends meet. Caleb is working his dream job, and selling more and more of his own photos on the side. We have two kids (another one on the way?), they're young, and a total joy to spend a day with. We take too many pictures of them and send too many to friends and family. But we're excused because our kids really ARE the cutest kids they've ever known. Because of my writing career, I get to stay at home with them. I write during nap time, and on rare occasions when my or Caleb's parents take them for an afternoon. We live in a modest size home in the suburbs. The decorating is my own eclectic creation, ranging from the log cabin look to the romantic bohemian look. There are always areas of the house that need fixing or to finish decorating. The kitchen is a deep red with white cabinets and fake-marble countertops. We have a giant backyard where the family dog can run to his heart's content. He's a big dog, a mutt we rescued from the local animal shelter, with big brown eyes and droopy ears. He doesn't drool or shed, which we find a perfect miracle. When I'm not writing or spending time with my family, I'm knitting projects for the Christmas boutique I'm a part of every year. It brings in extra money during a particularly expensive season. I've been able to keep my weight down to between 135 and 140, and I actually have a pretty good handle on my eating habits, and my family's. I've become a much better cook since I was able to stay home. Caleb and I still take several camping trips a year, usually with kids in tow. But sometimes we plan weekend backpacks just for us. We attempt to hike a new part of an old trail, or a new trail altogether, each time we get the chance. Why go somewhere you've already been when you can explore someplace new? Though sometimes we find great comfort in visiting old beloved haunts. We're very involved in our church, still loving our small group. Its changed over the years, but we're still close friends with those couples we met early on. I have grown tremendously in my own relationship with the Lord. I finally made regular personal Bible study a priority, and God has honored my study with a deeper relationship with him. I'm teaching my kids about Jesus, and prayer and faith are regular parts of our daily lives. My relationship with Caleb has only grown in time, we've weathered the times well, whatever they brought, and have chosen to become stronger through them instead of letting anything come between us. We've grown more alike as our personalities rub off on each other. I've become more spontaneous and easy going, he makes lists before going to the hardware store. Life ebbs and flows as we pour our lives into each other, our friends and families. Its a good life, and we are content.
I know that sounds a little white-picket-fence-y. But its true. Its what I want. The things I'm not so sure of are the ways God will stretch and grow me in that time. I don't know what he will challenge us to do, or where he'll challenge us to go. But my goals include wanting to have enough sensitivity to his calling to know it when I hear it, and enough flexibility to go where and when I'm being asked. I think its important to have goals, and even to pursue them. I'm a firm believer in life being what we make of it. But I want to be careful not to be TOO content. Which is why I believe it is also imperative to remember that God has a plan, a good plan, but it might not match mine line for line. Flexibility is essential when pursuing our dreams. The path just might curve in directions that weren't part of the original plan. I have a sneaking suspicion that those will be the times of greatest growth, which makes them unavoidable when growth is part of the plan. But if its God who's leading us in those directions, I want to make sure I'm open enough to follow, to deviate from the plan.
Its overly quoted only because its so true, but Jeremiah 29:11 needs to ring true in my heart, "I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."