For a couple of years now it has helped me to look at where I want to be within the next year, and come up with a word that is “themed” in that direction. Last year, my word was growth, and before the year ends I just want to take the time and reflect on what I wrote down. We definitely grew, but of course not always in the ways I thought or expected. There were for sure things we accomplished and crossed off our list, there were things that didn’t make it on there but far exceeded our expectations, there were things that were on there that did not get crossed off, but instead changed, and in that there was growth. And still, there were hopes that did not get “accomplished” and are being moved over into the new year, and I’m ok with that. I love this time that is simultaneously reflecting behind, and looking ahead. I believe it is so important to remember what He has done. We are told that in Scripture over and over again to remember the works of the Lord, the great things He has done because He knows, we are quick to forget. We are quick to focus on the circumstances and stomp our feet when we aren’t where we want to be, and yet if we just turned and looked, we’d see how far we’ve really come, then squint our eyes and look ahead, and we’ll see He’s not done yet. There’s still a stretch of road ahead. We can’t see where it turns, where the forks in the road are, where the final destination is, but He has both gone before us and He is behind us. It is imperative we acknowledge both. So, today I am looking back at where I’ve walked in 2018 before I quickly run ahead to see what is next.
Growth In Writing and Business
Around this time last year, I mentioned that we both hoped to see growth in our writing. Jonathan had just found out he was a finalist for a screenplay contest he had entered months before. Little did we know what the Lord was about to do because in February he found out…he won. Just a couple of weeks later, he was on a plane LA bound. He spent five days in LA doing promotional videos and material for Stage 32, who he won the contest through. He had meetings with multiple people who were involved in the industry in a variety of ways (other writers, directors, attorney), but the biggest thing we were not expecting, he was picked up by an agency there to be represented as a writer. Stage 32 had sent off his screenplay to a very successful agency, and he was told don’t expect to hear anything back soon because this guy is really busy. Well, he read it, loved it and requested a meeting with Jonathan when he was in LA. So to end the trip off, he left LA with an agent.
Over the next several months he was continually connected with opportunities to write. Not every opportunity worked out, but the point is, he was having meetings. He was making connections, and his agent was working to get his name and his work out there. In August, he interviewed with an independent producer looking for a writer for a particular story they wanted on film. He had two meetings, then got the phone call from his agent…he was hired. That means paid y’all. This doesn’t happen. It typically takes years in this industry to actually, finally get paid to write. He was even told that the week he was in LA that it’s important to stick with it, you’ll have to pay your dues but it will pay off. We actively prayed against having to “pay dues” because both of us felt it was high time to get paid for our work. This debt wasn’t going to get paid off, another adoption process wouldn’t be started unless we started valuing our time and talent, and that means getting paid. He is ending 2018 after another trip to LA in October to do research for this particular script, and paid well what he was worth for an incredibly important story that needs to be told. In addition to that, the work continues as he has had multiple meetings with a major movie company-one that is an absolute DREAM and truly, it’s something that this early on in his writing career, only God could do that. He’s got a spec script written, and a pitch will be happening after the first of the year. He also edited three published books this year! Hope’s Purpose, Through Adopted Eyes, and mine, Before You Adopt: A Guide To The Questions You Should Be Asking. This has been a long time coming for him. It didn’t happen overnight and it hasn’t been easy to say the least. I am so grateful to see him finally walking in the gifting he’s been given-that alone is huge growth. He has done great things, and He’s not done yet. We cannot wait to see where 2019 takes him in his writing career.
At the end of last year, I was definitely feeling a pull and a shift. I had neglected writing and my blog after Kai came home, and I don’t regret that as we needed that time to really pour in and build attachment and just be a family. But every time I did sit down to write, I felt right doing it. If you have followed along with Spoonful of Jordan, you know that I ran a business before bringing Kai home, then we sold it so I could stay home. I stayed in health and wellness, a love and passion of mine, and started pouring into my Young Living business. I have no plans of giving this up because I love it, but it was clear that the way in which I was running it wasn’t working. That was growth just to admit that. On paper, I was doing literally all the right things. I was even told over and over by others in this business things like, “I really don’t understand why your business isn’t taking off. I seriously don’t know what else you could do. It’s evident you really care about people and love this, you’re just not seeing the payoff like you should at this point.” I still don’t fully understand why that is, though I know I haven’t been perfect, but as the year went on it became more clear. Yes, I was doing all the “right” things, but it was all the things everyone else was doing and suggesting. It wasn’t working for me because I needed to do things my own way, focus on what I truly love within is, and that’s emotional wellness. I really missed writing, and knew that it was time to marry my two greatest passions, and that meant growing my blog. Young Living took a “back seat” compared to my previous years so that I could focus on this blog. I knew, finally, I had it in me. I could be a successful blogger and write about/do what I love while staying at home if I put in the work. The fact of the matter is, I was terrified, and had believed the lies for far too long that I wasn’t good enough. I let that nonsense go, did a ton of research (there is so. much. that goes into blogging you guys-it’s not just me typing up things that make you cry or laugh and then I’m done, it’s work), and relaunched in July of this year. I had the amazing opportunity to work with my friend Charity Clayton and really develop a personal brand. Truly without her help, I’d still be lost. Finally getting beautiful images actually helped me realize, this is a thing! And I can do more and be more.
You guys, I had absolutely no intention of writing a book this year. Growing my blog, yes, but truly, up until AUGUST, I had no idea how I was actually going to make money from this. I honestly had to grow in the fact that I needed to start setting some clear boundaries, because I love y’all, but I was pouring out my time, energy, experience, sacrificing time with my family on nights and weekends, to help answer a ton of questions, meet with people, and quite honestly, help people who took advantage of what I offered. It has taken me four years to realize, it’s okay for me to make money. It’s not wrong. It’s not bad. And my time and knowledge shared is valuable and worth paying for. I still have to rub on some Trauma Life just to say that to the world because I’m still struggling to believe it. At the same time though, a lightbulb went off after a sermon that the pastor kept saying things like “I don’t know who I’m talking to today but write that book!” multiple times. God gave me a gift and I am not honoring Him by wasting it. It’s also not right for my family to keep swimming in debt while I give everything away for free. It clicked, and it was like the Lord was standing there doing a slow clap going “FINALLY! You get it. Now get to work.”
I wrote Before You Adopt in two months. TWO MONTHS. Again, that does not happen. It was a ton of late nights…oh my how sleep was sacrificed. There were so many times I wanted to give up, to keep believing the lies and say, “nope, not me Lord. I think you got it wrong. I can’t do this, choose someone else.” And praise the Lord for my husband and those closest to me to say “No ma’am. Get it done. It’s not an option.” So, in 2018, I published my first book. There’s still so much to do to get it out there and I believe so strongly that this work and information in here is greatly needed, but all of a sudden, yes, I have plans for many more books to come. Look out 2019. He has done great things, and He’s not done yet.
Growth As A Family
It was our biggest hope our family of three would grow to four or five in 2018. I have to sit and say, that didn’t happen. And that is hard to type. Another year hoping, another year of not yet. But…we have to remember it is not a no, it is indeed a “not yet.” Though we don’t have another child or children in our home this year, we still experienced growth. Growth of course, in the waiting and figuring out. But also growth in that we are so much closer now to starting another adoption process than we were a year ago. A year ago I was sitting here going, “Are we ever going to be able to adopt again?” Now, I can with confidence tell my son, “baby brother and baby sister will be home soon.” Because I believe that. He is moving the needle for us. And when I still look at our circumstances and freak out a little or wonder how the heck I will manage two babies that Kai has been praying for for two years plus a five or six year old, I have to stop and look at how far He’s brought us. How we had (what seemed) completely impossible circumstances five years ago, and yet see my son standing before me. He makes a way where there is no way.
One thing last year we really wanted to grow in as a family was our time together. Because of our debt over the past four years, Jonathan has been working two, sometimes three jobs to keep us afloat. There were many times I felt like a single parent because we maybe got four or five hours with him weekly. We longed for the number of jobs to diminish, for Jonathan to be able to just come straight home and clock out instead of clock out, get in his car and clock back in, for us to just restore time that was lost. I am so incredibly grateful to say that happened this year. As of a couple of months ago thanks to Jonathan’s writing, my husband is able to come home and have dinner with us every evening, wrestle and play games with our son and help put him to bed every night. Hallelujah! We’ve been able to plan family movie nights and outings and adventures, and it’s just been a breathe of fresh air and a sigh of relief to get this time back again. I’ve also grown in schooling Kai this year and just creating a healthier rhythm for us at home. From managing it, to creating better balance and saying no to the things that don’t serve us well or align with our values, to protect our time. I encourage all mamas to inventory this yearly, because it’s good for everyone’s souls.
Growth In Finances
We are not ending the year debt free like we wanted, but we are ending the year with less debt, and I am calling that a major win. Heck, I’m calling it a win that we can breathe easier and we aren’t living paycheck to paycheck anymore! Can I get an amen because that has been a rough four years. Like I mentioned in my blog about timing, pray all you want but sometimes you have to put feet to those prayers. We made a big decision to downsize for a season to save money, and it’s amazing what happens when you lower your expenses and your income increases. Some people just call that good math and wise decision making, but in this culture, that doesn’t come automatically. We’ve grown so much in our finances this year, and not just because our income increased, but because our mindset about money has changed. I already mentioned this in the writing section, but part of that mindset change was actually not viewing money as evil. Money isn’t actually the problem, it’s how you view it. If it’s ultimate and you’re running people over for it, that’s a problem. But, it’s just as much a problem if you don’t value yourself or your time, and feel like you’re not worthy to make it, which was partly our problem. We did way too much work for free in the name of things like “ministry.” Listen, we’re all for that and all for helping, but at a certain point you also have to draw the line and say my family has to eat and I deserve to get paid for this work. It is ok to sell my book for the amount I’m selling it. It is ok for Jonathan to get paid to write and edit work, even if they are friends. God calls us to be good stewards, and part of good stewardship is earning money so that you can live and give.
So that’s our snapshot of 2018. Growth was achieved. Even growth in how I view success, because that’s been a struggle to see at the end of 2018. Where I’ve thought I’ve absolutely failed, two friends have sat across from me and said “that’s not a failure at all. In fact we count that as a huge success!” But…more on that in 2019.
What was your word for 2018? I want to hear how that word guided your year!