January 5, 2015

2015: HEALTH

As I reflect on this last year, I can't seem to find a word to describe it. There were challenging seasons + moments of celebration. We reached one year of marriage + experienced deep growth and satisfaction in our relationship. In a way, the year was really split into two: 6 months of unforeseen changes + challenges including a job lay-off, spiritual burn-out, tight finances, and a busted car, and 6 months of exciting, crazy, we're-finally-doing-what-we-love newness. It was really the week before our trip to Kenya when things started to change. July was spent on the mission field in Africa, and upon our return, we dove into a new season. On our anniversary getaway, we reflected on our first year of marriage and realized some things had to be different during year two - some were within our control and some simply beyond it. That, we knew, was where faith would step in. In September, Travis started his new job, we bought our first new car, and I began student teaching. September + October were a blur, filled with work from morning to night, but more rewarding than any kind of busy-ness we'd experienced before. After a year of uncertainty, with deep desires but seemingly closed doors, new opportunities were opening up. At this time, we also realized we needed to make major changes in our spiritual life.

Travis + I met at church and grew both relationally and spiritually within that beloved church body. Over this past year, however, we've slowly felt the need to move somewhere else. I remember hitting a very low point earlier this year, when, though we were serving in several ministries, I felt completely burnt out. During a walk through the mountains and many tears, I told Travis I felt like I had nothing to give. I had hit rock bottom. As we were reflecting on our first year of marriage during our anniversary trip, we knew we couldn't continue putting our spiritual growth on the back burner.  I know there are many opinions about church loyalty + church "consumerism" out there, and I completely agree. Church is not there simply for us, to meet our needs + expectations. Over the last five years, however, Travis and I had poured ourselves into many areas of service, and this year, it was simply time to move on to a new chapter. And to be completely honest, it was the best decision we've made all year. Yes, there's been hurt + grief throughout the process, but I've never felt more excited to grow in my faith.

Two thousand + fifteen is already promising to be full of new adventures. As we move further into our twenties, we want to continue shedding old habits and adopting new ones - guidelines or guardrails that will steer us where we want to go. So, this year is about seeking health

// Physical Health: Marriage has been good to us - and our waistlines - and I have definitely noticed a decrease in my personal fitness. While my weight never fluctuates too significantly, it's what's inside that matters to me. This year is about getting my heart pumping, increasing strength, and building endurance. It also doesn't help that I have a weakness for all things carby, cheesy, and fried + my husband has the wildest sweet tooth. Because we know how radical resolutions work out (or don't), we've come up with some simple guidelines for our eating habits: no bagels (yes, that was our breakfast norm, and yes, I know how horrid they are), no seconds, and no soda. We're also hoping to fill our weekends with less Netflix-marathons and more outdoor adventures. Being healthy is a lifestyle, and there are definitely a few simple things we can do to improve ours.

// Financial Health: We learned some hard financial decisions during our first year of marriage, and this year, we plan on doing things a little differently - namely, not making any purchases that aren't backed up with cash.

// Relational Health: I've confessed this to family and a few dear friends, but 2014 was one of my loneliest years. Many close friends moved away, and I spent the first half of the year mostly stuck behind my computer, either working on school papers or editing photo sessions. Photography can be a lonely business, and I learned a lot about myself during those first 6 months: I need people + I need to get out of the house, every day. Busy is better for me. It's how I've always been wired. Travis and I also want to plug in to a few of our hobbies. I was an avid dancer up through high school, and I'm hoping to get back into a few dance or barre classes. This year is about meeting new people, building community, meeting the needs of those around us, and pursuing people more intentionally.

// Marital Health: As we talked about health in our marriage this year, Travis made a good point - if we pursue health in other areas (physical, spiritual, financial, and relational), our marriage will also inevitably become even healthier, because here's the truth - marriage alone won't, and can't ever, completely satisfy us. Yes, it is the most important relationship we've been called to, but we cannot depend on it solely to fulfill us. If we, as individuals, are experiencing growth and satisfaction in other areas of life, we'll bring better versions of ourselves into our marriage. That doesn't mean marriage doesn't need work of its own - it does - but it's also affected by our overall health. As things get busier, however, we see a need to set aside sacred time for each other - at least one well-planned and intentional date a month, as well as regular time together. I can't tell you yet what the secret to a long-lasting + happy marriage is, but I think continuing to date and romance each other +  sharing all of life's highs and lows with each other is a pretty good start.

So here's to health, and a better year than the last! Do you have a word for 2015? Do share!

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