How to Reconcile New Year’s Goals with Real Life

Photo Credits: Markum Photography

With each new year, I feel the should of goals. I feel the pressure to start striving for all I will accomplish in the year ahead. Sometimes I’m up for the challenge. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by it. This year I can’t see anything ahead except Nathan’s bladder surgery.

Some years are like that–there is one pervasive unwanted thing tainting all of the desires and dreams for the year ahead. It makes it hard to write goals.

my husband and I talk about how we can’t do X thing because of the surgery. How we need to put X thing on the back burner because of the surgery. We need to save X amount of money for the surgery.

So when I look forward all I see is “the surgery.”

I prefer to look backward.

This last year has been full. Full in the best ways. We traveled to Chicago for a wedding sans kids. We went to family camp and saw people love our children well, while we got a breather. And we went back to Michigan to visit with dear family and live on the lake for a week. The travel filled me up.

Two thousand nineteen has been full in other ways too. I finally got in the groove of having a dog and I receive the joy he brings to our home. He gets me out of the house to walk and talk to neighbors.

Our neighbors demonstrate community in the most beautiful ways. I see Mac living a fairy tale childhood because of them. There is constantly some kid for him to play with. There are late-night swims in the neighbor’s pool, Christmas progressive dinners where the kids get into mischief, and adventuring into the green belt behind our house collecting deer carcasses and whatever other remnants of nature they can find. Nathan has won over a couple of ladies on the cul de sac. Whenever he is outside doing PT, he walks over to visit them.

Our neighborhood school has been full of blessings, from the teachers who teach my kids to the ways my children are growing on their own paths. Mac with his insane math mind. I don’t understand how he can think in numbers and solve problems so quickly. And Nathan is paving his own way. He is adding to his sign language vocabulary by making up his own version of ASL.

And Nathan started walking in 2019!

Nathan is walking! That right there is a huge memory of 2019. Therapists told me that if a child doesn’t walk by the time they are seven-years-old, then likely will never walk. If that’s true, Nathan made it at the eleventh hour.

Most importantly, I see my kids growing in love for people and for the Lord. Just ask Nathan to pray, and you’ll know what I mean.

We also unexpectedly started attending a new church. Change is hard but God positioned us to move and we obeyed. It has clearly been a good thing for my husband and my boys. I am still trying to find my place there.

my husband’s job has also been a considerable provision from God. He loves what he does. Not everyone loves what they do and so I am thankful that my husband gets that experience. Life is full.

As for me, I keep writing in different places and in different ways. Being a mom is hard business. It is important business. At times it doesn’t feel I’m doing enough, yet it constantly feels like it’s too much. It’s a living paradox and I am trying to ride the waves well. For the waves will carry me into the next year.

I must look forward.

I can only see the surgery and I’ve decided that’s okay. It is where God is taking us this year.

Nathan has neurogenic bladder/bowel and it wreaks havoc on his already compromised body. Nathan is cathed every three hours, which you probably already know if you’ve been around here before. We cath him to protect the one functioning kidney he has and to keep him from being in constant pain from the pressure build-up in his bladder. The gestalt of his condition is that his kidney function will decline. This combined with the fact that he is getting bigger and heavier. It is harder on my body, my husband’s body, and his nurse’s body to lift him constantly to be catheterized. He needs to have a stoma placed in his stomach so that we can easily and more effectively drain his bladder. There’s also a bowel component to the surgery which would help flush him through and we are trying to decide whether to do both at the same time.

Nathan’s surgeon is in Charleston, just a couple hours south of where my parents live. So even though we are going to be in the hospital this summer, we will also be by the beach. There is always an upside to any downside. We will recover at home for a few weeks and then head back to Charleston to get all of his indwelling catheters removed.

That’s a long way of saying that with the realities of surgery, it’s hard to make goals. My goals in the most basic sense are that the surgery goes smoothly for Nathan and that Mac still makes memories this summer. All I can do is see how God meets us in the mess of it all. Because He will. He constantly shows us His grace and His love and His provision.

Where I begin in 2020…

That leaves me starting the year in the Psalms. It has become a discipline for me to present my complaints before the Lord to only resign myself to His sovereignty and rest in His hope. I want to live, not by trying to avoid disappointment, but to receive it as a gift that leads me back to God, for my heart was made for Him after all. I find my joy there.

And isn’t it interesting how the Psalmists recount the past works of God much like we do this time of year?

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” Psalm 77: 10-12 (NIV)

How do you reconcile your New Year goals with the hard things on the horizon of your life?

My book, Beauty in Broken Dreams: A Hopeful Handbook for the Early Years as a Special Needs Parent, is now available on Amazon!

Also be sure to check out my list of Favorite Books on Disability!


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