I am exactly in the middle of life. I’m in the middle of parenting. I’m probably having a midlife crisis, evidenced by my Converse shoes and crazy tees, and the fact that I consult my teenage daughter for fashion advice in the rare event that I actually care. Yet for the first time in my life I can say that I am truly comfortable in my own skin. Sure, I wish it wasn’t quite as jiggly or lumpy, but seriously, that’s what Spanx are for.
In the middle can be a glorious place. We can see new and exciting things on the horizon and we look back and see that we’ve made some progress toward becoming the best version of ourselves. Sometimes we even have a few words of advice to share with those we’re slightly ahead of on this road.
On the other hand, this “in the middle” place can be extremely discouraging. We’ve worked so hard and yet there is still so much more to do. The starting line has long disappeared from our field of vision, but the finish line is nowhere in sight. There’s nothing to help us gage our progress. So we work and work and stop to look around only to feel like we’ve not done anything significant at all.
In the middle. It’s our theme for the year. We’ll be unpacking what it means to live a grace-filled life in these middle places during 2016.
Each month we’ll have a new word to add to “In the middle of __________.” For you grammar geeks out there, it’ll be a present perfect progressive tense verb. That means it will describe an action that began in the past, continues in the present, and may continue into the future. How very “in the middle,” don’t you think?
I’m so very excited to announce that we’ll also be providing a scripture writing plan to go along with each monthly theme–something new for the New Year. I know many of the gals in our Middle Places Community have loved using the scripture writing plans from Shannon over at Sweet Blessings. What better way to dig into a theme and grow together as we do it than by reading and writing from the Bible together as a group?
Knowing myself and the other girls who write here at Middle Places, I can safely say that you will get some glimpses of deeply intimate thoughts and struggles. I love that we are all willing to go there. But do you know what we often skip right over? The ordinary daily life stuff. So I asked each of our regular bloggers (you may see a couple of new names on the list!) one question to help you get to know us all a little better.
What are you in the middle of this year?
I’ll (I’m Maria, by the way) start. This year I’m staring down the mid to late stretch of the whole parenting gig, with a driving teen and sometimes surly but mostly sweet tween. It’s a little daunting. My husband is running for a local political office so we’ll be in the middle of the public eye all year long, which is making me nervous, introvert that I am. I’m also working on bringing my dream job to life while balancing homeschooling, keeping a home, and my ministry responsibilities, although “balance” might be a stretch. I’m pretty sure we’ll have lots of … let’s call them … “adventures” thrown into the mix, too, because that’s generally how life works. I’m excited to see what 2016 has in store for our family!
Zoe: 2015 was the year in which I got my dream job and saw long held dreams come to pass, and in 2016 I might be moving away from all that. After over 16 years of my husband commuting between 2 and 3 hours per day we have decided that enough is enough, and with both sons now adults, it is time for us to move closer to his work. So, hopefully, this year will see us put our house on the market and move. I know that this move will be harder on me than hubby, because he will continue to go to work each day and see all the same people, whereas I will be the one moving into nothing. I’m trusting, however, that God is at the heart of this move and He will lead me to a new sense of belonging in our new home.
Dana Portwood: 2016 finds me in the middle of graduating children from high school, driving lessons, teen schedules and first love. 2016 is “the generous year” so I’ll be in middle of studying global poverty, hunger, the refugee crisis and other local and global social issues, navigating my way through discovering where I can best help. As my children wind up their home school careers, I’m figuring out what’s next for me in a new life chapter.
Lindsey Smallwood: I’m starting this year exactly in the middle. Last holiday season we moved cross country to Colorado for my husband’s job, starting over with a new home, new church, new baby and new jobs. Next year at this time, we expect that his job will move us again, this time to Michigan, where neither of us has ever been, let alone lived. Though my temptation in times of transition is to cling to the familiar or to plan my way into the future, I’m daring to live fully present to what 2016 will bring and hoping to see Jesus in the middle of it.
Liz Clayton: We don’t know where the Lord is leading us in 2016. One kid is working full time and going to school part time and the other is in school full time with a part time job. Mark’s mother lives with us due to health concerns. Business has picked up a little but we are both still working other jobs to make ends meet. It is difficult not to strain ahead to see what is coming next. Enjoying time with adult kids while they still live nearby, listening to my mother in law tell stories about needing a key for her skates as a child and how much life has changed from when she was raising a family, worrying about my husband’s back problems over the long haul when I need to appreciate him every day as he works through the pain … I plan to wring every moment of joy from each one in 2016!
Heather Truett: 2016 is set to hold a new house, new schools for my kids, and who knows what all else. We will still be in the middle of church planting, and I am always in the middle of writing or revising or editing a novel and hoping it sells. My theme for the entire year is Daring, and I will be daring to travel to Honduras for an entire month without my husband or my children. I will dare to take new opportunities and try new things. I will dare to believe again, even when it’s scary.
Mikkee Hall: I have just made the jump from working full-time to becoming a full-time freelance editor and writer. 2015 was full of many bumps and uncertainties. I look forward to what 2016 will hold for my career and the things God wants to teach me in the middle.
Lindsey Austin: In 2015 we moved from Alabama to Alaska and back. It was exhilarating, frightening, and hopeful. Our dreams were crushed but we learned to heal and dream new dreams. I went from SAHM to part-time preschool teacher. My youngest child will turn two in March and everyday I’m a little more aware that I don’t have babies anymore. With all the major changes that have happened in the last year, I’m enjoying being in the middle of a calm spot as the year winds down. And looking forward to actively seeking ways to use my God given talents in the new year.
Sasha Johns: In 2016 I will transition two more children from homeschool to public school. I’ll take steps to move a successful cottage business into a commercial arena. I’m going take the time to get my personal blog in line with my business goals. And Finally, with all that busyness, I’m going to learn how to rest too by start off the year with a silent retreat to set the pace.
Hope N. Griffin: What am I in the middle of? Finding myself, balancing work/dreams with being a wife/mom/friend, doing ministry and lots of edits. I’m working on a second manuscript right now and trying to convince my preteens I love them just as much if not more than writing.
Rachel Oliver: As I head into 2016, I find myself smack dab in the middle of healthy lifestyle changes, a renewed focus on writing and potty training (still). I’m choosing joy and focusing on the good that God has given me while anxiously anticipating the new things He has in store for the future. Oh, and I’m determined to learn how to make a good pie.
Anna Walls: I’m in the middle of a bunch of poo. Quite literally. I have a two week break from ALL. THE. STUFF. No riding lessons at the farm and no normal church commitments and no school for the mini-me. But it leads to being knee deep in poo. With good ole, unpredictable, Alabama weather, I get to do a lot of stall cleaning. Lots of poo to shovel, my friends, which means lots of thinking while doing mindless labor. Sooooo I’m in the middle of horse manure, but it will lead to to many thoughts and many blog ideas and many plans for the new year! (And it gets me out of a lot of things that I just can’t take on… which means I get to enjoy the simple things of the holiday season and the beginning of the new year).
So tell me, then … what are you in the middle of as we launch into 2016? Share with us in the comments below! We’d love to hear what the new year holds in store for you.