Am I Happy Yet?

The Quest

This year my word of the year is Belong. I am seeking to belong in my own skin, to love myself, and to be happy. Now that we are in June I want to take a minute to look back on the first half of the year and see how my quest is going.

The Heroine

There is a version of myself that I truly believe I am turning into. I am deepening so many good character traits, and really working to minimize and eliminate the bad. I am so much more patient now that it is weird to think of how I used to fidget and pace and start to raise my voice if something was taking too long. Now I can sit, silently, waiting without feeling any stress. I am able to sit next to women here in Lebanon without needing to say something. This causes many women to build relationship with me because that is normal for them as well.

I have reduced the voice raising so much that when I raise my voice now it surprises me, too. Once a month this gets a little wacky (sorry if that’s TMI), but even that week is nothing compared to how bad it used to be.

I really am learning to love myself. I have a clean house most of the time, and I am able to keep up with chores and homeschool and have begun really showing consistency in the blog, exercise, and many other areas of life.

So much of who I want to be is starting to happen. As a family we are instituting strategies that set us up for success so that we can encourage each other’s strengths.

Day by day, step by step, I am becoming the woman God and I want me to be.

The Villain

Sometimes, in a movie or book, it can be hard to recognize the villain. Often the villainess is good friends with the heroine until in a sudden twist she becomes the bad guy.

I can be the villain in my own life. Just when I am starting to get to know myself, be calm and happy for an extended period of time, or do something to take care of myself, the part of me that does not believe this is possible starts to react. I start distrusting people around me, finding things to nitpick.

Back in February I posted a short letter to my Shadow Self, that villainous piece of me that tries to remove Joy and Love from my life. The battle with her goes on, but it is greatly diminished in the past few months. I have control over that aspect of myself far more than I did before.

I am afraid.

I become my own enemy out of fear. Fear of change, fear of loss, fear of failure.

Recognizing that I am afraid, I can give it back to God, seek His help, pray with my family, and get the train back on the rails.

I really love and thrive on consistency and routine. But so little of my life has been focused on those two things that it is a big change to move from chaos to routine. I have to tell myself every day, “This change is good. This change means that eventually there will not be chaos and mania. I want to be made well.”

I am excited.

I am living in paradox. Feelings that don’t go together are simultaneously in my brain. In the midst of those feelings of fear I am looking forward to the future with confidence and faith stronger than ever. I know without an inkling of doubt that I am headed where God wants me, and that right now at my computer typing this, I am in God’s hand.

God told me I can be happy. So that is true. Anything my Shadow Self, Satan, or any other enemy says that is different from that is not true.

As we plan to go to America, fundraise, people raise, train people in prayer and moral support, and spend time with family, I am thrilled to be on an adventure. I am sure that God has great things planned and can’t wait to see what they are. I know that it will all be different because I have changed inside my own skin so much.

I hope to continue to learn to express myself and share what God is putting on my heart in a way that encourages and blesses others. I have learned how to take care of myself so that I can be the best person, mom, wife, and friend I can be. In another 6 months I know I will look back and see what a special year this is.

I love you, Annie.

If you live in the Arizona or Utah areas, I would love to meet with you while I am in America! CLICK HERE to make an appointment or shoot me a comment or reply.


Making my Goals a Reality

I finally shared my Goals for 2017 now that we are halfway through the year.

For some of you this is a relief to see someone else who doesn’t have it all together just in January. Let’s be honest, we need to Spring Clean our brains sometimes just as much as our houses. For me, May has been a real relief on my brain as I have gotten the shelves in there a bit more organized, and it shows up in my house as well. I am able to decide so quickly what needs to happen in my house when my brain is less cluttered.

If you are like me and have had trouble sticking to the goals you made back in December and January, maybe you need to adjust them. I shared some of the reasons for needing to take the first part of the year to truly set my goals. My daughter’s healing has transformed her, and I want to make the most of that time, to take her in, and to just enjoy this new joyful little girl I have. It meant putting off things like blogging for a while, but it was worth it.

Now I have this happy girl with a routine with me and we are learning to thrive in Lebanon together as a family. David is loving school, loving the bus, loving his friends, and our new house. We are all loving our new house. The move happened quite quickly and was a few months of adjusting as well.

Give Yourself Grace When Legitimate Disruptions Happen

Everyone has big things, or just a lot of little things that are legitimate and happen in life. When these things disrupt our goals it isn’t always a failure on our part. I have not been lazy this year, or depressed as in the past. Life happened, and I had to scrap the goal list I made in November in favor of a better life.

My better life is still going to happen with the aid of tracking goals, but in a way that nurtures life rather than restricts my life. I am thriving because I am using a routine. But if I was trying to stick to an old routine I would not be thriving. Our new house means a new bus schedule, which means new wake up times and afternoon drop off times, and I have finally created a routine that works for all of us around that schedule. We have a larger grocery store near us, so now we shop less often, but it takes a great deal more planning to organize getting all of the groceries home without a car. All of these small changes have had huge effects on our weekly schedules as well.

Return of the Weekly Goals Posting

My Big Goals of the Year I now need to break down into weekly goals again. Being able to have daily tracking for habits has helped me establish good habits as I wrote about a few days ago in this post on Where Am I Going?. It takes them to the simplest form and allows me to accomplish them. The Big Goals are daunting and as our lives are in flex they feel impossible.

I like to use my monthly calendar with an eye toward my big goals to make sure I am still working toward them. I started writing down the books I need to finish in order to accomplish my book a week goal, and that has been so helpful. I also am tracking hours I spend in Arabic immersion situations and studying formally.

The kids have specific days for homeschool, and they are great accountability because Davy wants to do homeschool every single day when he gets home from school.

The blog has been tough with one computer now between all of us, but we are figuring it out.

And I am back to working out every day.

As you can see, some of my goals have been firmly built into my routine.

The foundational building I have been doing over the past few months is so essential. To really look at the desires of my heart and be able to start living that out has been amazingly transformational. I am so happy with this progress!

Flexible Planning a.k.a. Planning on Water

I have always felt that the phrase Firmly Flexible fit with my style. I like to have a structure, a schedule, fully planned out, rigid times set in stone that I know very well. With this plan in place I know where there is wiggle room, and I know which things can be moved to a different day, hour, and I can be spontaneous. Within that stone structure.

However, life doesn’t really work that way in this season of my life. I have two kids with changing sleep schedules and I live in a country that would like to be a first world country, but hasn’t mastered that quite yet and I am in a major transition in so many areas of my life. Therefore I am pulling an Opposite Day (which will probably become an Opposite Season and Beyond!) Instead of being rigid and having flexibility within that. My new visual is of planning on top of water.

Planning On Water

Everything is always moving in water. Constantly, and the hotter the water, the faster the movement. Since it is coming up on a hot summer, I feel this way. The “plan” for each day is like I wrote in pen on a nice sheet of paper and set it down in water. I bet you can already see the visual of this metaphor.

But I am taking every thought captive, and recognizing that this IS the way it is, so I need to learn to function within this new world. So I am beginning with flexibility and ending with flexibility, and in between we have some light boundaries and structure.

I felt that I was spending more time planning than doing anything else because of the constant adjustments to the schedule. I would say okay 9:00 take a shower 9:30 Memverse 10:00 Homeschool with Davy and at 9:05 Kyrie would start screaming, so my shower loses its calm, and at 9:07 the lights go out. So, I spend the rest of my shower in the dark determining if I should get dressed and help Kyrie or get dressed and take care of the lights first. All the while Davy is standing at the door to my room crying because Kyrie is crying and the lights are out and he is hungry.

And something like that happens every day. I tracked what I did every minute for a week, and I found that I spend about 30 minutes every day in a frustrating situation like that. Then, my mind is constantly checking if what I am doing is worth doing because there might be something better.

Louis intervened, God intervened, and I finally said ENOUGH! Enough to my brain, enough to succumbing to living this frenetic way, and enough to wishing I didn’t have to get up today. I have passions and a calling, and I am going after them! So, I now plan less, and differently. I am learning to be in the moment of what I am doing with no regrets. If it turns out I should have been doing something, oh well, I did this. I loved on my kids and I prayed and I read and I wrote, and I rejoiced. I wasn’t rejoicing ever, and today I rejoiced. So take that negative Nellies, which is mostly just that other negative Annie pretending someone is mad at her to give her justification to feel guilty. My new method of planning is super simple!

This Ain’t Your Momma’s Planning

Or this Momma’s, but I am growing in flexibility. Here is what it looks like:


I have written down my Ideal List of what I want to get done with my time each day, and how much time I would like to spend on each thing. Then I put them in order by what needs to happen in each section of the day instead of using the o’clock method.


When we teach the incoming interns about culture we talk about the status of time in the culture. It turns out kids and Arabs function in similar ways, 6:45 doesn’t exist. There is morning (or as Davy would say, “When the sun is up”), afternoon (either “the sun’s been up a LONG time” or “the sun’s going away”), and evening (“the sun is gone”).

Then I have a secret fourth section of the day: Mommy Time in the night when everyone goes to sleep. This allows me to take the temperature of my day throughout the day. If we sleep in because we stayed up late with a teething baby or having coffee over at someone’s house, there are certain things that just will not happen the same. Breakfast will be something super fast, and the breakfast I had planned on cooking will be served for lunch.

When the Waves Hit

Davy’s Bible Story of the week is The Wise and Foolish Builder, so I want to have a strong foundation instead of sand. I want the waves to crash without causing damage. I want to be wise. One of the things I am tightening up in my house is the time between when my feet hit the floor out of bed and getting to Memverse. I call all of that time Waking Up in my general planning for MORNING because I barely am present for it, but it takes too long. So, I am working on not getting distracted by dishes, which can wait until lunch, or attention for the kids who both like having a quiet time in the morning anyway.

This is a time of constant flux, and I am learning to move with the boat instead of fighting to stay still and getting sea sick. As I said this is a time of becoming more decisive, and being positive that what I am doing is the right thing. When I can just sit in the task, moment, relationship, and event I find myself enjoying it more and also being much more productive. I am not wasting 10% of the time thinking about what else I have to do. There is time for that later.

Besides I am sure there is something super “important” my negative voice thought I should have been doing instead of having this tea party with Kyrie:

Meanwhile in Davy’s Room… Hey, Negative Self-Voice! This IS what’s important! These kids, these few short years until they grow up more. Like, tomorrow. So, Worry, wait outside please. I have to have a tea party for the next 17 years.

What is This Season?

Last year I finally succumbed to the popular description of life that it happens in seasons. I even gave a talk at a retreat about reading the Bible in different seasons. So, as I seem to be both happy and sad, healing and in chronic pain, basically suspended in a limbo of paradox, I have been wondering what is this season?

When God has spoken and we choose to ignore Him, of course there is no peace in our hearts. Sometimes we put off God’s call for so long we forget what God has asked of us. It is a recurring theme in my life to ask in prayer for a reminder from God because, if I am feeling a lack of peace, chances are God has already given me the answers. Recently I have been memorizing a Bible verse that also shares a similar message of God reminding us and I was looking at it and realized, it also speaks to the source of peace.

Davy’s new movie is Kung Fu Panda (all of them actually, so like 3 movies and a bunch of mini episodes). The storyline follows that in order to be the best at your job you must have inner peace. In order to have inner peace you must know who you are. The red thread between each movie is the role that Po is learning he plays.

Movie #1 = Po is the Dragon Warrior

Movie #2 = Po is the son of a goose

Movie #3 = Po brings his quest for self complete circle asking:

“Am I the son of a panda? The son of a goose? A student? A teacher? I’m all of those things. I am the Dragon Warrior!”

It is a great visual as he speaks he draws the dragon, sharing that by being all of those things he can be what he first sought. This is the lesson I have been learning, so it has been fun to watch this with Davy and derive personal significance from the movie.

There are seasons when being a stay at home mom means more than in other seasons, it is the focus. There are seasons where being a homemaker (cleaning, cooking, etc.) is the focus. There are seasons when my marriage, the romance, dating is the focus. There are of course seasons with any blending in between.

So what is this season now, the season in which I learn how to live a life of discipline?

Discipline and inner peace. In high school I found the word Simplify to bring me peace. In college I felt like I had never known the peace like I felt there. Now I feel like peace eludes me again, and I know that part of it will be to simplify, that I already know the answer. God already simplified my life by limiting my goals in the way that was determined at the beginning of the year.

Bible (Reading & Memorization), Reading, Blogging, Routines, and Weight Loss. These five categories are done in the home for the most part, keeping me in the roles of house wife and stay at home mom. I am actually quite satisfied in these roles when I am entering into them. When I am burdening myself with guilt I find myself losing sight of the purpose of these things. Since picking Discipline as my word I have realized the times when I am giving up way too quickly. I put down a book because it is making me think. I stop blogging because I can’t focus. I haven’t been working out because I can’t find the time. Yet there is plenty of time to worry, criticize, and argue.

Instead of using that time so negatively, I am changing, little by little

شوي شوي, to heal, to use my time for God, to grow.

This picture above, in Arabic, says “Shway, shway”. It means little by little, or slowly by slowly. This time of training will help me in innumerable ways and I know that the lessons, though painstakingly slow to grasp at times, will be so worth it that I have no reason for complaint. The wall in the picture above is empty right now, but will soon be filled with my successes, redemption, and healing. I am so glad to have you along for the ride!

Goals to Build a Thriving Life in 2016

This is going to be a short post that will begin my weekly goal posts. I am going to post Mondays, and the goals will not include the weekends so that I have more slack to review my goals from the previous week. I just completed the course Make Over Your Mornings by Crystal Paine, one of my favorite bloggers. Much of the method to my goal setting comes from this course. I cannot place a measurement on Thriving, but by choosing the following measurable goals, I believe, day by day we will begin to thrive.

If you want to see my past posts on Goal Setting CLICK HERE.

My BIG GOALS for 2016

Self, Heart, & Soul:

    Read the Entire Bible Through (New Testament 5 Times)

List 1: New Testament – 4 Chapters Every Night Before Bed

    Once Complete Repeat all but Revelation

Old Testament Read 1 Chapter of Each List per Night

List 2: Prophets

        List 3: History

List 4: Law

List 5: Poetry

    Take Tim Challies’ 2016 Reading Challenge

My Goal is to Attempt Avid Reader this year, which is to read a book approximately every 2 weeks from the challenge list. This is audacious, but I think will help my soul and heart to attain the rhythm God and Louis are both impressing on my heart in this season of life.

Marriage Goals:

After finding the reading challenge mentioned above, Louis and I both have set reading goals, which will come from that challenge instead of add to that list.

    Louis: Read 6 Seminary Books

Finish Third Culture Kids

Finish Serving as Senders & Create our Blog Study for Partners in the States

Read 1 Book Together

Spend Intentional Time Together Just for Us 3x per Week.

Family (Mothering, Parenting) Goals:

Many of the goals for this year are not truly Big Goals for the year, but just building routines. At the end of the year I want to be able to look back and see several things accomplished however.

David Potty Trained

School Decision Made for Davy

Routines in Place:

    Grocery Shopping without Louis

    Teeth Brushing (Davy Learn and Do it Routinely)

    Bath Time (Water Heater Routines and Bathing)

Pause for PRAISE here for our evening routine at bedtime working so well and continuing to include Bible Reading to the kids!

David getting dressed and undressed by himself

Arabic Study Plan: Study 1 hour per day. 20-30 min. per day for Davy.

Ministry & Discipleship Goals

The Arabic Study Plan of course is part of our ministry here, and once that plan is in place it will cover many of these categories.

Mommy Book Blog: Post Weekly Goals once a week for accountability and twice a month posts on books and parenting and life in Lebanon.

Lisses to Lebanon Blog: Post twice a month. Hopefully one from each of us each month about missionary life and ministry.

In the past I made many mini goals, but these BIG GOALS will be broken into bite size (weekly) pieces and posted each Monday in Weekly Goals. Feel free to post your own goals so we can all keep each other accountable.