So here are my big challenges from 2012 in the order in which they happened.
My first "challenge": Choosing a word for the year
This intrigued me. Would I stick with it? Would it just be more pressure to do one more thing? Would I be imposing another task on myself? I found that it brought out the playful side of me. "Yes! I can do that! It is my year of challenge!" It gave me an excuse to try new things and to push myself. After all, my word wasn't "succeed"' it was "challenge".
Art class at the Morton Arboretum
I have always wanted to do this but have felt too intimidated. Do I have the talent and confidence to claim I am an artist and sit in a room with others who claim the same thing? I learned (again) that artists are some of the most generous and encouraging people. Probably because we all have that doubt somewhere inside. This was a
great chance to learn new things and re-affirm that I am an artist.
On-line Lenten Art Retreat
This experience along with the art class at the arboretum, led me to express myself in brand new art forms. Ones
that now prioritze to do each week in moments of both prayer and playfulness.
Create a website in the area of Family Ministry
At the beginning of the year, this idea was bubbling just under the surface. I had started mining information from friends who have expertise in the field. It seemed so overwhelming. I just didn't know where to begin. Then a continuing education opportunity fell in my lap. One that would help me create a website specifically for life in the church and matters of faith formation! The materials from Vibrant Faith Ministries touted that I would have a website up and going by the end of the weekend. It was a great conference. I learned a lot and my website www.creativefamilyministry.com was born. I have loved working on it ever since!
Write a blog
I have wanted to do this for a while. Creating my website gave me a perfect excuse to try. I enjoy the process of writing. It is another creative outlet for me. I enjoy writing on topics that others might find helpful or inspiring. I also like writing posts just for myself. It is a challenge every time I write, not only the process itself, but the leap in vulnerability it takes in putting myself out there.
This challenge is definitely a work in progress. I hope to do more in 2013. I took a day hike at Pike's Peak State Park in Iowa. I loved it. I hiked alone which was a big thing for me. I have no sense of direction. My hope was that I would build some confidence that I could do this and not get lost. As I am here to write on December 31: mission accomplished. Being surrounded by God's beauty was invigorating. I loved the idea of moving through the world on my own power. I have always loved walking and so hiking seems like a natural extension of that. More to come in 2013....
Run the Soldier Field 10
I just wrote that I love walking. I DO NOT love running! This was my most demanding challenge of the year. It involved training for 3 months and then running in the actual event. A friend suggested this challenge to me. He knew the fact that this 10 mile run finishes on the 50 yard line in Soldier Field would be the tipping point. It was. I trained: ran in the rain, ran in the cold, nurtured and worked through an injury, and ran, ran, ran for 3 months. Then the day of the event came. It was a freezing Memorial Day weekend. I did it. I cried as I entered the back tunnel of Soldier Field and stepped onto the turf. I was so proud of myself and so glad it was done. Who knows? Maybe I will do it again this year?! (A huge thank you to my training partner Jim!)
Write and implement a new curriculum
At our church last fall we decided to follow a program called Unbinding Your Heart. I wrote a curriculum for our Sunday School - preschool through middle school. I didn't hold back. I wrote in all the activities and learning opportunities that I thought would be great. (I didn't worry about the details at the time.) Then...I had to figure
out a way for 120 kids and their teachers in nine classes to do it! It took more work and nerves then I imagined to implement it, but it was great.
Attend, survive and enjoy (!) a conference about leading the church's song
I am not a singer. I know choir directors/teachers do not like to hear those words. But really...for some people singing in public is the scariest thing they can do. Take me for example. At this conference (Music That Makes Community), I learned some really helpful techniques for leading singing without words and music in front of each person. I even (*gulp*) sang alone and unaccompanied in front of a group of people. It took some very gentle and gracious leadership, but I did it! And now I have done it a few more times in my congregation with the children and families. Participating in this challenge made me reach deep down and find courage I wasn't sure I had.
Game day themed meals for Chicago Bear football games
I didn't realize this would become a "challenge" but the fact I work on Sunday mornings, sometimes right up until kick off, made me prioritize this fun and creative outlet. Also the fact that so many people followed my menus on Facebook encouraged me to continue on days when I was already spent by noon. My family tried lots of new foods and micro-brewed beer. I also ended up listening to a lot of the games on the radio in the kitchen with Tom Thayer and Jeff Joniak. (That was a fun bonus!)
Thank you to all of you who supported me in my individual challenges as the year progressed. It was fun. And as a friend told me, "you don't have to stop challenging yourself even though this year is done." We'll see what happens next. Happy 2012!