Early 2016 a friend invited me to a vision board party at her home. I’d created collages as a teenager, but this was a first for me as an adult. The party was amazing! Here’s a word of advice, if you ever get invited to party with a group of African women, go. You will have the time of your life! Besides the amazing company, conversations and food - I was introduced to vision boarding or creating a collage that is a visual representation of your dreams, goals, and things that make you happy.
Before getting started we watched a YouTube video and some of the women there shared about their experiences with the activity. One woman even shared how she printed a picture of a car and ended up with the exact same car.
The board I created that evening has been on my bathroom wall for two years. Having a visual reminder of my priorities helped me stay focus throughout that time and was an easy way to be honest about my progress and to assess whether my priorities were evolving or if I was simply off base. I’m at a new place in my life and believe it’s time for a new board, but before I sit down to establish new goals and priorities, I thought I’d share my reflections on my 2016/2017 board.
Testimony / Prayer :: “Sharing Christ, Loving People”
There’s a scripture in the Bible that says “Unless the Lord builds a house, the builders labor in vain (Psalm 127:1).” Basically this is a reminder that you can have all of the plans you want, but unless God intends it to progress, proceed or prosper, you’re wasting your time. As a Christian it was meaningful for me to have Christ at the center of my board as a reminder to leave “wiggle room” for God’s will to supersede my own. It was also a reminder to keep Christ in the center of my life and as a meaningful part of every other goal
A) Getting a handle on my money
Someone may ask “Why not do a new board each year?” Here’s why: sometimes you need more that 365 days to learn new skills, develop new habits and develop a new paradigm. This was definitely the case when it came to my financial goals. My husband and I were introduced to Dave Ramsey’s financial strategies for living debt free, creating budgets, and savings in Fall 2016 and didn’t start putting those strategies and principles into practice until January 2017. Looking back, that was the right timing for us and I’m glad I didn’t switch gears. And here’s the real testimony - in one year we paid off all of our credit cards, three student loans, a private loan, and sold a $40K vehicle - eliminating over $80,000 in debt.
We still have quite a ways to go to accomplish our financial goals and we’re learning new things all the time, but we’ve learned important lessons about communication and working together, and we’ve developed greater character in the areas of patience, discipline and consistency.
B) Being a better wife
I love when my husband just randomly shouts “Whew, you’re a good woman!” Usually it’s because he’s showing his appreciation for how I manage our home, cooked him a home-cooked meal, or made a sacrifice for his children. Whatever the reason, I love it which is why one of my goals was to grow and develop as his wife (emphasis on “his”).
Every marriage is a covenant, or contract, and just like a credit card application, I strongly believe that every marriage has “fine print.” Fine print are the little nuances that are specific to your relationship. I’m not talking about the foundational pillars of love, respect, faithfulness and commitment - although by looking at some marriages it would seem those are nuances as well. I’m referring to the unique rules of engagement that don’t necessarily apply universally to every marriage.
I like to have doors opened for me; it irritates me if we go somewhere and my husband opens the door and walks in before me. But he doesn’t need to open my car door because that’s just silly. Fine print.
I know some couples where the woman always fixes her man’s plate. That’s not a hard rule in my marriage; my husband doesn’t care either way as long as he gets to eat. But he does care that his clothes are put away in a very specific way. All of his shirts have to face the same way and be grouped together by type. He doesn’t like his socks folded inside out. And his ties are color coded. Fine print.
So one of my goals was to learn how to be a better wife to MY husband. I didn’t study books about marriage; I studied my husband. I learned when to present ideas and how. I learned when to speak and when to be quiet. I learned when it was helpful to lead and when it was helpful to support. I learned more about him in an effort to learn how to be a better wife for him. And I think I did pretty well. We had fewer fights, even though we still had challenges and disappointments and there were times when he made me so angry I could see spots. We developed a deeper level of agreement. And we made some great memories and had a lot of fun.