So in these waning days of 2016, it is telling that one of the most watched YouTube videos has been a streaming video from a real estate company's camera that is trained in on a pair of bald eagles, Harriet and M15 (male #15 - I know, such a romantic name) waiting for their two eggs to hatch. One chick finally made its appearance today, December 31, and the other is still being watched by thousands of eager fans.
Yes, I am one of those fans. And as we have watched these eggs over the last few days especially, I've become aware of some lessons that I can carry with me into 2017 as I set goals and make plans for a new year.
For the first 34 days or so, the camera was there but there wasn't anything to see. Just a couple of birds keeping their eggs warm, about as exciting as watching paint dry or grass grow. But inside those eggs, unseen by others, chicks were developing and growing. In the same way, what 2017 holds for each of us - how we will grow and change - is unseen, but still very real and incubating in the events of life, including the tumultuous year that 2016 may have been for you.
This was the case for me when I wanted to begin our Naomi's Circle ministry for parents dealing with pregnancy loss. I dreamed of doing it almost from the beginning, but the exact form it would take developed over time and changed as I grew and healed from our losses of 2009 and 2010.
Honestly, I thought maybe those eggs were duds, especially after the clock ran out on them. But they didn't know the clock ran out, and moved forward on their own schedule, and what do you know, suddenly there was a "pip" in the shell of one of the eggs! Don't give up on your goal just because someone else said you should have reached it by now, or because you think you should have!
I had been told to wait at least 18 months after our loss of Naomi before I would be ready to begin a support group of my own. That clock "ran out" in the fall of 2010 and still it wasn't happening. But the following January, I met another loss mom who would not only end up being part of our first group, but also a partner in ministry down the road.
The shell of the first eaglet began to crack a couple of days before the hatching process was complete. It didn't happen all at once because it is not just about getting the eaglet out, but about preparing it for life in the big world. It must absorb oxygen through the shell, cut its blood supply in the shell membrances in such a way that won't bleed when it is out, and practice breathing air, for starters. All of that takes time, and skipping any of those steps could spell doom for the baby eagle. In the same way, if things are taking longer than you like for your goals, consider that perhaps there is a purpose in the waiting, and that there are some preparatory steps that must happen lest you be thrust prematurely into the world. Remember - it is not just about the end goal, but the growth that brings you there.
It was not until the summer of 2011 that we were finally able to begin our Naomi's Circle support group, and even then it was different than what I had initially envisioned - we started as a pregnancy after loss group instead of a pregnancy loss, but God's hand in that could not have been more clear. Had I pushed to begin it earlier, I would have missed so much of what he was doing!
Getting the eaglet to hatch has only been part of the battle. Now the parents must keep it alive by keeping it warm, feeding it, and protecting it from predators. Now the real work begins! I'm much more of an idea developer than a sustainer, so that was especially true for me. Our Naomi's Circle support group has been going strong for nearly six years now, and it takes work to plan nomeetings, to keep up with members, to advertise meetings, and to keep up our website. Don't get me wrong - it is a joy! But no ministry, no business, no dream runs itself. We need to expect that it will take work and plan for it.
A solitary eagle will have a hard time hatching eaglets. The eagle pair works together, taking turns incubating the eggs, sprucing up the nest, hunting for food. They need each other to get the job done.
We need each other, too. It might mean working alongside your spouse to meet goals you have for your family, or working with a business partner to meet goals at work. Or it could mean teammates and friends who encourage you from the sidelines as you pursue your dreams. In the growth of our Naomi's Circle ministry, I have had all of these, starting with my husband's constant support, the church that hosts and supports us financially, and then the parents in our group, many of whom have risen to their own leadership roles as they have reached out to others.
What about you? What hopes and dreams do you have for 2017, and where are you on the path to seeing them come true? In the incubation period? Struggling to hatch your dream? Or supporting it in its fledgling stages?
Have you committed it to the Lord? For that is the most important step of all. Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” The coming year is in His hands, and all of our plans need to be, too.
I would love to hear what you are trusting him for this year so I can lift you up on prayer! Please share below!
Blessed New Year!
P.S. One of my goals for 2017 is to get control of the clutter in my life and home. If that is one of yours, too, I really encourage you to check out the Conquer Your Clutter Super Bundle on sale from 1/25 through 1/30!