Archives For New Year’s resolutions

Looking Back and Dreaming Ahead

Saturday, December 28, 2013 — 3 Comments

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Each year about this time, I get all excited for the New Year. January 1 is one of my favorite days, marking the start of something new. For me, that newness is related to an assessment of the year that is ending and a vision for the year that is about to begin.

As I look back at 2013, my breath catches. Lots of things happened. Check out this sampler:

celebrated my 40th year at the Goofy Challenge (39.3 miles of running) // started working for Revive Our Hearts // attended The Story conference at Spread Truth & met the shining Laura Karr // traveled to California // attended the Revive Our Hearts Revive Tour // started Snapchatting // enjoyed Beach retreat 2013 // ran the Champaign half marathon // survived a Cupcake Crawl w/niece Isabelle // created a Dream Map // celebrated the Hubster’s work in opening Immanuel Health Clinic // spent two glorious months in Boulder, Colorado & made precious new friends at The Well // started reading Brene Brown // found Lucky’s Bakery & Boxcar Coffee // ran the Boulder Heart & Sole half marathon // ate seven pounds of Swedish fish in a month // celebrated my parents’ 45th anniversary // discovered my personality INFP matches the Hulk (mean & green?) // cheered the Hubster in his first competitive half marathon at Indy (he won the Master’s Divison! we got to see his brother & our dear friends! and we ate Flying Cupcakes!) // traveled to Disney w/dear friends // started working for Naomi’s House // made progress on my book // enjoyed countless hours with loved ones

So much joy, so much blessing—and most of it was not listed as part of my 2013 hopes and dreams. But some of these things came about because my vision was set toward those goals. And this is why I keep on with New Year’s Resolutions.

So I’m on it for 2014, and I’m going with a theme. My dream for the new year is that my life would be fruitful:

By God’s grace, 2014 will be a year of fruitfulness for me as I yield my moments to the Lord Jesus and seek to live by His Spirit.

From this vision flow specific goals that I’ve arranged into seven categories:

  • spiritual: tending to heart & soul
  • relational: nurturing bonds
  • physical: training the flesh
  • professional: investing talents
  • mental: stimulating curiosity
  • domestic: creating a refuge
  • financial: growing in generosity

One thing I learned this past year is that when my goals are merely a to-do list, I get overwhelmed. This dreamer needs the vision to fuel the actions! For instance, motivation and attitude are greatly lacking when I need to do some cleaning; running it through the filter of creating a refuge makes all the difference for me. I want a refuge, and that would be one with clean sheets.

Most of my goals are typical, not too out-of-the-ordinary . . . but I need them on paper because this dreamy-girl forgets things. If my life is going to be fruitful, I need God’s power working in me and focusing my efforts. There will be lots of praying happening to that end! I’m so excited to see what comes about in the next 12 months—not only what’s on paper, but also all the extra things that I would never dream about.

What are your hopes and dreams for 2014? How do you organize your goals? I’d love to hear all about it—share in the comments or post a link to your blog post detailing it. Here’s to hopes and dreams and things unseen.

Bible Reading Based on Alliteration

Friday, December 30, 2011 — 7 Comments

Each year I include Bible reading goals in my New Year’s resolutions. I am always excited about digging into the Word and meeting my God for a feast in the year to come.

Some people may think that starting a Bible reading plan on January 1 is trite. Lots of people give the read-the-Bible-in-a-year a go when the New Year rolls around. The popularity of New Year’s Bible reading challenges isn’t the problem. The problem is that so few of those plans are seen through to the end. I know this pain firsthand.

Even so, I am not jaded. I’m all for Bible reading plans. I say it’s better to read and fall behind than to never read at all.

Here I am once again, with January just hours away, and I’m getting ready for another year of Bible reading. Although there are plenty of reading plans available, I wanted to go simple this year. So I have crafted a plan that is a bit more loose, consisting of two elements I’m calling the Daily Drink and the Sabbath Soak (alliteration is key to this plan). Here’s how it will work:

The Daily Drink
Supposedly it takes the average reader 75 hours to read through the entire Bible. That’s 4,500 minutes (whoa!) or 12 minutes a day (well, that’s not so bad). My plan is to go book by book, reading for 12 minutes each day. I’ll mark my place after 12 minutes, mark my spot, and pick up from there the next day. Simple enough, yes?

Now, I don’t plan to read from Genesis to Revelation . . . I want to mix it up a bit. I’m actually thinking about reading the books in alphabetical order. That means I’ll be starting in Acts, followed by Amos, then I’ll move on to Chronicles (1 and 2).

The Sabbath Soak
In addition to reading through the Bible in full, I also want to study some passages a bit more in depth. Sundays typically offer a bit more time for me to read and reflect. So each month, I’ll choose a different book or passage from the Bible to concentrate on.

The first Sunday I’ll read through the book/passage in my usual translation; the following Sundays of the month, I’ll choose other translations. Shorter books I could read in full each week; longer books I will likely cover for two or more months as needed. Ephesians will be my pick for January because that’s the book my pastor is teaching from right now.

What do you think? Would you like to join me for this year’s Bible reading? Maybe even for a month or two? Let me know if you plan to join me. We can encourage each other to stick with the plan . . . and maybe we will make it a bit further into 2012 then the average Bible reader.

For the Tomorrows of 2012

Friday, December 30, 2011 — 1 Comment

How grateful I am to have a few days this week to decompress! I get to read, rest, reflect—three of my favorite R-word activities! It seems that 2011 was in short supply of all these, although some changes throughout the year just may be culminating into a fresh New Year. Let me explain.

Last year, I was blessed with too much work. So blessed, in fact, that the first four months consisted of regular all-nighters. Something had to go . . . but what? After much prayer, I decided to remove my editing/proofreading contract with a communications agency. It was one of those sad but good decisions. But it still took me months to feel like I was digging myself out of the hole I had gotten into. The months of irregular sleep, household neglect, and responsibility shirking towered and took its toll.

Let me stress: God has been good to me. He held me steady through my emotional ups-and-downs and has taught me more about who He is and my need for His grace and love and mercy. My life with the Hubster is sweet, more than I could ever have imagined. I have dear friends who know me through and through, who pray for me, cry with me, laugh at me (in love, of course). I have work that is of the pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming nature.

Life is good and sweet. I am grateful. But some stretches are rougher than others, and 2011 was rough in the work-and-responsibility sense. But now that I’ve had some time for the three Rs, I feel mentally ready, able, and excited to meet my life in the days of 2012. I think they call this hope. And hope makes me dreamy! This is why I love the start of something new—a new day, new week, new month, new year. New makes me dream of what could be.

In all this hopes-and-dreams discourse, did any of you think of the Walt Disney Carousel of Progress theme song, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”?!

(Well, that may be a bit too sunshiny. Let’s move on.) Here are my hopes and dreams for the big bright beautiful tomorrows of 2012.

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1. For the Love of God
Fill & Empty is what I’ve been calling my morning check-in with the Lord. Basically, it’s getting more of who Jesus is (His Spirit, His power, His Truth—Him!) in me as I empty my soul in prayer and worship. Each month I plan to take a morning retreat to rest and rejoice in God’s grand rescue of me, a sinner. Both of these (the daily time and the monthly retreat) were spotty during 2011, and I’d like 2012 to be more consistent so that I do not let spiritual drift set in.

2. For the Love of Reading
Reading is a true joy for me, and it was in short supply in 2011. When I had time to sit still to read, I was often too tired to do so. For 2012, I have several reading challenges and goals set. These are, of course, in addition to the other books I am reading . . . :

The High Calling Book Club: We’ll be reading David Brooks’s The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement. It kicks off Monday, January 9 with chapters 1–3 and will last a few months.

Bible Reading Challenge: This a challenge of my own making, so we’ll see how it goes! It’s a two-parter. Part 1 is the Daily Drink (reading some Scripture every day). Part 2 is the Sabbath Soak (taking a deeper look at a particular book or passage each Sunday for a month). I’ll write more on this is a separate post in an effort to encourage others to join me.

Classics Challenge: Years ago I started reading some classic literature and decided I would select books according to author’s last name. I’ve read books by Austen, Bronte, Carroll, and Dostoyevsky, crossing off the first five letters of the alphabet. I’ve read other classics covering letters I, L, O, and S. Needless to say, I have plenty more letters to cover. I’d like to read four more in 2012: The Great Gatsby, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Scarlet Letter, and The Fountainhead.

3. For the Love of Writing 
A positive for 2011 is that my work shifted primarily to writing projects. Most of my time is spent writing, rewriting, and thinking about writing. [joy!] I started a weekly column called Mixed Signals for Christ and Pop Culture, which has stretched me in many good and painful ways. Which Word Wednesday is still going strong right here at The Patch. But generally speaking, my blog was neglected in 2011. In the year ahead, I would like to spend more writing time here and possibly give the site a facelift.

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So that does it! Three resolution-like visions for 2012.

What sorts of resolutions are you making for the year ahead? I’d love to hear all about it! And watch for more information about my Bible Reading Challenge—I’d love to have your company.

Today is the last day of 2010. I’ve already done plenty of assessing about the past twelve months to get closure. I am ready to look ahead and dream a little and put some goals on paper (electronically speaking).

Lots of people dislike New Year’s resolutions. I find them charming. There’s something hopeful about them. They look forward, from “this face with straining eyes to see” (lyrics from “Visions,” one of my all-time favorites by Jennifer Knapp).

Resolutions (or goals? hopes? dreams? not sure what to call my relaxed version of New Year’s resolutions) allow me to dream of what could be, how I might learn and grow and change in the year ahead.

My list is lengthy—I keep coming up with items to add! But the following four goals are the dearest to my heart and should give a good picture of what I am dreaming about for 2011. I also have some fitness goals, some home care goals, even some habits I would like to pick up. I would like to do a service project and be quick to serve others rather than hesitate. I would love to be more intentional about how I spend my time. And . . . and . . . and—see, once I get started, the dreaming doesn’t stop! It is easy to dream; much more difficult to implement.

What about you? Are you casting a vision for the year ahead? Do share! Dreaming is more fun together.

2011 Resolutions-Dreams-Goals-Vision-Target-Thingies

1) Feed my soul each day.
I always think of the Israelites wandering in the desert. They had food provided for them for forty years, but they had to collect it every morning. I want to make collecting soul manna a daily habit.

Here is an excellent post from The Gospel Coalition on nourishing your soul with the Bread of Life each day. It inspired me to use this book and Bible reading schedule as a help for feeding my soul in the year ahead.

2) Dig new mental ruts.
You know those regular, pesky sort of thoughts that are negative and annoying and not helpful at all? Well, I’ve found the best way to reroute those is to set my mind on liberating truth. When I have meditated on certain passages of God’s Word, new ruts form for my thoughts to get stuck in. These ruts are filled with positive, nourishing, and helpful truths that change my heart and change my experience. I need more of that going on!

I’ll kick the year off right by participating in Ann Kroeker’s Mega Memory Month for January. Romans 5 is where my brain will be camping out. Watch for my progress reports each week. And do join the fun! Check in at MMM HQ for details.

3) Take a monthly morning retreat.
A year or so ago, I started taking a morning retreat once a month so I could sit with Jesus for an extended, unscheduled, relaxed stretch. Somewhere this past fall I lost that habit somehow, so I want to reinstitute it. I’ve missed it. I’ve missed Him.

The first Tuesday of the month is now reserved. I’ll be snuggled on my comfy chair with my Bible, my journal, and some yummy coffee.

4) Regular writing to stretch my creative muscles.
This is a two-parter. First, I’m back for another book club series through High Calling Blogs. Watch for regular discussion posts each Monday (starting the 3rd!) based on the essay compilation titled The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers on Feasting and Fasting Toward God. Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?! Come by each week and join the discussion. Second, I can’t forget my beloved Which Word Wednesday series. Watch for that starting mid-January.

Rev Your Brain Cells

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 — 2 Comments

How I love the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Not because I take vacation time (although I love to do that and wish I could do so this week)–but, rather, this is when I reflect on the past year and dream about the one to start. I think about things like this:

What have I learned? What experiences were special to me? Where did I grow? Where did my immaturity and depravity come to light? How will the Lord grow me in the coming year? What will I learn? What experiences are ahead?

Such dreamy thoughts are the perfect segue to New Year’s resolutions. I see a new year like a reset button, when I get the chance to dream about all the year ahead could hold.

I realize many people get stressed out putting resolutions to paper. It must feel like a binding contract or a reminder of certain failure or something. But because I am not very regimented or rigid, resolutions don’t stress me out. I see resolutions as a hopeful vision rather than a choking noose. And I have to write them down, because my brain gets preoccupied.

So resolutions have been on my mind for a few weeks already. One thing I had in mind for this year was memory work. In years past, I’ve participated in Ann Kroeker’s Mega Memory Month (MMM) challenges to keep me on task. How happy I was when Ann announced on Facebook that January 2011 would be MMM!

I now have a few days to consider which Scripture passage to meditate upon and then create my review cards. MMM HQ will host progress reports each Monday, but I have already planned to participate in a book club posting each Monday . . . so I think I will post my MMM reports on Tuesdays—so mark your calendars! I’m sure it will be riveting to read how I’m holding up to the challenge week after week.

Want to join the fun? Find something to memorize—a poem, a speech, a Bible verse, the states and capitals—and register over at MMM HQ. Your brain will thank you.

Get Buff in 31 Days

Friday, January 1, 2010 — 4 Comments

Ah, a new year. How I love January 1. It is the day of new beginnings, with the year stretching before me like a plain, with no obstructions as far as the eye can see.

To this unobstructed landscape I’ve been asking God to help me add in the things of life according to His leading. I’ve been considering my previous commitments and interests, asking God to nudge me according to what He would me to put my heart and hands to in the year ahead.

Most New Year’s resolutions focus upon the external facets of life: getting in shape or securing a promotion or something of that nature. I’ve had plenty of those sorts of goals in years past.

In recent years, however, there is one goal on my list that has pushed all these to lower priority: knowing God’s Word. Each year, I am prompted to make the Word a greater priority in my daily life. By this I do not mean the mere reading of it so I can check it off my list. The desire is to live by the Word, to live with the Word made flesh: Emmanuel, God with me.

As I have put my focus on the Living Word, many of my other goals have come to fruition—or the desire for them has dissipated. For example, for years I knew that my lack of regular exercise and poor eating were adding up. But change was shallow until I turned to God for help and He exposed the root as a lack of discipline and a lust for constant comfort. (Who knew?!) The problem wasn’t merely physical: It was a heart issue. The past year I have prayed that God would strengthen my resolve and stretch my pain tolerance. He helped me as I committed to start running again, which served as the framework for changing my heart. The end result? I have walked (run!) with God over the past year, and He has grown me in running to Him for comfort and resolve—all this by focusing on God.

Placing my gaze steadily on God has changed me. And I want to know Him all the more because of it! So I am thrilled to have the encouragement of another Mega Memory Month (MMM), hosted by Ann Kroeker, to spur me on to training my brain to focus on the goodness of God. For this challenge, MMM4, I’ve decided to focus on two portions of Scripture that I have been regularly drawn to as of late: Colossians 2:6–15 and Ephesians 6:10–18.

MMM is your opportunity to engage your brain by selecting something of interest to commit to memory. In previous MMM challenges, I’ve memorized Scripture, poetry, states and capitals, and even reviewed French vocabulary.

There’s plenty of time to join the challenge! Simply sign in at MMM HQ, detailing your memorization goals. MMM HQ provides all the details, as well as great tips and hints for getting your brain in shape.

Let’s get brain buff in 2010!

I’m Dreaming of a New Year

Sunday, December 20, 2009 — 1 Comment

It’s not yet Christmas, but I’m already thinking ahead to a new year. I always get reflective toward the end of December, and this year is no different. Dreaming goes hand-in-hand with reflection for me, so then I start to turn from the past 12 months to the next 12 months.

So I’m in this strange state of flux in which I am looking back while also looking ahead. Looking ahead is necessary for surviving these first painful weeks of winter that make me wonder if I will ever be warm again (dramatic, I know!). And since I often think of a new year as a pretty, clean slate, and this positive perspective buoys my spirits in the dreary, non-color Midwest December days of white-gray-frigid (Crayola should make that an official color in their crayon palette).

Two things in particular will be on my slate for 2010.

Stretching My Brain’s Capacity
The first item added to my slate is another edition of Mega Memory Month (MMM) hosted by Ann Kroeker. I’ve participated a few times previously, with varying results (see posts describing my results for MMM1, MMM2, and MMM3). Although I have yet to wrap a MMM with all my goals accomplished, I am pleased to say that the mental focus exercised and gained, as well as the residue that has stuck has been well worth the effort—and this keeps me coming back for more.

I’ve not yet determined what I will be putting my mind to this time around . . . in the past I’ve worked on Scripture, states and capitals, and a poem. Scripture is a given, but I would also like to give something else a go. I’ll have my final goals outlined and posted after Christmas.

If you have never participated in a MMM, don’t miss out! It really is worth the effort.

2010 Social Justice Reading ChallengeStretching My Heart’s Capacity
The second item to be added to the slate is something new called the Social Justice Challenge. As quoted from the site:

The Social Justice challenge was founded on the idea that reading can change the world. Each month we will focus on a different area of social injustice in the world and encourage participants to learn about the issues through reading and other media and take action steps towards making a difference.

12 months. 12 themes. Countless lives changed.

The SJC offers a variety of ways to be involved through reading, viewing, and action. I’m not sure how my involvement will unfold, but I am curious and excited about what is ahead. I hope you will join me in tightening your grip on social justice issues throughout 2010.

Resolutions Practical and Personal

Thursday, January 1, 2009 — 1 Comment

If you get giddy thinking about New Year’s resolutions, then you are probably a go-getter or a dreamer. (I myself am a dreamer. Resolutions put feet—very small feet—to my idealism.)

For this year’s wish list, I’m going to brush off some previous hopes and dreams and repackage them a bit.

You see, back in September, I developed my list of goals for the 101-in-1,001 project. I am happy to say that this tool has already helped me cross off some long-lingering tasks from my mental to-do list. My progress was deterred a bit toward the end of the year due to some family crises and family holiday gatherings (not one-and-the-same, thankfully!). But the list still stands, and I plan to pick it up where I left off.

The 101-in-1,001 goals are practical in nature, but not really resolution worthy. Resolutions tend to be more personal. To develop those, I am pondering some questions posed by Don Whitney at spiritualdisciplines.org. These questions were mentioned on Tuesday’s Revive Our Hearts radio program, and although I only caught a few minutes of the broadcast, I tracked the transcript online to read it in full. (It’s worth the click-over! Take a peek.)

A few of Don’s questions made an impression on me, such as:

  • What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?
  • What habit would you most like to establish this year?
  • What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?
  • In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?
  • What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

I appreciate the gravity of these questions. I know the time it will take to reflect on where I am and where I long to be is worth the investment. But such self-analysis can make me squeamish as I see myself as I really am—a woman in need of much change and growth.

I’m going to steel myself and dig in, though, trusting in the Love that will not let me go.

Pondering 2008 resolutions

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 — 1 Comment

We’re one week into the new year. How are your resolutions holding up? I’m already behind. You see, I’m still pondering my goals and dreams for 2008. I haven’t even put them to paper yet.

Even though my goals are still in process, I feel oddly at ease about it. I’m looking forward to not only deciding on them, but also pursuing them. And because I did not start off with a sprint out of the blocks when the clock turned to 2008, I feel like I am choosing to do this instead of it being mere cliché. This year I have some life categories that need adjustments. Those will capture my focus when I finally sit down to map out a vision for 2008.

Like most who develop resolutions, I am thinking of my physical health (sounds cliché, I know). Recently, I read a great book by Chantel Hobbs, Never Say Diet. In it she describes her life-long love for food and how that unrestrained love caused her to balloon to 350 pounds. After one dramatic meltdown, her resolve grew strong enough to challenge her overindulgence; and over many months and years, she has subdued her will to the Lordship of Jesus, loosing the weight and becoming healthy.

I’ve often posted (read this post) about our culture that values indulgent living and how I have succumbed to this in various ways. One principle of Chantel’s that has stuck with me is her reasoned approach to no diet living: she has denounced both dieting and overindulging. She is promoting even, rational living. She now eats and lives healthy 80 percent of the time and 20 percent of the time she allows herself some leniency. This makes sense to me.

Chantel’s 80/20 rule is about diet and exercise, but the principles carry over into all areas of life. I’ve started thinking about this 80/20 rule in regard to work and social engagements and activities. It makes sense to me that 80 percent of the time, I need to be doing the responsible thing: I need to write, work, take care of house and home, run errands, complete paperwork, and so on. But 20 percent of the time I can visit with friends, read a book, watch a movie, do a creative project, go get coffee, and the like.

As I continue to seek a stronger will in regard to leashing my self-indulgence, this 80/20 rule has already helped! I can more easily say no to something today that is fun or tasty or extra when I see a planned treat on the horizon. My problem is that I have a hard time saying no to myself; I want to do it all and enjoy it all . . . but that eventually results in a loss of enjoyment when real life caves in on me! Balance and vision are necessary to truly enjoy life—I’m trying to get a better grasp of that. And my fear is that treats have become so common that the bar will have to be regularly raised to enjoy it fully.

This 80/20 rule seems to be working for me! Maybe implementing and applying the 80/20 rule to my life could be my singular resolution for 2008 . . .