Happy New Year!
It is that time again—New Year resolution-making time. I got out the 3-sheet goal setting exercise I did last December and read through it. Some of it made me feel successful. Some of it made me feel frustrated because I will have to strive for it again this coming year.
A friend of mine suggested the word of the year and last year that word was “grow”. I did grow. I grew and changed and have a different view of the world. I am more relaxed in my parenting even though we went through some crisis this year that brought me to my knees. I have a closer relationship with God and spent the last 12 months reading my Bible every single day. In fact, by June I was getting out my Bible twice a day and now I pull it open often. I did not market that book I wrote and published, but it isn’t lost. It is a reminder, though, that I was keeping myself very safely in my comfort zone and promoting my work was difficult for me. I didn’t complete another fiction novel but did have conversations with a publishing company about the novel I completed last year.
I could go on. I had cleaning goals (reached), relationship goals (not reached), and parenting goals (iffy).
Resolutions are a shot in the wind. After all, only God knows exactly what we are going to face in the next 12 months. He knows what we will be up against in the next 52 weeks. He has a plan for each of the 365 days to come. I didn’t know that I would speak at a conference this year or that Micaela would start having seizures. I didn’t know that my husband would love his new job. I didn’t know that running would bring me physical health and mental peace.
Resolutions might be simply lofty goals, but they are powerful. When we make a resolution we must first evaluate ourselves and our lives. Identifying problems or areas that need growth is the first step toward change. However, when we give ourselves a goal, we must also place that same hope in God’s hands. We must accept whatever He has in store for us.
If you are considering making some changes in 2018, I suggest you go through the process of first evaluating your life and then creating resolutions that are powerful and, with God, can re-order your world.
These worksheets are a fun and easy way to work through the process. Download them here and enjoy.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Have you ever benefited from setting resolutions in the past? Has God’s hand in your life left a powerful imprint on your own personal growth?
I have spent much of the last few days going through the process of creating my 2018 goals. I have wrote, revised, doodled, and created. I feel good about what I have set before me and to be honest...I’m excited!
It’s a whole new year. It is fresh. It is clean. It is full of the unknown.
I wonder what God will teach me or show me. I wonder how my husband and my relationship will grow. I wonder how the girls with change and mature.
Anything could happen.
I might proudly get all my goals done with bold checks in the boxes. Or, not a single one will be finished. It will mostly be a combination of the two, but, it will be a successful year if I walk it with God.
I think that is what makes me feel good about 2017. I definitely didn’t get done over half of what I planned, but I have more peace. I have more sense of direction. I have a healthier spirit and body and heart and head.
I have God.
If you have time today or in the next few days, I want you to click here and get your own goal-setting worksheet. If you have questions about the process, this printable will walk you through it.
So, are you ready? Ready or not…
How do you feel about the new year? Does it intimidate you? Excite you? Or is it simply another day?
Buying presents for the holidays can be a huge source of stress for me. Though I have come a long way in my healing from Approval Addiction, I tend to over-think everything when it comes time to give someone something. It doesn’t help that gift-giving isn’t my love language and that makes me have a large lack of intuition when it comes to trying to bless others with a tangible blessing.
When going through the story of Jesus birth in Matthew 2:1-12 I lingered on the account of the wise men who came from the East to give the blessed baby gifts. The men traveled a long distance, coming from a far land, to bow down before the Christ and give him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
If you know me, you won’t be surprised to learn that rules and guidelines make me feel secure. When I read the story of the wise men my heart found a little peace. I had a Biblical example of how to give presents.
If you want to make gifts special for the season, perhaps one of these tips will help you as well.
As you go out to do shopping and open your computers to browse, I hope some of these thoughts give you peace. I love how Christmas gives us the opportunity to bless so many around us.
Note that wrapping the present and making it look pretty wasn’t listed? However, I like lovely things and I will still be curling ribbons while I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
What do you think about when shopping for those you hold close in your heart?
I bit my lip and carefully rolled the frozen bit of fudge into the hot coating. I dumped it on the wax paper. Adela dutifully dusted the top with sprinkles. We grinned at each other. One down and about 200 more to go.
There are about 20 people on my list this year to receive a little box of bon bons. They are for our neighbors and mailman and friends. Obviously, I am not helping anyone get through the holidays in a healthy manner, but I don’t do this only to give someone precious to me a smile. I do it because for a few hours I relive memories of my mother.
I can’t remember the first year she made them, but I remember the soft chocolate gleam against wax paper. I remember sneaking little bits of fudge until my stomach felt raw. I remember mom’s concentration and how enthusiastic she was to visit those neighbors and drop off those little packages.
Goodness, I miss her. I am not the only one for whom the holidays beckon back a thousand memories that make our heart sting. No matter how many Thanksgivings, Christmases, birthdays we make it through, it always feels strange and a little empty without our lost loved ones.
I turned and dumped another bit of fudge onto Micaela’s tray. She chuckled and smashed it between her chubby fingers. The sound of her laughter soothed that pain. One after another the bon bons were dipped and decorated. Adela snitched sprinkles. I shook my head and pretended not to see.
God, how thankful I am for movement. Movement helps me remember to breath. Movement helps life keep going forward despite the pain. Movement brings new memories and moments of love.
If I couldn’t move and do something, I might be lost in the pain instead of going forward into the love and memories.
It took a few days but the bon bons were made and packaged. They are meant to bless others, but they have already blessed me and mine more.
Do you find the holidays hard? If so, are there traditions you hold on to that help you move beyond the pain and relive good memories?
I remember holding Adela when she was first born. That overwhelming love I had for her awed me. I kept thinking that I couldn’t believe that she had been inside me, that she had grown, developed, and been “knit together” the past nine months.
Have you ever read through the story of Jesus’ birth and saw it through the perspective of a mother? Mary was an imperfect human, too. But God chose her to give birth to His son. After Jesus was born I am sure Mary looked down at His perfect body and sweet face and held all that love for Him as a mother does. Yet, there would have been another note of awe, for she knew she held the King of Kings.
Sometimes, when my mind ponders that momentous event of the birth of my savior, it occurs to me that my own children were born with God’s special plans in mind. Unlike Mary, I have no idea what my daughters will do someday. I might be holding in my arms a future doctor, president, child therapist, or dog trainer. But, whoever they will become, they are part of God’s plan and the assignment of mothering them is a precious, awe-inspiring thought.
I would love to know more about how Mary parented her eldest son. What I do know is this: She carried him and gave birth to him. She nursed him. She with Joseph kept Jesus safe. She became worried and went to find Him when He stayed behind at the temples. She scolded Him when she felt she had reason. She tried to keep Him close. She was faithfully near him during the crucifixion. She also gave birth to and raised other children, Jesus’ siblings. (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John).
Though Jesus came to her as the Prince of Peace, her life was busy and full without fail.
Motherhood. I have no idea what my kids will become. But, I do know that in this moment they need me and that I am here for them. I will never stop being their mother. I will never stop loving them and looking at them in awe, the little souls that are my daughters.
What is it that awes you most about the birth of our Lord Savior, Jesus Christ?
I grinned at the little green plants scattered over my tiny garden plot. I wouldn’t have to plant marigolds. Seeds from the year before had germinated and grew everywhere. Carefully I weeded around them. The marigolds would ward off bugs from my squash, pumpkin, and tomato plants.
Now, as a disclaimer, I am not a very good gardener. Part of this is because I have nearly zero passion for growing anything. If my only two house plants were to die tomorrow I would shrug and toss their shriveled remains in the dumpster. However, I love fresh vegetables. So, the summer vigilance of watering and occasional weeding is incorporated into our lives.
It was about mid August when I noticed the squash were not producing that much, the pumpkins had only found space for two round fruits, and my tomatoes were taking a long time to ripen. When I brought it up to my husband he gave me a lot of ribbing. Hadn’t I noticed that the marigolds had taken over the garden?
Life is much like gardening. We have to sow seeds. We have to water the good things and weed out the bad. We have to wait to see the fruits of our labor. And, we have to be cautious not to let something that seems good to overshadow and take up all the space in our life.
As I tossed bright blooms over my garden fence I considered the marigolds that I have to keep in check in my own life. The first one that came to mind is my protection over my girls. It is important that I care for them, but if I put too strong a bubble over their world, they will be left with little room for growth and relationships with others. Another “marigold” is my writing. I would love to devote oodles of time and resources into this dream, but each time I start to give too much to my books or blog, the happiness of my home falters. And, if I don’t have a happy home, I really don’t have a happy life either.
We all have marigolds. I know friends who are good at taking pride in their appearance, which is a totally healthy attitude, but it can start to take up too much time and money. Others might struggle with their personal drive in their careers, developing their homes, or even level of fitness. Even good things can throw the garden of our life out of balance and before we know it there is little fruit to harvest.
So, next year, I will be mindful of the marigolds and remember that you can have too much of a good thing.
The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest.
Have you ever found that your devotion to one aspect of your life has started to overshadow everything else? What do you do to find balance again?
There is a precious and good work being done as we raise children and be help-mates to our spouses. And, if there is something that the Devil attacks on a regular basis, it is our hearts and homes. It feels like there is little we can do to protect our family from the evil of the world, sometimes, even the evil in our own heads.
Our Christian world is under attack and the intensity of the war increases each day.
This is my challenge to you: Each morning, for a week, I want you to concentrate on prayerfully clothing yourself in the armor of God.
Belt of Truth: God’s truths will negate the lies that attack your heart and head.
Breastplate of Righteousness: Carry out your day with the power of righteous living. When temptations knock, we are protected as God strengthens us to do what is right.
Sandals of Peace: Purposefully choose peace as you interact with family, friends, and strangers. We can choose not to pick fights or finish them. We can choose to cultivate goodwill with and between others.
Shield of Faith: Faith in God’s love, goodness, and power will “extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” So when the devil tries to make you feel unloved, unappreciated, overworked, or misplaced we can thwart those attacks by our belief in the care and promises of our awesome God.
Helmet of Salvation: Rejoice as you place this helmet on your head. You are God’s chosen one, His child. Your helmet not only protects, it also marks you as one of His own. And the Enemy must respect to Whom you belong.
Sword of the Spirit: Let the power of God’s word, both in the Bible, and spoken through the Holy Spirit, be what you use to fight back in today’s battle. This means you need to invest time in both studying the Bible and praying with God.
Living in this world is never going to be easy, but it can be full of victory claimed daily as we put on the Armor of God. Let it strengthen and guide You as you fight for the good works done in your home and heart today.
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
Have you experienced a way in which the armor of God powerfully protected your family or marriage?
I was putting on makeup when I looked over and saw Micaela doing a downward facing dog in the hallway and giggling at herself. I chuckled and turned back to the mirror. When I did, the smile on my face revealed the fine wrinkles around my eyes, mouth, and forehead.
I swallowed. I’m getting older and it is visible. For a moment I didn’t like it. I started to fret over the years I have wasted not investing in anti-wrinkle cream and the days I did chores without sunscreen. Disturbed, I continued to put on makeup, but all I saw in the mirror were the beginning lines around my face.
It occurred to me, though, that, Lord willing, I might have several decades still in this body of mine. The wrinkles are going to deepen and lengthen. Other signs of aging will claim their positions. I am not going to stay young. And, God designed us this way. God gives good and perfect things. I truly need to find a better way of looking at these signs of aging. I will not allow the natural course of getting older to steal my peace or alter my confidence.
Perhaps I need to simply accept them as the blessings they are. When I thought about it, I realized that wrinkles are blessings in two big ways.
Wrinkles show that I have lived. I love it that God gave us blatant signs of having made it through a good chunk of living. The lines on my face tell others that I have experience and most-likely the wisdom to go with it. I’ve weathered storms, stood in the sun, and faced the music. It isn’t until we have lived through some of life that we have a lot of personal experience to help others through their own trials. The lines on our face tell others that we have something to share.
Wrinkles show that I have engaged emotionally with life. From frowns to smiles to scowls to chuckles, facial expression go along with keeping those wall down around my heart so that I can love and let others in. If we were to go around not reacting to things in any emotional way, we wouldn’t get many wrinkles. But the movement of laughing and crying countless times will definitely leave their mark. There is nothing more beautiful than a living soul who has let their heart be deeply and often touched by others.
In the end, when considering our wrinkles, we could always ask ourselves a tried and true question, “What would Jesus do?” What would Jesus do about His wrinkles? Would he buy expensive creams or try and hide his face? No. Jesus was the Son of God who did His fair share of living here on Earth. He wept, smiled, and was angry from time to time. Looking into a mirror, if He had spotted growing wrinkles around his eyes, mouth, and forehead, I bet He would have shrugged and thanked His Heavenly Father for each blessed moment under the sun.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
What about you? As you age, have you found a peaceful frame of mind to accept changes as God’s blessings?
The bus pulled up and my heart flipped. I laughed at myself. Adela has been in school for months now, but her arrival still feels exciting and joyful each day. Her pigtails danced in the brisk fall wind as she ran to the front door.
She bolted into my arms with one great big hug, her mouth already spewing out her chatter about the day. I tightened my hug and thanked God for her happiness.
The next hour was filled with activity. The girls fought because Micaela wanted to play and Adela wanted to eat her snack. Adela groaned and complained as we started homework. There were tears when I made Adela erase some of her work and a tantrum from Micaela when I had to take away a toy too loud for her sister to concentrate.
By the time I started dinner I was already exhausted, but my heart was full. There is nothing easy about this mothering-job, but it is seriously the best thing ever. Every day I get to devote my life to my family. I don’t have to struggle with many other demands of the world. I get to 24/7 bring my mind, body, and emotions to work for the people that hold the most real-estate in my heart.
I am thankful for this attitude. I haven’t always felt this way. There have definitely been seasons when I would have loved to take the girls to a daycare and be able to wear a different hat. There are days when I have deeply envied mothers who got to work part-time or even full-time and get out of the house regularly. However, God never lets me settle into pity parties. He constantly reminds me of my blessings, that I get to be this person for my girls and my husband. Most of all, God reminds me that I get to be this person, do this job, for my own heart.
I am so blessed to be proud and thankful for how I spend each and every day.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Do you look back on your day, fulfilling God’s calling for you, and feel His blessings?
Micaela’s braces were getting tight again. The physical therapist told me I couldn’t wait any longer, we needed to make a trip into Albuquerque. I groaned and inwardly protested. With one hand I reached down and touched Micaela red raw heel. God, why do we have to do this? Can’t you miraculously fix her AFOs? Heal her feet and ankles? Release us from this need?
Suddenly my mind filled with the chairs of the waiting room at the Carrie Tingly Orthodics Clinic. I thought of the tired and worried faces that waited there and my heart hurt.
That still small voice called, My work is there.
If you are an introvert, like me, you can probably understand. I have a hard time leaving home. I love the comfort and control I have right there in my own house. I love my friends and family. I appreciate fresh produce from the supermarket. I don’t mind doing a little people-watching or window shopping.
I would rather be at home.
A couple months ago I started praying the Jabez Prayer. One of the things I daily ask God for is to increase His territory and influence through me. After I started praying for this, I felt my soul struggle against my heart’s wish to keep myself and family all locked up and comfortable.
I’ve always felt blessed to be an introvert. Because I don’t need to hang out with others, I spend a lot of time in prayer, study, and personal growth. But, like all things, we can over-do it. The hearts God wants to touch are often in grocery stores, doctor offices, and at the tables in other people’s homes.
So what is an introvert to do if we have dedicated our life to God’s work? We are to go. We are to leave and listen.
I did and God gave me something in return—the constant filling of His love for others.
Micaela’s life has definitely got me out of the house often these past three years. I think I have always known that God has used my little girl to touch other people’s lives, but I have never thought to accept every new specialist, appointment, and therapy as God’s opportunity to work through me as well. It excites me, now. I hate it that Micaela’s journey has involved so many trials, but my heart now often leaps with excitement when I load her up into the truck. I wonder how I will see God’s work unfold that day.
I am 32 years old and a little sad that I am just now embracing this aspect of my walk with God. If you are introverted too, ask God to fill you with the love and strength to bring His light into the world. I am learning that this sacrifice of our own personal space and control brings back countless blessings for ourselves and others.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Introverted or extroverted, do you find there are strengths and weaknesses to your personality that affect how God works through you?
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