I don’t do Resolutions, per se (or how I will spend 1 January)

NY blogpost

About eight years ago I started a tradition.

I take a day, early in the new year, or just before the clock turns past 12 and write the vision.

Then the Lord answered me and said,
“Write the vision
And engrave it plainly on [clay] tablets
So that the one who reads it will run.
“For the vision is yet for the appointed [future] time
It hurries toward the goal [of fulfillment]; it will not fail.
Even though it delays, wait [patiently] for it,
Because it will certainly come; it will not delay. Hab 2:2-3

Many years ago I read a story about a class who did an experiment. They were asked to come up with goals. Some wrote goals, some wrote specific goals, other just came up with them. 10 years post-graduation, of those who wrote them down and made them specific, they were wealthier and more successful than 95% of the class. That inspired me. Set your vision and make it plain.

My yearly goals aren’t simply “I will make x amount of money by x date”. I truly take this time as a period of reflection. Phone goes on flight mode, ear-cancelling headphones go on, coffee is in it’s place.

First, give thanks.

‘In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God…for you.’ I Thess 5:18

Before we can reflect we should give thanks that you’re still here. We aren’t promised more than today and we survived another year.

Then, I get into it…

This is a time to reflect on the year. A time to celebrate what I achieved. A time to think back on where I could have improved. It is a time to see how I was challenged and what I learned. It is a time to think about who I want to spend more time with in the coming year and who may need to step out of my life in the forthcoming season. It is a time to think, pray and ponder over the word or words that will govern my life in the next year. It is a time to set specific goals financially, spiritually and for my health. It is a time to ask God to breathe into my plans, to take away that which will not benefit me in the next season. It is a time to ask Him for whose life I need to speak into. It is a time to be silent.

I then write it all down. I don’t give myself a limit. I don’t stress. I simply write.

Then, after it’s all unconsciously and metaphorically, on the table…I begin to define. Some things stay in my notebook, others become real in terms of setting dates and making plans to fulfil goals.

It’s a process, but it is one that I not only look forward to, but also find to be some of the best therapy of the year.

You see, it’s easy to look back on a year and forget. We see that which has impacted us the hardest or most powerfully. We see our flaws, instead of our victories.

This small chunk of my year has become sacred and I hope that it will become a part of your year too.

It’s Back to the Basics

I went to a party last night and since it’s customary to take your shoes off when you go into a home here in Sweden I did…and my immediate reaction was “I’m so sorry my feet look terrible and unkept” (sorry mom…)

It’s not that I am a princess who must get manicures and pedicures all the time but quite honestly there are a few things in life that I enjoy doing to make my somewhat hectic life more centred. Admittedly some of these things are very first-world and I could get some flack for calling them basics. So here is your warning: these may not all be basics for everyone but hear my heart and know that life is definitely not “all about me”…

You know those moments where you just want to go crawl into bed and hide for days? Or maybe it is the days that nothing you put on fits right or feels good? Maybe yesterday every time someone even tried to say hello you got overly frustrated and irritated? Maybe just because your boyfriend didn’t call, you cried? Or when the baby just would not fall asleep at 3am, for  2 hours and you felt like you don’t even know why you decided to become a mother or a father. Maybe you feel like your wife hasn’t stopped nagging you for days? Or has your roommate NEVER cleaned up?

These are just a few of what I feel like are evidence of a mind and body that is not taking care of itself. Let’s face it, most of the time when things are not going right around us it’s because of what is happening IN us. I have an amazing friend who often gets my rants when any of the applicable above have happened to me. She is one of the people I have allowed to speak completely freely into my life…and knows everything about me. My favourite reminder from her is always her first question after I have finished my rant, “Chelles, so are you keeping up the basics?”

And…after a momentary pause and a quick evaluation the answer is usually a quite, soft “no”.

When we think of the basics we usually think food and water. Yes, these are the very basics but everyone has their own basics which need to be sorted in order to live a full and healthy life. I have figured out what mine are…some of them are must-must basics and others are every few weeks rather than weekly (like manicures/pedicures) or even hourly but these things in my life mean that I can be the best I can be and fulfil the purpose I have here for others.

So here are mine…and in no particularly order of importance…all have their own place

  • read my bible, listen to worship music, pray: connect to God constantly
  • exercise regularly
  • get a lot of fresh air
  • coffee
  • drink lots and lots of water
  • limit the amount of sugar I ingest (which is almost zero now)
  • eat regularly and unprocessed
  • get my nails and hair done
  • keep warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot (this affects me)
  • get enough, proper sleep (so it doesn’t just mean time but I always make sure my bed is clean, with lots of pillows and blankets. It’s my oasis)
  • talk to my friends regularly
  • connect with my family regularly

These are my basics…you’ll have your own (although a lot of these will overlap). We’re all different and I encourage you to find out your strengths and weaknesses (for example; I’m an extrovert, so I get energy from being around people, HOWEVER, I am also an only child and very much know my limitations when it comes to how much alone time I need (it’s more than most think))

Take some time and remember that you need to be the best you can be so it’s okay to understand how you tick. You’ll be better off to your friends, roommates, husbands, wives, kids, boss…we want to live strong and excellent lives so please, invest in the basics.

And if you need a few suggestions for a busy season I found this blog which will give you 55 ways to maintain your sanity…

xxM

 

10 steps forward and eight back, letting God…

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].  Romans 12:2

I sat down with my director yesterday and she asked me if I was okay. I had to look at her and admit, no, I have not been okay but what you see is a girl finally dealing with what is going on in her head and heart rather than pushing it aside. Truth be told, within 7 months I not only have had to grieve the death of a family member but also of my relationship. When dealing with loss of any kind you are going through stages of grief. And grief, I have learned again and again, is a process. Through this process I have learned a lot about myself, both healthy things and unhealthy and there is change needed.

Someone wise told me that when dealing with grief you will often take 10 steps forward, then eight steps back and you cannot get yourself down. Instead you have to remember that you are on a journey and as long as you are moving forward you’re going the right way.

I don’t know about you but I like resolution as much I like confrontation. This is to say, a lot. I want to deal with the situation and move on, in my time. I don’t want to stay hurt, sad, angry, confused, frustrated or in a state of not alright.

What I have learned most recently is that in fact, I cannot do this myself. I firmly believe that God uses every situation to teach us something about Him, show His love to us and ultimately enable us to use that to show His love, grace and mercy to others. However, if I do not take the time to fully heal, grieve and learn the lessons, allowing my character to grow and change, I will not be transformed. Equally, if I try to move on myself I will likely figuratively “push the dust under the carpet” and the same character flaws, issues and problems will arise again in the future.

We need to allow God to renew our minds and transform us into His image. With His grace we can be transformed without striving but in the comfort of His love and grace. This post is probably written more to me than anyone but let’s stop trying to fix ourselves and let the greatest healer do the work.

Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another. Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord. Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of God’s people [sharing in the necessities of the saints]; pursue the practice of hospitality. Bless those who persecute you [who are cruel in their attitude toward you]; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief]. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good. Romans 12:10-21