It has become culturally taboo to actually set New Year's resolutions, and I have not set out to do so. It has never really been my practice to develop any, either. I have a hard enough time dealing with my inability to reach my own expectations of perfection; the last thing I need are more unrealistic expectations for myself. No dead-end diets here or fix-yourself-in-three-easy-steps. However, let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. Setting unrealistic, "change-my-life-overnight" goals is not equivalent to reflecting and processing the last year while putting skin on the values and priorities I desire for the next year. And let's just say this New Year came at just the right time, because I was definitely in need of some refocusing, recentering, and reconnecting with the One who makes us all new.
LAST YEAR. 2016. This last year has taken it out of me. There have been some great highs and wonderful memories, but there have been some valleys and persistent struggles. Sometimes the biggest struggle has been the combination of all the little struggles all struggling at once. Sometimes just too much for me - and I know not for Him - but I only felt the "for me" part. Work-wise, I would say it has been the most demanding year of my career with a lot of high-speed change and pressure. I'm a lover of change and challenge and have been fortunate to be a part of some exciting stuff, but there has been an overflow of opportunity in those areas. Parenting-wise, the world of a working toddler mom is an absolute blast, and I am never short of something to giggle about, but it is also extremely high maintenance. Some people get their soft-spoken, mild-mannered, obedient sweetie out of the first batch; I think you all know, we dove right in - we got this beautiful, strong-willed, feisty leader who is a mountain-mover, no doubt. I absolutely cannot wait to see what mountains she moves throughout her life, which I pray will be for the kingdom empowered by the King, but it does not make it any less exhausting in real time today training up all that potential in the way she should go. Marriage-wise, it's been an uplifting year in that we experienced so much enrichment and encouragement in our marriage but at the same time learned all over again all the hard work and attention required to maintain that type of growth and progress. Homewise, the normal - laundry, dishes, dinner, groceries, repeat. Throw in a few homeowner projects. It sounds like the life of just about any of you, my friends - work, family, kids = stress. But, the last few months of 2016 had become foggy; it has been hard to think, see, or pray clearly about any one thing. I was drowning a bit in the thick of it all, if you can humor my dramatic flair. To me, it was a call for action; reflection first and then wholehearted action. The last week of this holiday break has been such a much-needed blessing, to be able to clear the fog, and determine what I can do to keep my lines of communication with the Lord clear and open and my connection to His power, wisdom, and strength in tact. Because the struggle may have been real but it has not been "TOO MUCH" for my God - it has been exactly where he placed me and what He called me to - it is all incredibly important and worthwhile and necessary. It IS too much for just me, though, and if I'm going to stay afloat as a living vessel, I've got to keep accessing this living water.
THIS YEAR. 2017. So, I took some time out today for two separate reflective, guided activities developed by two Godly women I highly esteem (Jennie Allen and Ann Voskamp) to process the year we are leaving behind and to purpose intentionality and abundance in the new year. This is my second year completing Jennie Allen's Dream Guide, and it was a highly fruitful time for me to process some life and identify the gaps of what I've left still unprocessed and make a plan to do so. Ann released her 2017 super cute printable yesterday via her Facebook page, and I loved it so much I added it to my project today. I've typed out my 2017 commitments, or conclusions, below. I did so in part to give myself a digital paper trail and in part to provide myself some community and accountability in all of this.
My prayer is just to use these as guiding lights this year, not my ride or dies - more like fluid steps in the right direction as God leads me gently one step at a time through both the foggy mornings or the clear sky nights. Some commitments may be just the first step in a direction that ends up morphing a bit throughout the year. Nevertheless, this is where I'm headed now. I have simply determined that these are necessary steps to love well, live abundantly, and reflect anything close to the image of my Savior.
What about you friend? What reflections have you made the last few days? What will it take for you to love well and live this crazy life abundantly?
Project 1: Ann Voskamp's Printable
2017: This is the year I purpose to...
[Ann provides the first word and you are left to finish the phrases]
Engage His Sufficient Power
Believe His Promises
Break Cycles of Shame
Daily Time in the Word
Do the Hard Work
Let go of Unrealistic Expectations
Learn to Cope
Grow deeper in relationships
Project 2: Jennie Allen's 2017 Dream Guide
2017: Dream Guide
[Jenny asks the same 4 questions throughout several different categories and sub-categories of life; these are my action steps from all of that processing.]
I want to read through the Bible this year through the SOLO devotional.
I want to be proactive to meet needs I see within my church and community.
I want to commit to what I realistically CAN do and then selflessly serve by doing it.
I'm going to pray for a mentor, a mentee, and/or an accountability partner.
I want to invest in eternity and not just the moment within my outreach relationships.
I want to control my social media use. I'm going to install a social media tracking app, and I am also going to set times of the day where I will restrict my use (workdays will be 5-8pm, for example).
I want to be more of a support and "cheerleader" to my sweet husband.
I've got to prioritize time with Jesus so I can be a more patient, mindful and emotionally present wife and mom.
I want to finish reading The Broken Way, read Nothing to Prove, and complete at least two Brene Brown books.
I want to process shame in my own imperfections.
I want to process some other areas of my life.
I want to do dance videos at night for exercise.
I want to start every day by drinking water.
I want to prioritize practicing self-care to combat burn-out and secondary traumatic stress.
I want to be the type of leader of integrity that clearly makes all slander a lie.