Whether you’re watching TV, surfing the internet, or hanging out with friends, chances are you’ve been bombarded with new year’s resolutions, diet commercials, ways to improve yourself in the upcoming year, and goals to set for yourself. I don’t know about you, but it’s all a little overwhelming to me!
That’s not to say that I haven’t made my own personal list of “things to do better in 2012.” We all have those areas in our life we want to improve, right? Whether it’s better communication with our spouse, being more patient with our kids, having a joyful attitude about life, losing a few pounds, reading more books, or increasing our quality time with the Lord.
But then… we have a fight with our husband, irritation comes through our speech with our kids and the check-out lady at the grocery store, we indulge in some ice cream just before bed, forget to read our designated five pages in the latest novel, and rush through a chapter in Psalms before drifting off to sleep at night. (Some, if not all of these may be true of me… I’ll leave you to guess.)
Simply because it’s already the 6th of January, should defeat and doubt overcome us if we haven’t kept our latest resolutions? Of course not! These “be a better person” techniques are doomed to fail when we rely on our own strength. The amazing thing is, all we need to do is look to Jesus! When our focus is on Him, HE will be the One to form us into a better person – a person more life Himself. Thankfully, His faithfulness is great and His mercies are new every morning! (Lam. 3:23)
We don’t need to wait until January first to begin looking to Him for strength – we don’t need to wait until Monday or even tomorrow. We can turn to Him right now! As soon as that argument irrupts with a spouse, the moment we feel frustration rise within us, the instant temptation stares at us from a Blue Bell display (ha, ha!), and certainly when we fail to keep Him our priority. The future is now. And He is here to meet us and lead us onward to something new.
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Sunday evening I sat on the couch, tired, achy, and thinking about the things I wanted to accomplish this week. Matt and I started talking about a few upcoming opportunities I had to serve others. Somewhere in the course of a ten minute conversation, my emotions started creeping up; I felt my mind start to swell. Pressures, responsibilities, and desires engulfed my person. Tears burst out of my eyes as my husband simply stared at me wondering what to do or say.
After a few minutes of quietly crying (and me, sadly, snapping at my husband as he simply tried to help), I grabbed my dry erase board off of the fridge. I sat down with a marker and outlined three columns at the top of the board: Home, Church, Other. Under these, I wrote all of the things I think and want to participate in on nearly a daily basis. From reading to Abigail to concentrating on healthy cooking to making dates with girls from church to helping friends plan weddings to writing my brother a letter in college to reading my Bible to making time to love my husband – I vomited all of my goals, desires, and tasks onto this board.
When I finished, I looked over this list. Nothing listed within the columns was bad or sinful. I enjoy these things; they gave me satisfaction. As a whole, however, they were draining energy from me and causing me to focus more on what I failed to accomplish rather than doing my best on the priorities that God had given.
I handed the board to my husband. Calmly taking another colored pen, he began going through the list with me. He scratched items off, put an ‘x’ next to a few topics they may get nixed based on my health and energy level when Aubrey is born, told me which things that he could handle, pointed to items I needed to delegate, and circled the things that should remain my priority. “All of these things are good,” he said, “But, if you have are doing too much, you’re not doing a good job at any of them. You must trust that God is control and focus on what He has called you to do as you schedule and organize your time.”
We then talked about many of the things on my list and how I could better use my energy. I sought Matt’s forgiveness for allowing myself to become overwhelmed to the point of losing my joy in interacting with him. We prayed together for wisdom, strength, and the ability to say ‘no’ when needed.
This week has been one of more energy than I’ve had in a long time. I’ve accomplished many items on my “to do” list and enjoyed doing it. But, I’ve also been focused on JESUS and knowing that I can’t be all things to all men, but I can glorify Him with each dirty diaper I change, text I send, meal I prepare, or errand I run. I am so thankful for a husband who shepherds me and points me back to the cross. Matt is truly a blessing in my life!!
Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
But it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
It’s January 4, 2011. Can you believe another year has dawned? I love the idea of new beginnings. When I think of a new year, I see a fresh, blank canvas, waiting for color, adventure, and memories to splash across its surface. Some things during this year will present themselves as fun and exciting, and I’m sure the tiresome and difficult will rear their ugly heads as well.
As I reflect on 2010,I am reminded that it was a year of change; a year of growth; a year of joy. Life happened and it happened fast. During 2011, my desire is to be purposeful in all that I do. Life will continue to happen all around me. If I am not purposeful in all that I do, I will miss many areas of growth, learning, and memory-making over the next twelve months.
This week, I plan on sharing with you a few of the areas I’ve committed to be purposeful about. Hopefully, this will not only encourage you, but it will help to hold me accountable as well. To begin, I’d like to challenge you to reflect on your past year and look forward to your 2011. Matt and I took some time to fill out this reflection sheet last week along with this list of goal-setting questions for the new year. We spent a few hours together in great conversation New Year’s night discussing our responses and coming to a better understanding of where we as individuals, a couple, and a family seek to be in our lives one year from today. I highly recommend you try this either on your own or with your spouse.Read More