Planning 2015: A Beautiful Life

The resolution hoopla is about to begin.  My first resolution email came today (but I actually loved it, feel free to check it out Real Change Starts with You by Dr. Nicholas Jenner).  The chatter comes from every direction.  Weight.  Toxic Relationships.  Bad Habits of all sorts.  I think it’s the balanced life that most of us seek.  The truth is that some of us make resolutions and don’t keep them.  Some of us refuse to make them because we know we never keep them.  My mom tends to think they’re stupid because you should be seeking positive change year round.  A lot of resolutions will be made and some will be kept.  Just like in the years past.

I’ve taken my mom’s lead on resolutions. I don’t normally have them just once a year.  Sometimes I have the smaller ones daily or weekly, but I try to reassess everything every three to six months.  I looked back on my general list from last year.  I planned to be flexible, intentional and supportive.  It’s hard to let yourself be the judge of that, but I think I sought after those characteristics and reached success in some areas of my life.  I had a few financial goals.  I don’t feel comfortable saying that I passed, but I don’t think I completely failed either. I had a charitable goal in regard to giving and becoming a voice for a handful of organizations.  As the year comes to a close, I think I did that.  Not perfectly, room for improvement and change this year, but I can half smile about that part of my list.

Ministry and parenting were on my list this year.  I committed to my ministry plans and I think I accomplished them.  Although in the larger scheme of things, I am not a parenting fail (as my son would say), but I am seeking the most improvement in this area.  Really praying for the Lord to keep my kids small voices in balance with my work life’s loud voice.  (I have a lot more to say on this later.)  And, the truth is, wife to my husband was not even on my list!  (Shame on me, I think?)

Today, I have had the pleasure of being home alone for the last several hours with my thoughts and plans for 2015.  Somewhere between The Eisenhower Matrix, a weekly graph from The 7 Habits of a Highly Effective Person and my desire to serve God with the time He has given me, I am half way to being where I want to be in 2015.  Meaning the first few months of the year.

One of the neat practices I recently adopted when planning my time is to keep my roles in tact.  The order of them changes with the different callings of each week.  But I keep them at the forefront of my planning.  Business partner, Writer/Reader, Wife, Mother, Churchgoer.  It’s fairly easy to see if I am neglecting the Lord’s calling on my life if one of these areas is hogging all of the time.  Given the thoughtful woman that I know you are, I am sharing with you what I have come up with in one area of my life – WIFE.  In the days to come, before we hit January 1, I plan to share with you all of my revelations and resolutions.  I hope that you do the same as we walk together this beautiful life that God has given us.

Wife

I have been trying to figure out how to date my husband since September.  It sounds simple, but for me, it hasn’t been.  Do we take the morning off of work to spend some time together?  Do we plan on the weekend and pay a babysitter?  Do I offer another couple to watch their kids once a month if they watch mine?  Do we pack them up for the weekend at the grandparents?  I was obviously frozen by the options for the last three months.  And, then, what do we do?  I was lucky enough to chat with another backstage mom at my daughter’s Nutcracker show to get some great ideas.  I concluded that we haven’t been having nearly as much fun as we could be.  So . . . in January, we are going on a touristy river boat ride we have been talking about since we got married. (This is the Jungle Queen that honked its horn as it passed my wedding ceremony on the river shore.)  In February, we are going to the SoBe Food and Wine Festival (that we also have been talking about for years).  Both were holiday gifts to him, my beloved.  And in March, I think we’ll take a cooking lesson at Sur La Table.  There you have it . . . working on being a more fun wife.

Stripping Down to Nothing

By JMathis

Forget who you want to be.” –AbbyA

I must admit that I am having great difficulty with internalizing these words.

From as far back as I can remember, I have been fueled by crazy, maddening ambitions for myself. Ambitions about career, fame and ministry have always been at the forefront of my mind, and unfortunately, my brain just won’t allow me to forget who I want to be.

I suppose I could euphemistically spin and characterize myself in a positive light–that God has blessed me to be a driven and forward-thinking individual. Indeed He has, but as far as I can tell, this would still be a disingenuous lie. After all, my desires for the future often have very little to do with God and His plans.

In fact, the hard questions that I have been asking lately involve whether the desires of my heart are even truly aligned with the will of God and His very best for my life. How do I really know that I am not using my God-given talents just to push another one of my personal agendas?

While I love the Lord deeply, the more I engage in self-analysis, the more I realize that most of my pursuits have everything to do with my quest for personal greatness—even those very pursuits that I am supposedly doing in God’s name—pursuits such as church-building, helping the homeless, writing this blog.

This desire for personal greatness, this deep-seated need to be recognized and applauded, stem from my sins addressed in I John 2:16: For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

This verse makes me remorseful and sad. Sad that I have consistently taken credit for God’s work in me. Sad that I have attributed to myself all of the successes, gifts and abilities that He has given and revealed to me over the years. Sad that I haven’t truly given back to my Creator.

Sad that there is still so much left of me.

In this 31-Day Mind-Body-Spirit Challenge, I am looking to strip away the things that are not of my Father. To strip away my desire for the accolades and successes of this world. To strip away my need for material things and worldly adventures. To strip away my compulsion to be better, to be more, to be GREAT.

To strip myself of me.

How do I go about doing that in just 31 days? This very pride that took a lifetime to build? How do you just strip all that away in just one month?

As in strip-poker, where you have to begin somewhere (a toe-ring, a hair clip, a watch), here is a start. A start towards a real future. Will you start this journey with me?

1)      Practice repentance: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10

2)      Practice contentment: “…be content with what you have: for He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5. “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13

3)      Practice patience: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

4)      Practice humility: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4

Practice, practice, practice.

Practice repentance, contentment, patience and humility. Over and over until you are stripped.

Strip away everything that pertains to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Make it a daily exercise to strip yourself of you.

Practice forgetting who you want to be.

It is then you will find Him, so that you can finally hear what He wants you to be.