2017: What's In and What's Out

While reading, listen to All That Remains by VVE.

Happy New Year, friends! 2017 has arrived.

On New Year’s Eve, I reflected on all of the glorious good that 2016 encompassed. MAN! I felt ridiculously blessed as I typed each word, seeing God’s hand in all of it. I treasure the memories of the past, but I love looking to the future even more. Each new year brings fresh vision for what is ahead, and renewed determination for making dreams, realities. Today feels like the reset button has been pushed, the clutter of 2016 boxed away, and a new path set out before me. However, these feelings and words of anticipation around the new year, can remain just words and feelings, if I don’t put some action and accountability to what I want to accomplish. Making resolutions isn’t about boxing myself in, or limiting the potential of the year.

Resolutions are about being obedient to the ways God is leading me, and being intentional with each new day.

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
— T. S. Eliot

A wonderful friend and mentor of mine, Mandy, once encouraged me to ask God to inform my goals before I did. She shared that often, God would have different things to say about her roles and goals for new seasons, than she saw for herself. This piece of advice has been gold to me ever since, and at the start of any new beginning, I ask God to show me what my roles and goals are. Instead of just adding spiritual goals as bookends to what I want, I follow his lead. Ultimately, whatever God has for me is better and more meaningful than what I have for myself, and he is always faithful to speak when I make space to listen.

As I listened, I heard, not only what God wanted me to embrace this year, but also some things he wanted me to leave behind.

I hope that sharing these things doesn’t pressure you, but encourages you to look at your life and heart and see where you can grow in 2017. Perhaps where you can be more courageous, more intentional, and more determined. I know with all of my heart, that this year will be what you make it, and that if you ask God to speak into your year, he will reveal incredible things to you.

So without further ado, my 2017 New Year Resolutions: What’s In and What's Out.

What’s Out:

1. Self-doubt. This year, I will fearlessly love, lead, and create in a way that is true to who God has made me to be. I will no longer allow the convincing but deceiving lie of “not  _______ enough” to plague what I do or how I live. This will be possible as I daily stand on God’s promises, and allow his voice to be the only one that informs my identity and value.

2. Saying “maybe tomorrow.” Instead of leaving that workout, creative goal, coffee date, or conversation to tomorrow, I will be diligent about tackling the important stuff TODAY. These are things I want to do, but often allow laziness or complacency to overshadow. No more!

3. Worry. There is a short bit of dialogue in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that one could easily pass over, but completely stuck with me: “Jacob: Tell me — has anyone ever believed you when you told them not to worry? Newt: My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice.” Worry has never helped anything. In my life, when I am facing a nerve-wracking or difficult situation, worry only makes things worse. In potentially wonderful circumstances, worry only steals my joy. This year, I will fight the inclination to worry, and invite positivity and possibility to change my mindset.

4. Compulsory consumption. Translation: adding things to my life out of compulsion, or to cope. I recently watched a Netflix Documentary called Minimalism, that only reinforced what I had been feeling about embracing minimal and intentional living. Reed and I have resolved to enjoy a simple life, adding only what brings joy or value. This means, not buying things or doing things because of “have to” or to compensate or cope. As Joshua Milburn in the documentary states: “Love people and use things. Because the opposite never works.”  

5. Imbalance. Admittedly, and this is not easy to say, I can overpromise and undeliver because of a lack of healthy balance in my life. I say yes to something in a moment, but back out of it later as a response to exhaustion physically or emotionally. This is no one’s fault but my own, and it is a reactionary way to live. I want to be proactive about not only what I commit to, but how I take care of myself along the way. I want my yes to be yes, and my no to be no, but that requires thinking ahead and making sure I’m in tune with my capacity, and preparing for those commitments. Having me-time, Jesus-time, maintaining a schedule, and not adding too much to my plate, will realign my boundaries, and keep my life in balance. 

What’s In:

1. Counseling. While in college, I attended free, Christian counseling, and it changed my life. Having a safe space to uncover fears, and be given the tools to change, was absolutely incredible. I know that reentering counseling will help empower me to be the healthiest and most whole self I can be in this moment. Counseling is vulnerable and difficult at times, but I know that the reward is worth it.

2. Bold creativity. This year, I will continue to express myself creatively through this blog and in freelance writing opportunities. In addition to those things, I want to begin my first book. This is will be a whole new world - scary and a lot of work - but it is something I have always wanted to do. Why wait? Details on this will be shared as progress is made. I also want to really practice my skills in the kitchen. I have a few cookbooks I’m really excited about. These will help me be less inclined to eat out, and more confident about cooking meals for Reed and I. 

3. Intentional prayer. I want to make time for intentional, and specific prayer in my daily life. From declaring things over my husband, to contending for more of the Spirit in our church, I want to spend more time with the Lord, seeking and listening. This year will not be filled with empty “I’ll be praying for you” statements, but will be full of devotion and deliberate steps towards more of Jesus all around me.

4. Discipline. Consistently working out, spending time with Jesus, and staying on schedule, are three things in which I lack discipline. These things take time, effort, and intentionality...all things that don’t often come naturally. This year will be about building discipline into my life to strengthen my weaknesses. I will be asking three people to hold me accountable and to pray for me, so I can stay focused along the way.

5. Exploring. This year, I want to see more and try more. From new food, to unfamiliar film genres, and to traveling to a new place, I want to be more concerned with experiences than with stuff. A few specifics: Ethiopian food, California Academy of Sciences, local plays, the East Coast, and indoor plants. 

6. Inspiration. In my free time, I don’t want to be swallowed up by the temptation to just detach and mindlessly scroll through my phone or watch TV. I want to cultivate growth, and that happens through finding inspiration. I want to put myself around inspiring and encouraging individuals. I want to listen to more podcasts and read better books. I want to glean creative tips from cool blogs and online resources. Filling my soul with the right things, improves my mental health, my creative pursuits, and my relationships.  

For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
— Isaiah 43:19

I really believe that in walking out these resolutions, my roles as wife, daughter, friend, sister, pastor, and writer, will grow in depth and meaning. God truly has better things ahead for us all.

What are your New Year Resolutions? What will you be leaving behind this year? May each of you continue to cultivate a life-giving and meaningful 2017.