My Goals for 2012

I’m finding that the more I write down goals, the easier they seem to get achieved. From a Summer Fun List with my kids, to a weekend to-do list with my husband, if it gets written down, it’s more likely to get done.

So, [drum roll please …] here are my goals (in no particular order) for 2012:

  • Eat more vegetables. Maybe learn to like greens. Maybe. I’ve never been very good with vegetables. I’m more of a fruit girl. In the last few years, I’ve come a long way, especially with eating some raw vegetables. I don’t like lettuce or other green leaf-like foods. I should probably learn to like them. I’ll see what I can do. For now, I’m just going to try to have a veggie with lunch and supper, when possible. 
  • Consume less sugar. Step one will be kicking my soda habit. I practically quit pop for a while, but I guess it doesn’t count because it was only for a while. I’m ready to get back on the wagon. My goal is to reduce consumption in January and have zero soda pop in February.
  • Run two 5Ks. A local one in April (assuming it’s held again) and one in my hometown in October. My first 5K (I ran except for a ginormous hill at the 2.5 mile mark) was the local one, and my husband and I hope to both participate. I ran the one in my hometown with some old friends. Like, we’ve known each other for 25+ years-kind-of-friends. That makes me feel really old! After trying it this past fall, we thought we should make it an annual event.
  • Go to bed at 10:00 p.m. on a regular basis. I’m more of a night owl, it seems, but I know I am a better mom and wife if I get sleep and get up before my kids, which means I need to go to bed earlier than is normal for me.
  • Wake up at 6:00 a.m. to exercise and get a jump start on the day. The best time for me to exercise in this season of life is first thing in the morning before the kiddos are up. If I wait until later, it just seems to keep me from getting anything else accomplished in the day. I’ve tried getting up early to read my Bible, and that doesn’t work very well for me. As I said, I’m more of a night owl, which means I am not a morning person. I’d eventually like to include Bible reading first thing in my day, but for now I’m going to focus on exercise first thing and Bible reading later. Not because it’s less of a priority, but because I know I’m more awake later and will get more out of my time with God later in the day. This is mostly something to continue, as I have been doing this, for the most part. I did take a few weeks off for the holiday season, so I need to get back at it.
  • Learn more about my DSLR camera and photography. This has been a wish for several years now, and I’ve just never taken the time to follow through on it. I recently signed up for an online class over at Mom and Pop Photo School. It was a deal on Mamasource last month, so I jumped. Actually, I didn’t jump right away, because I did what I often do. I wondered if I should spend money on information that I’m sure I could find for free online if I just looked. And I wondered if it was the right kind of class. And finally, I just told myself to stop being a goof and to just jump in! I always enjoyed school, so I’ve thought for a while that a photography class would help me most in learning photography. It gives me the structure and deadlines I need to keep moving. I’ve downloaded my coursework and plan to study on Thursday nights until I get done. It was technically a Christmas gift from my superstar husband, too, cause he’s sweet like that. He also surprised me with a new lens for my camera because he’s astonishingly sweet. 
  • Write more. That is too vague by itself, so I’ll try to break it down into a more do-able goal. I’d like to spend a little time writing every evening Sunday through Thursday. I don’t intend to write a blog post every day and stay up past my bedtime (see above) to finish writing something. I’d just like to get into the habit of writing on a more regular basis. Just like a baseball player needs to practice, so does a writer. I hope to catch up on our personal family blog, since we’ve been stranded in China for months now over there, and contribute more regularly over here.

So, there it is. My list of goals for the year. I probably have a few too many things, but since some of them are things I’ve already been working on, I think it will be OK. Do you have goals for the year? It’s never too late to start a goal list. Even if it’s not January 1. It could be January 4. Or February 29. Or December 30.

If you are looking for some help in making goals, here are some great posts I’ve been reading:

The ONE difference between long-lasting resolutions & spectacular failures — @ Simple Mom

Goals make us available, not perfect — @ Simple Mom

Don’t Wait for Perfection to Get Started — @ Steady Mom

5 Steps to Making New Year’s Resolutions — @ A Holy Experience

And, before I go, you might notice that I have zero “spiritual” goals listed. That is intentional, at this point, and I’ll probably elaborate later. There are spiritual goals inside of me, but they are hard to put into words sometimes.

Last, but not least, I have a new word for the year. I’ll share that later, too. And I hope to write a bit more on my word Grace from last year, because it’s really a word for every year (and day and hour and minute.)

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Day 22: Race Day Jitters

I arrived at my first 5K, put on my race numbers and started looking around.

Looking around was a bad idea. I started to wonder what I had signed myself up for.

People were stretching, which I expected. But a lot of people were stretching their arms. Do I need to stretch my arms? Are my arms key to running? Have I been missing this all along?
The race started at the indoor rec center of a local college. It includes a track. People were running on the track. What?! People are running before we start running a race? Did I miss something else? Why would I want to run before I go run? 

I started seeing people I knew. People I knew were good runners. People that made me wish I could be invisible.

I felt way out of my league.

Looking around can do that to you.

The problem with looking around is that we have a tendency to look at the best and compare to our worst.

I was attempting

my first 5K and couldn’t stop looking at a woman who was obviously a serious runner. In fact, she ended up being the best female runner. She was the top finishing woman. She won a new pair of shoes.

Why would I compare myself to the champion when I was attempting my first distance race ever?

I wish I had the answer to this question. But for now, I’m going to start a new training program. I need to train myself to stop looking around.

My Flip Flap

My brother and sister-in-law recently visited from their current home in China, and they came bearing gifts. Meet my new Flip Flap:

This little solar-powered flower dances back-and-forth in my kitchen window. I tried putting it on my car dash, as is the Chinese custom, but it just rolled around as I turned corners. After hearing stories of Chinese drivers, I’m curious how they keep theirs in place?

Anyway, sometimes it scares me for a second, as I see it moving out of the corner of my eye and wonder what’s in my kitchen. But, mostly I’ve been surprised at the inspiration this little plastic flower has provided.

It’s always dancing.

Even on overcast days, it captures enough light to have the energy to dance.

I don’t think I live that way. I tend to have a bad day and use it as an excuse to be grouchy or lazy or just anti-social.

The truth is I am alive!

I have a God who loves me no matter what! (Romans 8:28-29)

I have an amazing husband, awesome kids and a fabulous family!

I am blessed!

I could go on, but you get the idea. When I focus on the blessings, I am thankful and can rejoice. It just takes a little bit of light to make my flower dance, why don’t I focus on The Light and take some time to dance before Him? (Psalm 27:1; 2 Corinthians 4)

Now, my dancing flower does not dance in complete darkness, and I’m not here to suggest we can always just be happy. There are times in life when it’s very dark. I don’t believe God wants a mechanical response that isn’t heartfelt. He is OK when we are not — just read some of Psalms — we are supposed to grieve. If you are dealing with a tragic situation, this dancing flower analogy is not for you.

But, if you are like me, and sometimes focus on little frustrations instead of huge blessings, remember my Flip Flap.

Who knew I could learn so much from a piece of plastic?

Am I Just a Mailbox?

I was out for a morning walk recently when I noticed something in my neighbor’s yard. It was a mailbox.  The words “Avon Brochures” had been painted on the mailbox, and it was tucked in between some pretty flowers on a stone retaining wall.

I don’t really know this neighbor, other than she and her husband have spent hours upon hours fixing up their yard. We joke that they seem to just like to work and keep inventing new ways to make more work. Their yard is beautiful, though. The work has provided a lot of beauty.

But, like I said, I don’t know this neighbor personally. Efforts to even say, “Hello!” to her have not been well received, so I haven’t tried very hard. I certainly didn’t know that she sold Avon products.

I suspect her mailbox didn’t prompt much business because it has been removed from the yard.

Does anyone want to stop and open a mailbox to get a brochure?

Is that really an effective way to sell something?

She should certainly be more proactive if she expects to sell anything.

And I suspect I am often just like my neighbor.

I put out my mailbox labeled “My Faith” and wait for a passerby to reach in and pull out a brochure.

Instead, I should be more like a mailman, delivering little packages of God’s love to everyone I meet.

Am I being a mailbox or the mailman?

Identity Crisis

I think I have an identity crisis going on. I need a cool name for my blog. I started with “From My Pen,” a while back when I thought I would do a lot of writing. Then, I changed to my name, cause I thought it would be fun to have more than just writing, because I have other interests, too. Now, I have something away from my name, cause, well, I just don’t like the name thing. Hmmm….

I just can’t get a “cool” name that I really love. Most of the blogs I follow have really neat names. A lot of them also have a specific focus, which might be part of my problem. I don’t have a specific focus here, it’s just me sharing my random brain. Maybe “Random Brain” would be a good name. I’m feeling stuck.

Sometimes when I share how I’m stuck, it helps me get unstuck. Maybe this post will provide inspiration for my name. Maybe I need a focus. Maybe I just need to go to bed! 😉

Just Obey Already!

Soccer night.

I appreciate the opportunity for our oldest son to play soccer, but getting there three nights a week by 5:45 can be a challenge. We usually rush through supper, run around looking for somebody’s shoes (often shoe-napped by our smallest shoe wearer), and hustle out the door.

It’s really not a pace that I enjoy. We’re tolerating it for the six weeks of soccer.

On one particular night, Dad was going to drop Mom and Andrew off at soccer practice and take the girls to a nearby park. This seemed ultra confusing to the kids. Andrew, who likes to think and plan through life, didn’t understand. He was also upset that his sisters were going to the park and he had to go to soccer.

Mom got tired of answering questions.

“Andrew,” I said, in my snippy mom voice, “Sometimes you just need to obey and you will understand how it all works later!”

I immediately wanted to retract my tone. I mean, he just wanted to understand. I was the one choosing to be annoyed by his questions.

But I also was immediately struck by what I said: “Sometimes you just need to obey and you will understand how it all works later.”

Sometimes I need to just obey God and trust that I will understand how it all works later.

How many times is it easier to wonder, question, worry and question some more about God has in store? He rarely gives us the big picture — He just asks us to take a step. One step. It often leaves me wondering: But how will this look? Is this all there is? What will others think? How will this affect my family long-term? Who will pay for this? What if it’s a complete failure?

I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences. Wondering if you’ve made the right decision. Worrying that you don’t have enough money. Contemplating how you can escape a tough assignment. Thinking about what other people might think of your decision. It’s human.

We don’t have to ignore the questions or worry or wonderings, but we need to turn them over to God. Tell Him our concerns. Ask Him to give us the strength. Plead with Him to help us remember how He has provided and worked in the past.

As I read through a Psalm a day (well, not every day, but most) I see this repeatedly. The writer is often distraught, worried, sick or feeling forgotten by God. Yet in the midst of trials or struggles, the writer remains firm in following the Lord. He remembers what God has done in the past and continues to be a faithful follower.

Psalm 77 starts with the writer in distress, unable to sleep and obviously worried about the future. Then he changes his perspective:

 10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
       the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

 11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
       yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

 12 I will meditate on all your works
       and consider all your mighty deeds.

 13 Your ways, O God, are holy.
       What god is so great as our God?

 14 You are the God who performs miracles;
       you display your power among the peoples.

I was basically asking Andrew to do the same thing. “Hey, Buddy, you can trust me. You might not know all the details, but just remember that I have taken care of you in the past, and I will do so in the future. Nothing I ask you to do will be out of my control.”

God is trustworthy. Nothing in life is out of His hands. It is good to “just obey and understand how it all works later.”

*Edit: I originally used the word “safe” instead of “good” in that last sentence. I try not to edit and reword things I write too much, or I’d spend my whole life doing that. 😉 However, it’s really not always “safe” to follow God. It’s risky. It’s hard. It means taking jumps off of cliffs sometimes and wondering if there will be a soft landing. Sometimes we need to do it. Sometimes we need to just obey.