I am naturally a goal-oriented person. I thrive off of productivity and using my time purposefully. At the same time, I can easily get caught in the weeds of aiming for perfection (and consequently, getting totally worn out and discouraged when I cannot achieve it), people-pleasing (getting the accolades of others), and trying to find value in what I am doing (or crossing off goals). These three weeds often threaten to choke any life out of goals that were originally good goals. They can lead to me spending less time nurturing relationships with people I love, especially my husband. But even more dangerously, they can lead to me looking for my identity in other things than in Jesus. As a Christian, my value, worth, and identity are not found in how many goals I achieve or how successful I am at a job or project. Instead, my value, worth, and identity are found in the One who gave His life up at the cross so that I can have life everlasting. His death and resurrection brought me abundant life. His gift of grace gives me redemption, hope, and erases the need for me to work to attain my place in His family because He has brought me into His family through what He did.
The grace of God brings a whole new way at looking at goals. I believe there is a balance between making goals and holding my hand out to heaven in a sign of surrender, saying "Lord, do what You know is best this year".
"The heart of man plans his ways, but the LORD establishes his steps" (Proverbs 16:9 ESV)
Truth be told, this verse used to make me cringe. I wanted to be in control. I wanted to "establish" my own steps. I figured God's plans would either be boring or too difficult, so my prayers often sounded something like "God, I surrender my plans to You … BUT, if You want my opinion, here's what You should do …" Ridiculous! I lacked faith that God has GREAT plans. He establishes our steps in ways we cannot even imagine. These steps may look vastly different than what we think we want and need, but in the end, they truly do turn out to be the best steps.
"… It is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him …" (1 Corinthians 2:9)
"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." (Ephesians 3:20 NLT)
Practically, what this means is this: I have set goals for 2016 with purpose and thoughtfulness. I do not want to have too many goals that will rob me of valuable time to connect with my husband or other people, and I definitely need to guard my time spent in prayer and Bible study so that I value God above productivity. These goals may change throughout the year, based on what I (along with Greg) deem in important enough to use up our time. More importantly, I want to continually desire to hold these goals with a humble, outstretched hand pointed toward heaven, trusting that God knows what is best for Greg and I in 2016. There may likely be unplanned turns in the "steps" ahead this year, and I want to cling to Jesus, not to goals or plans through all that comes our way. I want to find my value, worth, and identity in Jesus rather than on striving for perfection, pleasing people, or doing it all (all which lead to anxiety, fear, and being exhausted). I want these three aforementioned weeds to loosen their hold (and preferably shrivel up) because I desire 2016 to be fruitful and to flourish in whatever ways God wants to unearth as He establishes my path for 2016.
In an effort to be intentional with setting goals this year, I want to use Lara Casey's recommendation in her goal setting series for 2016 to do a "goal check" by asking certain questions, including:
SPIRITUAL: Dig deep in the Bible & spend more time in prayer.
WHY? Because I want to grow in knowledge of who God is & spend more time in His presence, praising Him for who He is and His faithfulness, which gives me hope, rest, and joy . . . and then I can be filled to be emptied out for other people in the ways I serve and love them. "This is my prayer in the harvest, when favor and providence flow. I know I'm filled to be emptied again. The seed I've received I will sow" (Desert Song by Hillsong)
- Bible study (study 3 books of the Bible in depth with Greg;
- Study Luke using homiletics with my Interface women's mentoring Bible study group
- Bible journaling to help meditate on Scripture
- Read the whole Bible using this Bible Reading Plan and follow along with The Year of Bible Literacy teachings and videos (a partnership through The Bible Project) through Bridgetown: A Jesus Church
- Memorize & meditate on scripture with Greg as well as with my Interface Bible study group
- Spend more time in intentional prayer (use Echo app)
- Listen to podcasts with truth-filled teachings
- Pray as a couple more consistently
PHYSICAL & NUTRITION: Develop a healthier lifestyle & be consistent
WHY? When I feel better physically, then I can be more emotionally and mentally prepared to be learn more, to interact with people more intentionally, and to have an overall better mood.
- Run 2 races (either 5K, 8K, or 10K) since having a race to look forward to is a great catalyst for me to workout and run.
- Hike atleast 5 times to combine my love for the outdoors with improving my health.
- Improve sleep patterns to feel more rested and energetic during the day
- Try new activities (like using free weights, pilates)
- Improve overall nutrition by making healthier choices & eating out less
- Do the Food Elimination Diet and food diary again to better evaluate food sensitivities
- Try recipes from Bulletproof Cookbook and other GF and paleo cookbooks for clean meals
EMOTIONAL:Guard my thoughts, decrease distracting "noise", find rest & joy in the everyday moments.
WHY? My anxiety is fed by negative thoughts of fear and worry, so I will battle these thoughts purposefully with God's Truth found in the Bible, prayer, and decreasing social media (which can be distracting and "noisy")
- 1 day a week sabbath from social media
- 1 week every 2-3 months off from social media\
- Study what it practically means to "take your thoughts captive" (2 Corinthians 10:5) and then start practicing it, especially with thoughts of fear or anxiety.
- Practice selah (pausing, reflecting, resting, praising, praying).
- Choose not to withdraw or isolate myself when stressed & choose not to avoid conversations that are hard but helpful in dealing with stress, fear, anxiety, etc.
EDUCATIONAL: Learn new things
WHY? I enjoy learning about a variety of topics through reading books (historical fiction and biographies are my favorites) and I want to grow in knowledge about overall health, pathophysiology, and pharmacology related to pediatric and adolescent healthcare to better serve my patients.
- Read 2-3 books per month (mix of historical fiction, memoirs, biographies, theology, etc.)
- Read pediatric healthcare journal articles, review binders of PNP-related lectures, attend educational conferences.
SOCIAL:Build & nurture friendships; be in community
WHY? We are not meant to live this life alone. I want to dig deeper in friendships and encourage those around me in good times and hard times. I want to be deeply planted in godly community at our church and to be willing to give up time and comfort to be serve others as opportunities arise.
- Write monthly to my Compassion Child
- Attend atleast one semester of Interface (mentoring group at church) to grow in fellowship with women of different life seasons
- Get involved at our church (especially our Young Married ABF)
- Find service opportunities at church and community with Greg and on my own, as opportunities arise.
- Be honest & vulnerable with friends; encourage them and find ways to love and serve them
FINANCIAL: As a married couple, be good stewards of our finances; give generously; save wisely; pay towards my school loans.
WHY? We want to be wise with our finances and prayerfully decide what and who to financially support. We also want to make big steps in paying off my school loans so we can be debt free.
- Make a BIG dent in my two grad school loans, preferably paying off the smaller one.
- Start budgeting more seriously as a couple
- Be intentional about our giving
Blogging: Point readers of Beautiful Hope Blog to Jesus, not me.
WHY? The main goal of my blog is not to elevate myself or show off my accomplishments. I do not want that to be the focus at all. I want it to be a platform to show the HOPE and LIFE found in Jesus.
- Start new blog series, “In All Seasons” in February (will include guest posts, interviewing older women I admire, and reviewing data from the two surveys I gave to singles and young married Christian women)
- Be ME on the blog. Don’t get consumed with how to get more followers, how to grow my blog, or allowing my perfectionism to suck up time and energy to try to make the blog “perfect”. Follow where I feel God is leading my writing for the blog, be consistent but not rigid about posting schedules, pray about the blog & those who read it, and have fun. I want to have integrity and be real, not compromising who I am or what this blog is about.
NEW EXPERIENCES/FUN CHALLENGES IN 2016
- Take a sewing class
- Take a watercolor painting class
- Do 2 things that scare me
- Random acts of kindess (Light ‘em Up for ideas)
- Take a dance class (swing/ballroom)
- Use the 3 Essential Oils I received for Christmas (DiGize, Peppermint, R.C.)
- Play violin more
- Travel (Portland in February; hopefully Boston for our one year anniversary next October; Chicago for my brother's June wedding)