But now the Lord is piling on the blessings! My first week of the New Year was packed with so many blessings that I am reeling. In fact, there's been so many blessings in the past couple weeks since B. started his new job (the first of the amazing blessings) that I almost want to tell God to slow down and spread it out a little! But He knows the best timing, and it really has been a thrill and wonder to see Him pile it on the last week. (See below for my list of gifts so far in January).
So, now for this year's theme - I'm striving toward "Consistency and Better Focus". I am NOT making New Year's resolutions though! I failed miserably at them last year. New Year's resolutions seem to imply an entire year. I have a new plan - I'm making short term goals (to help stay focused). And all the talk I've heard so far this year is about setting "measurable" goals. A goal such as "consistency and better focus" isn't measureable, so I've been trying to think of some short-term measures to see if they will help me keep focus, and become more consistent in three areas: my spiritual life, my physical life (health) and my personal life.
Spiritually - this past year my time with God was very erratic. I'd have a wonderful, close week, then go a month or more with only occasional prayers or time in the Word. A short-term measurable goal to help increase consistency and focus: record my "7 days" for the Lord (Psalm 119:164) on my calendar each day for the month of January and strive to reach an average of 4.5. (Which means I have some serious work to do, because so far I've been writing down mostly 3's and 4's, and I haven't yet hit a full 7 day). As corny as it may sound to average my time with God like that - if it motivates me, I'll try it!
Physically: I gained ten pounds in 2010 (I was warned this would happen when I hit forty, ouch!) and my weight is unhealthy. My plan here is to not lose focus for more than a week. See, I usually do really well with losing weight for four to five weeks, and then I lose my focus and gain the weight right back. So I recognize that I'm going to have times when I lose focus, but hopefully limit those time to no more than a week and then GET BACK ON TRACK. To help with this, I'll be tracking exercise and weight loss on my calendar too. Short-term goal: lose five pounds by the end of January.
Personally: finish my third book by March 1st (add 25k words to the 50k I wrote in November, that should get me there. It averages out to about 3000 words a week). This is a two-month goal, but it's still short term and measurable.
Personally also relates to my family. What I'd like more than anything with my family is to not get impatient and grumpy and snappy with my kids. I feel like everytime I snap at them, I've just negated all my efforts to teach them spiritual truths and how Jesus wants us to be kind and loving to each other. (though it does underline the lesson that we need Jesus' help to grow us in lovingkindness). How in the world do I make that desire into a "measureable" goal? I'm still brainstorming this, so for now my goal is simply to keep working on my temper (hopefully better consistency in my time with God will help) and try to come up with a measurable plan sometime during January.
Such a relief making short-term goals instead of the weighty burden of New Year's resolutions!
Again, these aren't resolutions, but I am participating in Beth Moore's scripture memorization challenge again this year (my first verses: Psalm 119:35-37). And I'm also planning on participating in the C.S. Lewis book club at one of my favorite blogs, the Quiet Quill. I'm reading Surprised by Joy right now (loving it!), and hopefully I'll also be able to read A Grief Observed in January so I can participate with the other CS Lewis bloggers on February 1st when they discuss it.
I got a comment on my last post (1000 gifts Christmas edition) that it was "wonderful but exhausting to read." I hadn't been posting regularly, so I'd saved up this huge long list of blessings. I know blog posts are supposed to be kept short, to make it easier on readers. I mostly blog for myself, I find it more motivational than just journaling, and it's a great way to keep a record of what's going on, like a digital scrapbook, and to see how the Lord is working in my life.
But recognizing that I do have people who occasionally stop by to see what I'm up to, please don't feel like you have to read all of the blessings I put on my 1000 gifts list. They are all personal, and some of them might not even be very relatable. But I love keeping this list. Nothing brings praises to my lips more than looking back over these lists and remembering how the Lord has blessed me.
Last Monday, my first day back at work, B. calls me with amazing news: someone who had been very angry with him (almost to the point of a lawsuit) called him and apologized. It's too private to share details, but this particular relationship has been the focus of most of my prayer requests this fall, and indeed many many prayer requests throughout my marriage. So this is huge. HUGE.
139. Engagement announcement
My best friend from highs chool called with great news that she is engaged, and she wants me to be in her wedding in May!
140. When your kids say "I want my mommy back"
There was a little grumbling from my girls about having to start school again. My mom told me that when she picked the twins up from their preschool Monday afternoon, Serious told her "I want my mommy back." Oh, my little sweetheart!
141. A gift of flowers, for no particular reason.
B. gave them to me.
142. The real reason why we get knots and tangles in our hair.
Dreamer says while brushing her hair: "knots must be for all the bad things you do"
143. A note from a friend to remind you your friendship means a lot.
K.A. sent me a horse calendar (a belated Christmas gift, very appreciated because I always love to receive calendars for Christmas, but I usually don't get any). But the best part was the note she'd written me: "more important than a silly calendar is the gift of our friendship. It is one of the very few things I can predict and rely on."
144. Children debating about whose birthday comes next.
Starlet was wondering when her birthday would come again, which started a discussion among the girls about whose birthday was next in the family. I said, "my birthday is next." Grace looked at me in surprise and exclaimed, "Moms don't have birthdays!" (Probably she thinks that, because I refuse to have anyone put candles on my cake anymore to blow out)
145. The real reason why the sun stays warm.
B. makes a comment that gets a real belly laugh out of me. It's not entirely appropriate to post... but I can't resist. "It's people like me that make the sun stay warm. If I keep it up, we might have an early spring!" (try to guess the context of this; I'll give you a hint "greenhouse g _ _ _ _ s". Grin)
146. Accountability partners.
At church this Sunday, a good friend of B's asked if B would be willing to meet with him weekly as an accountability partner. Wow!
147. Being forgiven a large debt.
This is too sensitive to give details about, but it has to do with B.'s business, J.H., and a debt forgiven. Another HUGE blessing - one of those that made me shake my head with wonder at how the Lord has started out this new year for us.
148. Discovering a place where you can always find delight.
Beth Moore is hosting a scripture memory challenge again for 2011. My first verse to memorize: Psalm 119:35-37: "Direct me in path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your decrees, and away from selfish gain. Keep my eyes from worthless things."
149. Creativity and a great quote
An old college friend, Lora, shared this great quote on Facebook: "Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations. The latter (like the river banks) forcing the spontaneity into the various forms which are essential to the work of art." – Lou Dorsmany
150. CS Lewis on God's best for us is painful
Another friend, Donna, posted this thoughtful C.S. Lewis quote on Facebook, too. "We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." C.S. Lewis
151. CS Lewis on education and values
And yet another C.S. Lewis quote posted on Facebook. I hope I keep discovering more wonderful quotes all my life long: "Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil." C.S. Lewis
152. Quote collections
N.L. shared some wonderful quotes, too. She even brought her quote collection over to my house last week and we had a wonderful time pouring over quotes while sipping cups of tea by the fireplace. "It is so much easier to do something than to trust in God; we mistake panic for inspiration. That is why there are so few fellow workers with God and so many workers for Him." ~ Oswald Chambers
153. Seeing your childrens' different strengths.
Today the ladies at the twins' preschool informed me that Serious was being promoted from the Butterfly class to the Froggie class, beause she has been so good about listening to directions and does such a good job on her worksheets. (Curious to see how Serious and Starlet fare in different classes now without each other). I have noticed some special things about Serious recently. She doesn't learn things visually as quickly as Starlet does (for instance, it took her longer to learn her colors, and Starlet is picking up on the alphabet faster). However, the area where Serious excels is in is with her hands. Starlet still scribbles in her coloring books: Serious colors carefully in the lines, and writes her letters beautifully with a remarkably steady hand. She also stays on task much longer and with more focus than Starlet. So neat to see their different strengths!
154. Seeing your childrens' different ways of expression
I love the differences in the way the twins move and express themselves, too. Starlet is all about flourishes and coy smiles; and she has a particular way of running, where she sticks her chest out, and keeps her hand down at her sides. Serious is still famous for wearing her serious expression (even when she's being playful) and she has a particular way of walking - sometimes she stumps along in what I call her "gentle giant" walk.
155. CS Lewis Book Club
The CS Lewis bookclub at the Quiet Quill blog. Oh, I am so excited! The plan is to read a new book each month and discuss it. CS Lewis remains my absolute most favorite Christian author. I've read many of his books and essays, but I still have a lot of undiscovered treasures ahead of me. I'm sure I'll get to revisit some of my old favorites of his too, and looking forward to reading other people's insights about his books.
156. My family's life and health.
After the heart-breaking deaths in Tucson this weekend, I am especially thankful for my 9 year old daughter Blaze. I am praying for the parents of Christina, the 9 year old girl that lost her life in the shooting, families of the other victims and recovery of those still in the hospital.