New Year's Resolutions for Beginners: Part 1

As I may have mentioned yesterday, I've been apprehensive about making resolutions that are too big and unattainable. While I have a lot of different ideas for all the different areas in my life, I'm only focusing on changes for myself during the start of the year.

Here they are, my first ever New Year's resolution. Sort-of.  I guess technically they aren't all New Year's resolutions because I'm not officially starting them all with the new year.

Let's just call 2015, the year of change.

Just for Me

 I used to read books. It was fun. Sigh. This year I've decided make a goal of reading 6 books (that don't have pictures to help with the story.) I'd also like to go out with friends more than five times this year-yeah, I'm getting all wild and crazy over here!

 I don't do gyms. I hate working out in crowds. But I do need to work on my strength and flexibility (2015 marks my 40th year and I plan on making sure the next 40 or more years are good ones.)  My goal is to workout more than I did in 2014. Having only worked out (ahem) once officially this year, I think this is a goal that I can achieve.

My chosen method: Pilates (I used to do Pilates and I loved it!) Frequency (baby stepping here remember): Twice a week for January, and February. Three times a week for March and April. May through forever, four to five times a week.

Speaking for myself, I can't be a healthy mother if I don't set aside some time to 'be' with God. Right now I have two different devotionals and my Bible sitting on the end table next to my couch. While I'd like to say that I will definitely read my devotional daily, it doesn't always happen. However, I can spend quiet time with God-when I'm getting ready in the morning, packing lunches, getting dressed, after the kids go to bed at night. Prayer without ceasing.

I also know that I need time to breath. To just exist without caring for anyone, without having anything to do or think about. For me, getting outside in nature or doing manual labor (I know, weird, right) does that for me. 

I am horrible about designating time for my art or to finish the art that I start. Ironically, I feel the most comfortable and content when I am creating. I can't tell (okay, I won't tell you) how many projects I have laying around the house right now. If it is a project for someone else I generally get it done (especially if it's not a family member). I just need deadlines I guess. This year I'm setting a goal of finishing three of those projects that I have started.

Well that's it. I've started with me because I truly believe that the more balanced, happy, and healthy I am, the better I can take care of my kids. It's important for them to see a their mom taking care of herself.  

Fingers crossed. I have other goals for the year which I plan on sharing eventually. Like I said, 2015 is going to be a year of making healthy changes.

What are some of the healthy changes you plan on making in the coming year? 

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New Year's Resolutions

I have never been one to make New Year's resolutions. To me, our lives should be a continual process of self improvement. This coming year feels different. Our family has been through a lot. It feels at times that there is a dark cloud hanging over us. A sorrow that will never lift. But I refuse to live that way.

Life is not meant to be endured, it's meant to be lived. While grief makes me want to stay frozen in time, life is moving forward. Painful as it is. 

We have a brief time on this planet. I am not going to stroll through my journey, I want to run the race. Even if I trip and fall along the way. I may reach the finish line beaten and bruised, in fact, I am fairly certain that I will. But, I also know that along with the lows, there will be highs. Moments of joy to match the moments of sorrow. Moments of both triumph and failure.

Most importantly I want to show my children that, although life can be hard, we should never be afraid to live.

The extraneous stuff, the mundane, that petty worries that keep me awake at night-I'm done with it (at least I'm going to try.) There's a saying by Stephen Covey that says, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."

I've been trying to narrow my goals down to a few of (what I consider to be) the most important areas of my life. I'm keeping the goals small. With my hectic life, there is really no point in making grandiose, impossible goals.

I need to take care of myself. I need to take care of my family. I need to take care of our home. I'd like to serve others and make an impact on the world in some small way. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of things that I could do in each of these areas. It can be overwhelming.

For me, I've decided to first look at who I am as a person, and who I would like to be. I need to stay true to myself. I need to set goals that have meaning to me and would make a difference in my life, for my family. Over the past few weeks, I've been spending time just trying to imagine what I want our lives to look and feel like. The question is, what would have the most impact? What's the "main thing" or things for us?

What's your main thing? Are you ready for 2015?

I'll be publishing my list of goals/plans/resolutions on New Year's Eve.

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A Holiday Message from a Broken Family

Dear Friends and Strangers,

I don't want to be a downer. Normally, I love the time from Thanksgiving until New Years. I love Christmas music, I love planning out the delicious treats that I am going to make, and finding just the right gifts. I love finding ways to give to others at this time of year-to those who are struggling and might need a little bit extra.

It looks like we will be the ones struggling this year.

Last year at this time, our family was still reeling from the unexpected death of my father. He passed away the day after his birthday of a massive heart attack on the way home from work.

It was tough.

Eleven months passed, and we started the twelfth. As the end of October approached, we held our breaths. All of the birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, vacations, and seasons, had been survived. This was our new normal and we could do this. My brother (the one who had been with my dad when he died) and his wife were expecting a baby any day, surely a sign of better things to come for all of us.

Then, just days before the anniversary of my dad's death, my brother and his wife lost their newborn baby girl. Two weeks later, one of my younger brothers died in a car accident. To say we are devastated doesn't even begin to describe how we feel.

We will never be the same.

Our fractured lives will slowly be put back together, but there have been pieces that are beyond repair. No amount of 'glue' will put things back to the way they were. I did not know that it was possible to feel so broken. It's as if the floor has disappeared from under our feet and we are in a free fall.

Coming from a large family, each of us is processing our grief in different ways. Collectively, we have lost a spouse, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, fiance, niece, daughter, grand daughter, big sister, and cousin-all in just over a year.

Never in my life have I felt so completely broken.

One of my students asked me if our family was cursed. Sometimes, it's tempting to feel that way. Thankfully, I was raised to know the difference between God and Santa. Santa is the one that brings us what we want, then leaves. God is the One who is there with us even when life hands us what we would never want.

As I sit at night, still trying to digest this truth that feels so much like a nightmare, I cling to Jesus. God hears and feels our pain (Psalm 22:24). When Lazarus died, Jesus wept (John 11:35). We just need to look up to him.

Little Man and I have been reading the Chronicles of Narnia books recently. I was surprised that the book would have anything that might help me in my grief, but it did. The lion (Aslan), represents God.

I've had to remind myself that being a Christian doesn't make us exempt from pain and trials. It doesn't make our lives a guaranteed success. The Bible doesn't say, "Follow me and I will make you really successful, wealthy, and make sure you never have tragedy in your life." (Even though sometimes in today's culture it feels like that is what we are being told.)

Our family is not the only broken family working our way through this holiday season. There are other families out there who are facing situations that have broken them as well. Addictions, betrayals, divorce, joblessness, disease, hunger, abuse. We might not be able to see it when we meet them on the street, but they too are feeling the fragility of life. Putting one foot in front of the other. Praying for a dreamless sleep at the end of another tough day.

I still love Christmas. I want my children to enjoy and celebrate the true meaning of this time of year. But in my new brokenness, it will be done in a quieter, gentler way than I've ever celebrated it before. It's the 'holidays.' A time for gathering together and sharing with one another.

As you celebrate with the one's you love, say a prayer for the broken families. And, if you're one of us, know that I will be saying a prayer for all of you as well.

"You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? " Psalms 56:8

"For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard when he cried to him." Psalms 22:24.

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace, In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

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