"Let's fight a good fight, train our eyes to find the Light and make this year the best one yet
Starting right here... Happy New Year"
January can feel like such a relief, with the hectic of December making way for the slow and snowed-in days that come after the calendar changes. But January can also feel daunting and overwhelming, at least for me. In one moment I can sigh in relaxation as I realize that there is very little on the calendar this week, but then I think "There's very little on the calendar this week! What am I going to do with the hours? I need to accomplish things, right? I need to prove that I'm not just sitting on the couch eating bon-bons, right? I need a 'to do' list - stat! And 100 New Year's Resolutions, 99 of which I will fail at miserably." It can spiral out of control pretty quickly.
So, there are no grandiose resolutions for me this year. Just a few nuggets of wisdom that I'm looking to as I navigate these crisp (sometimes too crisp!), fresh days of 2015. I stumbled across this list of things to STOP doing in 2015 after the New Year hit and have been trying to keep these things in the back of my mind as I go throughout my days. I particularly like
#2: Stop comparing yourself to others;
#3: Stop worrying about what others think of you and
#9: Stop feeling guilty.
I would add a number 16: Stop living in regret. I waste far too much energy thinking about my mistakes, or even about circumstances that are out of my control and I cannot change. I need to stop it. I want to be a woman of freedom- someone who loves boldly and doesn't get in her own way in the process. With my self-doubt, incessant comparison (which leads to incessant self-deprecation), and my tendency to dwell on things I can't change, I truly am my own worst enemy, cliche as that may be. In 2015 I want to work at putting an end to those negative thought patterns and instead focusing on who Jesus says I am, and then loving others in light of that. I'm not sure what that looks like, and I've already failed on this I think every one of these twelve days that have passed so far, but that's okay. Part of this is also learning how to give myself grace.
I also love this "grace plan" for the new year by Ann Voskamp. It's a reminder for me to keep counting gifts and to adopt some daily habits to keep me focused and joyful in daily life. Laughter and music are essential, but so are the less-snazzy disciplines of cleaning, and of reading, praying and memorizing, of learning to say 'no' and unplugging more often. Kathryn, our pastor's wife, has been saying this for years, and Ann says it here, too: Just do the next right thing. I repeat this to myself time and again, both when I feel aimless in my days or when I feel overwhelmed. Just do the next right thing. I've shared this song before, Sara Groves' "Setting Up the Pins", but it's one I keep coming back to over and over again. It's actually a common saying in our house. Noelle got her shirt all dirty right after I changed her? Setting up the pins. She pulled all of her toys out of the bucket after we just put them away? Setting up the pins. I just finished the dishes from lunch in time for a new batch after dinner? Setting up the pins. But there's a beauty to those daily tasks, and embracing that beauty can make the difference between a dull day and a delightful one."Sing for the beauty that's to be found in setting up the pins for knocking them down..."
The other post that I'm still chewing on is this piece by Shauna Niequist called "Burn the Candles". It's a simple concept: don't wait for special occasions to enjoy the gifts that people give you (or that you give yourself). "Burn the candles. Not just when people come over. For you, because someone gave them to you. Open the wine and have a glass tonight while you fold laundry. Wear the perfume, the pretty scarf, the whatever that you have tucked in a box, too fancy for you." I saw these words as a sort of invitation to be more intentional about savoring the little things in life. To be better about paying attention to the details, and enjoying what God has given. "This year, brew the good coffee, wear the sparkly jewelry, crack open that fresh journal. Gifts are to be loved, to be burned, to be eaten and used up completely, reminders that someone loves us, that someone thought of us."
Noelle in the owl hat Staci Mae made her for her birthday.
Ann with Noelle and me in the "hipster cowls" she made us for Christmas.
Like I said, no grandiose resolutions for me this year. These are just some things I'm thinking about as I start this year. I do have some small resolutions, like to spend less time on Facebook (see above "resolution" about trying not to compare myself to others) and more time reading (any recommendations? what's one book you read last year that had an impact on you?). Oh, and to give myself more grace (okay, that's a big one, not a small one!). Oh, the beauty of grace. Last week started so rough, and I felt so discouraged. I felt I'd failed straight out of the gate. But I'm so thankful that Jesus is bigger than New Year's resolutions, and that His mercies are new every morning. That, and I'm thankful for this fun video, "Here We Go" by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. Last week it just put a smile on my face and an extra spring in my step on the dreary days. I just want to share it here in closing, in case you're in need of a Monday smile as well.
"Music, it makes you feel good... feel understood... like you're not alone...
not the only one on the road..."
And just for fun, here are some of my favorite things from 2014 (thanks, Liz, for the idea!):
Album: Ellie Holcomb's As Sure as the Sun... but I also loved Jill Phillips' Mortar & Stone, Colony House's When I Was Younger, and Melanie Penn's Hope Tonight
Movie: About Time
Book: Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist
TV Show: Parks & Recreation (okay, I am years late with getting on this bandwagon! I'd heard the show was funny, but I had no idea just how happy it would make me. These characters are kind to each other - for the most part - and aren't cynical. It's refreshing given most other TV shows these days. And it just makes me giggle.)