Happy New Year, everyone!
As usual, I like to dwell on what is in store for the new year and set out the list of goals and resolutions. I want to be intentional and live purposefully in 2018.
I always look back and reflect on what I have successfully achieved and what expectations I have failed to meet in the past year. As mentioned in my last year’s post, I have so much insecurity that I end up being rather harsh and critical of myself that it can be scary at times. Nevertheless, God has His unique ways in changing my heart and transforming me bit by bit – removing the negativity and insecurity (and some painful childhood memories) in order for inner healing to happen. He has reassured me how much He loves me and how precious I am to Him. He told me not to doubt His love ever again.
In 2017, my word of the year was JOY and it was rather challenging to remind myself to find joy in little things. Sometimes when I make a mountain out of a molehill, I can get extremely snippy-snappy because I have chosen to succumb to letting circumstances dictate how I should feel. Oh how I hate myself when it gets to that point. In any case, I am thankful for my loving husband to constantly nudge me to be gentle and patient, and above all, to sing praises at all times. A cranky wife will hurt her husband and her family – so it is my choice to fight the flesh and remind myself to choose gentleness as much as I can.
So how well did I do in terms of my goals of 2017?
- Spiritual – I am honored to have mentors/partners/ friends to keep each other accountable to pursue Christ daily even if there’s only five minutes available. There were many days I was in tip-top condition in getting up at 5:30am to dwell in His Word but towards the end of the year, especially after Thanksgiving, my schedule was off with late nights and I ended up resorting to reading my phone’s bible app instead of dedicating time to sitting and journaling; I ended up running on fumes. I can only give myself some grace and I will only tell myself to try harder this year. I don’t want to be legalistic about it. After all, His love for me is already unending and nothing will separate me from His unfailing love.
- Personal – I told myself that I would read two non-fiction books and one fiction book in 2017. I did read some. I read a few chapters into Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I just didn’t complete the reading list I prepared myself in the beginning of the year. Nonetheless, I renewed my mind with these five inspiring books last year – Without Rival by Lisa Bevere, Trust Without Borders by Arabah Joy, Child Training Boot Camp by Pam Forster, You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan, and Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes. I must say the Disciplines of a Godly Woman is a wonderful book and it challenged me to be a better woman.
- Financial – It has been challenging to rely on my husband to bear the financial burden on his shoulders. My son’s hospitalization in July and his regular visits to multiple specialists added a huge hole to our wallet. As much as I wanted to help in increasing our cashflow through babysitting or freelance photography, it did hurt our family quality time and my busyness affected my husband’s own personal goals. One thing I was proud of myself was to be able to cut our grocery budget by a third by shopping at Aldi.
- Health/Fitness – I am not a fitness freak. I did sweat it out in the summer but in the winter, you can save your breath in persuading me to exercise. Albeit being lazy, I had a health police on my wrist aka Apple Watch. I set my daily target to 250 active calories (to be burned) and to be active at least for one minute per hour for 12 hours a day. I was also determined to do a minimum of 7000 steps daily and I DID IT! I looked into my health data on my phone and my daily average was 7,578 steps! Are you proud of me? Also, I joined the Keto bandwagon after my son was weaned off nursing in August. I was eager to lose the final few postpartum pounds and Keto helped me to achieve it. The reason why I loved Keto lifestyle was the fact that I did not need to count calories – I only needed to restrict sugar and carbs. Say hello to bacon and eggs (and avocado)!
- Marriage – I loved the fact that we did weekly ‘truth search’ (a form of bible study) with each other in the summer. With a demanding schedule in our family, it was tough to pray together daily as husband and wife. There were many nights we hit the sack without a joint prayer. There were nights we intentionally sought the Lord together. This is one area that we definitely need to work on for sure in the next year. Nevertheless, we did go on our monthly date nights to keep our connections going. Date nights are essential, y’all!
- Family – We surely cherished our morning scripture reading at the breakfast table and we tried to memorize some verses along the way. On days without family devotion, you could tell we were a hot mess and my children would be fearful of a cranky momma.
Under any circumstances, I just need to remind myself that my success is not measured according to the world, regardless what the world thinks or approves of. My identity relies solely in Him alone. Yes, in Him alone.
In whatever areas which needed improvement, I will not condemn myself. I have condemned myself my entire life and I have to remember that God’s grace is sufficient for me. His grace is all I need. His grace empowers me.
There is always hope. Hope which is anchored in Christ, knowing that He will help me to sail through every obstacle and storm. Hope that will help me to see the light in darkness. Hope that reassures me how much I am loved by Him.
This year, God has been revealing a few words (more like a phrase) to me recently. I kept coming across devotionals and bible passages mentioning “dwelling, resting, and being still at His presence“. I have been a Martha for many years so I was not surprised when these words kept popping in the last few weeks of 2017. I was going back and forth playing with some words but in the end, I leaned towards the word “DWELL“.
So there it is, my word for 2018 is DWELL because God desires me to be still and He wants me to dwell in His presence.
This is the year I will choose REST (stillness) over busyness.
I will have to learn to be a Mary, not a Martha. My calendar has to be purposefully filled.
As I sat down last night going through the goals-planning worksheet of 2018, I asked myself and my husband what I can do to make this year purposeful and tie in with my word of the year.
I then asked myself whether my goals are rooted in God’s truth.
Here is what I have written down on my worksheet so far.
1. Spiritual – I want to continue to seek Him first thing in the morning when there is no other distraction. I want to pray more. I want to be able to complete the bible cover to cover in a year which I always failed to do. (Why is it so hard to complete the books of Prophets?) I want to hunger for more of Him; and the only way to dwell in His presence is to intentionally seek Him and rest at His feet. As Psalm 91:1 says “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty”.
2. Personal – I love reading. I just need more time. Since I was able to complete four books last year, I thought I should increase it to 10 this year. I hope I am not being too ambitious because I really love all these titles and I can’t wait to read them. In addition, I will continue not having the FB and Twitter app on my phone (unless it’s the holidays) to reduce my time spent on social media. I can still access them, but only when I have the chance to sit down in front of my PC. It is quite ridiculous how much time I wasted by just scrolling FB or Instagram or Twitter endlessly. All these precious minutes could be poured into doing something more productive like reading. Fundamentally, reading helps to renew and broaden our minds.
3. Financial – I want to be able to say no to unnecessary spending and stick to the essentials at my favorite low-priced grocery store, Aldi, unless I need to get allergen-free stuff for my son. I need the discipline to stick to my grocery list which aligns with my weekly meal plan. I need to have the self-control in reducing my trips to Target or HomeGoods. Don’t get me wrong. I am not a shoppaholic. I am a clearance queen – my husband knows this because I am always so proud to show him my receipts. But sometimes, shopping too much off the clearance racks [when it’s not a necessity] will add up immensely. The budget exists for a reason and I need to strictly adhere to it. Living life purposefully requires planning and we can definitely live well by spending less. Even so, I pray that the Lord will help me not to have a covetous spirit but be grateful for all He has blessed me with.
4. Health/Fitness – Holidays definitely have put on a few pounds on me. I am back on Keto and I know this will help me to lose those pounds easily. In the long run (after I achieve my pre pregnancy weight), I will most likely switch to Paleo. The more I read about obesity and diseases related to sugar, the more I want to stay away from this devil. I have to learn to read my food labels carefully because there is an immense amount of hidden sugar in our food these days. And as for my sleeping hours, I need to get in bed and shut my eyes by 10-ish. I am no longer 21. I used to be able to survive on 5-6 hours sleep, now I need a minimum of 7 hours. The sleeping credit card has been maxed out and I have to repay my debt now. Please smack me if you hear me talking about binging on Hongkong TVB dramas until midnight, I give you the permission to do so.
5. Marriage – As mentioned above, my husband and I will continue to work on our couple devotion time. At the moment, we are both doing the bible app’s 365 days of 2018 together. I am praying we can stick with this plan throughout the year. And we all know, a couple that does devotion together, stays together. Apart from our monthly ‘going-out’ date nights, we want to include weekly ‘in-home’ date nights. We have done a couple of ‘in-home’ date nights last year and we really enjoyed it. We just need to put the kids in bed by 7pm and intentionally sit down at the dining table with each other (and eat in peace!) – and, it’s FREE!
6. Family – This is the year we would like to cultivate a heart of gratitude and kindness in our children. More often than we realize, children model after us. It is easier caught than taught. And because of this, as parents, we have to inspect ourselves whether we are displaying gratitude and kindness daily. If we are grateful, we will not be covetous. If we are kind with one another, we are sharing the love of Christ. With that said, we all know that the greatest commandment of all is to love God and love people. And I love how a friend (her children are all grown up now) used to ask their kids at the dinner table daily “Are/Were you being a blessing to others today?” Aah… what a great question indeed! At the end of the day, my biggest prayer is for my children to be thankful. Maybe, I can create a slogan for us to cheer all the time – “Thompsons are always Thankful“. Regardless, I will continue to pray with my family – and of course, our daily morning scripture reading shall live on.
Being intentional with these goals is surely challenging but I am going to push myself a little harder.
I want to fight a good fight. I want to run a good race. And in order to be victorious and avoid being soul-flabby, my faith muscles have to be consistently toned and stretched.
Furthermore, no matter how much I plan or what my expectations are, my plans have to be aligned with the will of God. Ultimately, He has the final say.
As for this year, I will learn to dwell in His presence. I will learn to dwell in His Word. I will rest at His feet.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28