Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014: The Obligatory New Year's Post

4 years ago

imageI bust on these New Year's " looking back, looking ahead" posts because I hate feeling like I'm doing something trendy or following the crowd. But, truth be told, I love these posts. I love reading everyone else's, and I love writing them. There's a part of me that doesn't want to write one because everyone is writing one. But if I really want to, then it is just dumb for me not to if the only reason I don't is because everyone else is!

And honestly, I've been doing this kind of thing for a long time - just not publicly. I used to have a special journal that I would write in every New Year's - looking back on the past year, reflecting on events and lessons learned - and then set some goals for the new year. Something I've been doing long before blogging came around. 2013.

How do I sum up 2013? I read my blog post from last New Year's and the word I used to sum up 2012 was loss.

I don't think I have a word to sum up 2013; it was a mixed bag. There were both major and minor events.

Major would be...well, my second miscarriage; that's pretty major. Starting infertility treatments and testing. The monumental blizzard in February that crippled Long Island for days. Our once-in-a-lifetime trip to Lake Tahoe. Quitting my second job and starting this blog (well, to me that is major.). My parents selling their our house.

Minor would be, well...just life. And believe me, while I can't really itemize every moment from last year (another reason why I love blogging: to get all this - this meaning 'life' - down on 'paper'), I don't take any of it for granted: No major health issues for me or my family. No major crises, tragedies, or drama for me and my family (although there were a few minor ones...all of which have resolved themselves by this point. Amen).

Just lots of little, daily blessings along the way:

Watching reruns with my husband after a long day's work...yard-saling with my new posse of friends (it's been a while since I've had a little group of girlfriends!)... loving Zumba because I finally got down the routines...my successes and failures in the kitchen as I'm (still!) learning to cook...road trips to see my sister and my silly nieces...trips to the mountains with J...becoming members at our church and joining the missions committee (one of my passions)... a rewarding job and co-workers that I love, who support me and make me laugh every day...

To me, that equals a good year. I was looking over some of my goals from last year, and while I didn't fully achieve the goals, I made progress (see this post). And I'm good with that. Resolutions don't really know that they have until midnight on December 31st to wrap themselves up; they take their own sweet time.

So, for 2014? Well, I've seen a lot of bloggers write about how they had a 'word' focus for the new year - like 'time' or 'contentment' or 'perseverance.' I've never really had that, and honestly, I wasn't really looking for one.

However, God kinda dropped this word in my lap.

HOPE

I know that sounds all fluffy and cliche, especially given my infertility issues. But I can't deny this is the word God has given me. First, I wrote about this Christmas ornament I received in my mailbox from my Secret Santa: image

The cool thing is that this gift is from a new teacher I don't know AT ALL and who knows NOTHING about my infertility issues. I love that this is the word that she God chose for me.

Second, I got this newsletter in the mail from John Eldredge (Ransomed Heart Ministries), and when he was praying about what God wanted him to share in the December newsletter, he wrote, "I want to restore hope. " image

The whole letter spoke about the theme of hope.

Then, we got a Christmas card from a woman at our church, and this was the cover: image

And finally, when I was shopping the after-Christmas sales for decorations, this is what I found:

image

There was a whole wall of ornaments like this. A whole wall of hope.

So, I can't deny it. The word for me this year is hope. I don't know what that means or how it will reveal itself, but that's my word.

As for my other goals? I thought about it a lot (and prayed about it a little - that probably should have been the other way around), and I was realizing that so many of my goals and resolutions are about me - making me a better person, a healthier person, growing or developing myself in some way. Those aren't bad goals. But I was realizing that they don't really go far enough.

Wouldn't that make my resolutions somewhat self-centered? I know that we only have control over ourselves, and I know that it is a good thing to make positive changes. But as I thought about my goals, I felt really challenged to stretch it beyond just developing myself.

But let's start there. Here are some of my personal, (not necessarily 'selfish' - but maybe...) goals for the year:

Read through the Bible chronologically: I know a lot about the New Testament and probably have read the entire thing, but my knowledge of the Old Testament is spotty. I've got the history and timeline down, but I have never read through many of those books and stories firsthand. Being that I teach this, I feel I need to fill in some of my knowledge gaps. But I don't really want this to be just an academic exercise. I truly long for God to speak to me through this. He has before, so I really am anticipating this.

Develop this blog: After several failed blogging attempts over the years, I am 6 months and 71 posts in, and I have re-discovered my love for writing and have experienced an exhilarating creative energy in blogging. Truly a hobby (or more? A lifestyle?) that suits my passions and skills and creative outlets. I love the online community, I love the interaction, I love being challenged by so many writers. Love, love, love. I don't really know what I mean by "'develop' this blog," but I am so looking forward to giving this my all.

Be healthy: Do I even need to write this? Lose weight, eat better, etc, etc, etc. It's the same every year. But being healthy is never 'done' by December 31st; it's an ongoing lifestyle, so I'm still at it. I just hope to do it better this year. I fell off the wagon when I got pregnant and miscarried. This week, I am getting back on. Got the new sneakers in my closet to prove it (Happy birthday to me!). (See my last blog post to see some of the detoxes/cleanses I plan to incorporate).

Get organized:I despise disorder, but it is easy for my small house (with lots jam-packed in it) to fall into disarray. Those cleaning and organizational lists I put on my last post? Yeah, I am doing those. Through the course of the year, I want to organize and purge every room in my house. I got a mailing from a veterans' association that will take unwanted goods, so I can't wait to clean house and donate.

Use my time more wisely: I've come to realize that I waste lots of time. LOTS. Especially watching TV. Now, I can justify it by saying it is a way my husband and I bond after a long day's work (and that is true). I just think I watch too much mindless nonsense. So, I am committing to watching TV less and to reading more. Listening to more sermons online (I used to do this ALL the time. Definitely could use this in my life again). Listening to podcasts for professional development. I know there is a need for mental down-time...but I think I have worn out that mantra just a little. I can definitely step up my game a bit.

Make and stick to a budget:Well, I'm half way there. I have made a budget. This year, my goal is for us to stick to it. Enough said. My big idea is to move to a cash system and stop using the debit cards. The challenge will be weening J. off of his card. Wish me luck!

Give 100% to my marriage:There were moments this year when I was struck with the epiphany, 'Katie, you aren't giving 100% to this marriage." Things weren't terrible; there was no major trouble brewing. But I could tell that my attitudes and actions were getting a little selfish. A little casual. A little lazy. That I wasn't really trying. I wasn't really prioritizing or really investing in my relationship with J. And I realize that is exactly how good marriages start to go bad. It doesn't always happen overnight. Sometimes, it is little by little. So, my goal is to really, as far as it depends on me, consistently give 100% to my marriage and not get lazy.

God: I'm not really sure what to say about this. I know that our relationship took a hit after my miscarriage. I'm still climbing out of that hole. I don't really know how to fully fix it, but I know I miss being close to Him. That being said, I want to be close to Him again.

I know you are supposed to be more specific with timelines and measurable goals - the "hows" and the "by-whens." I'll definitely get to that. But for now, I am happy to just have it down on 'paper.'

So, these are all about me. Anything else?

Here's something I wrote last year, and I think this really applies to it not being all about me. I want...

To be courageous enough to obey God in the moment and not stall. To step out and talk to someone...about God, about anything. To be more willing to offer myself to others. To not shy away from opportunities to get involved or be uncomfortable or put myself out there or feel awkward. To be less self-conscious and more conscious of others. To be bolder. To be less afraid of the future. To worry less. To be at peace and trust God more. To be OK with not having to (well, not being able to) control every detail of my universe.

When I think of the person I want to be, I think of someone who is calm, serene, takes the challenges of life in stride with grace and courage and peace. Someone who is willing and available to give of herself to others, without always measuring and calculating and controlling. I want to be more of that person this year.

That is my goal again this year: to be less selfish, more surrendered to God, more willing to obey God in the big and little things. It really comes down to that: surrender and obedience.

That is a tall order.

Well, go hard or go home, right?

Happy New Year, everyone! Bring on 2014.

[Linking up with Circles of Faith and Three Word Wednesday.]

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