#MTH2013: Making 2013 a Banner Year

One of best blogs I keep up with is written by the Editor-in-Chief of Southern Weddings magazine, Lara Casey. (Click here to visit her blog.) Her humility and honesty is a constant encouragement for me. I love reading about her life; her little girl, Grace, her marriage, her business (outside of the magazine), and her walk with God. In light of the new year, she created a series on her blog entitled “Making Things Happen 2013,” and encouraged readers to take some time and become intentional with goals (“resolutions”) for each year. I decided to join in and it has been an incredible experience. “Auditing” 2012 and spiritually preparing for 2013 has been an incredible process.


In addition to Lara’s blog, I also enjoy Nancy Ray’s blog, which displays her beautiful photography, business, and life events. She posts on the first day of each month about her monthly goals, which helps break the year down into small chunks and helps her maintain focus on the year-long goals. So… I know it’s not January 1st, but I still wanted to post my 2013 goals (and January goals) so that there is some accountability and (hopefully) some interaction.

After reading about the process I have gone through, if you are interested in also doing so… I definitely recommend going to Lara’s blog and going through the steps. She’s also begun a twist of the series on things to do to help make our goals a reality (so far: clean the clutter and name you fears). It’s worth the time. I promise.

Here are a few things(out of the hundreds… trust me, this is a very condensed list) I’ve learned about myself in the past eleven days. So…here we go.

Step 1: Evaluate what did and did not work in 2012. 

What worked: 1. I completed my undergraduate classes (only student teaching left to go!) 2. Zach proposed, I said yes. 3. I finally grew out my hair (talk about a process). 4. I began setting aside specific “me” time. 5. I conducted some of my first “real” lessons in the classroom. 6. I decided that I will move home after graduation and (hopefully) teach nearby. 7. I was gluten free for 5 weeks. 8. I grew closer to my church family (at AppState Extension and at home)

What I’m grateful for: 1. My support system (my family, friends, and Zach) 2. The closeness that continues to develop with my future in-laws, including Luke and Matthew 3. Peace/quiet moments 4. The time I had with my pup, Bailey, who passed away. 5. Church leaders who not only encourage me but challenge me 6. God’s beautiful creation– particularly the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are part of the landscape of my current residence 7. Little moments with the people I love and those that remind me of God’s amazing faithfulness 8. Technology, which allows me to stay connected to those that are far away

What didn’t work: 1. Daily workout routine (I had it for about 2 1/2 months though!) 2. Spending too much time on social media 3. Being “too busy” 4. Getting sufficient sleep each night 5. Communicating effectively in times of frustration/anxiety/hurt 6. Healthy eating habits 7. Consistency in reading my Bible and spending time in prayer 8. Allowing my introverted-ness to affect friendships

What fires me up: [I got REAL happy with this list…] 1. Life change in Jesus’ name 2. a sermon that hits me like a ton of bricks 3. a book character who is real to me 4. grammar 5. a clean closet 6. Zach leading me into a room 7. creating space for something new 8. Target 9. a mug of chai tea 10. people standing to declare and receive the love of Jesus

Then… the “assignment” was to create a board on Pinterest of things that reflected the items in the “What Fires Me Up” list. Mine is still a work in progress, but here’s a link.

Step 2: Evaluate lessons learned from what did/didn’t work.

3 lessons from what did work:  1. God’s promises are always true. He never leaves or abandons. His grace will wash me clean every time. 2. Surrounding myself with God-fearing, loving, inspired, prayerful people is essential to staying sane, focused on Jesus, and positive. 3. Time for ME is crucial. Time for me and Jesus is even more crucial. These times are for me… to learn about myself, how to improve, and how to live in Him and through Him.

3 lessons from what didn’t work: 1. Time for Jesus is crucial (see #3 above). 2. I need to refocus on Him and His plan for me, so that I can be the BEST Jess I can be. 3. I am a creature of habit. I need to form NEW habits to help sustain my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Here, self-discipline and a lot of prayer is key.

My 2013 Vision: To seek after God with all that I am. To encourage everyone in my path and be a positive force in their life. To speak [only] when insightful, new, loving or helpful. [Avoid unnecessary commentary/sarcasms.] To be in constant prayer and in open communication with God. To affirm those I love daily. To say “I love you” more. To make time for myself. To be truly me: honest, healthy, humble, loving.

Step 3: List things to say “yes” and “no” to. 

“Yes” to: A budget. Speaking truth/love. Constant prayer. Daily time with Jesus. Humility. Reading 1-2 books a month. Praying for my students daily. Making up my bed daily. Intentional quality time with loved ones. Affirming and encouraging others. Listening.

“No” to: Negativity/pessimism. Dominating conversation. Harsh words. Distractions [Netflix, iPad, etc.]. The Snooze button. A dirty bedroom. Coming “unglued.” Sleeping past 8 AM on weekends. Eating out more than 1x a week. Gluten/processed foods [later in the year]. Worrying. Overbooking/over-committing. Temptation.

Words to live by in 2013: Salt [of the earth]. Joy. Light. Laughter. Flexibility. Prayer. Progress. Agape. Potential. Fulfillment. Giving. Peace. GRACE.

Step 4: Write specific goals for the year. Say why. 

1. Daily time with Jesus- at least 30 minutes in the morning and night.  To keep Him as my center. [Includes: Daily reading of Scriptures and prayer– so that He is the One I want to turn to first in any circumstance.]

2. To affirm/encourage at least 5 people each day. To brighten their day and share the love of Jesus.

3. To continue on the path of “imperfect progress” so that I can give God my best, and give Him control of my life so that I won’t feel quite so out of control of my life, emotions, and overall well-being. [Side note: I’m reading “Unglued” by Lysa TerKeurst right now. Changing my life. That’s where I got the term “imperfect progress.”]

4. To become more health conscious– including exercise and eating habits. Slowly moving through the year toward a gluten-free diet and a 4-5 day/week exercise regimen. This will give me more energy, help provide an outlet for stress [outside of prayer], and provide a way to treat my body as God’s temple rather than my trash can.

5. Move back in with my family and begin a teaching job. [Well, something has to happen after graduation, right?…Oh, and I guess I’ll stick COLLEGE GRADUATION in this goal. Whoops…]

6.To begin saving money and budgeting more effectively. [Side note: I will be using Mint.com as a resource in this process. It rocks.]

7. To begin wedding planning. We have not set a date yet, but have ideas in mind. This will begin post-graduation for sure, but it’s still a goal for the year :)[Reason: To keep me more sane once a date is chosen…oh, and to prepare for life with my groom!]

8. To continue my involvement at church [and transition to a Charlotte campus]. I’m hoping to volunteer with the eStudents ministry once I move to Charlotte. Since my mission field is my classroom among teenagers, I think eStudents is a great opportunity to impact teenagers in Jesus’ name and in a different setting. I would love to lead a teen girls’ eGroup when the time comes…

9. To invest more fully in my relationships with others. To spend more time with my grandparents. To build an even stronger relationship with my sister. To keep growing in my relationship with Zach. To share my appreciation and love with my parents. To maintain friendships in the midst of student teaching…and then after my move. To make new friendships in my workplace. To share the love of Jesus and make Him the center of my conversations.

10. To read 24 books in the year [2 per month]. I miss reading for fun…particularly after 7 crazy semesters of reading material in the college classroom. It will be a variety of titles [see the next blog post] and it will be awesome. I’m sure I’ll read more, especially during the summer months, but this is just to keep me on track.

11. To create time for myself– at least twice a week. So that I maintain a semi-normal level of sanity. So that I can pour more into my time with others. So that I don’t freak out on someone. Yep.

12. To recognize that mistakes are part of life and that I am human… and that Jesus loves me exactly as I am because I am a child of God. To push past my insecurities and fully live for the glory of His name and Kingdom by using my mistakes and trials to share His love and never-ending faithfulness.

So, there you have it. Those are my 10 goals for the year. Shrinking those down into a manageable monthly range, this is what I have in mind for January (what’s left of it):

24 in 12: “Unglued” by Lysa TerKeurst and “Good to Great” by Jim Collins

Begin student teaching

Cut out soda. Drink more water.

Plan meals/cook as much as possible.

Cardio workout twice a week. Ab workout twice a week.

Affirm 5 people per day.

At least 30 minutes per day [morning and night] with Jesus.

Spend quality time with a friend each week.

Clean room daily. Declutter once a week.

I would love to hear some of your goals for the year and/or month. Let me know what you think if you decide to participate in Making Things Happen!

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