The snow glows blue in the darkness of early morn and the winds howl as I stoke the burning embers of orange in a box of black. Sparks of flame sputter and jump about then the coals settle once again.
Here I am again, at the beginning of a new day and not only that but of a new year. A fresh start. A clean slate. A second chance. These beginning days of a fresh new year are always spent in contemplation and consideration. It is my tradition, my right and my joy.
Some say resolutions are pishposh-they are simply words and goals easily forgotten or abandoned. They say you ought to work on being better EVERY day throughout the year. Resolutions are at best futile and at worst, a waste of time.
And perhaps these things are true for some. Lists don't do it for some people. Resolutions ARE mere words for some. AND THAT'S OKAY.
But for me, for ME I think the only way to know where you are going is to see where you have been. The only way to know what needs to change is to EVALUATE your life. The greatest way to change your life is to set your self up for success.
I remember as a girl having a poster up in my room that said "If you shoot for the moon but don't succeed, you will still be among the stars"
I would rather aim high and not succeed but make progress than to not aim at all and get nowhere.
Now is about the time when I open my eyes to how far I've come on my journey and humbly recognize how very far I still need to go. I draw my roadmap for the coming year~outlining all those areas that I ought to visit, for how can we get to where we need to be without a plan? I write my lists of provisions (after all, a long journey requires some preparation for success), lists that will help me to succeed and make the path more tolerable. Every single day I make lists to try and accomplish all that needs accomplishing so it naturally follows that lists for a new year help to guide and spur me on in the right direction. And they do.
This time last year, I shared my goals, which could be focused into three main areas.
In no particular order:
1# Reading and study. 2#Finances 3# Pantry.
Thanks to my road maps, I think I succeeded in all my goals.
1# I kept a log of all of my reading this year. Something I have never done before but something I found very helpful to look back on (and to look forward to!) I would add books as I heard of them to the "Reading Hopeful's list" and then try to borrow them interlibrary loan as I was able. It worked out splendidly because there was never a not-knowing-what-to-read-next syndrome. Here is the completed list.
I also listened often to sermons and conference lectures and studied vast and varied subjects whenever I could. I found Evolution to be a major studying point this year and found Ken Ham's works to be incredibly insightful. I also really enjoyed the debate between Christopher Hitchens and Doug Wilson: Is Christianity Good for the World? I can't wait to see the DVD. I am very bad at debating myself but do very much enjoy listening to talented debaters.
I will be starting up a new book list for this coming year because I felt it was incredibly worthwhile. And any recommendations would be greatly appreciated! ;-)
2# I am extremely proud of this one!! We are a one-income family and most people would raise eyebrows at how much (or little, as it were) that income is. I was doubtful we could make very big of an impact on our financial situation in one year...but we did (I think)! After reading several of Dave Ramsey's books, I started the year with a zero-based budget and implemented the envelope system. It was challenging and fun at the same time. I actually felt like we had MORE money to spend, not less, because I was holding a set amount of money in my envelopes all the time. We paid off over $8,000.00 paying OFF our credit card, paying for a speeding ticket (tsk, tsk Mattie!! hehe), finishing up some old hospital bills and adding more payments to our carloan. The credit card balance was zero in June and hasn't been used since. And won't. But this is not all! We were also able to save/invest about $4,000!!!!! The success stories in Dave Ramsey's book are jaw-dropping incredible and compared to them, our little story seems inconsequential but to us it is huge! Sometimes I would get discouraged about how long it has taken us to implement such an EASY plan and how far we would be had we learned to budget and use cash-only from the very beginning. But I thank God for opening our eyes and giving us a vision and the means to accomplish it. And I thank Matt for working so tirelessly each day/week.month/year to support our family and help us thrive. And for wearing glasses for an entire year while I used his contacts money for other things. Love you Mattie! :-)
#3: Not only did we pay off all that money and save/invest a hefty sum (for us) but we did so while devoting a goodly portion of money to creating and stocking a pantry. Matt and I are comfortable with the amount of food we have stored (the garden helped immensely too!) and are pleased with our progress, though we still have a way to go. I can't tell you how nice it is to have extra food set aside for suprise visits, last-minute company or cheap-grocery-budget weeks. Or huge snowstorms. It is incredible how much stress has been relieved-and I didn't even know I was stressed! I have stored water in the basement with old laundry detergent containers and drinking containers for washing up and drinking when the electricity is out and let me tell you: that has come in handy more than once already! I enjoyed learning about dehydration and hope to implement that knowledge even more this coming year. It is pretty cool.
So it seems, 2009 was a successful year for us in the reaching of our goals.
Here are a few hopefuls for the coming year:
~Eating breakfast every morning (I feed everyone else and don't myself.) ~Creating yearly/monthly schooling calendar and plans. I am a list person-so why haven't I been doing that for schooling?! ~Eating more beans and rice ~try to teach myself piano ~practice knitting ~Save up money to buy a macro lens and to get the timing fixed in the sewing machine. ~Expand my herb garden to accomodate homemade tea blends ~Pay off the car loan ~Begin saving for a downpayment for a house and land. (And continue to be self-disciplined enough for a cash-only money system. And to continue to keep a steady and reliable zero-based budget.) ~Family Read-Alouds ~More memorization for children (and myself)
These are all my superficial goals.
Looking back on this past year, though, not everything is commendable. In fact, there is a rather lot to be ashamed of. There has been much fear and despair in 2009. Seeing our own liberties being taken away from us, watching the government usurp authority and make very poor choices, watching as jobs are lost and businesses shut down--my soul has been wracked with it.
Also this year our dreams of home, land and homestead here in this place were shattered when the owners backed out of a deal to let us buy the place and told us they wanted, instead, to save this place for their son. AFTER we moved here. AFTER we cleaned out barns and planted gardens. Thankfully, it was right BEFORE we planned to plant the orchard. I have struggled terribly with bitterness and resentfulness. The fact that this was a Christian family hurt the most.
Fear = not enough trust. And bitterness and resentment is never commendable, no matter the circumstances.
All this to say:
This year a huge goal for me is to take whatever happens in my life with a smile. Be thankful always, in all circumstances. And recognize the gifts God gives for what they are. Remember Who is in charge.
If I could sum it up in a motto it would be FIND JOY.
And if that motto needed a KEY reference, it would be this:
Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.
While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.
Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:
Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:
Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:
The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:
The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.
The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.
Might my eyes be open to the great joy of each day, of a Maker who cares, of truth kept, of Hope in this year of our Lord 2010.
The first moment of the new year as the clock struck midnight~I didn't need my eyes open to find great joy.
The first kiss of the new year.
And there was GREAT joy.