My 2018 New Year’s Resolutions & Goals

Zig Ziglar once said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Well, I don’t want to be the someone who aims at nothing. I want to be the one who is striving to go further, to unlock more of my potential, and do my part and getting one step closer to God and to the person He designed me to be.

So, yes. I always set New Year’s Resolutions, and probably always will.
You’ve been asking, and here they are! My goals & resolutions for the year 2018 here, noted by category, but in no specific order. I also am sharing with you how I plan to track my progress for each of them and make them happen. Some of them will be obvious if I acheive them or not and don’t need further explanation.

While I don’t expect that I will reach every goal or establish every habit, I’m sure going to try. I know that writing down my goals means that I’m more likely to acheive them. I also know that by posting them publicly, for you as my followers, I’ll have an extra bonus level of accountability. I will try to post some updates for you throughout the year to let you know how things are going.

  • Read through the One Year Bible. (Spiritual Goal)
    I usually print off the One Year Bible Reading Plan, and cut the pages in half to fit in my Bible. I check off the days as I complete them so I can see my progress for this one that way. Also, I will be using my planner’s horizontal weekly spread to handwrite scriptures that jump out and speak to me in the provided daily space. This will show my progress towards this goal as well.
  • Do a few supplemental Bible studies. (Spiritual Goal)
    Here’s one I will start with, and I will choose a couple more throughout the year. Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer
  • Pray in the spirit more. (Spiritual Goal)
    I know it’s kind of a vague goal, but it’s sompething I don’t do enough. I think I will track this in my horizontal weekly spread by using a small cross symbol.
  • Get better at CrossFit. (Health & Fitness Goal)
    I’ve broken down this goal a bit more. I will be posting my S.M.A.R.T. goal post on how I’m doing this very soon.
  • See some actual muscle definition this year (Health & Fitness Goal)
    I will track this with before and after progress pictures in my planner. I can feel muscles now in my arms and legs, but I can’t see them yet.
  • Compete in the CrossFit Open this year (Health & Fitness Goal)
    This will take place in March, and it will be obvious if I reach this goal or not. No tracking necessary.
  • Add to our emergency fund. (Financial Goal)
    This will be noted in our monthly budget, and the only thing I’m tracking, aside from actual budgeting, is “No Spend Days” which we are about to start striving more towards so that we can really reach our financial goals.
  • Increase percentage of our tithe. (Financial Goal)
  • Save for future “closing costs” for us to move one day. (Financial Goal)
  • Create subsciber freebies for my blog followers. (Blog & Writing Goal)
  • Start a Patreon account with more bonuses & exclusives. (Blog & Writing Goal)
  • Study my family members’ personality types. (Relationship Goal)
    I want to read the book Reading People by Anne Bogel.
  • Plan a date with each child per quarter. (Relationship Goal)
    This will be noted on my calendar as a reminder to plan, but I will look to see what different events are going on in the area before I plan our outings.
  • Plan a date with Justin each month. (Relationship Goal)
    Right now, we’ve got Christmas giftcards to use so deciding where to eat should be pretty easy. 😉 That’s a plus!
  • Attend the church Marriage Retreat with Justin. (Relationship Goal)
  • Read 12 books this year. (Personal Goal)
  • Plan one mental health day off for myself each quarter. (Personal Goal)
    I will note this on my calendar as a reminder and plan a way to make it happen!

    So that’s it. It may seem like a lot, but I’m a goal-getter, and I’ve got a plan in place to reach each one. We’ll see how it goes. What are your goals for the year? I encourage you to make a list, or even just select one goal to work on and REALLY PURSUE that one thing! Think of one way that you can grow this year into more of the person that you really want to be, and then go do it!

My 2018 Happy Planner Walk-Through

My 2018 Planner 

Here’s what I have in my Frankenplanner. You can read more about what that means in Planning My Planner for 2018  post, but here’s a little description for you for now:

FrankenPlanner – (my favorite definition from the MAMBI facebook group) Using the “body” parts from multiple planners to create your perfect “monster” planner

This post is pretty much in list-form of all of the different components that make up my FrankenPlanner. There isn’t much “meat” to it, or details about my planning, but it gives you a good picture of what’s in my planner and how I will be using the pages. 

  • Pink “Happy Life” Snap-in Cover (Much more durable!) & Large Gold Disks
  • Title Page… “This Happy Planner Belongs to…” Front & 2018 Year on Back
  • Scriptures Page I have printed and added (You can print pages at 80% to fit perfectly in the Classic Size Happy Planners.)
  • December Tab and Monthly Spread
  • December Vertical Weekly Pages with a few Mini-Size Daily Pages Mixed In
  • Divider for December Recipes & Recipe Pages (How Perfect this will be when I’m looking for my favorite Christmas recipes to use again next year!)
  • January Trendsetter Monthly Tab & Spread – Here I will have a general overview of the month…. appointments, events, birthdays, holidays, etc.
  • January Trendsetter Goals Page – I fell in love with this page, and it’s the reason I wanted to get the Trendsetter. It has a place for Top 3 Goals, Monthly Goals, Checklist, Monthly Habit Trackers, Note to Self, Get It Done List, & a List of things to Focus On. Here’s how I will use each of those…
    1. Top 3 Goals: Priority goals that MUST get done this month or there will be consequences. For example, we must pay our property taxes in January. If not done in January, there will be a late fee added.
    2. Monthly Habit Trackers – There are 3 of these per month. For the month of January, I will track the days that I workout, my personal reading time & Me Time, & the days that I read aloud to my kids. These things are all important to me and things I really want to track and make sure I do.
    3. Monthly Goals – My broken down specific S.M.A.R.T. or W.H.O.O.P.I.E. Goal Tasks for the Month.
    4. Checklist – Monthly tasks like Clean the Coffee Maker, Change the Air Filter, Budget Review, & Homeschool Portfolios. (I also have a master of these for the year in my Notes Section.)
    5. Note to Self – Affirmation or Scripture to Meditate on for the Month
    6. Blank Space– Perfect for adding in a picture of my kids or family
    7. Get it Done – Priority Tasks that have to get done soon
    8. Focus On – Other habits I’d like to work on but aren’t necessarily tracking in this particular month
  • Trendsetter January Daily To Do’s – There are enough of these sections for each day of the month, but here’s something I’m also considering… Instead of doing one section per day – I might use it like a weekly view and add categories for the different things I do and hats I wear.
  • Notes Page (on the back of the last Daily To Do’s) & a 2019 Year View
  • January Horizontal Planner Overview & Dashboard Tab Page
  • January Horizontal Planner Tab & Monthly View
  • January Horizontal Weekly View Lined Pages
  • February Trendsetter Planner Inserts
  • February Horizontal Classic Planner Inserts
  • Also have March & April Inserts, but those are the only dated inserts I have in here currently to save room for other things I need. (As months end, I will file away the old month into the original covers that came with these planners and add in the new month.)
  •  Pocket Divider (Front Side is Labelled “File/Keep”, and Back Side is not labelled but it holds my laminated “Weekly Review Checklist” and Some Sticky Note Stickers for Quick Notes
  • Notes Section Tab & Dashboard (This came with the Trendsetter Planner, and I’m so glad, because I already planned to have a “Notes” section, but this gives me a Tab so I can easily find it.)
  • Index Page (I made this page so I can number the pages of my notes section and easily find what I’m looking for. It’s from the Bullet Journalling System, and it keeps me from having a bazillion different sections and tabs that really aren’t needed when I already have so many in my planner.) When I add a page to my notes, I just jot down the page number on this page and what the notes were for. And sometimes they may get out of order because I may put multiple things on one page such as a recipe at the top or notes from church on the bottom of the same page. As long as that’s written in my index, it works well enough for me.
  • To Do Lists Tab, Dashboard, and Pages – This section is where I have a running project list of tasks I need to or would just like to complete. I write in the date, add the task, and check it off when it’s completed. This section is from the Home Management Happy Planner Kit, but this is the only section I actually still use from that kit. I’ve labelled three pages in it with “Personal Projects and Tasks”, “First Impressions” (which is all of my church-related tasks & meeting notes), & “Wish List” – which is a running list of household things we need, or things like new jeans for Lawson, or a book I saw that I’d like to order. It’s nice to have it all in one place if I find room in the budget to check something off the list.
  • House Cleaning Section – (Honestly, I don’t need an entire section for this, as I am a bit domestically challenged, but I do like having the tab.) Originally this did come from the Home Management Kit as well, but it had Weekly Cleaning Lists – which I did use, but I don’t care to use again. Instead, I’ve made my own “Monthly Tasks” Tracker Page, and it’s things that I’d like to do and repeat every month. I will probably add in my Morning Routine, my Evening Routine, the Boys’ Morning Checklist, & Some Quarterly Household/Cleaning Chores to this section, but I haven’t done that just yet.
  • Budget Tab/Divider
  • Pocket Divider (Front Side is Labelled “Bills” so I can keep up with what needs to be paid and not lose it and the Back Side is Labelled “Coupons” – just the coupons that I will definitely, actually use like the Michael’s flyer
  • Bill Pay Checklist (from the Budgeting Happy Planner Kit) I love these, and I use two per month. I’ve divideded our bills & expenses between Justin’s two paychecks, based on their due dates. So I do our budget twice a month with weekly reviews and a big monthly review at the end. (At least, that’s my goal.)
  • Expense Tracker Pages
  • Budget Review
  • Month at a Glance (Budget Review)
  • Pocket Divider (Front Side Labelled “First Impressions”/ Back Side Labelled “Upcoming” where I keep invitations & such so I can easily find them when needed

    And that’s my planner for 2018!! Now it’s time to put it to work for me!

How I Use My Planner To Reach My Goals & Be More Intentional

Because I am a Planner Girl, I love to Plan. And because I love to Plan, I love Goals. I love making Lists, like New Year’s Resolutions, and figuring out a plan or system for how to acheive those goals. INTJ personality type here! I totally nerd-out when it comes to these things. Nothing feels better than checking off a box of a task completed or a goal reached! (Okay, I can think of a few things in life that are better, but those things are not what this particular post is about.) Stay with me here.

If you were to take a look at me and my lifestyle before and after I really became a Planner Girl, I am certain you would see the difference. While I’ve always loved organizational things and “school supplies” if you will, now that I’ve found the Planning System that works best for me, I’m able to put that to use in my life. Before it was to-do lists written randomly on my collection of notebooks or notepads or scribbled on a dry erase board – without much thought or intention. Those tasks may or may not actually have gotten done. Who knows? It was all too random. No goals to work towards or a plan in place to make actual changes happen – just random tasks with no order or strategy.

Don’t get me wrong- I’ve always been a girl who had a planner. From those little monthly calendars you can get from the dollar store to pre-made spiral agendas (spiral – never again for me!), sketch books that I literally made into my own planner (gosh, it was so ugly), Moleskine Bullet Journals, Traveler’s Notebooks (which I still love for archives), etc. I have just found that The Happy Planner is what works for me. It’s the longest I’ve stuck with any type of planner. (Since July 2016!) I love that I can customize it and make it my own, but that those components I need already exist. I can just purchase them (a little at a time, with a coupon, of course) until I get all that I need and put it together. It just works for me! Another thing that I think is a big component of why I love and use it so much is that it’s beautiful. There are so many different styles and varieties of the Happy Planner that deciding which one to get is the hardest part. I think that when something is pretty, it makes you want to look at it. It’s why I’ve begun decorating my planner even more – Give me all the washi and pretty handwriting! And no, this is not a sponsored blog post for the Happy Planner. I just really love it!

So with all that said… now, let me share with you how I use my planner to reach my goals and be more intentional. It’s why you’re here, right?

  • Yearly Planning: Start with the Big Picture for the Year by writing New Year’s Resolutions and Goals. You can do this by just having a brain dump onto paper of all of the ideas that you have. Think about the different hats that you wear in your life and come up with one or two ways you’d like to improve this year in those categories. This is all about being more intentional and becoming a better you than you were last year. You CAN do this! You can read my previous posts and use S.M.A.R.T. or W.H.O.O.P.I.E. to help you set some goals for yourself. Just by writing down your goals, studies show that you are more likely to actually acheive them!
  • Monthly Planning: Once you have your Big Picture of your Year and maybe even a Word of the Year to focus on, it’s time to break it down into months. For each big goal – you have 12 months or 12 different steps you can take to reach this goal. Think of it like building blocks. Instead of starting a new diet, going to the gym every day, drinking more water, and taking the stairs all in January, just choose one of those to really focus on for the month. Track it for the month, and then add another thing in February. You might find that you are more successful this way, and you might see that you naturally just want to make more healthy choices anyway, without much thought.So go ahead and get your plan in place. Take each big goal you have and break them down. Focus on one at a time. Another option would be to choose just 4 big goals for the year and do one per quarter. All of your goals may not have “12 steps” where you will do one thing per month.

    For example – If your goal is “Get Closer to God”, don’t just leave it at that. Make a list of steps you will take so that you are intentional to make that happen. Realize that God is doing His part already – He’s ready and willing to meet with you every day, and He’s just waiting for you to show up.
    Some examples of how you can do your part to reach this goal….
    Step one – Establish the habit of Morning Quiet Time & Bible Reading… Use a monthly calendar to track this habit. Draw a small symbol or color in a box every day that you do it. See how many consecutive days you can get. Do it, no matter what, until it becomes a habit for you and a part of your identity. Think of it like an appointment you have set up each day, like you would with anyone else. Go to bed earlier. Have a snack and a quiet activity available for your kids. Set your alarm a little bit earlier. Prep the coffee the night before. Clear the chair and area you plan to sit. Think about all of the obstacles beforehand and plan a way to overcome them.
    Step Two – Handwrite a scripture from your daily Bible reading that speaks to you. A planner with horizontal lines is perfect for this. It’s how I will be using mine.
    Step Three – Create a prayer journal so you can intentionally pray for your life and the needs of those around you. Again, use a monthly tracker to track the days you do this until it becomes a habit. Seeing it on a calendar gives you a big picture view of your progress.

    Go ahead and plug your goals into your planner if it helps you to do that. I use my monthly pages to write down my specific goals for that particular month. That way it’s easy to focus on and keep track of my progress. You can do this for any goal that you set – they just may be broken down in different ways. Find what works for you!

  • Weekly Planning: Next, you’ll break down your planning into Weeks. Look at your monthly calendar to see what you have going on this week as you get ready for your week. If you are using a weekly spread in a planner, be sure to carry all of your events, appointments, birthdays, and holidays over to your weekly spread. Add in any little notes of things you need to bring to these events or ways that you need to prepare for them. At this point you can take the monthly goals and habits you are working and focusing on and plug them into your planner, or you can save this for your daily planning. I usually will write “Weekly Priorities” and appointments only on my weekly spread in the “Notes” section, and save the specific tasks for my daily planning, but what you do is up to you.
  • Daily Planning: When planning your Days, in my opinion, it’s best to do it one day at a time. While I may fill in the things that will not change such as events or appointments in advance, for the most part, I only write tasks for today or tomorrow at most. I use the bullet journal style for daily task lists. Every task listed has a check box where they get an “X” as they are completed. If they do not get completed, I carry them over to the next day’s list with a “>” to show that it has been carried over from a previous day, and I also put a “>” in the box on the current day to show that it didn’t get completed, but I moved it over. That way I won’t see an empty box and look at it again, but I will see it when I need to. I also like to prioritize 1-3 tasks that REALLY NEED TO BE DONE TODAY. My daily pages have had a section at the top for this, but my new Trendsetter daily tasks page will not, so instead, I will add 1-3 stars beside the checkboxes for the day so that I can see what I really need to focus on doing. (I hope that this all makes sense. I think that a video would be much better for explaning this more thoroughly. Maybe one day soon, I’ll get to that – but the thought makes me really nervous.)
    Daily Page, Mini
    Trendsetter Daily To-Do’s Page

    So that’s it! Now it’s time for you to write down your own goals for yourself and get a plan in place to make them happen! You still have a few days before the New Year begins so that you can start it out with intentionality and purpose. This is going to be a great year! Let’s be goal-getters!

Planning My Planner for 2018

As this year is coming to an end, so is my planner. I have officially been “Happy Planning” for a year and a half now. As I close the cover of my very first Happy Planner, it’s time that I choose and open the cover of my next one.

I have come to love the MAMBI (Me and My Big Ideas) Happy Planner line. I have one for my personal life and home management that I use for pretty much everything. It’s the one I’ve been using since July 2016 that will be completed this month. I purchased another one and used it, specifically, as a baby book for Layten’s first year. A planner makes a GREAT baby book! I was able to keep up with all of her milestones each month and add pictures easily. I also purchased one to use for our Homeschool because it’s really nice to keep that separate from everything else. It holds all of our memory work, plans for each term, attendance, and a daily log of what we get done each homeschool day.

So those 3 make up my Happy Planner collection, but as you noticed – one is coming to an end so I have to choose another one to keep up with all of my personal things and all of our home management needs.

So while it might sound a little obsessive or nerdy or whatever that I am “planning my planner”, I don’t even care about that anymore. This is who I am. A planner girl. It has helped me accomplish so much more than I ever thought possible. Just by planning out my life – my month, my week, my day… I found that I was actually being more intentional with it, instead of just letting life happen to me. I woke up each day with goals and plan of action , instead of just “putting out fires” and being lazy all day. It’s really been a good thing for me, and now that I’ve discovered what system works best for me, I want to find the perfect planner that does just that!

Here’s what I need in a planner…

  • A Monthly View – So I can see the Big Picture of appointments, events, etc.
  • A Daily To-Do List – I like to do this “Bullet Journal” style. I plan one day at a time for my tasks that I need to accomplish. I can “star” my top 3 priorities for each day, and whatever doesn’t get done, gets moved forward to the next day.
  • A Section for Notes – I might divide this into categories like Bible Study, Prayer Journal, Church Notes, Meeting Notes, Commonplace Corner for notes from Books I’m reading, and Miscellaneous -or- I might leave it as one big section and just create and index like you would do in a bullet journal. I AM looking to add my prayer journal and Bible study notes to my Happy Planner so that it’s all in one place though. I should complete my current Bible study/Prayer journal with this Advent study I’m working through.
  • A Budgeting Section – I’m not sure if I will purchase the Budgeting Kit from the Happy Planner line again, or if I will create my own. I really like the “Bill Pay Checklist” and the “Expense Tracker” pages, but I don’t necessarily love having another monthly view in my planner for budgeting. I haven’t found it to be useful for me because I pay all of our bills twice a month, when Justin gets paid based on their due dates so it’s already pretty simple.
  • Ongoing To-Do/Project List – I really like this section of the Home Management kit, but it’s the only section of that kit I continued to use throughout the year. The Meal Planner & Grocery list was great until we started our Macronutrient Nutrition Plan and no longer needed it. The cleaning checklist was great, but I didn’t necessarily use it to it’s full potention, and just like added these cleaning tasks to my daily to do/ task list instead.
  • Weekly View – I have come to love decorating my vertical weekly views in my Happy Planner, but I decided that I wanted to go with a horizontal, lined layout this year instead to encourage me to do more daily scripture-writing (which I love) and journaling. It’s not so easy to write in the vertical spaces, so horizontal will be good for this. I’m sure I can find a way to decorate it still, and I hope I won’t regret not having the vertical spread.So! With all that in mind, I had to customize and create a planner that would meet all my needs. I knew that the Happy Planner would be able to do just that with all of it’s customizations available! I decided to go with the Happy Planner Classic-Size Horizontal 2018 Planner AND The Happy Planner Trendsetter Style Classic 2018 Planner. I would combine the two into one planner for me. This is called “Frankenplanning”, which I’ve really been doing all along anyway.Franken Planner – (my favorite definition from the MAMBI facebook group) Using the “body” parts from multiple planners to create your perfect “monster” planner
    The 2 Planners I Purchased for 2018 (Trendsetter on the Left; Horizontal Classic on the Right)
    Trendsetter Planner Monthly Overview
    Trendsetter Monthly Spread (I fell in love with this!)
    Trendsetter Daily To-Do’s (This replaces the usual weekly spread.) I loved it because it would combine my current daily pages I use all on one page, making my planner less chunky.
    Classic, Horizontal Planner Monthly Overview
    Classic, Horizontal, Lined Weekly Spread
    My 2018 Frankenplanner with Large Disks & a Pretty Pink Durable Snap-in Cover

    Next Up! I will give you a walk-through of my 2018 Frankenplanner… all of it’s sections and components, and how I use them. I will show you exactly how I’ve customized it and how I will use it to be more intentional and meet goals that I am setting.

W.H.O.O.P.I.E. Goals for 2018!

In my last post, I shared with you how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. Now it’s time for another acrostic that I like to use. This one I heard about from the podcast, Chasing Excellence by Ben Bergeron. It’s called Whoopie. Let me explain…

Setting W.H.O.O.P.I.E. Goals…

The W and the H stand for Wishing and Hoping. Science shows that by wishing and hoping, your brain gets excited. And when you share those wishes and hopes with others, it gives your brain another high, basically. So if you are at a party or get-together and you start talking about all these things you wish and hope to do, you will be feeling pretty good about it all. But honestly, most people never get past this point of wishing and hoping to reach their goals. How many times have you heard people say, “I’m going to lose weight this year.” or “I’m going to run a marathon.”, etc. and then you never see them do it. Unfortunately, most people just get stuck here.

**Studies also show that by writing down your goal (just writing it down on paper), one has a MUCH better chance at actually working towards it and reaching that goal. So – go ahead, right now, and write down your goal if you already have one. Write it down somewhere, and meet me back here. I’ll wait…

So, now let’s move on to the O of the word W.H.O.O.P.I.E. The first O stands for Outcome. This is basically looking at the big picture and what your “results” and “end goal” will be before you even start working on them. So, with losing weight as an example, it might be… for my clothes to fit me better, to have more energy, to start seeing some muscle-tone, etc. This part is exciting too, and some people make it to this step of the process as well. We like thinking about what the end goal will be and how nice it will be once we’ve completed our goal!

The next O stands for Obstacles. This is where most people get tripped up. Many people see obstacles as excuses. And they use these excuses as a reason to not meet their goals, and the whole process ends here.  Boom. Over. Done. Well, that’s unfortunate.

Maybe they didn’t think about the obstacles before they started so when they came up, they weren’t prepared for them and how to overcome them. I know, for me, in the past, it was hard to make myself get to the gym if my kids were sick. It was a huge obstacle for me, and yes, I used it as an excuse to just stop all together even trying to go. I would be three weeks into establishing my habit, and then one of my children would run a fever so I couldn’t take them out. But with my goal of “three classes per week”, I knew that I still have opportunities to reach that task for that goal, even if I couldn’t go on Monday. Or maybe I could do a home workout that day instead. I had a plan in place for overcoming the obstacles, a Plan B – if you will.  I wasn’t going to let it be an excuse anymore for me to fail. And this is a very important step.

P actually stands for the Planning & Process. It’s not only planning for how to overcome the obstacles, but maybe it’s writing a training plan for yourself if you are working to lose weight or writing out a meal plan. It’s the process of “gym 3x/week”. I know that my process included nursing the baby or pumping a bottle of milk before we went to the gym, grabbing a snack for the boys, and bringing the stroller for the baby. It was a lot of work to get to the gym, but I now had a process and a plan, and it worked.

The I in W.H.O.O.P.I.E. stands for Identity…. attach your identity to your goal. Finish this sentence with something that is relevant to your goal.
I am someone who….
wakes up early to get my workout in
.
wakes up early to spend time with God.
cleans the kitchen before I go to bed.

plans out my day the night before.

It can be anything, and your goal then just becomes part of who you are. People come to expect it from you. I’m thinking of all the times that we’ve gone out of town, whether to my parents’ house or even further away – almost every time we do – my husband looks ahead and plans to attend one or more classes at the nearest CrossFit gym. We’ve all come to expect it, because it’s a part of who he is. And that’s definitely not a bad thing.

The E and final letter stands for Execute. Take your plan, and put it into action. Make it happen. Reach that goal. I use my planner for this, whatever my goal might be, and it helps me tremendously. I’ll be showing you how I do that soon.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals for 2018!

I know, I know. Christmas isn’t even here yet… you can’t possibly be thinking about plans for 2018 yet. Well, I am. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I am a planner girl, and I love goals! I love setting goals, working on them, and most-of-all reaching them! And I’m inviting you to do that with me for this next year.

This week we will talk about two different acrostics for goal-setting. I’ve already shared with you my Word of the Year,  and I will also share with you some new year’s resolutions and plans I’m working on.

I think it’s important to start thinking and praying about what goals you might want to work on for the upcoming year now. It’s only two weeks away, after all. I am still working on my planner for 2018, but I did print out this handy 2018 Goal-Setting Workbook.

What are some habits you’d like to form? What are some things you’d like to accomplish? Start big, and then you can break it down into smaller goals.

Some people like to use the S.M.A.R.T. acrostic for goal setting…. that is… goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. For example – last year one of my goals was to “Lose Weight”. That’s a pretty common New Year’s Goal.

I broke down that larger goal into smaller “tasks” that I could work on each month. I started by going to the gym and making it a habit. The gym intimidated me, honestly, but as a member classes were free so I started there and tried to make three classes per week. And that was my task for the month of January. That was it. My first “specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound” task of my goal.

So I thought of it like this building blocks…. each month I would add a new block or habit or task into reaching my goal, and this worked well for me. I used my planner to track my progress… so I was able to see how the various tasks of my big goal were measured and attained in the time-frame given.

Goal: Lose Weight

January – 3 Gym Classes per week

February – 3 Gym Classes per week
plus
Track my Water Intake

March – 3 Gym Classes per week
plus
Track my Water Intake
plus
Replace carbs with healthier versions

April – 3 Gym Classes per week
plus
Track my Water Intake
plus
Replace carbs with healthier versions plus
Start a Macronutrient Diet Plan

You get the picture. So take whatever your big goal is, and break it down into smaller pieces so that it’s actually attainable for you. Think about the different areas and aspects on your life when making your goals.

Here are some examples…
(not necessarily all mine – just some I thought of on the fly here… I’ll be sharing mine soon.)
Personal Goals – Read 12 books in 2018. Start a blog or a podcast. Learn how to sew. Learn how to play the ukelele.
Spiritual Goals – Establish habit of quiet time & Bible study. Read through the One Year Bible. Start keeping a prayer journal.
Self-Care Goals – Plan one off-day per quarter to do something that rejuvenates me. Establish the habit of “sabbath”. Do something for myself each week.
Health – Establish the habit of going to the gym. Make a lifestyle of eating healthy. Plan mine and my family’s wellness appointments for the year.
Relationship Goals – Study the personality types of those closest to me and pray about how to get along better with those people. Plan date nights each month. Plan one-on-one “dates” with each of my children.
Church Goals– Join a team. Lead a small group.
Work Goals– Be punctual. Meet deadlines. Encourage others around me.
Financial Goals – Increase my tithe. Increase my savings. Pay off a debt entirely.

In my next post, I will share with you another acrostic for goal-setting. It’s called “Whoopie”, and it’s now one of my favorites.

Under Construction

I feel like the airplane analogy is resonating with me lately. For some reason, it’s just helping me to describe my feelings and what’s going on in my life lately. First- the holding pattern and the season of waiting. Then, it was time to land the plane, though sooner, that we really hoped to do so. And now, it feels like I’m just not ready for another take-off just yet.  Part of me kind of feels like I want to throw myself back into something – a new project or something to work on, maybe to keep myself busy and get excited about something new. And maybe that is what God wants and has for me. But another part of me is cautious and isn’t ready to make any moves just yet. I’ll just keep this plane on the ground for now… and not risk any emergency landings or crashes. But is that fear in my life keeping me from doing something that God has for me? I don’t know the answer to these just yet, but I’ll keep praying and seeking God for more clarity, and I pray that I am obedient with whatever He calls me to do – whether it’s to move or to just be still.

Everyone has been so kind with their words and hugs and thoughts and prayers. I’m so thankful for all of you wonderful people in our lives! Last week, we received news that our baby #4 was not developing properly and that our pregnancy was going to result in miscarriage. We had a decision to make, whether to let it happen naturally or to schedule to have a procedure called a D&C. With me being nearly 11 weeks pregnant, my doctor suggested the D&C as the best option – especially since my body had not recognized yet that the pregnancy was not a viable one. It could be weeks before it even started, and then it would last longer and be even harder on me, physically and probably emotionally too. But with this news and when my heart accepted it, my body followed suit and the miscarriage did begin. We scheduled the D&C and had it done on Friday. I’m glad that we made the decision to do that, and it has given us closure from all of this.

After the procedure on Friday, we came home, and I took a really long nap. It felt so good, and I felt great when I woke up! We didn’t really rush, and I wasn’t trying to do too much, but we went ahead and packed our things and went to my parents’ for the weekend. We had Christmas with them on Saturday morning and Christmas with my grandmother & family at lunch. Then, we traveled back home. It was a busy, busy weekend. Emotionally, I was good. As long as we were busy, I could keep things together and under control. That’s just the way that I am. I do have emotions and feelings, but they are very deep down. They don’t just come out on a whim, and especially not when I’m around people. I also sort of felt numb, maybe still in a little bit of shock from all that has taken place. But also, we did kind of know that this was a possibility for several weeks, so maybe I was just already mentally and emotionally preparing for it, and I just didn’t know it yet.

Either way, I was good. And on Sunday morning at church, I was good too. Several people just gave me a hug when they saw me and didn’t say anything. I think it’s probably the best thing you can do in a situation like this. There really are no words to say, and words aren’t even necessary sometimes. I felt the love of the people around me and knowing that people are praying for me is a huge help to me.

But Sunday afternoon, I felt lost. And I also felt like I’d been hit my a truck. My whole body felt achy and sore, and I read that this is a side effect from the anesthesia. Part of me was really tired from our busy weekend, and part of me just felt unmotivated. I had a list of things I needed to get done, and I didn’t do them. I wallowed, instead. And I know, some would say that after the loss that we have experienced, that this would be perfectly okay. But for me, it didn’t feel okay. This is not the way in which I rest and feel refreshed. Lying around and doing nothing is just not me. I am a goals girl, and even if I’m not necessarily working on my list of tasks and to-do’s, there are still things I do that make me feel good put me in a good place. But I chose not to do those things, and I just didn’t want to do anything, except go to bed. I would even venture to say that it was a slight feeling of hopelessness and depression. It’s one of my greatest fears with all of this – that I would become numb or depressed. Pray with me that I can find the good in this and learn to move forward appropriately.

Mostly, I feel this way because I have lost my direction, and I’m at a loss for which way I should go now. With pregnancy, you pretty much know what your destination is. I’ve already had three successful pregnancies, so I knew how to plan and prepare. I knew what to expect. I began to feel the joy and excitement – not only for the new addition to our family, but also to the pregnancy itself and the journey of that. And with that being gone now, even though it was semi-expected, it feels like my plane has crashed, and I do not know how to put it back together for another lift-off. I just know that before I venture on a new journey towards a new destination, I’ve got to fix the plane. I’ve got to give myself time… time to put myself back together, to heal, and then update my plane with the latest, new features. Features that I wouldn’t have ever added if this flight hadn’t ended. I would’ve kept on flying just the way I was – not a bad plane – but not the best I could be either.

Maybe it’s more love – deeper, and like I’ve never loved before. Love for others, maybe who’ve experience the same thing or who will. Maybe it’s a joy for my own family, a deeper joy that I couldn’t experience before. Maybe it’s the unshakeable peace that only God can give. I definitely have felt this one over the past several weeks! Maybe it’s kindness – empathy towards others who go through difficult times. Goodness, more faithfulness, a gentleness I didn’t have before, or even self-control… It could be any of these or a combination of them!

It’s also now a part of my story – a story that I can and will share with others as God leads me to do so. It’s a life experience that will, no doubt, grow me more into the person that God has created me to be. And although I did not want this to be another trial and test in my life, I did finally surrender and accept that it is. I know that I will be okay and that good things will come. I know that my plane is just under contruction and that it will be ready soon for another lift-off towards a new destination – a great destination and journey that God has planned for me.

Thank you for your prayers & your love. Please keep them coming.

Word of the Year for 2018

I’m sure you’ve heard some people talk about their “Word of the Year”. It seems to be a new trend, especially when it comes to thinking about starting a new year and new year’s resolutions. I first heard the idea a few years ago, and I absolutely love it!

A couple of years ago the word I chose was “Intentional”, and that was a great choice. So many aspects of my life were summed up in that word, and it inspired me to be purposeful in all of my roles as a Christian, as a wife, and as a mom. This year, for whatever reason, I did not choose a word to focus on for the year. It’s been a hard year…. a year of many trials and lessons learned. If I were to sum up this past year with one word though, it would be “Identity”. This was a year of discovering more about myself, who God created me to be, my purpose, and my individual personality and giftings. Yes, it was a hard year, but there were many many good things that came from it as well.

As I’ve started thinking and praying about this next year, God gave me the word “Increase”. Personally, I love that it’s another “I” word, but it seemed to me like kind of a selfish word to define my year because when I first heard it, the first thing that came to mind was “financial increase”. And yes, I would like all of our basic needs to be met so that we are free to help others, but I am also content where we are. Like, okay, God, but that’s not a word I can tell people. They will think I’m greedy.  But I went with it and looked up the definition to gain more clarity.

increase – (verb) become or make greater in size, amount, intensity, or degree; add to, make larger, make bigger
synonyms…. grow, get bigger, get larger, enlarge, expand, swell; rise, climb, escalate, soar, surge, rocket, intensify, strengthen, extend, heighten, stretch, spread, widen, multiply

increase – (noun) an instance of growing or making greater
synonyms… growth, rise, enlargement, expansion, extension, multiplication, elevation, inflation; intensification, amplification, surge

So after reading the definitions of the word and the synonyms, I absolutely want it to be my word of the year of 2018! I’m reminded of the Prayer of Jabez, “Oh that You would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from hard times so that I will be free from pain.”
1 Chronicles 4:10

Jabez wanted to succeed and increase his sphere of influence for God. What is important here is that when we want to reach for goals and accomplishments that we have God on our side. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.”

So I’m really excited about this next year. I love new beginnings! A new year, a new month, a new week, and a new day – even if it’s a Monday, especially if it’s a Monday! Since we only have a little time left before our new year begins, this week on the blog – we will be talking about goal-setting and planning out our year! Subscribe, if you haven’t already so that you won’t miss it.

And while I don’t know that every aspect of the word Increase will come to fruition for us, I do know that I’ll be starting out my year thinking and praying about my relationship with God and how I can INCREASE there… how I can grow, intensify, be strengthened, and rise. It’s going to be a good year!

The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless those who fear the Lord, both the small and the great. May the Lord give you increase, you and your children! May you be blessed by the Lord, who made the heaven and earth! Psalm 115:12-15

What word will you choose to focus on this next year? What word will define and inspire you to do greater things in your 2018? Pray about it, and I’d love to hear which word you choose!

It Is Well

I previously posted about our season of waiting in the post titled, “Holding Patterns“. That particular season has come to an end now. There is relief, and there has been closure as well. We have since been able to see some good in all of this and know why it had to happen this way. This is the story of our miscarriage.

Early in November 2017, we were surprised to find out that we were expecting baby #4 in our family. It was a big surprise for us, and honestly it took me a week or two for that shock to wear off. But we got excited and just knew that God would provide what we needed for this baby, and it would all be under control. We rested in that and started to feel joy.

He loves us. We can trust Him.

For whatever reason, we didn’t feel like we should really share our exciting news with the general public, but we did tell our families over Thanksgiving. The week after Thanksgiving, I had a small complication, and I texted my midwife who suggested I go get some bloodwork done and have an ultrasound. I scheduled it, even though all of the issues had already seemed to resolve themselves.

The doctor I saw said that some of this is just normal sometimes and not always a reason to worry. We scheduled an ultrasound for the following day. The morning of the ultrasound I woke up feeling fearful. Ironically, I had a post on fears scheduled in my blog series on Fervent Prayer. I reread the post and wrote down four of the scriptures on my daily planner page to meditate on throughout the day. I decided not to be fearful, and to instead be hopeful. I really thought it was going to be a good visit and ultrasound.

On the way to the ultrasound, I worshipped and sang in my car. I went through my Spotify playlist and listened to songs like “Not Today” by Hillsong United and “Oceans/You Make Me Brave” by Caleb & Kelsey. I purposefully skipped through songs like “Even When It Hurts” by Hillsong United and “It is Well” by Kristene DiMarco, Bethel. I just wanted to remain hopeful. I consciously decided not to sing those songs before my appointment because I wanted to stay hopeful and positive – not neutral.

But I also do remember thinking – if something goes wrong, I will be okay and get through this. I’ve grown so much spiritually this past year, and it’s because of all of the trials I’ve had to face. Now that I’m on the other side, I’m thankful for each one. I’m glad I’m not the same person I was a year ago. I’m glad God has used those things to grow me. I’m glad I have surrendered and been obedient to hard things He has called me to do – like share my story. But honestly – I didn’t want this to be another trial for me. Maybe I just didn’t want to grow anymore. This is where it stops. Okay, I’ve had enough God. I’m good. Good things. Good news now. Positive. Happiness. Joy. Faith.

I want a happy, faithful story or trust and surrender for God to provide – not another trial or thing to walk through, not loss.

On the screen of the ultrasound, all I saw was grey with a blob of empty space. The ultrasound tech said that the gestational sac was there which is a definite sign of pregnancy, but no fetal pole was visible yet. I probed her further for her to tell me reasons this could be, although I knew she really couldn’t say. She said it could be that I’m not as far along as we originally thought (8 weeks) or that the baby just wasn’t developing like it should.

I left and felt like I didn’t have any of the answers I was looking for when I went in. I didn’t know what I was feeling, but it felt shaky. Unstable. I texted Justin that I didn’t have any answers, but I knew he was about to start coaching his class. Emotions overwhelmed me, and I just cried. He called, and I couldn’t answer the phone right away. I didn’t know what I was feeling or what was even happening. Should I still be hopeful, or should I be realistic? It felt like I just received news that I had miscarried, but I couldn’t even say that because I didn’t even see a baby on that screen. I called Justin back when I could.

When I got off the phone, I turned the music up in my car and the words, “I believe in you. You’re the God of miracles” was playing from Kari Jobe’s CD, The Garden. I soaked them in and proclaimed them. As I did, the tears began to fall again, but this time in worship and complete surrender, the thing I was lacking before my appointment. My pastor called me and prayed with me. He reminded me that I am a woman of big faith, and I held on to those words. Yes, I am. And from that moment I made the decision to have faith over fear and to pray for God to work a miracle with this baby.

A nurse called me when I got home, and she said all of the same things that the ultrasound tech had told me. She also told me that I had a subchorionic hematoma, which means there is some fluid around the sac. This put me at high risk – higher risk of having a miscarriage. She told me to take it easy. She said we’d have our regular appointment next week and schedule a follow-up ultrasound closer to two weeks. As I hung up the phone, I was mindful – She said higher risk, but she didn’t say I was having a miscarriage. She seemed positive, so I will stay positive too. The next afternoon the nurse called back and told me that my levels of a certain hormone were really low and that I would need to start taking a supplement prescription for that right away or that my chances of miscarriage were even greater. So we went and got that prescription filled.

We just waited and prayed and believed God for a miracle.

At my next appointment, I asked all the questions of whether I should be expecting to have a miscarriage, and my doctor didn’t seem to think so. He asked me all the questions about dates and seemed to think I just wasn’t as far along. My follow-up ultrasound would tell more. With that, Justin came with me. We saw the same thing as I had seen on my previous ultrasound. The ultrasound tech said that I was measuring 5 1/2 weeks. I was thinking I was 9 1/2 weeks, originally so that’s quite a big difference. We looked at the calendar to see if that is even scientifically possible and tried to remain hopeful. We guessed that it was maybe with my timing being irregular and with the super early response pregnancy tests that are on the market today, but we really didn’t know.

We talked and kind of decided that we would like to wait longer before we did another ultrasound or any follow-ups. If it’s possible that we really aren’t as far along, then we should really just wait. After all, we’d never had an early ultrasound with any of our other pregnancies, and things were just fine. We were having no signs of a miscarriage, so waiting just seemed like the thing to do.

I expected the doctor or nurse to call me on Monday with a report from the ultrasound, but they didn’t so I went to my scheduled appointment on Tuesday. He said, “I’m trying to think of any possible reason to not call this a miscarriage.” But he couldn’t find a good reason that it was possible for this to progress as a healthy pregnancy. He compared the two ultrasounds, and said that the sac had even gotten smaller in size between the two, which shouldn’t be happening with a normal pregnancy. He said the problem is that my body still thinks I am pregnant and hasn’t realized yet that the baby has not developed. The longer it goes, the harder a miscarriage will be. He gave me some options as far as how to proceed. I told him I would discuss it with my husband and let him know what we decided to do.

So this is something, although we never would have have wished or hoped for this to happen, we did know that it was a possibility for weeks. I feel like the waiting helped me to go ahead and emotionally and mentally prepare for it even though we waited and prayed hard against it. That waiting and confusion was the hardest part. I had a good cry on the way home, but I knew that I would be okay. This is a part of my story, our story. And something good will come from it.

It is well.

While we did have a miscarriage in December 2017, we were surprised again a few months later to find out that we were pregnant again. This time, we’ve gone on to have a healthy pregnancy, and our baby is due very soon. God was faithful to teach us and grow us through our miscarriage and season of just trusting Him. He has blessed us in such big ways since then. He loves us. We can trust Him.

Holding Patterns

While I can’t share details just yet, currently, I am in a season of waiting. My patience is being tested. My faith is being tested. I am just waiting.

When I first received the confusing news, my response was emotional – an outpouring of emotions and feelings of not understanding what is going on. “Why is this happening, God?” But then, very soon afterwards, I was reminded of my faith, when someone said to me, “You are a woman of big faith.” It stuck with me, and encouraged me to keep it up, and keep going. Keep the faith. Remember your faith. And it’s been weeks. I have stayed, mostly, on a faithful high point – A belief that God will take care of this. He loves me, and I can trust Him. “I am a woman of big faith.”

But still there are times, when my faith has wavered…. it grows thin. The voices on the outside cause me to doubt, to think negatively, and expect a negative outcome. I’m analyzing like I do. I’m researching. I’m trying to be realistic. I’m searching out possiblities.  I’m trying to stay full of faith, to keep my faith levels up, but some days it’s hard.  All of these feelings and emotions running wild in my head. My faith needs to stay steady and in wait for God’s move. Sometimes that means, keeping silent and just being still.

“I am a woman of big faith…”

I keep reminding myself. I refill those reserves where my faith was trying to escape me. I am thinking positively and knowing that this is all a part of God plan. God has a purpose for all of this. He is growing me through it. I am learning to trust Him even more. Trusting, though I cannot see. Trusting though the outcome is unclear to me. Trusting and waiting. Waiting and trusting. “I am a woman of big faith.”

I am reminded of a sermon preached early in our marriage about “holding patterns”. I love how the words of pastors and sermons, even from the past, come to our minds and our reserves just when we need them.

You know I like to give definitions, so I looked this one up for you too…

holding pattern – the flight path maintained by an aircraft awaiting permission to land; a state or period of no progress or change

So basically, a holding pattern is a visual for a plane that has arrived at it’s destination, but is waiting for the signal that it is safe to land the plane at the airport. The plane keeps flighing around the airport in a “holding pattern” until they receive this signal to move.

So I am in a holding pattern, a season of waiting. I feel like I am right there at my destination, but I am having to wait. Just keep moving. Keep living. Keep up my faith. And wait for God to give me the signal that all is okay, and I can move forward.

“When it appears from earth that God is delaying, He is really putting pieces together that you may not have thought of. He is engineering circumstances so that his power and glory will be on display. When God builds a waiting period into the course of our affairs, it means that what He is doing, requires it! His apparent, delays are loving, purposeful, & deliberate! -Jennifer Kennedy Dean, “Live a Praying Life”

Don’t waste the “waiting time” in your life. God builds beautiful, useful things in the person who redeems the waiting time. -Kari Denker, The Promises Advent Study

So that’s what I am doing. I am keeping still, silent, and waiting. I am growing in patience and growing in faith. I will share with you more details when God tells me it’s safe to land this plane. When I receive word from my “control tower” that it’s time to move forward with this. Until then, be praying with me that God will do his thing. And here are some scriptures I am clinging to…. perhaps they will be helpful to you if you are in your own season of waiting.

“The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.”
-Proverbs 17:27

“a time to be silent, and a time to speak” – Ecclesiastes 3:7

“The Lord will fight for you while you keep still.” -Exodus 14:14

“Be still, and know that I am God!” -Psalm 46:10

“God is our refuge and strength, a great help in times of distress. Therefore we will not be frightened when the earth roars, when the mountains shake in the depths of the seas, when its waters roar and rage, when the mountains tremble despite their pride. Look! There is a river whose streams make the city of God rejoice, even the Holy Place of the Most High. Since God is in her midst, she will not be shaken. God will help her at the break of dawn. The nations roared; the kingdoms were shaken. His voice boomed; the earth melts. The Lord of the heavenly armies is with us; our refuge is the God of Jacob.” -Psalm 46:1-7

“Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!” -1 Samuel 12:16

“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.”
-Psalm 37:7

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.”
-Psalm 62:5-6

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” -Isaiah 40:31

“Rejoice in hope. Be patient in tribulation, be contant in prayer.”
-Romans 12:12

“And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
-Philippians 4:7

You can read the rest of this story here… 
It is Well – The Story of our Miscarriage
and Increase – How God is Faithful and Answered our Prayer