2016: Moments, Stories and Risks

It’s 2016—bright, shiny and full of possibility. I am a lover of new years. I love making my lists and goals for the new year. This year I have a bit of a struggle: I really loved 2015. I kinda don’t want to say good-bye to it. In 2015 my family moved from the USA to the UK and loved it. In 2015 my lifestyle changed and I lost 60 pounds. In 2015 I saw people say yes to Jesus and lives changed. 2015 was good to me.

Brian and I like to set a word and a verse as a theme for our family for the year. And in the last week of the year, God pressed this word on my heart: Experience. Then the ball just started rolling. Goodbye to 2015 became easier as I started to ask myself: What do I need to do in my life to really experience this year?

  • I need to stay as healthy as I can.

I know you can’t simply plan a healthy year. Sometimes, illness happens that we have no control over. But there are things that we can plan. The food I put into my body and the exercise I do—that is under my control.

And as I was thinking about that, God brought this verse to my mind as well:

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalms 34:8

I’ve always thought this was a kind of strange verse. But when I put it in the context with everything else God has been doing in my life it got me all kinds of excited! I already stated that I lost 60 pounds in the past year and that God is really teaching me a lot about health. Probably the greatest lesson I have learned is to eat real food: food that God created for us to eat. Taste and see that the Lord is Good.

  • I need to spend less time on my phone.

I can deny it as much as I want, but I spend too much time distracted by my phone. It’s a fact and it needs to stop. To truly experience life around me- I need to look up and connect with life around me. Taste and SEE that the Lord is Good.

  • I need to say NO.

I’ve written about this before so I won’t spend time on it now. But sometimes saying NO to good things makes room in your life for the best things.

  • I need to say YES.

I’m not at all confusing am I? There is a time to say no and turn down opportunities. But experience is about taking risks. It’s about saying yes even when it makes my stomach churn and my head scream NO! In experiencing 2016 I want God to do things in my life that I don’t see coming, things that I can’t do on my own. That means I need to be willing to follow His leading in my life. I need to follow that leading even when it is outside my comfort zone. I don’t like typing that. It might seem like someone who left her home country shouldn’t have a struggle being a risk taker. Someone who followed God across an ocean should be a little spontaneous. You’d think that, right? I like my lists. I like my plans. It’s more than a little scary for me to pray, “God, mess my life up.”

It’s even scarier to mean it.

When I first came up with the theme of Experience, I had thoughts of family vacations and days out. I thought of hikes and new places. But what if God wants me to experience something totally different in 2016? What if my experiences are scary and even if they are not fun at the time? Am I content to know that “the Lord is Good”? Do I trust that He knows the plans He has for me, and that they are good plans? Do I trust that, even if they mess up my plans I have for myself? I pray at the end of the year I will be able to answer- yes, I trust that!

So that’s it. That’s the big plan for 2016. Experience. Moments not things. Stories not souvenirs. Risks not comfort.   It’s time to taste and see that the Lord is good.






Reflections of a 30 Year-Old

30 goal setting photo

Today I turn 30.

I am not real big about age.  But I am real big about goals.

This is what I am realizing right now: I am big about ‘right now’ goals. I make a to-do list almost every day. Each year I make goals for that year.  I have a big goal to get to Wales ASAP. But there was never a point in my teens or 20s when I sat down and said, “By the time I’m 30 I hope to…”

How do I know if my life has been successful up to 30 if I don’t have a list to check off? This is a hard question for a list girl. I am reading an awesome book right now and I just read a chapter about setting life goals. So I did. I made a list of 30 life goals. It gets me all excited to pray for and strive to attain these goals. But before I opened that book today, I spent some time in a more important Book defining what success should look like in my life. This is what I came up with:

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tight to what is good. Romans 12:9

I don’t want to be fake. I really dislike fake. I want genuine in my life. I want a genuine love for others. I also want a genuine love for what is GOOD. Along those same lines, I am praying this:

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.  Galatians 5:13

I don’t want to be selfish. I really dislike selfish. I love freedom in Christ, but my desire is to serve others in love. My prayer is that God shows me what this looks like in my life.

Do everything without complaining and arguing.  Philippians 2:14

I don’t want to complain. I really dislike complaining. This is one of the first verses I taught my daughter. I have her repeat it to me almost daily. In reality, it is one I should repeat to God daily.

Okay, enough with what I dislike, here is what I love:

These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children.  Titus 2:4

I realize I am currently an “older woman” and a “younger woman”. Discipleship and training are big on my heart. I am in no way an expert on loving my family, but I pray God both teaches me and uses me to teach.

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “for God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”  2 Corinthians 9:7

This year I am finding a new love in giving. One of the goals on my list is for my family to one day give more than we keep. How is this possible? I have no idea, but I love finding joy in giving. I get excited just thinking of what God has in store to teach me in this area.

I could share so many more areas of life I see God pointing at as I look through goal setting from scripture, but this is the one that sums up my cry to God this morning:

And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!  Psalms 90:7

Today I made a list of 30 life-time goals. My prayer over those 30 goals is that God makes my efforts successful. But my prayer over my life is that God shows me His approval.
Bring on the next 30 years…