Several years ago I stopped making New Year’s resolutions because within the first month (sometimes the first week!), I had broken them. You know, things like, “lose 30 pounds, have daily devotional time with God first thing every morning, travel internationally, have a hot marriage, be the world’s best mom.” Then I felt like a failure when they didn’t happen–even remotely.Do you relate?
According to speaker/author Donna Partow, here’s some facts about New Year’s Resolutions:
25% of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions after 1 week.
60% of people abandon them within six months.
Most people make the same New Year’s Resolution 10 times without success.
I decided that instead of resolutions (or even “goals”), I’d pray to God for a Scripture and a “one word” and/or theme for the coming new year. This has worked out well for me. And I no longer feel like #wifefail or #momfail or whatever fail.
Last year’s “one word” was intentional.
Each year, I’ve discovered how accurate the “one word” was for that year with both its blessings and challenges to overcome. Throughout 2017, I had to make very intentional choices.
For 2018, my “one word” is JOY.Whenever I begin to see or hear a word or a Scripture two, three, or more times, I know that God is speaking to my heart and wants to teach me something.
I’ve begun to see this word JOY a lot and recently found a Christmas decoration with two red cardinals (cardinals are very special to me), with the word JOY on it. I felt that was the final confirmation that I needed to use this as my one word for the coming year.
I look forward to this, as 2017 was hell, one of the worst years in my life (and I’ve had some bad ones before!).
My two Scriptures for 2018 are Nehemiah 8:10, NLT, and Psalm 126:5, ESV:
“And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10, NLT)
“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” (Psalm 126:5, ESV)
This verse in Psalm 126:5 is especially profound, because I cried a lot during 2017. (More than usual!)
On the Blue Letter Bible website, that word“joy” from Nehemiah 8:10 in the original language is chedvah. It simply means joy or gladness.
You can have God’s joy even in the midst of painful circumstances, because our hope as believers is always in our faith in Jesus Christ and His second coming, not in what is happening around us. We fix our eyes on Him, not the storm.
The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines joy as:
1: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires: delight.
2: a state of happiness or felicity: bliss.
3: a source or cause of delight.
Here’s a virtual toast to you and me for a much better, joy-filled-to-overflowing year in 2018!
Do you make New Year’s Resolutions or have a “one word,” theme, and/or Scripture for the new year? Please share what you do and what yours is in the comments below.
It’s a new year with exciting new opportunities, as well as new challenges like hiking a steep mountain as the woman is pictured above. The origin of the word opportunities comes from the Latin wordopportunitatem, which means “fitness, convenience, suitableness, favorable time.”
Whether you’ve made New Year resolutions and goals, determining to be among the only 8% who achieve them, or you’ve chosen a “one word,” or you’ve decided to do nothing at all right now and que sera, sera (whatever will be, will be), a new year, like a new morning, always offers you a fresh slate to start over. Which is one reason I love it so much. A new year gives HOPE.
The definition above of the original Latin word for opportunities includes “favorable time.” God’s word says something about this, too:
“Thus says the LORD, “In a favorable time I have answered You, And in a day of salvation I have helped You; And I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people, To restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages.”–Isaiah 49:8
The year 2017 is a favorable time for you! God will answer you. He will help you. And He will give you hope. As my sweet speaker/author friend Sheryl Griffin says, “With Christ there is always hope.”
And when the winds and the waves crash all around you, and you feel afraid like the disciples did, Jesus will calm the storm inside you as He speaks to the storm outside you. He doesn’t want you to feel afraid. He wants you to place your trust and hope in Him.
*** Do you need HOPE today? Check out Beth’s first fiction and Amazon Best Seller eBook, Storm Tossed, about a woman who had to face the storm inside her, as well as the hurricane outside her. Is this the last Rachel will see of her husband Jackson and her daughter Faith? Will her beach house in Destin, Florida, stand? Will Rachel die in this dangerous storm?
On his third trip there, I went with him. My heart hurt for the poor people of Haiti, and I learned many things there. One of the things that stood out to me the most was the trash problem. The trash is an ongoing nightmare for the people living there, with garbage filling the streets. On seemingly every corner, I saw garbage several feet high and wide and was horrified.
I couldn’t stop talking about it to the point where Ray’s friend Shawn made a running bet with Ray that Ray had to pay him $1.00 for every time I talked about the trash. I was unaware of the bet, but began noticing after awhile that Ray would groan every time I mentioned it and Shawn would start laughing.After awhile, Ray owed him so much money that he had to stop the bet! They finally told me about it, and I told Shawn to give Ray his money back or give it to pastor Jay for the people of Haiti.
Once dubbed “The Pearl of the Antilles” in the 1950’s, Haiti has few landfills or dumpsters, and there’s nowhere to dispose of the garbage. Many people have to climb over it or wade through it to get anywhere!
The trash problem results in:
Mice, rats, roaches, and mosquitoes to increase, and disease to spread.
A toxic environment. Decaying waste produces methane gas, which when inhaled can lead to serious long-term lung, heart and brain defects.
One night as Shawn, Ray and I sat on a patio, surrounded by luscious emerald-green palm trees and it began to gently rain as we drank small bottles of cold Coke®, I sighed with contentment, thinking, “We are in Haiti! HAITI!” It was surreal and like an exciting adventure. Then suddenly, I saw a big mouse running across a nearby power line and wanted to go home!
The trash and the rodents mar the idyllic tropical beauty of the land. It’s the same in our lives. At the end of each year, I intentionally “take out the trash” to declutter my home and my heart.
Here’s a few of the things I do to “declutter” physically and spiritually, which might help you, too.
Last night I pulled everything out of my office closet to organize, declutter, and throw things away. When I posted this above picture on Facebook, some of the amusing responses from my friends were:
“Oh my, is that all you have? My paper tiger is huge!”
“I’m doing the samething. Paper mountain for me.”
“My husband and I cleaned out several boxes in the basement. I found an old journal from the 1980’s.”
“I have so much paper stuff it’s not even funny!”
“I’m doing the same. I love organizing and purging!”
“I just had a white peppermint mocha. Yummo!” (I had mentioned drinking a cappuccino while doing my pile!”
It seems I’m in good company here. What about you?
Last night I went through the folders in my black file cabinet, pictured above. (I have a small one; that helps tame the paper tiger!). If there are any papers that I believe I will not need, I toss and shred them.
This is the part where it gets sticky. So many people are afraid to throw away papers (or other belongings) because “I might need this one day.” Do you really need it? That is the question. You will not need 3 copies of the same medical bill! You don’t need papers from every place you’ve ever worked in your life. If you’re an author or speaker, you don’t need to keep copies of every single speaking presentation or old manuscripts. Purge!
Next, I organize the papers into various, colored folders. Write a short label for the contents of the folder, such as:
You decide on what to keep and what to throw away and shred. There’s such a feeling of accomplishment and lightness when you are finished! You can breathe easier.
Another good idea is to buy a fireproof, waterproof safe to keep all your important family documents in, such as:
Copies of each family member’s birth certificates;
Copies of each family member’s driver’s license;
Family members’ passports;
Rent agreement or mortgage papers;
Copies of your car insurance papers;
Medical, dental, and vision insurance papers;
Bank information papers;
Spare keys to house, cars, safes, etc.
Any other papers that would be irreplaceable if lost or destroyed.
You can also get a safe at your local community bank to store these for you at a cost. I advise making copies of everything first.
A few other things I do at the end of the year to declutter and prepare for the new year:
Go through my closets and drawers. A good rule of thumb for giving away, selling, or throwing away an item is if you haven’t used it for a whole year (some say 6 months). Just think of how you’re making room for cute new clothes! 😀 The leggings from 3 years ago won’t make you this winter’s fashionista! Then again, I don’t care about that personally; I wear what I like and is comfortable. Just make sure that your clothes still fit, are still in good shape (not torn, buttons missing, badly faded, etc.), you feel attractive in them, and they’re suitable for the current season.
Deep clean my house and decorate it prettily. This includes those once a year jobs like dusting ceiling fans (or dusting in general! Just kidding!), cleaning out your fridge, freezer, oven, and/or dishwasher. You can run vinegar and water through your dishwasher while it’s empty to clean it. Go through each room of your home. Does it look clean, organized, warm and inviting? Is the decor a reflection of your personal style and taste? If not, it may be time to toss some things and decorate to reflect you more. A woman’s home is her nest, and I think we should love where we live!
Knock down spider webs in the corners of every room, and in each closet and cabinet. This is a job I often leave to my husband Ray as I’m afraid of spiders! Spiders love to come inside your house during the colder months. They are not my furry little friends!
Check and replace light bulbs in each light or lamp and batteries in the smoke alarms. I usually do the light bulbs, and I ask Ray to check the smoke alarms since he used to be a fire chief and fireman. Smoke alarms save lives, and reduce fire deaths and injuries. The batteries should be checked once a month and the smoke alarm every 10 years.
Check your car’s oil, windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid, tires, headlights and brake lights, and overall well-being (again, this is where I need Ray’s help!) You also might need a tune-up. Make sure your trunk has jumping cables, a spare tire, a flashlight, a blanket (this might be kept in the back seat in the event of breaking down during cold weather, plus snacks and water.)
Clean out the garage. Sweep, knock down spider webs, and organize it. Make sure your car(s) fit in there! Throw away any empty cans of charcoal fluid, car oil, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, Windex or other cleaners, etc.
Last and definitely not least, I declutter my heart to prepare for the new year. “Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.”–Proverbs 4:23, NIV
I ask God to search my heart for any unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, anger, rage, malice, jealousy, envy, worry, fear, stress, or anything that displeases Him. I don’t want to carry those things with me into the new year. I want a clean and pure heart, and to run unencumbered into 2017!
Take out the trash! Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and show you any sin, anyone you need to forgive (including God or yourself), any unnecessary weight (such as stress, fear or anxiety) that will keep you from fulfilling your purpose walking in authority and in peace this year.
Examine your relationships with people this year: your marriage, your children, your parents, your siblings, your in-laws, your friends, your business peers or co-workers, your boss, your neighbors. Is the relationship good and close? Is there tension or unforgiveness between you, and if so, why?
Remember the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result. If you do what you always did in this relationship–hold a grudge, blame, act snarky, criticize, withhold affection, ignore, take him or her for granted–you’ll get the same tired strife or distance!
The Bible says in Romans 12:18 (Berean Study Bible): “If it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone.” You might not be able to reconcile with everybody, but do your part and let God deal with the rest. When you prioritize a relationship and let the person know you sincerely care and humbly approach him or her (including apologies when necessary), it can work miracles.
Love is the greatest miracle of all. I’m asking God to give me more of a heart of unconditional, agape love for Him and others this coming year.
At other times, for the sake of your own emotional and mental health, you may need to set firm boundaries in relationships to protect yourself or those you love. You can forgive someone, but that doesn’t mean allowing others to abuse or mistreat you.
The most important relationship of all for the coming year is between you and God. Is there any “trash” between you and Him—known sin? Spend time in prayer and ask God to show you anything hindering your intimacy with Him. Walk in obedience this coming year and you will experience His many blessings that He longs to bestow on you.
“God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done.”–2 Corinthians 9:8, The Message
Are you ready to get rid of the trash, and declutter your home and heart? Don’t put it off. We have 3 more days before the end of this year! Let’s prepare for 2017 and make it your and my best year ever!
***Do you want to draw closer to God in the coming year? Check out my eBook on prayer at Amazon, Walking With God.