So, I was always a sucker in times past for making resolutions. And then not following through. So then I started making goals, which I still do. I feel they're easier to track and follow through, but also adjust as you need to.
But lately, I've heard a lot of people talking about picking a word for the year. And that really intrigued me. What would be my word for 2021?
I started thinking about last year. Two words stuck out to me. GROW and LEARN.
I did a lot of growing in 202. Growing as a Christian, growing as a writer, and growing in contentment. I also learned so much. I learned a lot about myself.
I learned that I can survive without all the extra stuff. That missing out on the traditions (though hard) was not the end of the world. I And though I still missed getting out, I learned I really am happy to be a homebody, even after weeks. I learned a lot about myself as a writer. I do better with a deadline or a tangible goal. And I CAN stick with something until I finish it, and even make myself get up early in the mornings to do it. I learned that I can be happy and content in whatever state I am. I learned to be thankful for small blessings, like a healthy family and times of rest.
So that brings me to 2021. What could my word be for this year? Well, true to form, I couldn't pick just one word. There were so many that ran through my head. PURPOSE. INTENTION. PERSEVERE. FAITH. HOPE.
Finally, I narrowed it down to just 2.
My number one word for 2021 is (drumroll, please...) FOCUS.
One of my flaws, especially in recent years, is my lack of focus in several areas of my life: my relationship with God, my writing, my teaching, even in the day-to-day stuff like housekeeping. I knew it was high time to get in control of my mind and my daydreams and start focusing. What is it I really want to accomplish this year? That becomes my focus.
Which leads to my next word. FORWARD. Now that I know what I want to focus on, I am making my action steps to move forward in those goals. What do I need to do or change about my life to see my goals come to pass?
I've been spending most of this month working on my goals and making a plan of action. I've picked 5 goals for this year. Each goal is broken down into several action steps. I won't share all them here, but here's a few examples.
1. Sign on with a publisher
Action steps: Finish my current edits on my work-in-progress
Attend 2 upcoming writers conferences and meet with an agent
Build my writing platform (like this blog or my Instagram following)
2. Develop better time management skills
Action steps: Plan out my day, week, month, year
Set goals and FOCUS (see what I did there) on the important ones
Designate days for certain tasks
Be flexible when needed
So, I've got my focus, made a plan, and now I'm ready to move forward. And now that I've shared these with you, you can help hold me accountable! I'm feeling pretty good already about what this year holds for me and my goals.
What about you? Are you picking a word (or two) for the year? Do you have goals for 2021? I'd love to hear about them! Share them in the comments. I read them!
In the meantime, here are three words I like to use every time I sign off here. Whether in the middle of an old strenuous year, or at the start of a new uncertain one, remember, dear friends, where we are:
IN HIS GRIP!
It's the start of a new year, so how about something new to start off my 2021 blog posts? Please welcome my friend and fellow author Hannah Colvin! She has graciously accepted my invitation to guest blog this month.
Hannah Mae loves all things mysterious, adventurous, and epic. When she isn’t teaching tap or church cleaning, you’ll likely find her cooking or writing. She’s a video game reviewer for ChristCenteredGamer. She’s the aspiring author of her first upcoming book, Celestial. She’s also the proud owner of her own blog, FlyingFaith, but most importantly, she’s a redeemed daughter of Jesus Christ and dedicated student of His Word.
Hannah is also one of my beta readers for my current work in progress (WIP) and let me tell you this lady is sharp! She points things out about my own characters and plot that get me thinking deeper about the story I want to tell.
I've had the great pleasure of being a beta reader (her very SLOW beta reader, I'm afraid...) for her supernatural novel, Celestial, and let me just say Wow! Wait until you read this! I also highly recommend her blog at www.flyingfaith.org.
So, without further ado, here is Hannah's blog post!
Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Hi, everyone! And thank you, Crystal, for inviting me here!
Welp, here we are. 2020 has come and gone, and 2021 is here. Everyone is eager for a fresh start. Many pray the next 365 days won’t be another dumpster fire (as some so eloquently put it), but fresh starts can be funny things, can’t they. They all certainly start out the same. They feel good. The possibilities seem limitless, yet their endings are ever unpredictable. Every beginning can veer where you don’t want it to. For happy outcomes aren’t guaranteed.
In many ways, though, I’m often eager for a beginning. Whether that be a new dance to choreograph; a new story to draft; or a new game to review; I always feel like I’m a blackboard wiped clean of the old chalk. However, if I were totally honest with myself, there is one ‘fresh start’ I’m apprehensive about if that time should ever arrive: entering another intimate relationship.
I’ve been single for near my whole life. Not that I’m complaining. I’m happy as a single. I’m living the full life Christ intended for me as a single. Besides, I was never the romantic type anyway. Still, in the secret corner of my heart, I admit that I do desire it. It’s just too bad godly men are hard to come by, and the ones that are around just aren’t interested in me. I’ve watched my friends marry one by one through the years. It used to be my older friends. Then it’s friends my age. Now, friends near a decade younger than me are tying the knot too. It becomes emotionally taxing to wait this long. I sometimes quietly wondered what it would take. Was there something about me that guys just didn’t find appealing? Was I too much of an oddball to be wanted? Too strong-willed? Too spirited? Not classically ‘feminine’ enough? It’s gotten to a point where I’ve considered the possibility that God didn’t intend me for married life at all. I have no way of knowing that for sure, but it’s crossed my mind more than once.
Then came that day. That new ‘beginning’ I prayed for arrived. A young godly man that I had grown feelings for stepped forward and asked my father for permission. For the first time, I tasted what I had long been denied. Somebody wanted me - truly wanted me. I was awash in overwhelming thankfulness to God. ‘After all these years,’ I thought, ‘The Lord made the wait more than worth it.’ The following months were wonderful. I loved my boyfriend unconditionally, faults and all, and I dedicated myself to becoming his helpmate and all that entails.
Then the floor dropped from under me. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that the man I hoped and prayed for all those years crushed my heart. Turns out he didn’t mean all the things he had been saying to me. He admitted he didn’t consider me attractive without dress and makeup. He didn’t care for my personality either. Still, I was ready to work it out, but then it boiled down to this. All that he really loved was my spiritual maturity, yet that was what ended up driving him away. He asked me to cross a line I couldn’t cross. He wanted me to trust his spiritual ‘intuition’ rather than the Bible. Forced to choose between him or the Word, I chose the Word. The man I loved then left the relationship, and I had to let him go. Suddenly, all those old doubts I had about myself from before rushed back in full force.
Now, I don’t want to paint a black picture of my former boyfriend. He’s still a caring Christian. I don’t think he meant to hurt me. In all honesty, I think he pursued me without really knowing what he wanted himself. Then after he didn’t find what he sought for in me, he felt guilty and found his ‘out’. Of course, that doesn’t help me feel any better. Because, once again, I find myself undesired and unwanted. You can probably see why I’m now wary at the idea of another relationship (not that I have any prospects to speak of anyway). To enter intimacy is to give your heart freely. To give your heart freely is to give someone else ample ability to smash it. Potential for hurt couldn’t be higher. Thus, I keep asking myself, ‘If another man comes, would you love him enough to set yourself up for the same hurt again?’.
Most probably wouldn’t blame me if I got bitter with God for answering my prayers with what some might dub a ‘cruel joke’. How could He let my ‘beginning’ wither to such an awful end? But then again, did it truly end? I’m still here. I’m breathing, living life. God’s strength is my strength. In fact, I now experience His greater love far more richly than ever before. For I know, more deeply now than ever, that despite what men do or don’t see in me, He sees me. He made me. He died for me. He rose again for me, lives in me and is coming back for me. As far as I’m concerned, Christ’s love outmatches a million affectionate men, and He’s pushing me towards the greater destinies He designed me for.
My life didn’t end with my boyfriend anymore than our lives ended with a bad year like 2020. What was 2020 but a stepping stone? You see, we ‘choose’ our endings based on what we decide will define us. That could be a spouse, a job, a possession, or a particular year. If it fails you or is taken from you, it really feels like ‘The End’, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t have to be. Set your minds on the fallible, and you’ll be disappointed. But set your minds on the infallible, well, then you’ll continually look past circumstance towards something everlasting. Your nasty outcomes will cease to be dead ends. They’re now mere bumps on a bigger journey. For if Jesus defines your ending, you can be sure it’ll be a happy one. New boyfriend or not, new year or not, Jesus is trustworthy to secure us a future worth the sacrifices we make for Him. For if our place in His kingdom is certain, we can be sure that in the tale He’s written us into, we’re only in the middle. And believe you me. It’s a real page-turner.
1 Peter 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."