Monday, December 31, 2012


Jonathan Edwards had life resolutions... not necessarily New Year Resolutions.  His goals related to every area of life-- time management, how to interact with relatives, how to respond to pain, etc.

Many people approach their New Years' Resolutions the same way -- listing out far too many things to actually accomplish (although some may indeed accomplish them... good for them.  I'm far too scatterbrained for that.).

This year, I've decided to focus on one thing: spiritual growth over the year.  That's it.  I'll have mini-goals mid-year (like losing baby weight, or clearing out clutter, or doing household chores earlier in the day, or whatever)... but only one thing (I hope) will be my aim for this entire year:  knowing more and more of God.

I hope to do that through the grace of God and two primary personal actions on my part:

  1. I want to listen all the way through the Bible this year, at least once.  I recently read that you can listen to the Bible all the way through in about 72 hours... that's only 90 minutes a WEEK.  90 minutes.  Most of us spend that much time on the internet each day, and/or that much time watching TV, and/or that much time on personal hobbies.   So my plan is to (at least one day a week) play the audioBible for one hour leading up to breakfast, and then listen intermittently throughout the week during a long bath or while cooking or doing dishes, etc.
  2. I want to be systematic about practicing seven spiritual disciplines this year to pursue spiritual growth.  I've assigned one discipline for my focus each day... (I've actually already started doing this, this last week)
  • SUNDAY: Worship- I aim to intentionally and prayerfully enter into Sunday worship with a more reverent and mindful heart... this week, I listened to some of Donald Whitney's "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life" and he shared how spending time in a Korean church helped him to see spiritual preparation for worship in a new light.  Each member of the congregation came in, spent time on their knees for several minutes as they entered, then went and found a seat, took off their coat, visited quietly, etc.  I won't pretend that I'm going to follow that same exact practice, but I did begin yesterday by more thoughtfully preparing my heart before church... listening to worship music (with the whole family) beforehand, praying for the pastor to be faithful to Scripture, and for my heart to take it in with wisdom and joy, etc.  
  • MONDAY: Fasting- Obviously, being 7 months pregnant now, and since I breastfeed to at least one year, this next year will not include opportunities for me to fast from food.  But I will take the opportunity each Monday to fast from things that threaten to master me.  Today, my aim was to fast from anger (and then I got angry at the AT&T customer service representative) :-/ .  But I hope to take time on various Mondays to fast from the internet, or from my phone, or from criticism, or from grumbling... I'm thinking (surely, as a sinner) I can find 52 ungodly, unhelpful, or potentially mastering things that I can fast from in order to bring balance and greater control from God in areas where I might otherwise go the way of culture or flesh.
  • TUESDAY: Prayer- A focused day to intentionally pray in my free moments.
  • WEDNESDAY: Serving- Last year, I taught ladies' Bible studies on Wednesdays.  This year, with a new baby, I won't be doing that.  But I will look for opportunities to serve others on that day... whether by doing something from home that helps/blesses someone else (like making a meal for someone who's had a baby), or helping out with something at church on that day.  
  • THURSDAY: Bible Reading- This will be the day that I'll shoot to do the audioBible routine I mentioned earlier... as well as (since it's our homeschool co-op day) a day when I won't have as many homeschooling responsibilities within our home so I'll be more free to spend time listening/reading more Scripture.
  • FRIDAY: Journaling- I intentionally placed this day following my Bible reading day.  Hopefully after a day of intaking God's Word, I'll be able to thoughtfully reflect on the week in light of Scripture with greater transparency and intentionality.
  • SATURDAY: Silence & Solitude- This discipline has been largely forgotten and/or overlooked by the modern church, but I'm finding these things to be of greater and greater value for my soul as a mom of many.  This last Saturday, for example, Doug dropped me off (we only have one vehicle) in a shopping center.  I had lunch alone, wandered mindlessly through aisles of stores (buying nothing), and had time to really *think* and pray and seek to hear God in a way that I hadn't done in a long time.  I found it to be so fruitful and beneficial... and ended the day with a particular and keen awareness of my own need to focus on rooting out anger & fury from my heart (an ongoing battle for me, you may recall).

I am hoping that having an intentional focus for each day will allow me to (even if I miss days) end up with having grown overall, spiritually, by the end of the year.  I refuse to be legalistic about it... so if I miss a day, I miss a day, and I'll just get back on board when I can.  Legalism in this stage of life as a mom of little ones just sets up guilt and shame, and I won't set myself up for that.  But, having structure and an overall AIM is helpful.  So that's the goal for this year-- the aim is spiritual growth through intentional practice of disciplines when & how I am able.

What are you doing this year?  Does this spur on thoughts for you?


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