Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goals, Not Resolutions

As 2009 comes to an end, I've decided to view 2010 differently. Instead of making new year's resolutions, I've decided to set attainable goals. My thought process is this: Resolutions are easily broken - in fact, they are almost expected to be broken within a matter of weeks. Goals are not easily broken. Yes, I may fail to have a quiet time one day or indulge in sugar, but at least I can start over and move on.

One more difference between resolutions and goals - at least the way I see it - is this: I write down my resolutions, but that's it. When I'm thinking about my goals, I apply more thought to them and plan. This is an important first step in achieving my goals. In March, I posted a blog about procrastination. In it I mentioned three steps Joshua used to help the Israelites possess their promised land. I believe these three steps are beneficial in helping me achieve my goals.

First, I must have a plan of attack for my goals. For example, if I want to lose weight, then I need to allot time in my schedule for exercise and meal planning.

Second, I must allow others to hold me accountable. My husband is helping me with the health goals, as he wants to be healthy as well. I talk and pray weekly with a friend regarding our family and ministry goals.

Third, and this is the most important one, I must dedicate my plans to the Lord. I want my plans to be His plans. I've already prayed for wisdom to know the difference.

What about you? Have you thought about your goals for the new year?

I pray the Lord blesses each and everyone of you. I also pray all of us grow closer to the Lord and become the salt and light He wants us to be.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Word Study: Perseverance

1 Corinthians 9:24 - 27: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

Lately, there are times where I want to give up. Give up writing, healthy eating, exercising, and training the new dog (he's an adult with puppy tendencies). My slothful, gluttonous self would rather plop down in front of the television eating pizza and chocolate. But God has called me to a higher purpose (thankfully). He wants me to persevere during this race. I know the word "perseverance" does not appear in any of those verses, but the idea of perseverance does.

According to the Holman Bible Dictionary "perseverance" means to "maintain the Christian faith through the trying times." I believe trying times can be anything from battling my old self to experiencing suffering. It's during those times of wanting to be slothful and gluttonous that I choose to persevere in my faith.

Perseverance requires focus. Paul wrote that we are running to gain an eternal crown. I must keep my focus on what the prize is at the end of the race. If I lose sight of the prize, then I lose the reason for running this race.

Perseverance requires a plan. Paul says he does not run as one who runs aimlessly, which implies to me he has a plan. He knows the track and stays on course. This is what I must do, not only for the areas of my life, but for my life in general. For example, I not only plan a wholesome menu to become healthy, but I plan to be healthy the rest of my life in order to accomplish what the Lord has set before me. Of course, no one knows the track better than the One who planned it, so prayer is a necessity to determine where I should go.

Finally, perseverance requires discipline. Paul mentions beating his body and making it a slave. I see this as an example of becoming a servant to God and putting to death my old ways. He also mentions going into strict training. This is where discipline needs perseverance. If I don't persevere in disciplining myself, then my old habits are going to creep back in, replacing the new habits.

I'm not perfect with perseverance -far from it. But now that I have a new understanding of these verses, I pray I can put these points into practice and persevere during all types of trials and suffering. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The End of NaNoWriMo

Yesterday marked the end of NaNoWriMo. No, I did not meet my word challenge, but I don't feel like I failed, either. My NaNoWriMo journey ended with 13,278 words written (out of 50,000) - and not one of them were nonsense words to fill the page (although at one point I stopped using contractions).

Earlier, I posted what NaNoWriMo was teaching me (click here). Now that I've completed the project, I still agree with what I wrote, but I've learned other things as well.

To begin with, I enjoyed writing my piece of fiction. Each day, as I wrote, I could see the story coming together. I could see my flaws (characters need to be more dimensional, use more descriptions of places, and so on). Finally, I realized I can actually write a novel, slowly.

At one point I finally decided to have fun with the novel and not take it so seriously. After all, it was just my first draft. I can always edit - later. Which is what I'll do at some point in the near future (right now I want to focus on a different writing project).

All in all, I enjoyed the challenge and the learning process. I may do this again next year, I may not. It depends on what is happening in my life at the time. But, yet again, this challenge proved to me that I want to write.