A Seventeen-Days-Late New Year’s Blessing

I know it’s three Fridays into the New Year. So posting a New Year’s blessing now feels late and a bit silly.

I also know it’s been two weeks since I blogged. I haven’t gotten up early every morning, and I’ve been writing a lot, but not 5 times a week. It’s discouraging to see myself fail to achieve my noble-minded New Year’s resolutions so quickly.

But maybe three weeks into 2014 is exactly when I need to be reminded that the year is still fresh and young. And maybe especially because those resolutions are already broken, it’s a good time to be reminded of grace. I shoot for the moon and miss on the first try. But thank goodness God isn’t done with this wayward archer.

Alina's Camera 00120

My mom tied up this poem with ribbon and gave it to me at Christmas. I love that it skirts the victorious sentimentalism of many New Year’s reflections. Rather, it focuses on a living relationship with God: sometimes gained through sorrow rather than joy; through failure rather than success. It’s a narrative of grace and a song of hope.

I hope it blesses you today.

New Year’s Blessing

In the new year I do not wish for you
that God will bless you,
since God already intends
only the deepest blessings for you.
I don’t wish that good things will happen to you,
since I don’t know
what will most beautifully shape your soul—
in what losses you will receive grace,
in what challenges you will gain wisdom,
in what struggles you will become more truly yourself.

Instead I hope for you this blessing:
that your heart be at peace,
that your mind be open
and your will be lovingly present;
that you live each day this year with love, courage and beauty,
with gentleness, trust and gratitude.
That you speak and be the truth,
that you find joy and wonder in your life,
that you be deeply mindful
of God’s indwelling presence,
God’s deep delight in accompanying you
in every breath.

May your work be fruitful,
your hope vibrant,
your voice clear,
and your friends faithful.

Whether you feel it or not,
deep blessing will be yours this year.
May you know it, and rejoice,
and live in harmony with God’s grace.

~Steve Garnaas-Holmes
(http://www.unfoldinglight.net)

Setting a Course

Hello again! 


2 weeks away from my blog feels more like a month and a half. So strange! I feel like everything I re-start after the holiday break is individually packaged in a fresh layer of brain fog. It doesn’t help that I am returning to my computer from one of the most beautiful, relaxing places imaginable: 

Ah, well. 
It is good to be starting a new year, though. I like the chance to break schedule during the holidays. Sometimes I’m so busy putting out the day-to-day fires that come up that I lose sight of my big-picture vision. It feels like a chance to pause, pick up the scattered pieces, regroup, and re-strategize about where you’re going in life. Then New Year’s Day arrives, and with it, a chance to turn a new page and do some things differently in life. 

As a rule, I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions. The jokes are true. Talk is cheap, and they’re made of talk. They’re flimsy; made to be broken. Besides, until this year, I was living on the school calendar and made whatever resolutions I was going to make in September. School offers a certain structure to the resolutions you make, too–study more (or maybe less). Invest in friendships. Get an internship. Graduate.

With the rigid frame of academia removed, though, I find that I am the only one responsible for setting goals for myself–for not letting life make my decisions for me. As you can tell by the size of the word “trust” in the sidebar, my process of direction-setting is one that involves a great deal of prayer and wrestling.

So this year I’ve made some New Year’s goals. The word resolution, in my mind, says self-reliance. That’s why New Year’s resolutions don’t last. I myself am weak. When I run out of energy to stay resolved, I give up, out of exhaustion if not lack of will. I think goals, however, are visions we lay before God for partnership. If my life direction has been submitted to Him for approval and guidance, goal-setting is an act of faith: setting a course and trusting Him for strength and courage to hold to it.

I’ll tell you what my goals are in a minute, but first I want to clarify that this is not just my personal mind vomit. I read a great blog post by Kathy Lipp this week that talks about goal-setting for writers. In her words, “public humiliation goes a long way to getting your book written.” Accountability goes a long way toward other things too: when other people are aware of your goals, the pressure to meet them rises–and you accomplish more than if they sit secretly moldering in your journal.

I also like a tradition my knitter friend Audry has instituted on her long-running blog, Bear Ears. At the end of each year, she sets goals, ranging from “knit a sweater” to “build a terrarium.” But she also reviews the results of her previous year’s goals. It becomes a neat cycle of tracking growth and watching how God’s plans sometimes completely diverge from ours. I hope that next December/January, I will be able to track those long-term patterns, too.

OK, so here are my top 5 New Year’s goals. I hope you will hold me accountable and share yours as well!

1. Get to know God better. To do this, my goal is to read through the Bible in chronological order in one year.

2. Have the second draft of my children’s novel completed and be ready to start looking at literary agents by June.

3. Take a 2-month class to learn more about blogging and social media for authors. I hope you’ll be seeing regular improvements on this blog from now through the end of February!

4. Buy a car (wings optional).

5. Read Gone With The Wind, Othello, and The Kite Runner.

What are your goals for this new year?