Today is my 43rd birthday, and I am grateful for the gift of another year, friends! I started blogging when I was 26, and here we are, 17 years, 442 blog posts, 20,000+ comments, and a lot of life lived together later. Most importantly, friendships—real-life friendships—have been cultivated. Except for my long-time friend Jessie who I met in middle school advanced vocab class, I’ve met my best friends through this blog! Thank you, friends, for sharing your lives with me over these years. I’m stepping into this new year of life with gratitude and anticipation about the future.
As we chatted about together in Parts 1 and 2, I learned a few things in 2022. This year was hard. I saw what matters. I know this life is a gift, and I want to LIVE it right here, little by little, one small faithful step at a time.
Without further ado, here are my 6 goals for the year ahead. You’ll notice I’ve color-coded them. As a visual person, this helps remind me of the “why” behind each goal as I break them down on my monthly Tending Lists throughout the year. It helps visually organize my focus. Also, this will be a big reading year for me—something I never had much brain space for. My reading list is in progress, and I’ll revisit these ideas each month. Enjoy!
★ Goal #1: Make Space to think, rest, receive, and be with God.
This goal is about intentionally using the time God has given us by implementing rhythms/plans that harness our time. I consider this goal the “big shift”—planning our time in ways that move us in His direction instead of doing the same things we’ve always done.
—Plan bi-weekly dates with Ari. We plan to spend a minimum of an hour and a half talking about fun friend things. No solving problems or talking about challenges; just fun. We agreed to spend an intentional 15 minutes every day talking about the various challenges of parenting and daily happenings to get that out of the way. Our dates are reserved for growing our friendship and fun! Part of this mini goal is making a list of date ideas with Ari—he is excited to do this, too. We’re thinking of doing something low-key for one of the dates and choosing an extra fun activity for the other date each month. Think going to a casual dinner vs. a local contra dance at the community center. I am dying to try this!
—Set quarterly finance dates with Ari. We plan to get a babysitter once per season on a Saturday morning and discuss a series of set check-in questions. Part of this mini goal is to write the questions. The hope for these meetings is to be on the same page about our finances and giving. We both felt like we couldn’t do this on a regular night at home or on a date and be successful. A Saturday when the kids are out at a park will give us the time and resources (computers!) we need to get it done.
—Plan quarterly grief retreats for me. My one-night retreat in October was healing. It’s easy to let so much build up in the daily hum of life, and eventually, it catches up with you. Ari is encouraging me to do this, too. I trust I’ll benefit from a collective four nights away during the year—one per quarter. I’ll stay close to home for these and dedicate the time to grief work, my quarterly PowerSheets refresh pages, and whatever else the Lord leads me to each season.
—Change things up for our family trips, focusing on long weekends where we can and exploring new close-to-home places in nature.
—We are saving for a longer time away: a week in England in the fall. We’ve wanted to visit the English countryside and chalk cliffs ever since watching Poldark. Throw in a few estates from Downton Abbey and Pride and Prejudice, and you have our dream trip. We are taking my mom, too, as a gift to her in this new season of life and my brother for his 40th birthday. This trip will be a lot to plan, so I’m all ears if you have advice or favorites we should visit.
—Renew our weekly family rhythms: Shabbat, family dinners (hello, meal planning!), nights where the kids make the meal, and other special celebrations throughout the year. Action steps include making a list of ideas for connected time together and a list of additional cooking skills to teach the kids.
—Dedicate daytime space for me to heal from grief, think, and process. I have been in the habit of filling my days out of necessity. I spent a couple of decades squeezing things in with work, and the habit carried over in its absence. I tend to go quickly through the day from chores to homeschooling to doctor appointments to picking up or dropping off kids to making lunches and lesson plans… and back to kids activities, wrangling everyone into the shower and dinner prep. You know the drill. You likely have your own version, as do we all. I need to unlearn this habit of filling my time so full without adequate margin, especially in this particular season of grief. I hope to plan my days before they plan me. This will look like using my Season by Season planner to block space for quiet time—and time between the quiet time and what’s next. I am productivity and action-driven. This goal means something will have to give in my days. I may need to learn some efficiencies and teach the kids new skills, too. This mini goal also requires making a list of quiet time activities I’ll try.
—Make a nightly devotional plan for the family.
—Make a nightly reading list for Ari to read to the kids. He reads to everyone before bed, something I love him dearly for.
—Make a meal plan plan : ) I’ll be using this meal planning notepad and my planner.
Books to read: Atomic Habits, The Common Rule, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Invitation to Solitude and Silence, The Things You Can Only See When You Slow Down
Starting steps: I clearly need to have a list-making fiesta and get some dates on the calendar! You’ll see some of this on my January Tending List.
—Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
—And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17)
—Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
★ Goal #2: Grow What God Wants. Plant what God has given us to grow the Kingdom.
Admittedly, this goal was hard to put into words. In short: grow in generosity and serving. I want to listen to the needs God shows us and work together as a family to meet them.
—Our quarterly finance meetings could go here as well. They will be a key part of this goal to pray about giving goals and our 2023 budget.
—Make a prayer wall in our closet with big prayers for using our time and talents to bless others as a family.
—Serve together as a family. Find one key place to serve and dig in together. I have an idea here already.
Starting steps: Make a budget date for me and the spreadsheet! Have our finance meeting together to talk about our goals. Create our prayer wall in the closet with index cards and washi tape. Email the retirement community near us to ask about consistent serving. I’m hoping to help in hospice in some way. The hospice volunteers for my Dad were wonderful, and I saw a great need for this.
Books to read: I’d love any recommendations here. So far on our list, recommended by friends: Entrusted, Retire to the Fullest (<- written by my good friend, Eric! So proud of you, brother!), and the Bible, of course.
—As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace (1 Peter 4:10)
—But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1:22)
—Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:8-8)
★ Goal #3: Be Healed. Accept and receive God’s power and live gratefully and joyfully.
In most facets of life, I instinctively see the things that need to be fixed instead of recognizing what’s already been made whole. My body has fallen apart in some ways over these last couple of years as I’ve grown older. I’ve also experienced stress that has exacerbated my neck and joint pain. It was a comment on my blog from a kind reader that became a catalyst for this goal last year. Her words helped me see I needed to do whatever I could to get my stress level down to help my neck pain. It was affecting everything: my parenting, my work, and my ability to function in daily life. This goal is a both/and goal: to recognize that God has already made me whole in the best way possible—and experience new health in mind, body, and soul.
—Get stronger as a spiritual discipline. I’m upping my weight training after a little-by-little foundational year in 2022.
—Continue learning about health and anti-inflammatory foods.
—Be creative for fun and worship. I really want to make an embroidered Bible cover with flowers on it from our garden through the year, a quilt for our anniversary, and get my nature journal going this year after a start-and-stop effort last year.
—Be out in the garden. Be present. Enjoy the bees and the dirt, and the fresh air.
—Enjoy poetry and tea with our kids—and just me, too.
Starting steps: Set up my Kindle and reading space, do garden planning with the kids in January (and order seeds!), organize my art supplies away from the kids’ homeschool supplies, and… go to the gym!?! I haven’t gone to an actual gym until Christmas day this year with Ari when no one was in there. It was thrilling! For this former personal trainer, it felt like being in a candy store. I want to lift with Ari whenever I can there. My action step is to look up class times.
Books to read: Ancient Remedies, How Not to Die, Live Green, and all my favorite poetry books. I skimmed through How Not to Die years ago, and it’s on Kindle Unlimited now, so I’m giving it a deeper dive to see what I think.
—And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)
—Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)
★ Goal #4: Clear it Out. Remove the stuff. Live with presence!
Stuff = more things to manage and, therefore, more time and energy expended. This goal is to uncomplicate our lives by removing stuff and mental clutter. While my first goal is about adding intentional rhythms, this goal helps remove the barriers to them. I’ve deeply decluttered our house over the last few months, but what I feel God telling me to focus on is another level beyond “clutter.” If you want a new perspective on the material elements of life, just experience the loss of someone close to you. Cleaning out my dad’s things, albeit few, left me not wanting my children to be burdened by doing the same. I’ve heard of Swedish death cleaning, and I don’t think I want to wait till I’m 65 to do it.
—Make a list of what’s most important for our family to have right now. What builds our family culture and helps us live out what matters?
—Remove stuff from 5 key spaces – the garage, my office (I’m not entirely sure what to do with this space), our homeschool room, attic, and living room.
—Uncomplicate my time by reducing the things I need to manage.
—Unschedule: it has been recommended in the first two years of grief to be in the habit of saying no.
Starting steps: Make my list of what is important right now, choose when to clear each space, and set a spot in the garage to collect donations. Make a list of everything I manage daily – I trust this will reveal things I can systemize or cut. And finally, say no. Make a post-it for my planner with this reminder.
Books to read: I think I’ve read all the minimalism/simplifying books, but I’ll keep my eyes open throughout the year.
—I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. (Psalm 119:15)
—And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”. (Luke 12:15)
—But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. (1 Timothy 6:6-10)
★ Goal #5: Become Spiritually Mature. It’s time. Psalm 90:12.
This is a goal every year, but the challenges of 2022 revealed my desire to understand more of what it means to become spiritually mature. God graciously revealed many weaknesses this year and my need for Him. This goal flows into my next one as well, desiring to be faithful (my ever-present big-picture goal!) so I can help our family do the same.
—Continue writing in my Bible and journal at night (continuing this habit I started last year) and study my word of the year – revealed below!
—Serve our church.
—Grow in my love for prayer.
—Express gratitude! See my various daily complaints as clues toward spiritual maturity. I want to praise the Lord instead and let go of past hurts from others.
—As listed above, have quiet time in the Word day and night.
Starting steps: Put a Word of the Year study evening on the calendar (I’m thinking New Year’s Day), read the first chapter of Sacred Fire, and add past hurts and PRAISES to the prayer wall.
Books to read: Sacred Fire, Your Mountain is Calling, Liturgy of the Ordinary, and re-read Practicing the Presence of God
—Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation. (I Peter 2:2)
—Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (Colossians 1:28-29)
—Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
★ Goal #6: Plant Seeds of Legacy. Be faithful with our children.
This, to me, is the ultimate goal. I want to make the most of the time we’ve been given by planting seeds of faith and wonder in our children.
—Start family quiet time, teaching our kids how to spend time with God independently.
—Take a trip with just Grace.
—Make a life skills list for each kid to learn.
—Make our family yearbooks and family movies.
—Learn from others – read books.
Starting steps: Ask Grace where she would like to go on a weekend trip with just me, make a reading plan for the season (books to read first, how long it will take me, etc.), and space out the rest of my starting steps using my planner and Tending Lists. These mini-goals need a session all their own for breaking them down!
Books to read: Are My Kids on Track, Raising Worry-Free Girls, The Coddling of the American Mind, Parenting, The Whole Brain Child (or The Yes Brain), The Connected Parent, and Mother Culture.
—You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 11:18-20)
—We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. (Psalm 78:4)
—Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. (Psalm 112:1-2)
My Word for 2023: Healed. While there will always be seeds I want to grow and good goals to pursue, there’s nothing more life-giving than recognizing God’s grace already present in our lives. It changes everything. Over and over, I’ve returned to the story of the woman who touched Jesus’s cloak. She had great faith and knew that even touching his garment would heal her. That is the faith I desire and want to cultivate with our family this new year. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)
My 2023 Vision Board was challenging to bring together this year. I kept feeling like I should include elements I’ve often incorporated in the past (a woman running up a mountain, bright bold colors in every image, etc.) and struggled with it being so different. Frankly, I just had to get over it and recognize the change I’ve experienced this year. I’m still a lover of bright colors and running up mountains, but I have changed a lot, and life has, too! You’ll see nods to new paths of peace, health, creativity, giving, nature, reading, new places to explore, marriage fun, and of course, birds! Always birds! I. Love. It. The sparrows brought to mind Matthew 6:25-27. My favorite two images are the Bible in the center, the one image faithfully carried forward from years past, and the oranges. My dad loved oranges – he rather famously emphasized the “J” in “O.J.” He would say it with Fred Astaire flair, and it always made us smile. The oranges reflect his bright spirit and the encouragement he gave to so many. I want to live this year with zest like Dad!
There you have it, friends! I’ll likely return to this post and add new ideas and action steps as I prepare for January. I can’t wait to hear what you’ll focus on in the new year. May the Lord give you peace and wisdom as you cultivate what matters right where you are. I am so grateful for you and this new year of life.
Next up: Breaking it all down on my January Tending List and how I’m setting up my planner and other new tools.
Your turn! What are your goals for 2023? Do you have a word for the year ahead? I can’t wait to hear!