Posted in Thoughts from Life, Thoughts from Prayer, What Works for Me

Intentional

Word of the Year?

Have you ever noticed the people who choose “word” for their year? That word becomes their focus – the thing around which their goals and growth center. Perhaps this is something you do.

Maybe you are among those who actively choose their words. These people spend time in thought and prayer, trying to determine a direction and a focus. I’ve never done that before. I know me – it would be too forced. I second guess myself too much, and this approach would stress me out. Better for me to work on my routine and focus on productivity than to try to choose a focus.

For the longest time, I thought that was the only approach to choosing a word or focus for the year. But, more recently I’ve noticed a different pattern among some of my friends, so I avoided it. These are the people whose words have chosen them. A lesson or idea or thought just keeps presenting itself until they finally latch onto it, determined to see where the Holy Spirit is leading.

And now I know how that feels.

Intentionality Everywhere

Everywhere I’ve turned lately, intentional has been on the tip of my tongue. I cannot describe my sense of direction, urgency of action, or areas of growth without using that word or some variation of it.

  • When I think of my routine and productivity (or lack thereof!), I realize that I’m so often just floating through life. I bounce from this to that, randomly walking through my to-do list, focusing on whatever seems to pop up next. I have been convicted of the need to be intentional with every moment of my day – whether in work, play, or rest.
  • When I think of my reading goals, I see that I have stacks of books with no plan for reading them. I’ll get around to it, eventually. I know I won’t. Not without being intentional.
  • When I see the resources I have acquired for this project or that, only to never get them done due to lack of whatever, I feel the frustration and discouragement rise. If I want to ever make progress, I have to make time. Intentionally.
  • When my brain fills with the larger ideas I have for writing, I jot down notes only to forget what I was thinking. I desire to do more – to actually write a book. But, all I ever get around to are random blog posts about whatever happens to pop into my head at the time. I will never truly become what I want to become as a writer unless I intentionally make and work toward goals.

But the biggest area is my spiritual life. I know I’m growing. I see it. But, there are many ways in which my spiritual growth is just as haphazard as my growth in other areas. I’m random, and I don’t always follow through, turning thoughts and convictions into actions. I have to become intentional about spiritual growth by making a plan for action as soon as the Holy Spirit nudges my thoughts.

Staying Open

I know how my brain works, and I know that it’s not a good idea for me to say that 2017 will be my intentional year because I’ll become more fixated on the word than the general sensitivity to what the Holy Spirit needs to do in and through me. Maybe I’ll be a slow learner, and it will be with me for several years (like rest and sabbath have been focus thoughts for two or three years!). Maybe I’ll establish a habit and pattern of intentionality in a few months, and it will be time to push forward again. I do not want to miss the Lord’s direction just because I am stuck on a word. But, for now, intentionality is my overarching focus as this year begins. Already I have seen it impact my time and energy. I’m ready to see where the Lord takes me from here!

Posted in Marriage, Thoughts

Marriage Monday: Goals & Togetherness

This week 2015 will end. Our new year begins as Thursday rolls into Friday. Some of you will be making resolutions. Others will declare resolutions to be a waste of time. Some of you will just plug right along, letting life return to normal after the holiday chaos. Others will be restructuring schedules and finding ways to breathe life into the long winter months. (Can you tell I interact with homeschoolers?)

But, there’s one thing we should all be doing. We should be setting goals. Okay, so we don’t all have to set goals when the new calendar year turns. Perhaps your goals connect with the school year. Maybe you set goals with each new birthday or anniversary. Whatever the case may be, goals are something we all should establish and revisit regularly. And they are so much more useful than resolutions!

Goals & Marriage

So, what does a discussion of goals, resolutions, and the new year have to do with marriage? Everything!

You see, you and I can set goals all we want. But, if those goals are not in line with the goals our spouses have set, or worse, are contradictory to them, we will fight an uphill battle – one we will probably end up losing. And we will thwart the efforts of our spouses as well.

So, what can we do?

Set Goals

As Christians, our ultimate goal is Christ. Period. But, even Paul gave very specific examples of how he intended to accomplish the goal of glorifying Christ with every ounce of his being. Why should we expect to accomplish as much with less focus? So, we set before ourselves specific ways in which we will glorify Christ and draw others to Him.

Might God change those goals? Might He step in and redirect us in 2016? Very probably. But, when we do not set goals, we tend to flounder about with no purpose, spiritually or otherwise. Prayerfully setting goals makes us more sensitive to His voice and His direction, even if He redirects us mid-flow.

Share Goals

Individualism is well entrenched in the western cultural mentality. But, it’s also a spiritual deterrent. I was created to need the support of others. Even if my goals are strictly my own (my health goals, for example), the truth is that I cannot achieve them on my own. I need the help and support of my family, and especially of my husband. He wants to motivate, encourage, and support me. But, how can he if he has no idea what my goals are?

Encourage Goal Setting

Last week, my husband shared some of his goals for 2016. Next, he asked for mine. Finally, he challenged each of our children to consider goals. They were a bit intimidated by that challenge. They’d never thought about setting goals for themselves. And that is true of many of us. We just move through life, going with the flow, when we could instead be aiming for a goal.

If your spouse has never considered the idea of setting goals, present that challenge this year. (But, don’t be pushy. Start by sharing your own goals, then prayerfully go from there.)

Support the Goals of Others

Actively. Joyfully. And, when it comes to our spouses, we should attempt to merge our goals with theirs. If any of our plans clash or interfere with one another’s needs, perhaps we should reconsider and prayerfully re-evaluate.

Your goals – combined with your spouse’s – will go far to shape how your marriage grows this year. Stand together! Work together! And be ready to look back this time next year and see what God has done as you have submitted your time and energy to honoring Him through growth.