Tuesday, January 3, 2017


My husband Steve gives me a new wall calendar each year for Christmas. This year, he chose a calendar with beautiful pictures by various Japanese artists.

Kazuyuki Ohtsu, Camellia in Snow, 2008

A new calendar - with its fresh pictures, clean pages, and dates yet to be inked with appointments and dates to remember - is an invitation to look forward. Uncluttered and untattered, it hangs on the wall like optimism, like the beginning of a story. "Once upon a time..."

What comes next? How will the story of this new year unfold? How will this year be like last year? How will it be different?

Much of what awaits in the year ahead is beyond my control and beyond my ability to predict. However, I would like for 2017 to include these story lines:

I want to read more, and I want to read more thoughtfully. I am continuing my read-through-the-Bible journey this year with the 5 Day Bible Reading Schedule (HERE), instead of the excellent She Reads Truth reading schedule (HERE) that I've used previously, just to mix things up a little.

My daughter recently introduced me to the Bible Study for Busy Mamas series (HERE), and I hope to work through at least a couple of these as well. I also have a hodgepodge reading list that includes fiction (new and old), a book on trauma recovery, a bit of church history, and technical books about writing.

I want to pray more - more consistently, more deliberately, more precisely. My best prayer time is in the wee hours of the morning, compliments of menopause-induced sleeplessness - seems that God himself is making sure I have TIME to pray! And people and ministries for whom I have prayed in a general way in the past...lately, I have learned of more specific needs they have. When I ask God to give me the time, the motivation, the direction, and the presence of mind (sometimes I simply forget to pray!) to pray, He does.

I want to give more, and I want to give wider. The first year that I made any income off my writing, my goal was to have enough at the end of the year to afford Christmas gifts for all my children. The next year, I wanted to be able to commit to giving consistently to a ministry that benefited someone I knew personally. This year, I want to be able to give to a ministry on the far side of the world.

I want to write more. I am eager to lean into the harness and complete my next book: I hope to have the first draft finished by May. I would like to pick up additional contract writing. I am persevering with the hunt for an agent.

I want to move more. I want to be more physically active, which can be a bit of a challenge when I spend so much of my time in front of a computer screen.

I want to visit more. I want to spend more time with my parents, my children and grandchildren, and with relatives and friends who live in distant places.

All these I-Want-Tos...the truth is, NONE of these will happen if I sit passively and wait for them to be written into the story of 2017.

If I truly want to read more this year, then I am going to have to pick up a book and read.

If I want to pray more, then I am going to have to pause in the busyness of my day and pray.

If I want to give more, then I am going to have to get out there and beat the bushes to find more work/generate more income.

If I am going to write more, then I am going to have to protect my scheduled writing time.

If I am going to move more, then I am going to have to step away from the computer occasionally and pop out a few jumping jacks or crunches. (I am NOT talking "marathon" here, people.)

If I am going to visit more, then I am going to have to make time on the calendar to invest in others, and I am going to have to get a more reliable vehicle...not sure yet how I can facilitate that happening, but maybe it has something to do with writing more...maybe...

I am not particularly big on New Year's resolutions, but I do like to think about how I can approach the year ahead with thoughtfulness and deliberateness.

Steve has often said, "We always choose to do exactly what we want most to do." Do I truly want to do the things listed above? Or, do I think they sound like good ideas, but not things I particularly want to work at? I suppose only time will tell.

Perhaps I should begin this new year not with "I want to..." Perhaps I should begin the new year with "I choose to..." instead.

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