Pete and I had a short New Year’s discussion last night. We talked about what we want to do differently in 2014, any foreseeable changes in the coming year, etc. I ended by issuing a challenge.
Here are some things we talked about:
- More sleep: And how we need it. … I just typed out a paragraph of detailed discussion on this, but it was boring, so I deleted it. Just know that we’re usually sleep-deprived.
- Budget: I’m going to make one. Pete and I share one credit card that’s paid off every month, but other than that, our accounts are separate. I’ve heard mixed opinions on this, but for us, that’s how it is right now. So when I say I’m going to make a budget, I’m just talking about for myself. I plan to use my Goodbudget app, as well as a spreadsheet format that my friend, Jessica, created. I’ve always written down my expenses in the checkbook, and I’ve been saving a certain amount each month (using Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps as a guide), but I want to get a better handle on what I spend and find ways to be more thrifty. I’ll share more about this along the way.
- Bible reading: Last year, I read through the Bible in a year, and it was wonderful. This year, I didn’t and I can tell a difference. We have devotions at work every morning, and I have an app called GoTandem that gives me daily encouragement (well, sometimes I forget to read it), but it’s not the same as going through the Bible, reading a passage and looking at the notes for better understanding. Pete suggested we do a reading plan together this coming year, and I’m excited to do it with him. We both have the YouVersion Bible app, so we’re going to use that to find some different reading plans. They have a bunch on several different topics and by different people. Some are a year long; others are a few days, a week or a month. The first one we’re going to do is a weeklong plan called “Toward a Fearless New Year.”
- Rocks and sand: This one really does fit between the bullet point above and the one below. It’s an analogy I based a Sunday school lesson on once. Here goes: Imagine you have a glass jar, a bag of rocks and a bag of sand. All the rocks and all the sand should fit into the jar. When you pour the sand in first, then try to squeeze in the rocks, it doesn’t fit. But when you put the rocks in first, then pour the sand over it, everything fits. The sand represents all the things we fill life with: work, hobbies, family, and so on. The rocks represent the firm foundation God provides. When we try to fit everything else into our lives before God, it doesn’t quite work; something will always be out of whack. Maybe we experience this in the form of anxiety or feeling like we don’t have enough time for everything. Maybe we experience this in the form of strained relationships, feeling insecure or empty — like something is missing. But when we put God first, everything else falls into place. I can’t tell you how many times Mom has quoted Proverbs 3:6 to me: “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Not without obstacles, but straight. Since one of our goals for the New Year is to put God first, I will be thinking more about what this looks like. Right now, for me, it looks like starting the day with prayer during my commute to work, thanking God for all the little things I tend to take for granted, and spending some quiet time to reflect on life in general and what God might have next for me. Wisdom can come in the form of mature friends or some inspirational book, but someone at work pointed out last week that God is the ultimate “Wonderful Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6).
- And the challenge: Praying for our marriage every day. I already pray for our marriage a lot, but in 2014, I’m committing to praying for it every day. I already set an alarm on my phone for 4:00 each day to remind me. If I could sum up what I’ve learned this past year, it’s the power of prayer, so I look forward to seeing how Pete and I can grow together in 2014. I will pray for things like: more patience, less bitterness, to not take our stress out on each other, time and funds for date nights, to not be easily angered, to be better listeners, to remember to put our marriage before work, for constructive criticism instead of silly arguments, to examine ourselves before judging each other, for tame tongues and for creative ideas on how we can spoil each other rotten.
I’m ready, 2014. Bring it on!