INTENTIONAL

I have never really been one to make new year resolutions.  There is no real reason why other than I am not good at keeping them long term.  I think most people would agree that we always start the new year with good intentions, but then life gets in the way and those resolutions fizzle out.  Instead of new year resolutions, I create small goals for myself all throughout the year that help me to achieve the long-term goals I have for my life.  I have found that to be a much better way for me to stay focused on what I want to accomplish all year long.  At the start of each month, I sit down and think about the things that I want to accomplish that month and I write them down in my calendar and my phone as a constant reminder.  Narrowing down my focus each month, seems to make my goals more manageable and more likely to be accomplished.  This has been a very effective practice for me and is something that I will continue to do. 

Two years ago, I started coming up with a single word that I wanted to focus on throughout the year in addition to my monthly goals.  I saw this idea somewhere, and I really loved it.  I wanted to choose a word that would represent my year as a whole. It was to be a word that I posted around my house and would impact every decision and thought that I had throughout the year.  I wanted to choose a word that would be impactful on my life.  It sort of became my mantra for the year.  My word of the year in 2019 was JOY.  It was something that was really lacking in my life at that time and desperately needed.   I wanted JOY to be my focus for that year as a way to change my mindset and the way that I looked at day to day things going on in my life.  I wanted it to be a constant reminder for me to choose JOY in all circumstances.  It allowed me to focus on the positives instead of the negatives, and by the end of that year, it had become a habit. It was completely freeing.  I feel like it truly made a difference in my life that year and really helped to change the way I looked at everything.  My word for 2020 was RELENTLESS.  My goal was to be RELENTLESS in the pursuit of my goals. That word was placed on my heart after hearing a song that I love.  It was like God turned on that song at the exact moment I was praying about my new word. It turned out to be the perfect word for this past year.   I wanted to focus on being RELENTLESS in multiple areas…relentless in love (for my family and friends), relentless in faith (growing in my relationship with God), relentless in work (making a global impact with my Trades of Hope business), relentless in pursuing my dreams (not giving up on reaching them), relentless in personal growth (becoming a better version of myself), and relentless in joy (continuing to choose joy every day).  While 2020 did not turn out like any of us had planned, I stayed true to my word of the year.  I never gave up and keep pushing forward in all of those areas.  I really was RELENTLESS.  I am proud of myself for continuing to choose joy in the midst of everything that went wrong in 2020.  I chose to see the good that came from it as much as I could, and it brought me so much joy this year.  I also spent more time with my family (thank you COVID) and was really focused in on cultivating my relationships.  My biggest accomplishment of the year, though, was remaining relentless in my work.  I was able to grow my Trades of Hope business in ways I never imagined I could, especially in the middle of a pandemic.  I am very proud of myself for that.  It just proved to me that hard work and persistence are important and can really make a difference.  We should all be relentless in pursuing our goals.

We are already 5 days into a new year, and I have been struggling to find my word of the year for 2021.  The last two came to me so easily and were the perfect fit, but this year’s word has taken a lot of reflection and prayer to find it.  I’ve been toiling around with several words for weeks now.  I’ve had a running list of possible words in my phone since the beginning of December when I started reflecting on the past year and began looking forward to this year.  None of them seemed to be calling to me, though.  If I am being perfectly honest, I still didn’t have the word when I sat down and began writing this post this morning.  It’s true.  I was just kind of hoping that it would come to me as I wrote, and that didn’t happen.  I actually had to stop writing after that last paragraph thinking that I was going to have to postpone this post to another day. I decided to close my computer, close my eyes, and begin praying for the word to come.  I finished my prayer and just sat here with my eyes closed for a few minutes.  I wanted to be still and present.  I wanted to take the time to push out everything around me and just listen to what God had to tell me.  It was in that moment that my word for 2021 appeared in my head.  As I sat here letting the word sink in, it became clear to me that this word was placed on my heart at this very moment because it is exactly the word I need.  It even kind of goes along with my word from last year.  

My word for 2021 is INTENTIONAL.  The Oxford dictionary says that intentional means “done on purpose; deliberate.” I think for me that it ultimately means choosing to make all of my decisions and actions about things that are important to me.  It means taking an active role in my life and with my time versus living my life just reacting to what is happening around me or waiting for the storm to end.  That reminds me of that saying, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It is about learning how to dance in the rain.” I want to dance in the rain.  I want to truly live.  Prior to COVID, my life was crazy.  Most days were spent just going through the motions, trying to make it through.  The pandemic brought with it a much needed break from all that insanity.  It allowed me time to do things that I wanted to do instead of simply doing all the things I thought I had to do.  That is how I was able to grow my Trades of Hope business.  I became more intentional with my time.  I really want to keep that going this year.  I don’t want life to go back to the way it was before this extended break.   I no longer want to live my life reacting and simply surviving as I weather the next storm.  I want to continue to be intentional in my decisions, actions, emotions, and time.  I want to be INTENTIONAL with my quiet time with God—not just asking and repenting but choosing to listen and be still, INTENTIONAL with my work—continuing to be relentless in my pursuit of my goals and using my time wisely, INTENTIONAL with my time—choosing time with family and friends over things that are much less important and keeping my focus on the things that matter, INTENTIONAL with my pursuit of becoming a better version of myself—actively working to become the person I want to be instead of just waiting for it to happen. It is time to take control of my life and start living it the way I want to. It is time to stop merely surviving and start truly living. The more this word is swimming around in my brain, the more excited I am becoming about the future.  This is definitely the right word for me for this time in my life. It came to me when I got INTENTIONAL with my time of prayer. How ironic is that? All I can say is that it is all God! I can’t wait to see how living out my word this year is going to change my life. I just know it is going to be great!

Anchored,

Relentless

Can you believe that we are already a week into a new year and a new decade?  As I am sure most of us do at the start of a new year, I have been doing a lot of thinking about the past year and what I want out of my life for this new year.  I shared with you last year that I am not really one to make new year resolutions.  I just don’t think that they are ever very effective for me. I tend to have all of these grand ideas and plans of things I want to accomplish and am so gung hoe for them.  Then by February or March, it has all fizzled out because life just took over.  Resolutions just aren’t meaningful enough for me.  I decided last year to try something new.  I decided to choose a word that I wanted to be a representation for my year.  It was to be something that I focused on all year and it was something that I wanted to improve about my life. Just thinking about that word and reminding myself of it on a daily basis was supposed to have an impact on every decision I made throughout the year and really impact how I lived my life.  I wasn’t sure how it was really going to play out throughout the year or if it would fizzle out within a month or two like past resolutions had, but I was determined to give it a solid go.  As I have shared many times since starting this blog, I have been on the road of self-discovery over the past 2 years and have really been putting in a lot of work into what I want out of life and the kind of person I want to be and the example I want to be for my kids.  All of that went into my choice of word for 2019.  I thought long and hard about it and one word kept coming up over and over.  That word was JOY, and an idea began to take shape.  I realized that joy was something that had been sorely lacking in my life for a long time.  I didn’t feel joy.  I think I had really forgotten what real joy actually felt like.   I decided that choosing joy in every circumstance in my life was something that I desperately needed. I had gotten to the point where everything in my life was a chore.  I was always negative and didn’t do anything with any sense of joy.  It was time for a change.  I began to believe that if I chose joy in all circumstances, my life would begin to make sense and I would begin to experience true happiness again. I set out for 2019 to be the year that I chose joy above all else. Now, I will tell you that I didn’t always choose joy 100% of the time.  There were times that I got knocked down and needed to remind myself of my goal.  However, I truly believe that my life is better and much more joyful than it has been in a very long time. Having that reminder to choose joy staring me in the face every day, really did have a positive impact on my life.  There were some really hard things that happened in 2019 that could have could have turned my life upside down and really broken me had I not chosen to rise above them and chose joy.  I chose joy in the difficult times and in the sad times, and that alone made the biggest impact.  Did I shout joy from the rooftops? No, I did not.  This was something internal for me.  It was a mindset that I had to work on.  People weren’t aware of the battle going on inside of me to fight the negative and put joy at the forefront of my mind, but it wasn’t about anyone else but me.  It wasn’t easy and sometimes I failed, but choosing joy in all circumstances is something that I will continue to do for the rest of my life. 

Now 2020 is here and it is time for me to choose a new word to focus on this year.  I have really put a lot of thought into this year’s word.  It actually came to me on the 10-hour drive from South Carolina back home after Christmas.  I do a lot of thinking and praying when I am on long drives.  It was just my oldest and me in the car, and she pretty much puts in ear buds and doesn’t speak the whole time. Needless to say, it gave me a lot of quiet time.  I had put on the music that I have downloaded on my phone partly because I was tired of changing stations every hour or so when we lost the one we were listening too and partly because I think better with music for some reason.  I have a lot of contemporary Christian music on my phone that I like to listen to when I want to get the in the right frame of mind.  Anyway, I was throwing a lot of words around in my head, but nothing was really sticking.  I was trying to find something to represent what I wanted this year to look like for me.  Then this song came on that I have heard a million times.  It is by a guy that used to be the worship leader at one of our old churches.  The song is entitled, “Relentless.” It talks about how God’s love for us is relentless, endless, never changing, and unstoppable.  It got me doing a lot of thinking about that.

It was like a brick hit me upside the head, and I instantly knew that my word for 2020 was going to be RELENTLESS.  It was like God placed the word right there at my feet.  That word truly encompasses what I want for my life this year.  I want to be relentless just like God is in his love for us. I want to be relentless in all I do.  I want to be so focused that nothing can stop me.    I want to be RELENTLESS IN LOVE—love for my family, my friends, and every person I come across. I want to be RELENTLESS IN FAITH—ever growing in my relationship with Christ.  I want to be RELENTLESS IN WORK—fighting for injustice and making a global impact with the work I do with Trades of Hope. I want to be RELENTLESS IN DREAMS—doing everything in my power to make all of my dreams come true. I want to be RELENTLESS IN GROWTH—continuing to work on growing and becoming the best version of myself.  I want to be RELENTLESS IN JOY—seeking joy and choosing joy in everything I do.

The Oxford dictionary says that relentless means “oppressively constant; incessant; harsh; inflexible.”  While some may think that relentless can be a negative word, I do not see it that way in this instance.  For me being relentless means that I am not going to give up, and I am not going to stop. Failure is only a bump in the road and not the end.  It means not letting anything stand in the way of achieving my goals and dreams.  It means continuing to push forward until I am victorious. It is an endless pursuit of what I want for my life and the person I want to become. It means putting God first before all other things and letting him guide me through this journey of life in the way he has set it out for me. It is getting up every day with a purpose and doing whatever it takes to fulfill that purpose.  Just like waves crashing on the shore, I am plan to be relentless in my life this year. 

Anchored and Relentless,