Today it’s quiet for the first time after a week of holiday family fun.
Three out of four of the kids came home for some Greenhouse Christmas traditions. But all good things–feasting, playing games, taking walks and feasting some more—come to an end.
Our daughter flew home on Wednesday and two sons drove out yesterday. Next the tree comes down this afternoon.
Once the tree is down, I declare to myself that the holidays are over. And it’s time to look ahead to the upcoming year. Not that we haven’t already made plans for the year—we’ve made lots of plans actually because 2017 will have a new focus for Gary and me.
But I’m talking about taking time to look ahead in personal reflection. It’s more than New Year resolutions, although that can be part of it. I’m talking about taking time to settle the soul and begin the year with spiritual intentionality. My soul yearns for it.
But before I pull out my notebook in a quiet corner, I wanted to connect with you today at the Greenhouse to invite you to do the same. The new year is a perfect invitation for new beginnings in our lives. It’s a chance to start fresh. It’s an invitation to press control-alt-delete on some habits we’re ready to get rid of and reboot with some new rhythms.
Here is a general description of what I’ll be doing the next couple of days to begin the new year with soulful intentionality. It takes time. It requires quiet. But it’s worth it, so I hope you’ll do it too.
- First look back—What am I thankful for? What did I like about the year? What did I dislike? What would I like to do more of? less of? What did I learn about God? myself? Or others?
2. Next look ahead – What changes would I like to make to my rhythm of life? What do I want to add or take away? How can I know God better? How can I become more like Christ? What areas would I like to see transformation? What part of the Bible would I like study? Are there books I want to read? Are there people I want to connect with? Disconnect with?
3. Wrap the process in prayer. Looking back is a perfect time to give thanks to God. It reminds me how often he was my strength and joy. And praying about the past reminds me how much I want God to be in my future. When I look ahead, I seek wisdom from his Spirit to guide me. Praying about the future helps me trust him through the transformation—and it’s a relief that I’m not doing it alone.
4. Share it with someone. We’re more likely to live into our goals when we share them with someone else. It builds in accountability. Just yesterday I told my husband that I’d like to go to bed earlier and rise earlier in the morning. It’s a change in our rhythm that I’ve been considering, but once we talked about it I knew I’d be more likely to carry through with it.
Now that I’ve shared a general description of how I like to begin the year, it’s time for me to do it. I’m going to take advantage of this quiet house and pull out the notebook to begin the process.
I hope you’ll find time to join me. Or maybe you’re ahead of me and can share some tips with us about how you like to prepare for a fresh start in the new year.
Don’t worry if you don’t finish by the first of January. I doubt I will. It usually takes me a few days and the hustle of the holidays keeps me from beginning earlier.
Take your time with the process so it’s motivated from the heart—not from the scale or bank statement, where most resolutions originate.
Prayerfully look back. Look ahead. And share it with someone.
Happy New Year from the Greenhouse to yours!