Sunday, January 4, 2009

Mulligans and Resolutions

New Year's resolutions are like cats, you either like them or you don't.

I, for one, always look forward to opportunities to start anew. Whether it's the first day of school, a Monday morning or a new year. It's like God is saying, "Okay, all that before today? That's your mulligan. Now we're playing for keeps."

I used to make long lists of resolutions for the New Year. Sometimes on paper, sometimes just in my head. They were usually the same things: grow my nails, lose weight, be nice, keep up with the laundry. Then, last year, my friend Becky inspired me to find a word or a phrase for the year. Little did I know that I would rely on that phrase as much as I did, and I'm happy to say that I grew from it. My phrase was "God is faithful." It took me through a year of selling our house and moving, my brother being on the other side of the world in a war zone, my oldest son striking out on his own, and a few minor personal trials thrown in besides. None of it was easy, but putting my faith where it belongs taught me a few things.

This year, as I struggle with trying to get my act together in a few areas of my life, the word that comes to mind is purposeful. I want to be more purposeful in the way I live my life. In the words I choose and how I spend my time

I am heartened by this passage in John 15:

I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.
I know that there are lots of areas in my life that need pruning back. There are branches that have gotten out of control, that are no longer productive or bearing fruit. I want to be more intentional and focused, not just on tasks and activities, but on my relationships, too. I'm so blessed to have a life filled with family and friends. And, I easily become the go-to person in a lot of situations, admittedly because I set myself up for it. This year I'll pray for discernment as to how I spend my time. I'll try to be more deliberate in my tasks, focusing on what's in front of me -- even if it's something as mundane as making the bed or making sack lunches -- instead of using the time to think about what else is on my list. And take time to breathe, so that I'm giving the best part of me to the person I'm with.

And to remember that I can't do it alone. . .

You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.


Madeleine said...

This is a good word for the year.

This is a well thought out hope for you, and I pray you achieve it this year. I think a word-goal is a good idea.

And happy birthday your you little one!

Jen said...

Great words to live by friend. i liked this. One word. Good choice. Purposeful. I'm the go to also. It's nice sometimes but pressuring at others.
this year may you have a long relaxing one.
I dont like cats. lol.

Joanne said...

What a great idea to have a "word" of the year. It really makes you reflect on the year, and what you want to accomplish with 12 months of time, and to name it. Thanks for sharing.

gail@more than a song said...

I like your word purposeful! And loved your thoughts on mulligans!
Happy new year!

Becky said...

Oh my goodness Karen, this is the best post I have read in weeks. How honest and out there ... and how inspiring for me. Thanks for sharing this.

I love your Word of the year. And I love that last year had your word speaking truth in your life all year long. That is exactly the way it should be.

I find New Year's Resolutions do not last. And once I fail them I simply cannot get it back. But my word of the year has lasted all year long, every year, for 6 years now. It makes the biggest difference in my life, my walk with Christ, my every day. And like you, I always grow from it and end up different.

Which is the idea after all.

Purposeful is a WONDERFUL word. Enjoy the journey with it this year. I look forward to reading how it is going as the year goes on.

Kim said...

Love this post, Karen--it is so...purposeful! ;) Truly, what a great word to pick for the year and so relevant to so many of others out here too. Remembering to breath is a biggie for me--life gets so busy and hectic, and I only have 2 home right now--how in the world did I function when I had all 4 living here?
Have a wonderful Monday--I am off to work-late due to MORE snow! I hope you enjoy the tortilla soup recipe--I forgot to add that I throw in a little brown sugar to the mix as it cuts the acidic tomato taste that I don't much care for--it adds a nice little flavor to it. I think I add about 3-4 tbsp.

Melissa said...

This is very sage advice.

Thank you for helping me to remember what's really important.


Sharon said...

Hi Karen,

I'll just add that this was a much needed Monday read for me. LOTS of bloggers out there pitching resolution/no resolution ideas...but few backed by wisdom from the Word.

That last quote gave me pause...both for me and for you -- the part about bearing fruit apart from the vine (God, the church, wise friends or however you read it). My tendency (and sin) is to either tough it out on my own (pride, self-sufficiency)or withdraw from that relationship -- for whatever my prayer for you this year will be to keep hanging onto the Vine. Blessings,

Judy said...

I never truly understood the whole 'grapevine' analogy until last year when my daughter and son-in-law bought a house with a grape arbor. It didn't take long for it all to make sense.

This is such a beautiful post, Karen. Thanks for sharing from your heart!

Trailboss said...

Excellent post. It gives me reason to pause and think of what my word or phrase will be.

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

What a great idea...that's going to take some thought to figure out what my word is. I can see how having that word would be great fodder for blog posts and journal entires throughout the year.


The Southern Housewife said...

Well written post! :) Thanks so much for visiting me!
The Southern Housewife

Robin said...

Hmmm...I've been thinking about doing this too - but I keep procrastinating. I love your word - purposeful. I love what you want to do with it. I am guessing you are going to have good year!

Katrina said...

This really speaks to me... thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

And thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving your kind words, it's so nice to "meet" you. I'll be back again to read more. :o)

BClark said...

Lovely post. I am not one for making the resolutions. Just setting myself up for a fall.
I do like the idea of a phrase to inspire. Very cool idea.
I wish you well in 2009 and ever after.

Kari said...

Hi and thanks for stopping by to visit my blog!

I really like the idea of a word or phrase of the year, instead of resolutions. I posted about my choice for word of the year on my blog, too. Resolutions put too much pressure on me and I seem to have the same ones year after year. A word or phrase seems more encouraging to me.

And, I love your dream job choice of English professor - okay, now I have to add another one to my history professor;o) Nice to meet you and stop by again anytime.

Melissa said...

I wanted to let you know that I have a Meme for you over at my blog.

I will have it posted later today.


Bill said...

God is faithful.

Wow, I love that, and it is so true! He never gave up on me, even when I gave up on myself. I will definitely share that piece of wisdom. Thanks!!!

diana said...

great post. it almost makes me want to set a few resolutions - which i don't do! =)

even tho i don't make resolutions, i do want to be better or do better at certain things this year. maybe purposeful is a good word for that. i do have a list and i will be working on being better at whatever it is.