tips for keeping your New Year’s resolutions

It doesn’t seem possible that we’re already ushering in the New Year. Most of us can agree that 2021 flew by faster than ever. May, June, July…they all seem like distant memories.

Each year, New Year’s resolutions are made, and each year, New Year’s resolutions are broken, some within a month or two of making them. Below are some suggestions for keeping your New Year’s Resolutions.


Resolution: Exercise more.

How to fail: “I’m going to exercise every day for two hours without fail.” or “I’m going to run twenty miles a day.”

Tips to succeed: Beginning an exercise program doesn’t have to be daunting. Make it a goal to join one class at the gym and stick to it. Choose a class that is not too intense and is within your abilities. You can always move on to the next level at a later time. If you aren’t a gym member, plan to start a workout program (check with your doctor first) tailored to something you enjoy for up to 30 minutes, a couple of times a week to start. Some suggestions include a workout video (either the old-fashioned DVD way or through streaming); jumproping to several of your favorite songs; going for a walk each day through the neighborhood or in a nearby park; investing in a mini-trampoline; taking a swim at a nearby indoor pool; turning on the tunes and dancing; or purchasing some inexpensive dumbbells (or water bottles) and do a weight training routine. Whichever exercise you choose, be sure to warm-up first and start slow. It’s far easier to start slow and work your way up than to start with zest and burn out.


Resolution: Eat healthier.

How to fail: “I’m going to only eat healthy foods without fail.”

Tips to succeed: Start small. Choose one unhealthy food to eliminate from your diet or decide to add one healthy food to add to your diet. This past month, I added pumpkin to my list of healthy foods to eat on a regular basis. A few months ago, I added a “green drink” that consists of kale, spinach, and broccoli. Plan to give up an unhealthy food choice each month until it becomes a habit. If you “accidentally” consume the unhealthy food, no worries. Try again the following week. No pressure.


Resolution: Get organized/declutter

How to fail: “I will organize and declutter my house all in one day and will never, ever again succumb to the temptation of purchasing useless items again.”

Tips to succeed: Begin with manageable portions of organization. Tackle one room or space at a time. To do otherwise will be overwhelming. My plan for getting organized and decluttered consists of starting in my home office (where I spend a lot of time) beginning with my bookshelves, then my desk, then my exercise equipment. After my home office is completed (and giving myself ample time to finish it), I will move on to the kitchen, starting with countertops, then cupboards, and so on.


Resolution: Making your relationship with God a priority.

How to fail: “I will read the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation fourteen times in two months”.

Tips to succeed: Make growing your relationship with the Lord less a list of “to-do’s” and more of a sincere time to grow closer to Jesus. Spend time with Him first thing in the morning in prayer and in His Word. Pray throughout the day and without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and keep a prayer journal. Choose a book of the Bible to read and study each month and read a chapter each day for a month. I read a chapter each day, and when I run out of chapters, I start over again in the same book until the next month. For instance, in December, my book of choice is Romans. It has 16 chapters, so I will read each chapter almost twice in one month. My goal? To become a more knowledgeable student of His Word by really allowing the chapters to “sink in”, which will take me more than just one time reading them. I am working my way through the entire Bible this way, slowly and at a manageable pace, not because I have to, but because I want to know the Lord more fully.


Resolution: Save money/spend less/get out of debt.

How to fail: “I will never, ever buy anything, except the absolute necessaries and, if I do buy something extra, I’ll return it right away.”

Tips to succeed: For saving money, skim an amount off the top of your paycheck each month (or start with most months and work your way up). This can be a manageable amount to be increased in reasonable increments. To spend less, make a handwritten budget (handwritten is more intentional), make a grocery list with most important and necessary items at the top and lesser important (but not frivolous) items at the bottom for if your budget allows. To get out of debt, add an additional amount to pay on a debt each month. For example, pay extra toward your credit card, medical debt, or mortgage each month. Even if the additional amount seems minute, it adds up fast.


Resolution: Spend less time on social media/the computer/my phone or device (for things other than actual work projects).

How to fail: “I will give up all social media and only use my phone to call people”.

Tips to succeed: The all-or-nothing approach sets us up for failure. Instead, choose one or two social media platforms to spend your time on and step away from the rest. You can change those one or two at any time. Set the timer and allow yourself that amount of time to catch up on posts, “likes”, “retweets”, etc. Do the same for returning emails.


Setting unmanageable goals for ourselves is never the key to success. Rather, set an attainable goal and allow yourself grace if you fail. You can always start again.

Happy New Year’s!


Before you go, check out these other posts:

the importance of new beginnings

9 ways to jumpstart your homeschool year

tools to help your child succeed in life

13 verses to comfort the fearful heart

what to stock up on this winter

resting in the arms of an unchanging God

10 Bible verses to start off your day

how to become an undercover prayer warrior

After Christian historical romance, Christian suspense is my favorite genre. Especially when characters go undercover and the tension builds as covert operations are planned to catch the bad guys.

detective

It may be that I have read one too many of these novels. Or that I have watched Sue Thomas F.B. Eye too many times to count. Or that my grandfather was a retired police officer for the San Diego Police Department.

I’ve recently felt God prompting me into my own incognito activities.

As such, I’ve become an undercover prayer warrior.

I have always and will continue to intercede for the most important people in my life – my family and friends. I pray for them numerous times a day and whenever the Lord brings them to mind. There is not a time during the day when I’m not in constant contact with the Lord.

However, now I’ve added strangers to the list. People who don’t even know I’m praying for them.

Want to join me in this venture? Here’s how to become an undercover prayer warrior:

1. Keep your eyes open. There’s a woman I see each time I’m utilizing the treadmill at my local gym. A salt-and-pepper pixie haircut and a somber expression line her face. I’ve never seen her smile. Not once. Not when the machine she wanted was available, and certainly not to return a smile. This woman became my mission. Each time I see her, I pray earnestly for her. I pray for whatever struggles she is facing. I pray for joy and peace in her life. And I pray that if she doesn’t know the Lord, she would someday come to know Him.

Had I not been keeping my eyes open, I may not have noticed this woman and had the privilege to pray for her.

2. Keep your ears open. Ambulance sirens? Emergency helicopter? Both denote that someone is injured, or may even be possibly fighting for his or her life. Whenever our family hears either of those sounds, we stop what we’re doing and immediately pray for those who are being transported. We pray also that the Lord would provide wisdom and guide the doctor’s hands as any necessary medical procedures are done.

ambulance

3. Keep your heart open. Whenever I pass by the hospital or local cancer center, I pray for those who are receiving treatment. I pray for God’s healing and that He would make Himself known to those who don’t yet know Him. It’s beyond difficult to struggle with an illness, especially one that’s terminal. Prayer support is the most important thing we can offer someone.

4. Keep your mind open. Some of the hardest people to pray for are those who are unkind. I experienced some unkindness recently from a woman in desperate need of prayer. I didn’t necessarily want to pray for this meanie, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I had to keep an open mind and pray for this person as God commands in Matthew 5:43-47.

So become God’s undercover prayer warrior. Slip into detective mode and…

  • Pray for that exhausted mom in front of you at the grocery store with the seven children.
  • Pray for the clerk at the department store or the waitress at your favorite restaurant.
  • Pray for the man at the doctor’s office when you overheard he’s just been told he has a terminal illness.
  • Scan the newspaper and pray for comfort for the families of those who have recently passed away.
  • Pray for those in jails and prisons.
  • Pray for those in drug treatment facilities attempting to overcome addictions.

And the list goes on.

God always hears each and every prayer we pray.

Why not bless someone today with your prayers?


Before you go, check out these other posts:

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider

the importance of respect

leaving a Godly legacy

training for the mom olympics

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

Movie Monday: Where Love Found Me

how to build close bonds with your kids

A mom recently posted a question in a Facebook group. She needed encouragement in her parenting journey after hearing from several parents that she needed to enjoy her time with her children now (all under six-years-old) because when her children were teens, they would hate her and wouldn’t want anything to do with her. She asked how she could maintain a strong relationship with her children into adulthood.

Should we expect the close relationship we have with our little ones to change as they get older? Should that just be one more thing to worry about on the lengthy list of parenting concerns?

While it’s true that our relationships with our children change several times over the course of their growing to adulthood, it doesn’t mean that it has to be something negative. It’s important to note that the blanket statement of children hating us once they become tweens and teens or not wanting to spend any time with us is simply not true for everyone.

So how can we build close bonds with our children that last far into adulthood? And while the ideal would be to start these suggestions when our children are very young, we can never go wrong strengthening those bonds no matter what age our children are.

Here are some ways to build close bonds with your kids:

Give your relationship with your children to the Lord. This is by far the most important suggestion and not a one-time prayer. Surrender your parenting to Jesus, seek His guidance, and endeavor, with His help, to be the kind of parent our Heavenly Father is to us.

Pray with and for your children without ceasing.

Spend time with your kids. Suggestions include listening, learning, singing, dancing, reading, playing games, and going for bike rides. Ask your children for ideas.

Spend one-on-one time with each child. When you’re a mom, the days go by at an unprecedented pace. There is just so much to do and so little time! But it’s critical to spend time with your children one-on-one on a regular basis. Some suggestions? Take a walk, go out for ice cream, plan a “girls day” complete with hair appointments, or celebrate at home with manicures. Again, ask each child for suggestions.

Make church, Bible study, and worship a priority.

Celebrate their uniqueness. Each of our kids are different, and that’s a good thing!

Make family night a tradition. Once you make this important night a tradition (for us it’s Friday nights) be sure to hold to it. Other activities are sure to come up, but if you make family night a priority, it instills the importance of spending time as a family and shows that other “important” activities can be scheduled around time with family.

Keep communication lines open. The standard “fine” when asked how their day is going can be avoided if you get creative in asking questions. If your kids attend a private or public school, wait a few minutes after they get home to ask them about their day. Children need a chance to transition and recharge. Keep in touch with what’s going in in their “world” and with friends and activities.

Bring up topics of interest. I bring a “topic” to the table each day, usually at lunch because it seems we have more time at that meal. I seek their opinions about the topic before giving mine and always listen to their point of view whether I agree with it or not. It can be any age-appropriate topic and has varied from how to be kind to others when they were little, to abortion when they got older, to today’s topic, which was on a Christian heretic and how we need discernment. As a homeschooling mom, I have an advantage of spending time with my kids that we wouldn’t have if they were in a school setting all day with limited time to spend together after school, sports, jobs, etc. If your child is private or public schooled, plan this time around the dinner table.

Express your gratitude. Have a grateful heart and a humble spirit whenever they do something kind or helpful.

Discipline with fairness and with love.

Be a good listener. Care about what matters to them, and always, always, always let them know how much you love them and how thankful you are that God has chosen you to be their mom.

Teach compassion and empathy for others by modeling it yourself.

Be respectful of them.

Find times to chat. Ever since my daughters were little, we’ve had a rule that we’ve never watched videos in the car. This wasn’t because I’m against videos – I actually love a good movie) – but because car-time is talk time, and if they don’t open up at other times, they will open up in the car (as odd as that sounds). On longer trips, we’d put on Christian tunes and sing together, or on family jaunts, we’d listen to Adventures in Odyssey. Other ideas? Provide a stack of books and travel games. (The license plate game, anyone?)

Don’t encourage your kids to grow up too fast. It really is true that when you blink, your kids will be grown. I didn’t believe it back in those early days of my kids not sleeping through the night and the ensuing severe sleep deprivation. All the milestones that our kids will eventually cross don’t need to be rushed. Take the time to enjoy each stage as it comes.

Priorities, priorities! Those we love should be a priority over all other “things” that clamor for our attention on a daily basis. This includes cell phones (which should never be allowed at the dinner table or family night), social media (fine in small doses, but it should never replace time with our families), choosing to work 24/7 with no time for family, and many, many other time vacuums that are in our busy lives. This is not to say that we make our children selfish because they think they are the only thing that matters (we do have to work, do laundry, and make dinner!), but it is to say that things can never take the place of people and we should never make it seem like they are.

Don’t listen to naysayers. Everyone will have a different parenting experience. Life happens and sometimes things beyond our control get in the way of relationships.

Remember there is no guarantee. A dear friend who was always close to her children recently discovered that one of them, as an adult, has joined a cult and has disowned their family. No matter how hard we try, things can still go in a different direction than we ever would have planned. We do the best we can, then leave the rest to God.


Before you go, check out these other posts on this blog:

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

leaving a godly legacy

7 ingredients for creating the perfect character

looking to homeschool? here are 7 things to consider

delectable gluten free chocolate crinkles recipe

how to start a sisters in Christ group

who are you behind the screen?

how to survive in an out-of-control world

I recently heard someone say that they’ve experienced the thirty-day trial of 2021 and they’d like a refund.

The world has changed so rapidly in the past year. It is cause for concern, fear, and even grief, as we ponder the effects of those changes not only on ourselves, but also on our children and grandchildren. Our nation has been transformed in ways we don’t recognize and never thought possible – or at least never thought possible -in such a short amount of time. Things are chaotic, tumultuous, and turbulent.

For survivors of 2020, 2021 has started out much the same, and the struggle to put one foot in front of the other and forge ahead can be a challenge.

What can we do when things seem out of control? Here are some suggestions:

Pray often. Prayer is critical, and not a once-a-day event. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 reminds us to “pray without ceasing”. The good news is that God is available to hear those prayers 24/7 without fail.

Immerse yourself in the Bible and hide His Word in your heart. If our Bibles were taken from us tomorrow, would we have enough of it hidden in our hearts? What if we made it a goal to dive deeper into the precious words of Scripture more often and more fully than we ever have?

Church is crucial. Fellowship with other believers is essential. Make both a priority.

When things are stressful and unmanageable, focus on God’s promises. (I will be posting another installment of The Scripture Series on God’s Promises in the coming weeks).

Cherish your family members. Love them well, appreciate them, cling to them, and realize they walk through the same challenges in this topsy-turvy world.

Be selective about which headlines and articles you read. Hibernating, avoiding all happenings in the world around us, or playing ostrich is never a good idea. We need to be aware of what is going on in our world, but not take it to the extreme. Read from sources you know are based on honesty, not on an agenda.

In addition, be vigilant about what you allow into your mind. Not everything you read or listen to is true. More importantly, not everything you read or listen to is pleasing to God. Practice discernment.

Engage, but don’t make it an idol. I am a firm believer that Christians should engage in politics. In a world that, among other things, seeks to attack religious liberties and deems the killing of the pre-born acceptable, we need to stand for the right to worship God and for the value of all life. And we need to elect those who will do the same. If something grieves our Heavenly Father, it should grieve us. Contact your local, state, and federal legislators about issues of concern. Run for office. Pray that God would place godly men and women in positions of authority. Just remember not to allow politics to consume you.

Avoid the lure of constant 24/7 social media. While there is nothing wrong with social media (I will be the first to tell you that I love social media and have accounts on several platforms), the key is not to allow it to become an idol or something that takes you away from the important things of life. Checking it a few times a day is fine. Being tethered to it isn’t.

Turn off the cell phone/computer an hour before bedtime. Finish nightly duties, then spend the remainder of your time before bed reading the Bible. I guarantee you will find peace.

Don’t suffer alone. Spend time talking with a mentor – a spiritually mature person who can pray with and for you and help you navigate the ongoings of this chaotic world with a focus on the Lord.

Spend time listening to godly podcasts. Several people have told me in recent weeks that they are hungrier than ever for godly counsel and Bible-based teaching (and many are not getting that need met). Bible-focused podcasts that put God’s Truth above all else provide encouragement and remind us in Whom we place our faith. Again, practice discernment.

Journal your thoughts, worries, and concerns – then turn them over to the Lord.

Take care of yourself. Do your best to eat healthy foods, get sufficient sleep, and find time to exercise. Go outside and soak up sunshine, even on a chilly day. It will do wonders for your mood.

There is hope. Our lives, while affected greatly by the world around us, are not defined by it. Rather, they are defined by the One who holds the seat of highest honor today, tomorrow, and eternally. May we not only continually and permanently fix our eyes on Jesus, but also rest in our Heavenly Father’s arms where peace reigns.

___________________

Other posts on this blog that you may enjoy:

the importance of new beginnings

the importance of perseverance

for such a time as this: finding stability in an unstable world

28 verses for uncertain times

15 verses for strength in challenging times

you might be a homeschooling mom if…

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

Movie Monday: Flying High for the Glory of God

Movie Monday: Unplanned