Looking back, looking ahead: Year’s End

It's a walk by faith and not by sight.
It’s a walk by faith and not by sight.

I wrote early in the year that I wasn’t much for New Year’s resolutions. I’m a fairly goal-oriented person and I tend to keep a running goals sheet. However, I also know that progress and growth only happen when one takes a step back and considers where the biggest “gaps” were between my goals and my reality.

Looking Back…

There’s a couple things that I feel good about from this last year….

I got more rest and was more active. Thanks to my FitBit One, I have a better handle on my general activity level. As a result, when I didn’t make my daily goal (an admitedly low goal of 5000 steps) I couldn’t fudge it. The numbers were there in black and white. In terms of tracking my sleep, I used the Sleep Cycle app.  I use it wake up more gently and I feel less like a zombie as a result. This sounds a bit simplistic. but the daily reminders help me keep my goals in sight. And as a result — I lost 20 pounds in 2013. And kept them off.

We saw our daughters grow through their challenges and graduate! One finished college in four years, (no small feat!) and one finished high school. Both did extremely well and stared down their personal dragons. I’m so proud of them. Love and prayers made a difference. They are both healthy and happy… and that’s huge. Thanks be to God!

I blogged more consistently and to a larger audience. I added 340 posts to my blog, which logged 11,000 views. That’s peanuts compared to many bloggers and authors, I’ll grant you. It was fun to blog in community with RevGalBlogPals, as a ViewPoint writer for EEWC, and to participate in the Rethink Church photo-a-day exercises in Advent and Lent. I’m grateful that you take the time to read this blog, and encourage you to comment. 🙂

I saw on a personal dream become a reality, and built a labyrinth. I blogged about both my progress and what I learned in the process. The experience has been the impetus for writing about the true ups and downs of a spiritual journey. There’s confusion, there’s frustration, and there’s also success (sometimes in very small steps.) And the joy is in the journey.

Looking Ahead…

Here’s my plans for growth (personally and professionally) in 2014…

Spiritually…  I’m continuing to learn how to be a person of integrity, sincerity and faith. It takes time, effort and self-discipline and I know it’s a life-long process. But here’s a few things that I’ve found to be personally helpful.

  • Lent and Advent  The Photo-a-day discipline is a simple way to focus on the major themes of Lent and Advent. I invite you to join me! A simple cell phone camera is more than adequate.
  • Pray-as-you-go  The  daily podcasts from Pray-as-you-go offer a great way to re-center in the middle of a busy day. Everything from the daily Scripture to the music during the meditation is frequently spot-on.
  • Bible reading plan  Here’s the beauty of on-line devotions: I get a daily email with links to the day’s reading. I can access it on my computer or “handheld mobile device.” This year I’ve decided to go with the Daily Office Lectionary Readings.

Professionally… I’m working towards board certification as a professional chaplain, and getting national recognition of my ordination and chaplaincy credentials with ABC-USA. This has taken a lot of writing, study and preparation (not to mention taking post-grad training). I’m also continuing to wait on the place God has in mind for job in Spiritual Care. It may be with a health-care agency, a church or a non-profit. I had some great interviews and possibilities in 2013, but I’m very aware that the Call needs to be mutual.

Personally I’m working on my continued overall fitness and weight loss. I don’t intend to run a marathon (kudos to those of you who do), but I want to keep my trend going in the right direction. I’m also continuing to find time to write, especially on long-term projects. And eventually, I may catch up with the laundry.

I’ll blog later about my Star Word and my watch word (Scripture for the year.)

There’s 10,000 reasons that I am blessed and grateful to God for this past year. I end my posts for the year with this song…

Friday Five: On Overcoming

Sally from RevGalBlogPals writes:

I am preparing this Friday 5 just before I take Chris into hospital for a cardioversion, right now we are all a little apprehensive. But this whole thing has got me thinking, so many of us are overcomers in one way or another, so many have amazing stories to tell of God’s faithfulness in adversity. And so I bring you this Friday 5…

1.Have you experienced God’s faithfulness at a difficult time? Tell as much or as little as you like…
Many, MANY times God has been there in the hard places. A broken engagement. A church staff position which was so disastrous for me that I was convinced I had no gifting for public ministry. The death of my father. Worries during health scares. Struggling with life decisions.

In each situation, just at the right time, God gave a picture, or a snippet of a Bible verse, a phrase of a song. And, as I needed it most, friends to listen and walk beside me through me. (Some of you are reading this – you know who you are… thanks again for being faithful!)

2. Have you experienced a dark night of the soul, if so what brought you through?

Resting. Waiting. At times, ceasing from my usual pursuits and activities in order to hear God more clearly. Pouring out my heart in writing, and in song at the piano. Many boxes of tissues and good chocolate!

3. Share a Bible verse, song, poem that has brought you comfort?

It’s a toss-up between “Haven’t got time for the pain” by Carly Simon and “The Valley Song” by Jars of Clay. Here’s part of the lyrics…

Suffering was the only thing that made me feel I was alive
Though that’s just how much it cost to survive in this world
‘Til you showed me how, how to fill my heart with love
How to open up and drink in all that white LIGHT
Pouring down from the heaven
I haven’t got time for the pain
I haven’t got room for the pain
I haven’t the need for the pain
Not since I’ve known you…

Jars of Clay
When death like a Gypsy comes to steal what I love
I will still look to the heavens I will still seek your face

But I fear you aren’t listening because there are no words
Just the stillness and the hunger for a faith that assures

I will sing of Your mercy
That leads me through valleys of sorrow
To rivers of joy

4. Is “why suffering” a valid question?

If it isn’t, then a whole bunch of folks in the Bible must not be “biblical”! Start with Job… David… Jeremiah… even the Pharisees (when they weren’t being duplicitous…) I would say that the human race has always experienced it and always will until Jesus comes back!

5. And on a lighter note- you have reached the end of a dark and difficult time- how are you going to celebrate?

Same way I made it through – with songs, people and chocolate!