Preparing for the Next Circuit

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I’ve been a bit reflective the past few days. Holidays do that to me.

 

The earth makes one full rotation each day. Rotate implies circular motion.

The earth makes one full rotation around the sun each year. Again, a circular motion.

We are going in circles.

Does that mean we aren’t getting anywhere? Continue reading

Navigating the labyrinth of life.

Over an hour ago, I was preparing to add tags and hit publish on this post when…

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…this happened.

Continue reading

Progress Report – February 2016

 

imageBefore I dive into today’s post, I need to address a couple “adminy” things:

First, I apologize for my spotty posting schedule and slow response time on your delightful comments. From about 7 am to 9 pm everyday I am like a machine—get up, read, pray, then dive in to packing, painting, paperwork, cleaning, prepping, scheduling and trying to be helpful to my children. It’s been a nonstop whirlwind of activity. I am hopeful that once we get to Texas and back into a routine, my posting will be back on a regular track.

Second, I want to remind you of all the different ways to connect with Elihu’s Corner. Many of my readers follow the blog through WordPress, but you can also like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter (@elihuscorner), or get email updates. In fact, I’d love for you to comment below and let me know which means of communication you prefer. I will continue to use them all, but it’s nice to get a pulse on what people use most! If you haven’t had a chance to check out my social media spots, I hope you’ll take some time to do so. I am thankful to all of you for your great comments, reblogs, Facebook shares, retweets, and for simply taking the time to read.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming….


Remember those goals/resolutions you created at the beginning of the year?

You do?

Wait… you don’t?

Where’s your list of goals?

“oh, right…. that list was in my head.”

“Goals? What goals?”

“My New Year’s Resolutions? Well… Uh…”

That’s where a lot of people are by this point in the year—all those great plans are often under a pile of papers or covered in dust.

If you are on track with most of your goals for the year, congratulations! Keep up the good work!

If you still have your list of goals and have fallen behind, there’s no time like the present to rev them up again. My goals are still up on the bathroom mirror. (I just put a reminder on my list for today to take them down!) I am behind on a few, but I know why: my whole house is in disarray due to a move within the next 10 days!

I’m still on track with most of my goals:

Read Bible every day. Check. 

Pray daily. Check.

Walk 3-4 times per week. Check.

Now memorizing…  Well… I’m still working on Hebrews 12. Last time I wrote a progress report, I had only memorized 2 verses. I have 12 under my belt now. I’m still way behind (I was supposed to be done by the end of February)  Unless I select really short chapters from here on out, I may not be able to make my goal of 6 chapters this year, but that’s ok—I’m willing to revise my goal! If you’re interested in memorizing scripture, click here.

If you’ve lost/forgotten/fallen behind on your goals for 2016, fear not!

You can do the following:

  1. Make new goals for the remainder of the year. I have found that some of my greatest earthly accomplishments were attained by making a goal, creating a reasonable plan to achieve said goal and throwing all my energy into getting there. When I was 12, I decided that I wanted to go to medical school, so I made it my aim to earn straight A’s through high school and graduate in the top ten. I achieved both goals (ahem, both latter goals… not med school), graduated Salutatorian, and had an excellent SAT score. I worked myself raw. I would spend hours working on homework and studying between band rehearsals, performances, lessons and practice. I am not a good test taker nor am I a genius so I had to work extra hard. The point is, determination and sweat can get you far. For more on goal-making, read “Setting Goals That Last.
  2. Adjust your current goals to a more achievable level. As I mentioned earlier, my goal of memorizing 6 chapters this year may need to be revised simply because my situation has radically changed since January. Small adjustments/tweaks are ok. You’re still aiming in a specific direction.
  3. Pray. This list is not ordered by importance, in fact, I saved the most critical point for last. Prayer is paramount, especially when our direction becomes clouded. Lately, all the discombobulation of moving has made me feel “off-center.” When I am “on-center” my mind is fixed on God, my prayers are regular, my study time is full of discovery, my meditation is meaningful, and my heart rests in the peace of God. Because I am still praying and studying, I’m not falling apart or flying off the handle, but I’ve had trouble meditating on God and His Word. I am restless and distracted. I get sidetracked mid-prayer and have to restart. Many of my prayers have been asking God to help me refocus on my greatest treasure—Him! Without committing our works to God both in prayer and action, all the blood, sweat and tears are meaningless. Oh you may achieve a great deal—I’ve read numerous biographies of famous geniuses and giants of industry, many of whom neglected (or rejected) God and family—but you will miss the mark on what matters most. I said above in point one, “determination and sweat can get you far.” They can. But the question is, are you climbing the right ladder? Pray. Daily. Commit it to the Lord and seek Him first.

If daily bible reading, daily prayer, or daily devotional time with your family is among your goals, there’s no time like the present to commit. Today is all we’ve been given—make the most of the opportunity!

How are you doing on your goals for 2016?

What is your progress report?

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I’m still hammering out the next post in our Comparison Cure series, but as it is the end of the month, I thought it might be a good time for an accountability post.

Resolutions are a standing joke. People make them and then they break them. Usually within a week…

Tomorrow is the last day of January. One month down, eleven to go. How are you coming on your goals? You may be shifting uncomfortably in your seat, but there’s no need! I’m here to encourage you to pick up the pieces and keep going! If you’re on track, bravo! If you’re way behind, it’s time to lace up those shoes, dust off that bible, break out those knee pads and get crackin!

There are three things we need to do in order to reach our goals:

1) Keep the goal visible.

This year, instead of putting my goals in a journal tucked comfortably away between pages of random notes and assorted thoughts, I put them on my bathroom mirror as a daily reminder. It’s really helped. Some goals haven’t even been touched yet, but I know that I need to get a game plan in place to start working towards them. Ultimately, this is about building good habits.

2) Pace yourself.

There is a vast difference between sprinters and long-distance runners. A sprint requires a burst of energy exceeding our normal output. A long-distance run requires a steady, disciplined pace. It takes endurance.

Hebrews 12 uses the words endure/endured/endurance in the first seven verses. There is a reason the word “endure” is used repetitively. The Hebrew writer is telling us not to give up; we need to press on.

Life is heavy and the race isn’t over until we die. Some people spend the entire race running on treadmills, lounging, running in the wrong direction or alternating between sprints and walks. We have to pace ourselves for the goals—glorifying God and reaching heaven. It’s easy to get worn out, especially on those long, uphill grades.

So it is with our more menial goals. Set a reasonable pace: you may have to sprint on occasion, but do not wear yourself out with a reckless pace and be on the look out for sluggishness. If you have set for yourself a goal that will burn you out before you get anywhere, you may need to adjust it.

3) Check your progress.

As I mentioned in my post, “Setting Goals That Last,” it’s important to have a method of measuring or tracking your progress. If you are wanting to lose weight, how much? How often do you track it? One of the most helpful things I did when I lost 25 pounds was to weigh in once a week and take body measurements. There were days I’d feel as though I was making no progress, but once I checked my measurements—even if the scale told a different tale—I saw progress (even if it was minute at times).

Lest you think I’m some organized superhero, I’d like to share a brief progress report on a few of my own goals. I have a long way to go!

Elihu’s Progress Report

  1. Read the bible every day to grow closer to God. 29 days out of 30. Outstanding! I’ve missed one day this month.
  2. Pray alone daily. 21/30. Needs improvement.
  3. Walk a minimum of 3 times per week. (Results unavailable due to poor tracking) Needs improvement. This one started off well, but between sickness, inclement weather, travel, etcetera it just hasn’t happened. So I went for a walk yesterday and I’m planning three good walks this coming week! I started tracking my activity with my Fitbit last week and monitoring my food intake. have been trying to keep moving during the day so that even if I don’t get a walk in, I still burned calories. I can still make this happen!
  4. Memorize 6 Bible chapters (1 chapter every two months). 2 verses out of 29. Needs improvement. For January and February, I’ve been working on Hebrews 12. In thirty days, I’ve only memorized two verses. Two! There are 29 verses! So, I know what needs to happen. I need to either adjust my target or ramp up the effort. I have 31 days left to memorize 27 verses. It’s time to recruit help from the family. I need people to quiz me and hold me accountable.

I don’t know how it is for everyone, but January has always been an odd month for me. It’s like a warm-up period. Don’t allow it to suspend your momentum.

How are you doing on your goals?

Leave a note in the comment Section!

If your goals include bible study, memorization or prayer, check out these old posts:

3 Steps to Daily Prayer in 2016

5 Benefits of Memorizing Scripture (and 4 ways to do it!) 

4 Ways to Study Your Bible in 2016

 

Setting Goals that last

Photo from daveramsey.com, #DaveDaily
Photo from daveramsey.com, #DaveDaily

In order to be successful, one must establish habits conducive to reaching their goals and must have established goals in the first place. How can success be measured without a measuring stick?

Most often I am most successful at tackling goals when I am ready to begin. Sometimes New Years isn’t the best springboard for me. I actually started getting in the habit of regular exercise in the middle of a desert summer two and a half years ago. I walked everyday, achieving 10 to 20,000 steps per day. It took 6 months to lose 20 pounds, but I did and it has stayed off for the most part except for the past few intensely stressful months.

The success was achieved not through some magical diet, but through sweat, self-control, determination and measurable goals. I had a tracker, a measuring tape and an app that helped me monitor my progress and stay motivated.

So moving on to weightier matters: how can we set and achieve spiritual goals for 2016?

Lets begin with the goal-setting process:

You need specialized equipment—a sheet of paper, a 3×5 card and writing implement (pencil, pen, crayon etc.)

Step 1: Start with the big picture. What are the largest priorities in your life? Write them down. They should be at the top of your paper. This is a brainstorming process. Don’t worry about making it pretty yet.

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This is what my list included: Growing stronger in faith and closer to God.  Maintaining a strong family. Raising children who know and love the Lord. Maintaining a strong marriage. Being a good steward. Growing wise.

Those are lifelong goals—big picture priorities. If I put them up on my mirror, I will get discouraged. There is no gauge by which to measure these things nor a plan to achieve them. Those goals are things I have to do until I die. However, having your main priorities in place will help you decide whether your smaller measurable goals are good ones or whether they will be detrimental to your priorities. For example, a healthy family is a huge priority for us, but we also want financial stability. You must decide how that looks to you. How do you plan to achieve one without compromising the other? For some people, having a stay-at-home parent is vital, but that means living with less. It may even mean living in a place with a lower cost of living. If you have high financial goals, you could end up without a stay-at-home parent or have a very distracted stay-at-home parent trying to run a business and ignoring the children, essentially defeating the purpose of having a stay-at-home parent. Set big picture priorities first, then determine how to acheive the lesser goals without undermining your priorities.

STEP 2: Set Smaller Goals

Still brainstorming.

Here you want to write what you hope to achieve this year.

This is what my paper looked like:

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You may write “eat healthy” or “read the Bible more.” Those are worthy pursuits, but we need to make them measurable.Monitoring and measuring your success will aid your momentum.

Let’s make one thing very clear when it comes to spiritual goals: checking things off a list does not make us more righteous or special to God. It does, however, help us to see that we are progressing toward a particular endeavor. If we never set goals when it comes to our spiritual walk, then we will be moving without direction. We need to be intentional, purposeful people in His service.

One of my goals for the rest of my life, (and definitely for the coming year) is to read the Bible every day. That fits in with my “knowing and serving God priority.” Daily is measurable. I can check it off on my calendar or to-do list. If you want to read through the Bible in a year, you can use a BibleApp or a “one-year Bible” to help you track your progress. It is a very good, specific and trackable goal. (In my next post, I’m going to talk about different approaches to this).

If you’re wanting to pay off debt (this falls under the stewardship priority), write down: “Pay off $6,385.47 in car debt.” That’s $532.25 per month. If your payment is $350, make a plan to come up with the difference. If you get an overtime bonus or tax refund, where will you put the money? If you start now, by March you might look at it and say, “I’ve paid off $1,596.37. I’m 1/4 of the way there!” Or, if you’re behind your target, you can decide how to step up your game. Either way, measurement is a motivator.

Step 3: Set a time everyday to work on your goal

Bible reading takes place early in the morning before I leave my bedroom. As soon as I leave the room, inevitably the dog wants feeding, the kids want to chat or some other demand is upon me before I can crack the cover on my Bible. I make it my goal to wake up earlier than I need to in order to pray and read. I give myself an hour. That’s my designated slot. Sometimes this gets upended because a long road trip requires me to be up at 4 am or someone was awake throughout the night and I didn’t get enough sleep so I miss my morning reading. When that happens, make a plan to do it at some other time during the day. We have been on shift work schedules for the past seven years complete with unforeseen overtime details—I know all about upset apple carts. Flexibility and prioritization are the aces in that game. It can be done!

When I was walking every day, I had a set time to go walk. For the first four months, I would walk in the evenings after dinner. As seasons changed, I had to be flexible and change the “when” but I didnt stop walking.

Now, write your small, measurable goals on your 3×5 card and stick it somewhere you look everyday (like your mirror)

Step 4: make plans to achieve your goal

You need a strategy. There are times in life when all we can do is fly by the seat of our pants and hope we come out on top, but we should make it our aim to live most of our life with intention and purpose. When we had three kids aged three and under, we felt like we were flying the Milennium Falcon through an asteroid field, yet we still had as much routine as we could muster and made every effort to balance discipline and love.

Here are two examples of strategy:

Goal: Read the Bible every single day.

Strategy: Read in the morning before I get up. Set my alarm one hour earlier. Put Bible (or bible app) in the room away from the bed so i have to climb out of bed to get it. Read for 30 minutes.

Goal: Walking a minimum 3-4 times per week.

Strategy: Walk Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday. Set shoes, socks, workout clothes, Fitbit, earbuds, beanie and sunglasses in a designated spot so I can get dressed quickly and go. In the winter walk immediately after lunch; spring, summer and fall, in the early morning after Bible reading.

Step 5: Fight

Get ready for everything to spoil your lovely plans. When I pray, sometimes I fall asleep. When I want to exercise, I get sick or sleep through my alarm. There will be times you fall short. Get back on the horse and keep advancing toward the goal.

My next 2 posts are going to address some spiritual goals you may have for 2016, and some suggestions for achieving them.