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Buzzword for January


Long before you are ready, the buzzword inserts itself from all corners of your life. It is just that time of year. Like mushrooms in the forest, the term starts pops up everywhere.

For instance, your coworker asks you in a casual chat around the office party buffet. Then, from your pew you listen as your pastor tackles the topic. Even your friend brings up the subject when the two of you take off on the exercise trail.

The buzzword? G. O. A. L. S.

Whether sophisticated or simple — general or generic — New Year’s goals have a way of wedging themselves into our psyche with the intent of changing our lives. We tell ourselves, “I want to go from where I am to where I want to be, and furthermore, here is my plan and here is my timeline.”

Hopefully, you and I are energized by articulating these new challenges, and allow them to spur us on to maturity. But, if we mishandle the process, they become like an earpiece always reminding us of who you are not and what we have not accomplished.

Take a moment and consider your attitude. How would you best describe your true feelings about New Year’s goals?

  • good suggestions

  • guidelines

  • mandates

  • dictates

  • unachievable

  • necessary, but unpleasant

  • a bother, but required

  • fixed

  • flexible

  • leave you in a heap of introspection

Personally, I like goals, and setting targets motivates me. However, life has taught me that the clearer the goal, the simpler the plan, the more likely I am to see growth or progress.

So, how can goals actually become a helpful catalyst and weave their way into the fabric of our lives?

Into this January environment, I suggest three goals for setting goals:

1. Start with the best goal of all goals; Make it our goal to please Him.

So we make it our goal to please him… (2 Corinthians 5:9).

First and foremost, mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally…

Personally, professionally…

Today, tomorrow, next week, next month…

2. Rely on His wisdom

Our propensity is do a personal inventory with our limited human perspective and, fueled by self-focus, we charge headlong into the planning process. On the other hand, God’s supernatural wisdom is available to us for the asking. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

3. Follow through in the power of the Holy Spirit

To avoid the February derailment of January goals, rely on the power of the Holy Spirit for ongoing fruitful change. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (John 15:4).

Living With Eternal Intentionality

What is your honest opinion about New Year’s goals?

Did you set such goals this year? If so, why or why not?

How does the question and answer from the Westminster Catechism add clarity to setting goals at the outset of a New Year?

Q: What is the chief end of man?

A: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

What is one goal you believe God has for you to glorify Him and enjoy Him in 2019?

On My Way Back to Normal

On My Way Back to Normal.png

Did they know? As I stood in the doorway, clad in my red fleece robe, clutching a warm mug of strong coffee, and waving goodbye, I wondered. Did they know they left with part of my heart packed away in their multiple pieces of luggage?

True, the presence of this part of me won’t cause them to be overweight at the airport; it won’t even show up on the TSA scan. But with their departure, our Christmas 2018 officially becomes a collection of memories. It is over. Slowly and with hesitation, I turn back through the front door and walk into our silent house. That singular motion initiates the journey on my way back to normal.

Snuggling under the warm afghan, tucked in a comfortable spot in my favorite brown leather chair, I gaze out the window. The nonstop, cold rain matches my spirits.

On my way back to normal…

I take inventory of my surroundings:

The Christmas tree stands forlorn.

The poinsettias look wilted.

The stockings—once brimming—hang empty and limp.

The glorious chaos is gone.

On my way back to normal…

I take inventory of my feelings:

I am too thankful to cry, but too sad to charge ahead. (I miss them already!)

Fatigue—my companion, but not my friend—lowers my guard.

My emotions vacillate back and forth like a confused compass needle.

I am not so sure I like normal.

On my way back to normal…

I take inventory of my blessings:

Doing the math, I acknowledge that 4 generations, of 15 lives, overlapping for 10 days are rare gifts to be savored.

Furthermore, I calculate that no one got sick, there were no injuries, and no appliances broke down.

And, I admit that shared activities received a Five Star Review:

  • attending the spectacular Nutcracker performance, inclusive of a backstage tour

  • worshipping together on Christmas Eve

  • savoring our family’s traditional raclette meal

  • taking grandchildren to see the new Mary Poppins movie and giving parents a much-needed break

  • visiting the Cincinnati Zoo and being gobsmacked with a view of the world renowned baby hippo Fiona !

On my way back to normal…

I acknowledge that normal arrived too quickly for my heart. However, normal is now God’s current sweet spot of abundant joy for me. Normal allows for extended quiet times in the Scriptures, conversations with Larry by the fire, relaxed evenings with a Hallmark movie. And normal offers an upcoming calendar full of opportunity and promise. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

So, on my way to stretch out for a long overdue nap, I smile and embrace the quiet, calm beauty of normal.

Living With Eternal Intentionality

How do you feel about your return to normal after a busy holiday schedule?

What is your inventory of your surroundings, your feelings, your blessings?

Why can you trust God’s plans for you?

Let Nothing You Dismay

Blog.Let Nothing You Dismay!.png

Driving over the rise in the road—definitely taking the curve too quickly—my mental machine rehearsed my game plan for this solo outing. Each silent bullet point flashed in my head like a neon light and commandeered attention:

• Go here; take there

• Arrange this; return that

• Pick up before; be back by

• Don’t forget; be sure to remember

• What about her? Did you think of him?

• When you are out, get this; before you come home, drop off that

• Add to the list; alter the list; expand the list; erase from the list (Tear Up The List!)

• Decide-Decipher-Determine

Hey Siri, remind me to… No Siri, remind me to _____!

Then it happened.

A Christmas carol on the radio—quietly playing in the unobtrusive background—interrupted my mental machine. The words to a song from centuries past took me to a place I needed to go, a place not listed on my to-do list.

Unconsciously, I hummed along. Let nothing you dismay. Before I knew it, I was singing aloud. Let nothing you dismay. Then, I found myself not only singing, but declaring with a fresh, new-found fervor: Let nothing you dismay.

Hmmm… this sounds like Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Oh Lord, Thank You! I needed that. I don’t know the musician, but I am grateful for the instruction his lyrics provide. In the power of the Holy Spirit, I submit (resubmit) my mental machine to You. I ask for You to empower me afresh to walk in peace, prepare with joy, and serve with gladness. And please, Lord, guard my heart and mind to live consistently this season in the ongoing reality of the words: Let nothing you dismay.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

God rest ye merry gentlemen

Let nothing you dismay

Remember Christ our Savior

Was born on Christmas Day

To save us all from Satan's pow'r

When we were gone astray

Oh tidings of comfort and joy

Comfort and joy

Oh tidings of comfort and joy

In Bethlehem, in Israel

This blessed Babe was born

And laid within a manger

Upon this blessed morn

The which His Mother Mary

Did nothing take in scorn

Oh tidings of comfort and joy

Comfort and joy

Oh tidings of comfort and joy

Fear not then, said the Angel

Let nothing you affright

This day is born a Savior

Of a pure Virgin bright

To free all those who trust in Him

From Satan's pow'r and might

Oh tidings of comfort and joy

Comfort and joy

Oh tidings of comfort and joy

God rest ye merry gentlemen

Let nothing you dismay

Remember Christ our Savior

Was born on Christmas Day

To save us all from Satan's pow'r

When we were gone astray

Oh tidings of comfort and joy

Comfort and joy

Oh tidings of comfort and joy

(Songwriters: Kevin Olusola / Scott Hoying / Avriel Kaplan / Kirstin Maldonado / Mitchell Grassi / Ben Bram, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC)

Research tells us that God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen was first published in 1833 when it appeared in "Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern," a collection of seasonal carols gathered by William B. Sandys. The lyrics of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen are traditional olde English and are reputed to date back to the 15th century although the author is unknown.

It is believed that this particular carol was sung to the gentry by town watchmen who earned additional money during the Christmas season. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen continues to be enjoyed. The lyrics to this simple carol are reputed to be one of the oldest carols.

Living With Eternal Intentionality

1. How are the Words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30 reflected in the words of this carol? Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

2. What is your dismay quotient at this present moment in holiday preparations?

3. Which item on your to-do list is threatening to rob you of the pure, sweet joy of Jesus?

4. Take a quiet moment to articulate a prayer of your own, and turn from your to-do list to the Great I AM, the One born in the manger.

And finally, a personal word to you, my fellow pilgrim: (For reasons unknown, I am quite weepy as I write.)

I deeply appreciate you and everything you have brought to my life in 2018. Meeting you here, week after week, has meant more to me than my words can express. I am deeply grateful for this journey we share. I have grown, I have learned, I have changed… because of you. Thank you.

With joyful anticipation, I look forward to 2019 as you and I continue to pursue Living With Eternal Intentionality. For now, let me wish you a heartfelt Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May you experience, this season, the tidings of comfort and joy, which only He can give. And, let nothing you dismay.

I love you in Jesus,