Although I have never been one to make New Year’s “resolutions”, I have reflected recently on goal worthy aspirations for 2014. Some of my objectives are ongoing from year to year while some of them are exciting new areas that I feel led to venture into.
I would like to share a few of them with you, and hopefully you will get inspired as well to start a new hobby, interest or to perfect things that you are already doing in your own life.
1. Have a designated time each day for prayer, study, and meditation: Whether your quiet time is first thing in the morning (I remember how hard that was with school aged children) or some other time of day, get in the habit of studying God’s word daily. Although nothing replaces the Word of God, I have a few supplements that have been such wonderful guides through the years. Although 31 Days of Praise and Streams in the Desert, and Jesus Calling are perennial favorites, I have added a new devotional to my library by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, one of my all time favorite Christian authors, entitled The Quiet Place – Daily Devotional Readings.
2. Focus on Healthy Living. Make daily exercise a habit, whether you already hit the gym on a daily basis or just get outside for a vigorous walk. Consider getting an accountability partner if you need to. Running has truly been a lifesaver and huge stress reliever in my life for close to 35 years. Maybe this is the year to challenge myself to a half marathon! A friend encouraged me years ago to use my running time as a time of prayer.
“Running is my place of refuge, of solace, of climate change for my soul. Running is a God filled place where He does wondrous work in my life. Chris A. Gillespie, GRACERUNNER Ministries
Thanks to my friend and exercise enthusiast, Lynnette, (who also happens to be a trainer) for posing!
Although you don’t have to commit to a vegetarian diet to be healthy, incorporating more plant based recipes and less meat and dairy in your overall diet can truly make a huge difference. Doable changes such as choosing organic products at the grocery store or even starting your own vegetable garden are other goal worthy health options.
My friend and Master Gardener, Marie Stone, has grown organic produce for years. Her beautiful raised cypress bordered beds below are motivation enough to get a vegetable garden started.
Check out a new cookbook, and organize recipes from your favorite standbys. Let this be the year to consider making more of your meals plant based. Try substituting organic products when you can. Of course, everything in moderation: I am the first to try out a luscious dessert or to occasionally cook a fat laden Southern meal..
Notice my affinity for Mississippi based cookbooks!
Make preventive health a priority by organizing your calendar, and setting up those important medical and dental screenings now for the entire year. I just have found from personal experience that procrastinating and putting off check-ups can be a little anxiety producing!
3. Start a reading list for the year. Check out your local library, peruse your favorite bookstore, or download worthy titles. This habit is easily cultivated for me because of my life long love for reading. I will never get all the books read that I’d like to in this lifetime! Better yet, start a book club to broaden your choices while at the same time forming new friendships! “Bookies” make the world much more interesting! Among my favorite categories are Christian, historical fiction, and Southern writers. I am always checking out new inspiration from cookbooks, floral design, and interior design books.
4. Carve out time to relax or simply do nothing. We all tend to frantically plan each hour of our day, and run from one activity to the other. In contrast, if there is not enough structure and/or if we are over stressed, our productivity plummets and much valuable time is lost in the process. Taking a warm, relaxing bath, getting a manicure, pedicure or massage or simply escaping to a comfortable spot and taking some deep breaths away from your cell phone, computer, or other media distractions will give you a time of renewal and invigoration. Having fresh cut herbs such as rosemary or lavender near your bath is soothing while a little vase of flowers can’t help but add cheer on a gloomy winter day. In south Alabama, we are fortunate to have many varieties of camellias blooming now and in the upcoming weeks.
Turn your bathroom into a gentle refuge from daily stress with vases of herbs, fresh flowers, and candlelight…
5. Serve others. If you are like me, I tend to get focused on my own set of problems, and fall short of reaching out to others in need. Your own difficulties seem to diminish if you give of your time and efforts to reach out to someone else who is going through a tough time. Look for opportunities to volunteer in your church and community. The Bible repeatedly stresses that we are to use every chance we have for doing good to those who are in need. When you are prompted to cook someone a meal, send a card, take a bouquet of flowers or simply give them a call, don’t delay for this truly may be a divine opportunity. Make relationships a top priority for 2014.
6. Make your home a haven of simple beauty. Rely on simple color, texture, and style to create natural flower displays for your home. Whether the arrangement is in the foyer, on a mantel, on a coffee table or on your dining table, a flower arrangement can set the mood for any social gathering or simply add elegance to your daily surroundings. Even a simple bowl of evergreens this time of year surrounded by votives or candlesticks can add a touch of winter beauty to your home. I think we all get super saturated with the bold red color scheme during the Christmas season. Using evergreens and soothing white color schemes along with glass or crystal is a lovely way to enhance the beauty of winter (which, by all accounts, we may we be experiencing for a rather long time this season!).
Look no further than your local grocery store or discount center to find lovely varieties of flowers at bargain prices. Select them frequently for your own home or to share with a friend. Costco and Fresh Market are two of my favorite places to purchase fresh flowers..
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
- C.S. Lewis
May you experience God’s love, direction, and grace in amazing ways this year!