Friday, February 16, 2018

That's it, I quit.

Just three weeks into the new year those were the words I said. "That's it, I quit. Three weeks of working on one of my goals for the year and I was ready to quit. It was not going the way I planned. I didn't see the results I wanted. It was not easy. It was restricting my life I was ready to quit.

But I knew I couldn't just quit. I took some time to just reflect on the goal I had set and what was happening.

Just because it is not going the way you want, doesn't mean you quit the goal.

Just because it is hard,  doesn't mean you quit the goal.

Just because you don't see the results you want, doesn't mean you quit the goal.

I looked at the goal that I was ready to quit. I wrote about why I had written that as a goal. What was the motivation in the first place? That helped me to see that I really didn't want to quit.

I really needed to look at the heart issues of why I wanted to quit. Heart issues are the things that are going on inside. That was not pretty.

When I looked at those heart issues, I saw that I wanted to quit because I didn't want to deny myself, this goal required a bit of extra planning, I was envious of others. I saw that I was lazy, I was envious, and I was self-indulgent. I told you it wasn't pretty. That is not a reason to quit.

I knew that I needed to change the heart. I need to be willing to deny myself. I needed to be diligent. I also realised that this was a goal that was bigger than just me doing it on my own. It was something that was going to require God's help.

After a bit of journaling and reflection, I was renewed and ready to work on that goal. I knew it would be hard and might take some extra planning. I was not going to quit.

What do you do when you are ready to quit?


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

I am an alien.

I am an alien. No, I am not green and have antennas. I am a foreigner. I live in a country that is not my home country. I am a stranger. The dictionary defines alien as, "belonging to, characteristic of, or constituting another and very different place, society, or person; strange."

Foreigner is one of the identity boxes that I tick. When I need to fill out forms, my race is often one that I have to pause as it doesn't find the typical list given. Being a foreigner can be difficult at times.

My accent is not from here. I have words that I struggle to pronounce. I have to pause and think what is this called. I have a few words that I don't think my mouth was made to pronounce it the way it is said here -- aluminium and garage are two of those words. I will say that I have been told I have a good accent. I have had people tell me they like my accent. I had years to work on that accent but it is not an accent from where I live.

My thinking is different. It might not be noticed. I find it slight at times that I view things differently. I have had to adjust how I write the date. I am used to the week on a calendar beginning on Sunday and that recently got me in trouble as I looked at the calendar and scheduled something thinking it was the date for Saturday but it was Sunday. In the end it all worked out. I realised that even after years here I still think differently.

When I lived in Asia, I looked like a foreigner. My hair was a different colour. My skin was whiter and my nose was bigger. I was a foreigner. Here I blend in a bit more.

As I reflected on my foreigner identify, I was thinking about how I can make that positive. It felt like a negative which was more my feeling than the feelings of those around me. I have to say I have felt welcomed and loved here but at times it is tiring to be a foreigner. It is hard being different.

This can be my reminder that I am called to be a foreigner here on earth. I am to be living different. My accent should reflect God. My thinking should be eternal focused.

So while I might struggle with the foreigner identity, it is a reminder of how I should be living life. As a Christian, I am a foreigner. My citizenship is in heaven and someday I will be home.

Do you have an identity that you can view positively? Share that with me in the comments.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

If you are not going to track your goal, why do it?

Track your progress. Know what you are doing toward reaching the goal.

We need to set goals. If we don't have a goal how do we know what we are working towards. I really do think you need to set a goal. Goals help to give us action. So you need to set goals.

What do you do after you set a goal? Hopefully you have created a plan of action on how you are going to work towards that goal. What about tracking the progress of the goal? Do you have a plan on how you are going to track progress?

Tracking progress can encourage us to keep working towards the goal. If we are focusing just on achieving the goal we might miss the progress which can be as important as the goal.

Tracking progress can give us an indication on how we are moving towards reaching that goal. If you have created a SMART goal, it is measurable and it has a time frame. Tracking the progress will help you to see if you need to work a bit harder, faster or maybe even that you can slow down a bit.

Tracking progress can help us to evaluate the goal. If we know the progress, we are making we will know how achievable the goal is. In some of the goals progress can be as important as completion.

So how do you track your goals?

It will depend on the goal. When I wrote my goals this year, next to the goal I wrote how I would track the goal. I prefer pen and paper and something that I will have easy access to and will keep through the year. Most of my goals are tracked in my planner. Some are shown on the calendar. Some are lists in the back of my planner. I also try to do a monthly wrap-up touching on some of the key goals here on my blog. You can read my January review here.

You need to find a way to track your goals that works for you and for your goals. I like pen and paper but that might not be the way you work. You might have a chart to goal as you progress through the goal. You might take photos of projects as they are finished. Find a way to track your goals that works for you.

Your goals are personal. Your tracking is personal.

Track your goals. Show your progress. Know your progress.

How do you track your goals? In the comments give me some of the creative ways you track them.


Monday, February 5, 2018

3 Reasons We are Commanded to Love

If you are following along with A Fruitful Year, you have already done your planning and preparation and now February is when we begin to look at specific fruits of the Spirit. Looking at what that means and how we can walk in the Spirit with that character quality. February's topic was introduced here.

As I pondered the character quality of love, I spent time reading I John, I Corinthians 13, and John 15:1-17. In John 15:12 Jesus commands us to "love one another". That is not the first time that has been commanded. Remember the lawyer that came to Jesus in Matthew 22:34-40. He asks which is the greatest commandment. Jesus' response is, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your should and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself." (Matthew 22:37-39 ESV)

Why are we commanded to love? God views our love as important and something that we need to do. He has commanded us to love.

1. Love does not come naturally. Naturally we are selfish, look out for ourselves, do it our way, defend ourselves, we don't love. We do not naturally love. We need to be commanded to love.

2. Love is something we can do. Just because it does not come naturally does not mean that it is not something that we can do. Love doesn't just happen. Love is an action. Love is something that we can learn. Love is sacrifice, thinking of others, and so much more. Love involves the mind and intellect it is not just an emotion. We can love.

3. Love is the basis for all other character qualities. Jesus said that this is the great and first commandment. I Corinthians 13:13 says that, "the great of these is love." Love is listed first in the Fruit of the Spirit. Love is the foundation for our character qualities. If we are loving, we will be kind. If we are loving, we will be honest.

These are just some of the reasons why God has commanded us to love him and to love others. Our love to God should be in response to his love to us. Our love to others should flow from God's love to us. Our obedience to God's commands show that we love him.

Are you obeying the command to love God and love your neighbour?


Thursday, February 1, 2018

January - End of the Month

In past years it has been helpful to me to just review what has happened in the month and how I worked towards my goals. I shared my goals here.

I have been following the 90 Day Bible reading program. It is fast paced but it gives me good overview and I see themes and things repeated. As I am reading, I have written down some verses that are just great to pray or use in worship. Yesterday as I was finishing reading I Chronicles this passage was just one to pause and use in a time of worship.

I use my planner both for planning, recording various things that happen during the day, and also for tracking my goals. I am a paper and person. This is my first year to really use PowerSheets. I had the six month last year but didn't use it. PowerSheets is helping me to track my goals.

I struggled this with the goal of losing weight. I won't bore you with all the struggles but I will say that it has given me an opportunity to look at the heart issues that were causing this struggles. I will share a bit more about that later. That goal was not as easy as I thought though I didn't think it would be that easy.

I want to grow in relationships. That takes a bit of planning and time. I was blessed to have a cup of coffee and time of prayer with one friend. We enjoyed dinner and games with other friends. I need to come up with some new meals for company. Any ideas?

I have been sorting through Home Educating things. I managed to get rid of quite a bit of it in January. I still have two boxes that I want to get rid of. I have a cleaning schedule and the weekly things are getting done but some of the things that are not weekly seem to get missed.

I read eight books in January. I am working to read a variety of things this year -- Christian living, Biblical counselling, classics, books from my shelves, current books, books about missions, productivity books, and more. I said it was a variety of reading.

One of the books that I read was Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. This book challenged me to focus a bit and also to think about what is distracting. I will share a bit more about this.

January was a good start to the year. I am looking forward to more of A Fruitful Year and trust that each you will grow this year.

How was your January? Have you made progress on your goals.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Focus for February

If you are following along with A Fruitful Year, here is the focus for February. January was preparing both in setting goals and just getting ready for the year. February begins taking some time to focus on the fruit of the spirit. We will start at the beginning.

The basis for our love is God. I John 4:8 states, "God is love." Before we can think about how we love God and others we need to think about how God loves us. What words would you use to describe God's love?

  • Sacrificial
  • Eternal
  • Unconditional
  • Generous
  • Giving
  • Forgiving
  • Active
  • Life giving
  • and so much more

The goal this month is that you will love God more and love other more. The first and greatest command is to love God. Why do you think that is the first and greatest command?

In the month of February there will be journaling prompts to help you think about how you love God and other. There will be some devotional thoughts about love.

Think about God's love shown to us, what words would you add to the list above. Leave me a message in the comments telling me that word.


Saturday, January 27, 2018

My Goals for 2018 and My Word for the Year

I had a number of thoughts of things I wanted to do this year. I had things I want to finish, things to try. I wrote them down and it looked like a big "to do" list. Then I started to group them together. I thought I had a goal but not quite. As I worked through this, I decided on my word for the year.


Somehow the Word of the Year came easier than the goals but then I began to look at my lists and my word for the year and it all came together.

My goals for 2018 are all based on growing. When I looked up the definition of grow, I realised that things need to be nurtured to grow. So I need to nurture and focus on these goals. These goals should help to determine what I do this year.

1. Grow deeper in my relationship with God
Why? God is my loving heavenly father. He desires a relationship with me and I want to grow in knowing and serving him.
  • Reading through the Bible
  • In Depth studies
  • Memorising passages of scripture
2. Grow in health and strength
Why? I need to do this so that I am a good steward of my body. I want to glorify God in this way.
  • Lose weight - getting to my target weight
  • Run another 10K and get a new Personal Best
  • Get more haircuts than 2017 (I only got my hair cut once and really I need to do it more often.)
3. Grow in my relationships with others
Why? God has called us to live in community. We are to serve one another, love one another, pray for one another. In order to do that I need to be develop and grow in my relationships. This is going to be a challenge because it includes so many people -- immediate family, extended family, local friends, friends far away, supporters, and more.
  • Outings with family
  • Text and Skype
  • Coffee/Tea with friends
  • Hospitality
  • Letters and email
4. Grow in efficient and effective use of our home
Why? I desire for our home to be easy to maintain so I have time for other things. I want it to be easy to practice hospitality. 
  • Declutter
  • Organize
  • Use and enjoy things
5. Grow my blog
Why? I want to use my experience and the truth of God's Word to encourage others. 
  • Write regularly
  • Create a workbook for A Fruitful Year
  • Create journaling prompts
6. Grow and enjoy my hobbies
Why? This can bless my family and others. This gives me a creative outlet. 
  • Read 60 books (I have categories of books and types of books broken out.)
  • Sew 4-6 quilts (this is going to stretch me
  • Keep scrapbooking caught up
  • Less Unfinished projects
I am sure some of the things under the goal might change but keeping the goal in mind will help know what are the important things to do to reach that goal.

2 Peter 3:18 fits with my goal for the year. To grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and to bring him glory in my life. I have been writing that in the margin of my planner each week so that I can keep the goal in front of me. 

What are your goals for 2018? Share some of them in the comments.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Jesus, the Fulfilment of our Desires

There are two scripture passages that are foundational for A Fruitful Year. One is John 15:1-17; this is the passage where Jesus says, "I am the vine." The other passage is Galatians 5:16-25 which is the passage with the fruit of the spirit. My plan is that once a month I will just focus a bit on either one of these passages giving encouragement from there to keep going.

Let's start this month with John 15:1-17. We are jumping in the middle of a book and so let's quick get some context. The author, John, was one of Jesus' 12 disciples. He refers to himself as "the one Jesus loved." He is writing from his own experience with Jesus, listening to him teach, seeing the miracles, and writing so that people might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:31).

This specific passage in John is part of a longer passage when Jesus knew he was about the die (John 13:1). This is part of that last teaching, the words that Jesus wants to leave with his disciples.

Jesus begins by saying, "I am the true vine." There are not many vines where I live in England but to the disciples listening to Jesus it was something that they understood. They walked through the country and saw vines. The disciples knew that vines were for growing fruit. That is the purpose of the vine. Even more then just that bit of gardening knowledge they had an understanding of the vine in the Old Testament. The desire of everyone in Israel was to have a house with a vine (I Kings 4:25). A bit like the house with a picket fence that we might dream of today. The disciple knew these references from the Old Testament.

When Jesus said those five words, he is telling the disciples that Jesus is the fulfilment of the desire for a vine. What they desire and long for can be found in Jesus. Jesus is the true vine.

What does a vine do? The vine is the source of life for the branches. Our source of life comes from Jesus. It is because of what Jesus has done that we have life. The nutrients for the branches come from the vine. The nutrients allow the branches to continue to grow.  The branches are nothing without the vine.

"I am the true vine," 

Do you see Jesus as the fulfilment of all your desires? Are you running and desiring other things? Can you find fulfilment in Jesus? As we begin this year, I challenge myself and you to find fulfilment in Jesus. Sent your priorities to finding fulfilment in Jesus and not in getting things done.


Monday, January 22, 2018

January Journaling

Journaling is the process of looking within and writing the feelings and emotions and then looking at those things from God's Word. This does require that you are being honest with yourself and that you are listening to God's Word and not all the voices around us. This type of journaling has been explained here.

January is a time of preparing. This is the time to set your goals but also and even more importantly a time to prepare yourself for the year ahead. This is a year of growth, a time to be and do all that God wants in your life.

With the thoughts of preparing here are some journaling questions for you for this month.

  • As you look at the new year and your goals, what fears do you have? What is causing those fears? How can you overcome your fears?
  • Looking at the fears you listed, what does God say about these fears? What truths of God can you cling to when those fears sneak in?
  • What do you think will tempt you or cause you to quit this year? If you have already written your goals you might want to think of this for each goal. 
  • What truth from God's Word can you claim to help you when you are tempted to quit?
  • What truths about God can you claim for this year? Why are those important to you at this time?

Take some time to think about these. These questions should help you to just think about some of the challenges that you will face this year and just be ready and prepared.

Each month I will give some journaling questions to just help you as you work through the focus of that month.

My desire is that you will grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour this year.

What are some of the things that might cause you to quit this year?


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Slow and Steady

I have decided that Friday will be a bit of a more personal post just so you have an opportunity to get to know me more and know a bit about me. I want it to be a time that I just share so you know. My goal is that this will help you as you follow along with A Fruitful Year.

I know it is Saturday and this just didn't happen on Friday. This morning I delivered newspapers for my son. The past few days have been snow and a bit of freezing temperatures. That meant that I had to go a bit slow. I did not want to slide down the hill.

As I was out for a longer walk than normal, I had time to think. I thought about how going slow at times can be good and the safe thing to do.

I have had a slow start in writing my goals this year. I had a number of ideas but just did not really get the time to think through things. I was taking it slow. I need some extra time this year. I decided that is fine, take your time but there does come a time that it needs to be finished. You have until the 31 of January to finish your goals for this year.

I had time yesterday and a bit more today and I think I have my goals for the year. I will share them with you next week.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Journaling, Writing for Growth

As you go through A Fruitful Year, a portion of each month's activities will be journaling. This is not just any journaling but rather spiritual journaling or journaling for growth. This means that you are looking within and writing to assist you in growing. You will be given prompts to help you think and learn about yourself. Let me define the type of journaling a bit with some examples to help you understand this. 

A diary is probably the simplest of the journals we are talking bout. This is where you write the events of the day. There is not much deep thinking. It is a statement of what happened that day. So, a simple diary entry might be: 

Journaling can include some of the elements of a diary but takes it further and begins to touch on feelings. Let’s look at the diary entry above and turn it a bit into a journal entry.

There is a bit of feeling in there, but it does not look at what is really happening or what God has to say about that. 

Journaling for Growth looks within looks at the heart and working to discover the deep roots of what we are doing. Journaling for Growth looks at what God says about the issue or might begin prayer asking for help. Let’s take the same example and look at it as a journaling for growth entry. What are the heart issues?

As we look within, we do see overspending but we see discontent, we see a love of pleasure. We see areas that God wants to change. 

Journaling for Growth requires:

1. Honesty with ourselves. You need to be willing to take the time to look at your own life and see what God sees.

2. Knowledge and God’s wisdom. Our thoughts and how we look at the things need to be done with God’s wisdom and God’s truths. We need to keep in line with God’s word.

3. That we be willing to change based on what we learn. You can be honest with yourself, you can know God’s truth but if you do not change you will not grow.

Journaling for Growth will take time to think, write, analyze what God says, and then change. This is not a quick fix. There might be layers that need to be worked through. As we work though this, our journal will help record growth and change.

I know journaling even in general can be hard. Take the time this year to grow and use a journal to help record that growth. 

Will you join me in Journaling for Growth this year? 


Monday, January 15, 2018

Necessary for Success - Accountability Partner

Why is it easier to do things with other people? Think about it for a minute. Do you find it easier to exercise with someone else? Maybe it is easier to have someone help you declutter. Why is it easier to do things with other people?

Last year I did a big walk. I did it with three friends. We began training in the cold, gray days of winter. Our long training walks were on Saturday morning. There were many mornings that I would have much rather stayed in my warm bed then get out and walk in the cold, rainy weather but I got up and went because I knew a someone else was expecting me to be there. I might have taken a shorter walk if I was alone but together we walked and talked. Doing it with friends was so much better.

An accountability partner is more than just someone to do things with. This is a person that knows you, can speak honestly, someone that you respect and will listen to, and someone that can point you to the truth.

An accountability partner that knows you will be able to help you look at yourself. They should be able to see the negative and the positives in your life. Sometimes we focus on the negative and need to be reminded of the positives. An accountability partner that knows you will also know your family, your house, and your schedule. You need someone that knows you.

A Fruitful Year is not just about getting things done. It is about abiding in Christ and bearing fruit. You need an accountability partner that can point you to God’s truth. There are so many voices around us but we need to be hearing God’s truth in our lives. Your accountability partner should be encouraging you to listen to God’s truth.

You need someone that you can be honest with. Someone that you trust will keep information confidential. As you work through the year, you might have difficult things to discuss and you need someone that you trust.

An accountability partner helps you to keep going. They speak encouraging words when you are ready to quit. An accountability partner might be able to come and help you get a project done.

Your accountability partner doesn’t need to be in the same location but it does need to be someone that you are communicating with regularly. Talk to that person about what you are doing. Give them information about A Fruitful Year. Share your goals. Let them know what you are expecting from them. Ask questions and get their input. Listen to them.

Daniel was faced with a difficult situation. He was taken as captive and then chosen to be taught the literature and language of the Chaldeans. Part of that learning time was following the king’s diet. Daniel knew that diet would defile himself and so he asked to be given a diet of vegetables. Daniel had friends joining him and following this with him. He also had God’s favour in his life. Daniel had others joining him in this.

Do you have an accountability partner? What is one thing that you will ask that person to help you with this coming year?



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