the surreal.

It’s just after midnight and I should be in bed. K has two early basketball games tomorrow and I’m walking a 5k and frankly, there’s just not a lot of margin between now and Monday morning.

Dad came over tonight to help me finish putting together the beds I made for one of the upstairs bedrooms. And after the headboards and footboards and side rails were all put together, after the slats were cut and put into place and I dragged the mattresses upstairs, I pulled out the sheets and comforters and pillows and made the beds. I thought about waiting until another day to do that, but after all of the work, I wanted to see them made up and ready to be used.

“You know, Dad,” I said, “one day my kids are going to sleep in these beds. Your grandkids.”

He agreed, because of course this was true, but I couldn’t help but be struck by how surreal it all seemed. As I was tucking in the sheets, I thought about how there would be many more times that I would do this in the future. Someday soon it would be a chore to climb around the small room (that seemed much bigger before we finished the beds)Maybe I’ll be changing the sheets in the middle of the night because someone was sick or had an accident. Maybe I’ll be sending one child on and need to prepare the beds for the next one God sends.

But tonight, I didn’t mind so much. Tonight I smiled as I snapped a couple quick photos for Instagram. Tonight, I’m looking forward to seeing who God is going to send, and what marvelous things He is going to do.


good reads.

Perfectly Imperfect: Small Town Life – Crumbling Places

“Sometimes, though…

I remember.  That while I am broken, used, less, angry, worn, snappy, selfish, and ungrateful…He is in the business of healing the broken.  Maybe all God needs is for me to rest, revel even, in the brokenness.

Maybe all He needs, friends, is for us to stop holding the crumbling bits together and let them fall to the ground unhindered and bound, so he can plant them firmly with Mercy and Grace.  Maybe He will work ever so diligently to make sure we don’t wind up there anytime soon, and when we do, we are not alone.”

Conversion Diary: The Mental Neat Freak

“And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I’m a mental neat freak. You know those people who get all stressed out if their houses are messy? That’s me, but in my head (which I guess makes sense, since that’s where I live most of the time). I can stumble along for a while without mental clean-up time, but, like a neat freak living in a house that keeps getting messier and messier and messier, if it goes on too long, I snap.”

LA Times: How Not To Say The Wrong Thing

“If you want to scream or cry or complain, if you want to tell someone how shocked you are or how icky you feel, or whine about how it reminds you of all the terrible things that have happened to you lately, that's fine. It's a perfectly normal response. Just do it to someone in a bigger ring.

Comfort IN, dump OUT.”

Huffington Post: It Ain’t Over: The Business 9 Women Kept A Secret For Three Decades

“Somewhere in West Tennessee, not far from Graceland, nine women – or ‘The 9 Nanas,’ as they prefer to be called -- gather in the darkness of night. At 4am they begin their daily routine -- a ritual that no one, not even their husbands, knew about for 30 years. They have one mission and one mission only: to create happiness. And it all begins with baked goods.”

This High Calling: Dear Foster Mama

“You are different than when you began this pilgrimage, when you set off amongst the strange looks and concerning questions. You’re more tender, deeper…more sober.

And you know you are waltzing through one of the most unnatural dances possible. You trip, stumble and often feel there is no one to lead you, spin search your eyes and see the caverns that now trace deep within your heart and cause the most sporadic tears to surface.

But He is leading you.”

short takes #1

I thought I’d try something a little different, in an effort to post more frequently. The following are just a few random tidbits that have been floating around my head recently. They may or may not have any correlation to each other.

-- #1 Morning Voice --

One of the realities of working from home is that it is entirely possible that someone can call me at noon and this will be the first verbal conversation I’ve had all day, even though I’ve been up (and working!) for hours. I can’t tell you how many times someone has done this and asked if they woke me up. Apparently, I need to speak some quota of words before I stop sounding like I just rolled out of bed. So I just want to go on record as saying, if you call me in the middle of the day, it is very unlikely that you woke me up, no matter what my voice sounds like.

-- #2 Work Clothes --

On the other hand, it is very likely that I will still be wearing my pajamas, or have changed into fresh clothes that could completely pass for pajamas. When your lunch hour often involves some combination of paint, sweat, or sawdust, getting dressed first thing in the morning seems counterintuitive. I’m willing to admit, though, that the main reason is because I just like wearing them. I’m convinced that I am much more productive in my pajamas than most people.

-- #3 Foster Care --

I am absolutely certain that I am called to foster care. I know deep down in my bones and my heart that I am called not just to love and care for kids from hard places, but to engage with the whole messy broken system. Even on good days it makes me want to beat my head against the wall, but I am still sure that I am called to this.

-- #4 Personal Productivity --

My two best personal productivity/time management recommendations. First, read (and apply) Getting Things Done by David Allen. Second, use the Pomodoro technique.

-- #5 Paleo --

I’ve been eating a slightly modified version of the paleo diet for nearly six weeks now – no grains, no processed sugar, and very little beans and dairy. I basically eat meat, fruit and vegetables, and I love it. I’ve lost weight and inches, I have more energy and focus, and though this hard to say for certain, I think my immune system is stronger, too – I feel like I’m better able to fight off colds and other illnesses.

the pink bedroom.

When I first saw the real estate listing for my house, and I read that it had five bedrooms, I honestly didn’t believe it. A house in my price range with five bedrooms? But it does, because the upstairs was converted into a bathroom and three very small bedrooms. The pink bedroom is one of them.

This bedroom was pink when I bought it, except it was pastel pink. The carpeted floor had some pet stains, and there was a huge hole in the wall that someone had (tried) unsuccessfully) to patch. I ripped up the carpet last year, and A picked the wall color last fall.

This was my inspiration photo.

[Source: BHG via Pinterest]

And here’s the end result.

pink bedroom 1

The “ceiling beams” are just inexpensive 1x4s that I stained and screwed directly into the ceiling studs. The horizontal piece hides a PVC pipe that acts as curtain rod.

I painted the bed and dresser using a light gray paint I already had on hand. The dresser pulls are made from some leather belts I found on clearance at Target (inspiration here)– I painted them, used tin snips to cut the correct length, then drilled holes and attached them to the drawers with hex screws and nuts.

pink bedroom 2

The bookshelves are made from gutters (inspiration here) – I like the idea of tucking a reading corner into that area, maybe adding some pillows or a bean bag chair in the future.

The floor underneath the carpet was composed of old (and very ugly) vinyl tiles. I considered laying laminate wood floors, but knowing that I would want to carry the same floor through most of the upstairs, I decided to save myself the headache of all those cuts and angles by installing peel-and-stick vinyl wood-look planks instead. They’re inexpensive, easy to install, and really look great. I painted the trim around the floor, window, and doors white, which really helped lighten up the space, and I added shoe molding around the perimeter (previously there was only baseboard). It really finished off the floor nicely and meant I didn’t have to be nearly so precise when installing the floor.

pink bedroom 3

The last touch was this word art. It was inspired by (ok, copied from) the art in this post. Since this is clearly a girl’s room (given all the pink), I wanted to send a message that most of us girls need to hear over and over again.

There are still other finishing touches I would love to add, like more art for the walls, or maybe a bulletin board of some kind. The lamp is on loan and I’d like to find/make something a little more distinctive. And of course, there is a pillow for the bed – it was just downstairs when I took these pictures. But for now, I’ve moved on to other projects.

recent conclusions.

I’ve come to a couple conclusions recently. One – that if I wait until things are done before writing about them (whether they are rooms, projects, or ideas), I will never write about them.

Two, that I can either get things done or my house can be relatively clean and organized, but never both at the same time. At this moment, I have two twin mattresses, a queen size bed frame, and several boxes of vinyl plank flooring sitting in my living room, my dining room contains an almost-completely-painted headboard and footboard that I made while their partially-finished counterparts are sit in the basement workshop area, and all of the quarter round has been removed from all of the rooms on the first floor, which is uglier and rougher looking than the slightly chipped stuff that was there before. Tools are scattered through my house (including all three floors), the top of my bookcase is cluttered with things I brought in from the car but don’t have a place for yet, and don’t even get me started on dishes and laundry.

And can I just say that dishes and laundry are probably my two least favorite household chores? I don’t mind actually doing them, but it’s just that they are never-ending.

Did I mention that I’ve got out of town guests coming in next weekend? Thankfully, they’re friends who will gladly sleep on an air mattress on the floor (and have in the past), but I set goals for myself of getting certain things done before they arrive in less than a week and I’m not ready to concede defeat just yet.

So, things are kind of in upheaval over here while I work on getting the downstairs bedroom and the back upstairs bedroom completed. Or at least close enough to done for now. One of the other upstairs bedrooms is already there, so I’m hoping to check in later this week with photos of that. I’m also hoping to take the time to write out some of the other ideas floating around in my head – I miss writing.

new recipes, 2013–part 3.

This was not a good month for new recipes! The only successes were pretty unhealthy.

Chicken Egg Rolls – Ugh. Maybe I’m just picky about what kind of Asian food I like? These just weren’t enjoyable.

Sweet and Sour Citrus Chicken Stir Fry – Normally, I’m a huge fan of Our Best Bites. I actually don’t think that I have ever made one of their recipes that I didn’t love. This wasn’t bad, exactly, it just wasn’t great enough that I wanted to save the recipe to use again.

Fried Chicken – Fried chicken is one of those basic, simple dishes – but I’ve never actually made it before. M requested it for her birthday dinner, so I decided to give it a shot. It turned out pretty well, I think!

Coconut Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars – Fair warning – these are horrible for you. I mean, seriously – absolutely no redeeming nutritional value. But they are very good and also very easy to put together.

Creamy Taco Soup – Just not that good. I don’t know why. I’m the only one who ate it, and we tossed the leftovers.

an update.

I haven't found much time to post here lately. Inspiration comes in fits and starts, and the words that used to come more easily, I have to work for. God has been teaching me so much that in some ways I feel less sure of things. I don’t mean that I doubt Truth or Jesus or His Word – it’s more that sometimes it feels like a new revelation is just around the corner. Most thoughts and ideas don’t seem to stick around in the front of my mind to become a real blog post, at least not like they used to.

Plus, I wonder if maybe there are seasons to consider and ponder and yes, write about life, and other seasons to just be busy living it. Some people can do both quite well, but I’m not sure I’m one of them.

So, here are some of the latest parts of living going on in my world.

M and her daughters are still living with me, though they are actively looking for a place of their own. This is an important step for them, for M to be on her own and providing for her family. We’re thinking they’ll be here until the end of May, maybe mid-June at the latest.

K is still living with me, too (A moved out several weeks ago). It’s good, and also hard. I second guess myself all the time and the relationships are difficult to navigate. But I think most really good things are hard, too, and that’s part of what makes them good.

My sister Kelli and I made a bet. We both have to work out 30 minutes a week, four times a week, for eight weeks. If we fail, we pay the other $100. And we go jeans shopping at the end to celebrate. I joined a gym and worked out with a personal trainer for a few weeks (and now on my own). It’s both kicking my butt and also helping a lot with getting my knee back to full functionality. I had my last post-op today, barring any more problems, and got a great result. I joined Weight Watchers, and all of this together is (slowly) working (though I still hate measuring food). And another bonus to all of this – the only time I really have to work out is in the morning before work, which means that I am on a more normal bedtime schedule than I think I’ve ever been.

There’s another court hearing coming up in my CASA case, which will keep me busy for the next few weeks. The longer I do this, the more committed I am to this organization. This work matters. It makes a difference, it really does. I wish more people would get involved in this way.

And the biggest news – I’m in the process of training to be a foster parent. There’s a whole training/application/home study process that takes months to complete, but I’m working my way through, a step at a time.

My brother-in-law told me once that I’m more comfortable being uncomfortable than other people. He’s probably right, but it’s only because stepping out in faith is the best way I know to fully experience God. My friend Kim and I talked about this just the other day, that you can be scared and excited all at the same time. It’s a fun place to be.

So it feels like life is always changing around here, but I think I like it that way.

new recipes, 2013–part 2

Triple Chip Blondies – Oh, wow. So good and pretty easy. But, very rich, so a little goes a long way.

Baked Chipotle Beef Taquitos – These are a great way to use up leftover roast, though in my case, I actually cooked a roast in order to make them (which required a bit more planning). They’re tasty and have a slight kick (just remember that’s coming from someone who is a totally wimp when it comes to spicy). The trickiest part for me was getting the tortillas to roll without breaking. I eventually figured out that if I completely roll them, instead of using the roll-and-fold-over method like I do with tacos or enchiladas, it works better. (I also love the chicken version).

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken – I was out of town for a week for business, staying in a hotel with a small kitchen, and this is one of the meals I chose to make because it fairly easy to buy/bring what I needed. It was okay – not incredibly flavorful, but it came together quickly, was inexpensive, and was healthy, too. You could also do something similar using salsa instead of the canned tomatoes with green chilies and spices.

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry – This meal was super easy to put together and so very good – and bonus, it was really healthy, too. I’ll definitely be making it again. Probably next week.

Pork and Peanut Stir Fry – I’m a big fan of stir fry – they’re quick, easy to adapt to taste, healthy and versatile. This version was good, but I left out the scallions (I’m just not a big fan). I’ll definitely make it again, but I think next time I’ll add in some veggies – maybe broccoli or green beans.

things I’ve learned about ministry, part 3.

Here are a few more things I’ve learned about ministry over the last eight months.

You can’t do it alone. There is absolutely no way I would have made it through the last few months with a support network. My family and friends have helped out with practical stuff, like transporting A & K and providing meals when I was laid up after knee surgery. But more importantly, they’ve been a sounding board, given me a reality check, let me cry on their shoulder, and prayed with me. I really think I would have lost my mind and probably thrown in the towel without their help.

It can’t be about the person you’re trying to help – it has to be about Jesus. This is really the bottom line for me, and I think it applies no matter what you’re doing. Because people will misunderstand your heart and your motives. They’ll fail to say thank-you and they will take you for granted. They’ll take a step back with every step forward. They’ll push your boundaries and break your heart and wear you out.

But Jesus. He sees your heart and honors your faithfulness, even when things don’t work out like you want them to. He gives rest and carries your burdens. He promises that His Word does not return empty but accomplishes the work He gave it to do (Isaiah 55:11). And the work He has started in you, the work He is even now doing in you as you serve others, He will complete it (Philippians 1:6).

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’”

Matthew 25:34-40

things I’ve learned about ministry, part 2.

Here are a few more things I’ve learned about ministry over the last eight months.

It’s exhausting. Back before anyone ever moved in with me, a friend told me that people who weren’t used to living with boundaries continually try to push yours. I believed her, but I don’t know that I really understood what that would mean. I definitely didn’t realize how tiring it would be. This isn’t true for everyone, and I’m not even sure that it’s always intentional, but there are many days I feel like I’m constantly on guard, knowing that I give an inch, they’ll take a mile. And this is true for both the boundaries I set for their benefit (like curfews or due dates for rent) and for mine (like personal time or other friends or family who need me). I’ve learned that I need to be very clear about my boundaries and expectations, at least in my own head, and ready to set new ones when situations arise that I haven’t considered. I’ve gotten better at saying no and not feeling guilty about it.

It won’t always work. Or at least, it won’t always seem to. The hardest part of all of this has been when it feels like all of the time and effort and money and tears don’t actually change anything. Some people are stuck in old patterns and just aren’t ready to break out of them. So, here’s is what I’m try to remember. One, the story isn’t over yet. Lucky for me, I’ve got friends that have been doing this for a while who remind me of this, because they’ve seen things change long after we think it’s over. And two, that I’m not responsible for the results. My role is just to obey, to do what God tells me to, and to leave the results up to Him. It’s not easy, but if I didn’t trust that He is really in control, this whole thing would feel pretty pointless.

things I’ve learned about ministry, part 1.

It’s been eight months since I first invited people to move in to my house, and nearly four months since I became an unofficial temporary foster parent. In that time, ministry has been more hands-on and all-encompassing than I could have even predicted. I’ve learned quite a lot – here are a few things.

And please know that I realize that a lot of these are true just by virtue of sharing your home with someone else, particularly people that are your responsibility, like children. But as someone who doesn’t have children and who, with the exception of half of 2011, has spent most of her adult life living on her own, these are the things that I understand now that I didn’t before. (Also, I could make the argument that our most important ministry is to those in our home, no matter how they came to be there. So there’s that).

It’s messy. I didn’t realize it until recently, but a lot of the ministry I’ve done in the past has had some pretty clear boundaries. There was a time that I was doing it, and a time that I was not, and I had a lot of control over when and where they intersected. Even phone calls or emails, I could ignore until it was time to deal with them. But having people live with you means that ministry doesn’t fit any longer into nice little boxes. It spills over into every part of your life, and as much as my organizing, list-making self wants it to be clean and straightforward, it’s just not. People are messy, and so are their problems, and sin is really, really messy.

It’s heartbreaking. I have cried more in the last few months than I think ever have before in my life. One Sunday a few weeks ago, I was so overcome at church that I actually sobbed my way through the worship portion of the service, much to the confusion of the poor kid who was sitting beside me. Sometimes these tears are on behalf of others – how someone continues to make poor choices, despite every opportunity to go another way, or how their decisions affect someone else. But sometimes (oftentimes), I’m hurt or tired or just overwhelmed. Or I feel unseen and underappreciated. I know this is a lie, that God sees, but it’s still been painful work.

worth reading.

This book just went on my list to read: A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman.

The first thing we know about God is that he made art. The first the we know about people is we were made in the image of an art-making God.

Now when I read quotes like this:If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough! I am still inspired, but I also now know the size of our dreaming isn’t the point.

The size of our God is.

Christ’s pursuit of me is more important than my pursuit of anything else.

I don’t care if you’re the President or the janitor – your ability to bring glory to God by simply being the person you fully are and embracing the job you’ve been given to do is a uniquely human privilege.

Christ is in you and he wants to come out through you in a way he won’t come out through anyone else. You have been given your two hands, your sick parents, your rotting back door. You have been given your extra deadlines, your diagnosis, the children at your table.

But you have also been given your sense of humor, your skill for writing, your passion to bring light to dark places. You have been given a heart for orphans, for animals, for food or for the poor.

You have been given your life, what you hold in your hands, the ground beneath your feet. You have been asked to show up. How do I know? Because you were born. Show up as you are, not as you think you ought to be.

Don’t run from your calling, no matter what it is.

If you don’t know what it is? Maybe this book will help you uncover it.

There isn’t one great thing you were made to do. There is one great God you were made to glorify.

Throughout your life, you’ll do that in a million little ways.

the story isn’t over yet.

For the last several weeks, our church has been going through the Story [link] – basically traveling through the Bible in a year, learning about God’s story and our place in it. Each week, the Sunday morning sermon, the various children’s ministries, and the small groups study the same passage.

A few weeks ago, we studied the Israelites’ escape from Egypt to the Red Sea. If you don’t know the story, here’s a synopsis: the Israelites are slaves and Pharaoh finally agrees to let them go after a series of plagues strike Egypt. Soon after, he changes his mind and sends his army after them. Israel has traveled as far as the Red Sea and is now trapped between it and Pharaoh’s approaching army. They panic, crying out again Moses their leader and wondering why they didn’t just stay in Egypt rather than face this certain death.

Of course, if you know the rest of the story, it doesn’t end there. God miraculously parts the Red Sea so that the Israelites can walk through on dry ground. Then, after they’ve made it through, God brings the waters back together and Pharaoh’s army drowns. And this isn’t the last time that same scenario plays itself out – the Israelites come across an obstacle in their journey, they complain and say it would have been better to have been slaves, and God miraculously provides for them.

It’s easy to look at the Israelites and judge them for their initial response when faced with these obstacles, but here is the thought that I can’t get out of my head –the story wasn’t over yet. All they saw was an ending, an insurmountable obstacle, but God was just getting started! If they just held out a little while longer, they would see His provision – miraculously.

There are a ton of applications to this, but for me, in this season, it is such a comforting thought when ministry doesn’t go the way I want it to (and it rarely does) – God is not done writing the story.

new recipes, 2013–part 1

Crock Pot Philly Cheesesteaks – This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to make cheesesteaks in the crock pot. I used Steak-umms, because then I don’t have to worry about slicing the meat. They were okay, but the meat just really didn’t seem to have a lot of flavor. I like using the crock pot not only because it’s easy, but because some people in my life don’t like onions and bell peppers, and cooking them all day in the crock pot makes them a little less potent. Next time I’m just frying everything in a skillet.

Oven Steak Fries – These were a last minute addition to the night’s meal, because I needed a side for cheesesteaks and fries sounded good. They were easy (especially since I didn’t need to peal the potatoes) and tasted delicious.

Creamy Chicken and Bacon Pastry Pockets – Puff pastry is such a fun thing to work with – it’s pretty easy, even if it’s a little messy, and the results are usually impressive. These were no exception. I did make a few changes – I didn’t include the sun dried tomatoes (because I just didn’t feel like buying them), and I used turkey bacon instead (because Missy and her girls don’t eat pork). I’d definitely make these again, and they would work really well as a party food.

Spanish Rice – I liked this, though I had to adapt it to what I had on hand (no bacon and diced instead of stewed tomatoes). I’m going to try it again this weekend with the right ingredients.

Skinny Monkey Cookies – These are kind of like a healthier version of a no-bake, except that you bake them. They got mixed reviews here – about half of us liked them and half didn’t. There is definitely a banana flavor, but if you like bananas (I do!) you might really enjoy these. They are also pretty simple, which I appreciate.

And a tip – did you know that you can shred chicken breasts using a stand mixer? It’s a little messy because you need to cover the top of bowl with your hands to avoid pieces flying out, and the chicken needs to be warm (even hot) for it to work, but it’s a lot easier than doing it by hand!

2013 goals.

It’s February 2, and I’m just now getting around to finalizing and posting my goals for this year. Hopefully this isn’t indicative of how likely I am to get them done.

Honestly, I had a harder time than usual with this year’s list. It was both hard to narrow down what I wanted to focus on, and yet to ensure that my list represented many of the things that were most important to me. So here we go – 15 things that run the gamut from house goals to the spiritual to financial, from serious to simple, from quick and easy to more involved.

  1. Go camping
  2. Read 5 non-fiction books
  3. Read through 5 YouVersion Bible reading plans
  4. Sew something
  5. Grill something
  6. Use coupons with groceries for one month
  7. Tile something
  8. Build a new piece of furniture
  9. Finish the dining room gallery wall
  10. Do something that scares me
  11. Try 25 new recipes
  12. Identify 10 life-giving friends/family members and write them a letter
  13. Take a yoga class
  14. Start an herb garden
  15. Try 6 new restaurants in downtown Frederick

art love, part 2.

One of the things I know I want to finish this year is adding an art gallery to the dining room. I have a combination of homemade art pieces (like this and this and this), things I’ve purchased as mementos of people or places (like this and this), photos – pretty much anything that makes me remember and smile when I look at it. Many things need frames, and then I can start working on placement.

Over the last year, I’ve become more and more committed to the idea of adding meaningful art to my home – things that tell the story of my life and the people who are a part of it. I don’t want to make or buy something just because the colors work, but because they mean something to me.

A few months ago, I posted several pieces of homemade art on Etsy that had caught my eye.

Here are a few more that I’ve pinned or marked as favorites lately.



Carnival swings are one of my favorite carnival rides – I love the feeling of soaring high above everything else. I love the perspective on this one, with the view of the sky.

Amsterdam Canal Boats, Laura Amiss


Okay, this one doesn’t really have any special meaning for me – I just love the style. And it makes me want to go to Amsterdam.

Though She be but Little She is Fierce, Raw Art Letterpress


This one makes me think of K, especially when she’s playing basketball. I also love this one: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and loved more than you know.”

Rain Dance in Red, Karen Tarlton

rain dance

This one makes me think of my sister Katie and one of her favorite quotes: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm, but learning to dance in the rain.”

The Lion, Karen Tarlton


This one is my favorite, which is ironic because it’s also the most expensive. I like it because it makes me think of this book, which makes me think of Africa because I read it there. Also, because it reminds me of courage, which has kind of been the theme of the last few years and especially the last month. And lastly, because it looks like Aslan.

2012 in review.

So, it’s January. Actually, we’re more than halfway through January, which means 99% of the people I know have already declared their New Year’s resolutions, and 50% of them have already broken them.

But I don’t do resolutions – I do goals. Around 20 or so specific, measurable, but loosely held ideas of what I want to accomplish in a year. 2012 was no exception, and like every year, some I finish, some I start, and some I don’t do at all. And that’s okay with me, because how can we possibly know on January what a whole year will hold? I don’t know about you, but I’m still trying to figure out next week. Taking the time to think through the most important things in your life, making sure your everyday actions line up with those things, having a direction – all of those are important, I get that. But why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to declare some big thing that we will do or be by the time we roll around to the end of December? Isn’t there room for just living in this moment, for being willing to take each new bend in the road as it comes, and for allowing God to change the things that are important to us?

So, this is how I balance the two – I spend some time thinking about what’s important to me, what new experiences I want to have or skills I want to cultivate, what habits I’d like to add to my life and which ones need to be removed. Then I come up with a list, and I review it about once a month – not just to see how much progress I’m making, but also to figure out if that goal is even important to me anymore.

These were the goals I set in 2012, and my results on each:

  1. Create art with Jacob (done – one, two, three)
  2. Try 25 new recipes (done – one, two, three, four, five, six)
  3. Read 5 non-fiction books (partially done – one, two, three, four)
  4. Read through the entire Bible (partially done)
  5. Get eight hours of sleep a night for one solid month (not done)
  6. Start an herb garden (not done)
  7. Make meaningful art for my house (done – one, two, three, four)
  8. Explore downtown Frederick by trying six new restaurants (done)
  9. Take a yoga class (not done)
  10. Take a French class (done)
  11. Take Ally, Cam, and Jake to lunch for their birthdays (done)
  12. Cut my car loan balance in half (not done)
  13. Join a Bible study (done)
  14. See 5 (new) places from the book 1,000 Places to See in the U.S.A. & Canada Before You Die (partially done)
  15. Walk the dogs four times a week for a month (not done)
  16. Set up a recycling center (done)
  17. Tile something (not done)
  18. Grill something (not done)
  19. Write random notes to the people that I love (done)
  20. Go hiking with my sisters (done – one, two)

I’m still working on the goal list for this year. Some were pretty easy, but I’m struggling to think through a few others. It might partly be because God turned my life upside down the last two months of 2012 and I think it’s likely He’ll do it again this year. It’s also because there are some big areas that I want to address in some way, but I haven’t let figured out how I want to do it.

Hopefully, I’ll have the list done by the end of the month.