My Word for 2012: Receive

2012 Mayan Calendar

(My friend, Jamie at BlondeMomBlog, posted this cartoon with her year-end post.
I had to borrow it for mine. I love it.)

It’s a new year—the perfect time for reflections and fresh starts.

I’m a real sucker for cliched rituals like that.

And so, I look back and look forward.

I started this blog one year ago with the greatest of aspirations. I wasn’t completely sure where it would take me, but one thing was foremost. I was devoted to being intentional.

Intentionally, Chris and I set goals for our family surrounding faith, family, and finances.

And unlike most New Year Resolution Resolvers, I actually held to a state of intentionality for much of the year. In fact, I consider it somewhat of a triumph that I was at least still considering intentionality as I closed the door on 2011. I was intentional enough to at least assess my success with goal-setting.

Drum roll, please.

You know what? Most—if not all—of those “goals” I set about faith, family, and finances were not reached. In fact, most were woefully missed. As in not just “come up a little short” but more like “the target was way over there.” And I’m not being negative, just realistic. You know what this tells me? That simply having intention isn’t enough to cause change.

Hmmm.

I have a theory. I think that most (if not all) “success stories” are “accidental.” (And by accidental, I actually mean God-orchestrated.) Hard work? Intention? Determination? All of those are simply by-products of calling and God-given talent.

I think everyone has something (or a few things) that he or she is created to do. As imagers of God, we are creators. I think everyone comes hard-wired to do/be a unique something/someone. Period.

My particular temptation (for whatever reason) is pursuing everything under the sun. I see the possibilities in all things and try to fit my square peg in a round hole. No amount of “intention” or “determination” can change or improve something that doesn’t exist.

This fall, I attended the PCA International Women’s Conference in Atlanta. My friend, Nancy Guthrie, was the speaker and was absolutely fabulous. Anyway, one of the most important things I took away from the weekend was the idea that God was calling me to a special place. (And that wasn’t the topic of Nancy’s talks but was something I found to be kind of a residual effect of my learning and listening.)

He is calling me to a posture of reception. Of listening. I have always been praying and seeking his guidance about what to do. I believe he now is calling me to simply be. To watch for his moving. To identify his signs. To become still in order to hear the whispers of the Holy Spirit.

So, I enter 2012 with one word: Receive. And I’ve got to say that we’re only a few days in, and it’s tough. My mother is dealing with some health issues associated with recovery from breast cancer, and our family is navigating some sticky relationship issues. And yes, I still need to address faith, family, and fitness, just like last year.

But I come to 2012 in place of cautious expectancy with no agenda except to wait, watch, listen, and receive.

 

 

January 2011 Blog Stats

One aspect of my Look In Your House journey is getting this brand-new blog up and running and making money.

One of the tools I use to evaluate my progress is Google Analytics. Let’s focus on a few key areas of the first month of my new blog’s life.

Stats from Google Analytics

January 1—31, 2011

374 visits
596 page views
26 email subscribers
Friday, January 28 was the busiest day = 28 visits

Most popular posts with number of views:

Podcast with Jamie Reeves (61 views)
Become an Effective Decision Maker (51 views)
Spruce Up Your Spiritual House and Lose the Guilt (46 views)

Most active referral sources with number of visitors sent:

Facebook (114 visits)
The Writer’s Block (33 visits)
Blonde Mom Blog (25 visits)

Top keyword searches on Google (each sent one visitor):

1. elisha and the widow’s oil
2. journal entry prompts on christ
3. look in your house blog mary bernard
4. matthew henry “a way to pray” review
5. scripture on comparing oneself
6. the widow’s oil
7. what do you have in your house elisha
8. widow’s oil thought provoking question

A few take-aways

  • Readers are staying on the site and looking at more than one page during their visits. (Consistent posts and good writing will keep this trend.)
  • The podcast feature was well-received, and my first guest was a wonderful referrer of traffic. (Continued podcasts with quality guests will keep this trend. And I love it!)
  • Facebook continues to be the top referrer for my blog posts. The majority of my readers are my Facebook friends. (Continued use of Facebook to drive traffic will keep this trend. More interaction on the Facebook page may increase traffic, too?)
  • The keyword searches and Google referrals were quite disappointing, but I am working on SEO and building back links. (More posts and improved SEO strategy should improve this number for next month.) Also interesting that Scripture keywords sent readers to the blog. I will continue optimizing for Scriptural references.

What do you think about my stats?
What trends do you see?

Spruce Up Your Spiritual House and Lose the Guilt

I know that fresh starts don’t happen in a vacuum. Some “fresh starts” explode with an initial colorful bang then wimper to their death. Some never get off the ground at all.

I propose that a “fresh start” failure is directly linked to one’s relationship (or lack thereof) to Christ.

As a professing Christian, I say that Christ is my life.

Christ is my life.

Wow. My “life’s” not my physical well-being, my wardrobe, or my Facebook page. Not my husband, my kids, or my dog. Not my job, my intellect, or my reputation.

No. All I am is Christ. All I must desire is Christ. I depend on Christ for each and every breath I take. I depend on Christ to hold this universe together and plant my feet on the floor each morning.

Christ lives. Outside of me, in spite of me, because of me, inside me.

As my pastor says so eloquently, Christ is my animating center.

So … as I reach #4 in my list of 31 Ways to Give Your New Year a Fresh Start, I must not hurry past this absolute and integral piece to newness of life:

4. Die to self (and selfish, self-centeredness); live in Christ.

A zealous, continual, renewing pursuit of Christ and all his riches is my primary aim this new year.

But …

One caveat.

I refuse to be enslaved by guilt when I mess up and fall short. Guilt is a paralyzing and toxic detriment to spiritual growth.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at some practical ideas for pursuing Christ daily.

~~~

Is Christ your life? If not, what is?

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Read more in this series. Subscribe to my blog now, please!

Photo credit: lukeok from morguefile.com

Become an Effective Decision-Maker

I’m a waffler.

There. I said it. I admit that I’ll make a decision then look for the back door “out” of it. The Myers-Briggs personality profile would tell you that’s because I’m a “P” and want to keep all my options open. I’m afraid I’ll miss some great opportunity if I’m stuck toiling away at my previously-committed decision.

But you know what it really is?

It’s immaturity, cowardice, and fear.

So, it’s time for me to GROW. UP. The only way that things get done is by, well, doing them.

(Deep breath.)

It’s time to—

Decide. Commit. Prioritize.

I wish I could take credit for this succinct statement of brilliance. But I can’t.

I listened to a podcast interview from Nicole Dean with Carrie Wilkerson of The Barefoot Executive. These two women are successful Internet marketers, and I loved soaking up their wisdom. When asked what the “turning point” was for her Internet business success, Carrie responded that it was making a decision.

She went on to explain that anything one wishes to do must first start with a decision. Then he or she must commit to it and finally, make that decision a priority in his or her thoughts and actions.

Want to have a successful Internet business? You must work every day on your business. Want to lose 30 pounds? The weight loss goal must be your priority—a greater priority than a bacon cheeseburger (my summary and paraphrase).

What decision, commitment, and priority do you need to make right now?

Establish Boundaries

Modern-day women are too often overworked and overwhelmed, yet we find ourselves piling on more and more responsibility. We commit to time-sucking activities that take us away from our goals.

Our culture of excess has fooled us into believing that more is always better. Full is always better. Busy is always better.

If we’re overbooked and in demand, we feel important, right?

That’s why I’m making a concerted effort to:

Establish boundaries by evaluating each commitment through a priority grid.

In yesterday’s post, I discussed my goals for the new year.

So, today’s tip is a partner to it.

In order to achieve those goals this year, I must daily be mindful of them. A good way to do this is to weigh each decision according to its usefulness in achieving my goals. So, I require the activity/event/commitment to meet three of the four following criteria:

  1. Renew me spiritually
  2. Renew me emotionally
  3. Renew me relationally
  4. Make some money

Each activity that requires time, energy, money, or other resource from me will be pressed through this grid.

Volunteer opportunity? Soaking in a tub with a good book? Accepting a freelance writing project? Taking my daughter out for ice cream? All will need to be evaluated by this new system.

Will it grow me spiritually? Will it strengthen relationships in my life? Will it be financially profitable? Will it give me an energy boost so that I’m better equipped to pursue Christ, other relationships, and/or making money?

More than one “no,” it’s crossed off the “to-do” list.

What do you think? What boundaries do you need to establish for your resources?