My 2019 Goals

Happy New Year! (I thought I posted this blog last month. Guess I didn’t! Better late than never?)

If you’re anything like me, goal-setting is a mixed bag. There are a lot of good goal-setting frameworks out there, but I risk failing to achieve what I set out to do.

This year I did a new thing for goal-setting. I wrote down my top 25 goals and circled my top 5, and decided to focus 100% of my attention on the top 5 goals and ignore the rest until I’ve successfully completed one off the list. For me, it’s more about habits to establish than goals to meet, for the most part, but doing it this way really worked! It was hard for me at first to come up with 25 goals, but once I got going, the ideas just flowed. This is Warren Buffet’s 5/25 Rule, according to a great podcast by Mary Valloni, which you can find here.

I’m pretty excited about these New Year’s resolutions, because I’ve actually been keeping them since November!

Now, without any further ado, here are some of my goals for the coming year:

#1. Be spiritually fit.

Over the past years, I said ‘yes’ to more travel and teaching. Some of these events changed my life, and I’m glad I did it. But there was a cost: I read fewer books, journalled less, and had less time for prayer, meditation, and reflection.

That’s going to change in 2019. It’s actually already started to change! During Advent, I focused on spending time daily really meditating on Scripture and having heart to heart conversations with Jesus. By doing this, my eyes will be focused on God and his solutions, not the obstacles I see around me. That will give me the courage to follow as He keeps leading me out of my comfort zone into things that scare me a little!

I have a new journal that makes it easier for me to reflect on my day and how God was present, and an accountability partner to check in with about this daily review. This will help me notice more and more how God is working in my life every day. That will lead to more gratitude, and less worry.

On January 6th I’m starting an intense small group with a group of women who are quickly becoming close friends and encouragers. When I travel, I’ll Skype in to the small group, and share my answers to our homework. This small group will be digging into really giving God control over my life, things I need to forgive and ask forgiveness for, and asking God to take away my character defects. I’ll be developing habits that will help me be even more resilient when things get tough.

Bottom line, spiritually fit for me means consistently spending time being honest with God, noticing Him constantly during the day, having His word soaking into my heart, being quick to forgive and ask forgiveness, and trusting Him in new areas of my life.

#2. Be physically fit.

Why? Ministry is very demanding on every front: spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and physically. But there is more to my life than ministry, just like there is more to your life than your job.

As a result, I just don’t have a lot left in the tank at the end of the day. Frankly, I need to be better at managing my energy. So in 2019, I am giving a high priority to exercise and healthy eating.

That means I wear my Fitbit every day and get at least 250 steps every hour. Since a lot of my work is in front of my computer, this gets me moving throughout the day. I’m also dancing every day, with free videos on YouTube that I really enjoy. They boost my mood as well as get my blood pumping. These workouts don’t require a gym membership or expensive equipment. And I can do them almost anywhere — which is especially great because of the heavy travel I’m sometimes asked to do.

When it comes to healthy eating, I’m drinking 128 oz of water every day, eating a meal or a snack every 2 ½ hours (I set the timer on my phone), tracking my food in the Fitbit app, and, drum roll please, I am only drinking Dr Pepper on Sundays! I gave up Dr Pepper for Advent as a spiritual exercise, and I am keeping it up. I feel a lot better, having less energy highs and lows. This is a real shocker for me!

#3. Be fully funded.

2018 was a wonderful year where God really moved, and I got a lot closer to being fully funded! Then, at the end of the year, my heart broke. A training school wanted me to come and teach, but their enrollment dropped, and they couldn’t afford to cover my expenses. I never want that to happen again-to have to say no to training wonderful new missionaries because of a lack of funds.

When I’m fully funded, I’ll have money set aside so that I can say yes to every teaching opportunity that God leads me to. I’ll be able to buy all of the materials and equipment that I need to reach more people and train more trainers. All of my energy will be focused on ministry, without worrying about funding.

So, those are some of my goals for the upcoming year. I hope the technique I shared earlier will help you to have a great 2019!

What are your goals for 2019?

5 of My Favorite Faith-Inspiring Quotes

The Bible.  There’s nothing as life-giving as God’s Spirit speaking through God's Word.  During my time in Bible storying ministry I’ve begun to ask myself 5 questions about passages I read.  That, and retelling Scripture in everyday language have brought truth even more from my head to my heart. 

These are the 5 questions-

What touched you?

What surprised you?

What did you notice about God?

What did you notice about people?

What changes in your life this week because of this?

I’ve also been encouraged and inspired by several quotes I’ve read or heard  throughout the years.

These don’t take the place of Scripture (obviously!) but these quotes have given me perspective, hope, and encouragement in my day-to-day life, and I hope they do the same for you wherever you are reading this from.

"Progress, not perfection." I first heard this from my friend Phil.

"God never wastes a hurt." I don't know who said it first, but I love it!

"Safe?" said Mr Beaver …"Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

"We have chosen … were chosen … accepted being chosen." Madeline L'Engle, Many Waters

"'Why was I chosen?' 'Such questions cannot be answered,' said Gandalf. 'You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess; not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.'"-J.R.R. Tolkein, The Fellowship of the Ring

If you’re looking for some.other great reads, don’t forget to check out my previous article: 3 of My Favorite Books – Have You Read Any of These?

What are some of your favorite quotes? I’d love to hear them – share below!

3 of My Favorite Books – Have You Read Any of These?

Over 20 years ago, I was preparing to head into the mission field. Life was full of unknowns, huge dreams, and a strange mix of anticipation and terror!

One thing that God used to anchor me through that season of transition was a good book. Actually, there were several! If you’re in a season of transition, looking to deepen your walk, or just want a good read, consider checking these out. There are tons of great titles out there, but these were really meaningful to me.

Book 1: The Christian's Secret to a Happy Life. It's an oldie but a goodie! "In 1870 Hannah Whitall Smith wrote what has become a classic of joyous Christianity, The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life. The title barely hints at the depths of that perceptive book. It is no shallow "four easy steps to successful living." Studiously, the writer defines the shape of a full and abundant life hid in God. Then she carefully reveals the difficulties to this way and finally charts the results of a life abandoned to God. What is the Christian's secret to a happy life? It is best summed up by her chapter entitled "The Joy of Obedience." Joy comes through obedience to Christ, and joy results from obedience to Christ. Without obedience joy is hollow and artificial." Foster, Richard J. Celebration Of Discipline, p.192. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988. (Which is also a great book!)

One of my favorite quotes from this book was "Most people,” she continued, “take their burdens to Him, but they bring them away with them again, and are just as worried and unhappy as ever. But I take mine, and I leave them with Him, and come away and forget them. And if the worry comes back, I take it to Him again; I do this over and over, until at last I just forget that I have any worries, and am at perfect rest.”". If you’d like to get it on Amazon, here’s the link.

Book 2: Wayfarer in the Land by another Hannah, Hannah Hurnard.  She wrote Hind's Feet on High Places, which I love. I was so excited to find this book way back when and learn that she was a missionary! From Amazon-"The Lord's care and guidance are vividly demonstrated in the account of the author's evangelistic team that carried the gospel message to remote settlements in Israel during the 1930s."

One of my favorite quotes from this book was Hannah talking about how she and a woman who she would not normally get along with managed to work together. "…as long as the irritating matter is able to haunt one's thoughts during that time of silent worship, and one is unable to get free of it, but goes over the point again and again, one can be sure that the matter has not been fully yielded to the Lord, and one is not in a prepared frame of mind to mention it without aggravating the situation. It is better to keep silent on the matter altogether and wait until the Lord has brought me to the place to be able to put it on one side and has set one at liberty to think and pray about other things." If you’d like to get it on Amazon, here’s the link.

Book 3: Cross-Cultural Conflict:Building Relationships for Effective Ministry, by Duane Elmer. From Amazon-"Whether at home or abroad, communicating with people of other cultures is difficult. It requires new ways of thinking and interpreting the world. When conflict arises, as it often does, the issues become even more confusing. Without a good understanding of how different cultures handle conflict, our best intentions may only make matters worse."

One of my favorite ideas from the book is that Matthew 18 is not the only Biblical model for conflict resolution. There are examples of others in Scripture that are often more honoring of our host cultures.  If you’d like to get it on Amazon, here’s the link.

What are some of your favorites? I’d love to hear them — especially if you’re in a season of transition. Leave a comment below!



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Back in 2006 I got to tell some stories about how I came to serve overseas at Cornerstone Music Festival. I'm getting ready to go to Audiofeed, a music festival born out of Cornerstone to tell some stories, if anybody comes to the Peniel Story Tent to listen.  (Yes, I am worried about sitting all alone in my story circle talking to myself.)

If you'd lke to hear my story from 2006 click that grey (gray? I never know) bar up at the top of this post.  If you'd like to save me from shame, embarassment, and an overabundance of skittles, come here.