A New Year: Learning to Live with Intention

I love to welcome in a new year.  The little OCD woman inside of me loves to make her lists, color code everything on the crisp white pages of her planner, and plan all the awesome things she is going to accomplish this year.  I buy into the fairy tale that this will be the year that I finally have it all together and when the year comes to a close, every.single.thing will be checked off of my list.  The end of the year me will bask in the glow of her accomplishments – complete with choirs of angels singing my praises (kind of like Oprah after a “Favorite Things” episode). We make all kinds of resolutions - mainly that this will finally be the year that we eat healthier, exercise, and regain our twenty year old bodies.  And that lasts (if we stretch the truth a bit) until February.  Life happens and all of those “resolutions” are lost in the abyss of all the things competing for our attention. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of lists that never get finished.  I’m tired of broken resolutions.  A lot of days I am just plain tired. So this year I am trying a different approach.  I joined in with many other women and I prayed for God to give me my One Little Word (OLW) to focus on in 2015.  Just one word (not a list) that He would have me relate all things in my life to.  A word that would grow me in my relationship with Him and with others.  A word, that at the end of the year, has made me feel accomplished in what truly matters in this life.  Because as well intended as some of my goals may be, if they are not in alignment for what His purpose is for my life then I am sure to feel defeated when another year comes to a close.

My OLW for 2015 is INTENTIONAL.  I’ve tried in my own strength to live with intent especially over the last year.  I’ve had some success but even more failure because I wasn’t letting God be in control.  There are areas that He wants me being very intentional about, but if I am honest those are the areas that were most lacking for me.  I chose to be intentional when it was convenient for me.  And I was slack in the areas that required more effort like setting my alarm early enough to be in His presence every morning instead of having just enough time to shower before my son woke up and we started our busy day.  So this year, I want to start living with intention – His full intention for my life, not just a portion of it.

Here are five major areas that God lay on my heart that I need to be more intentional with:

1.      PRAYER

Honestly I stink at this one.  Not that I don’t pray, but that I don’t have a focused time to sit and be still with the Lord.  I’m not carrying on a conversation with Him.  I’m not listening for His voice.  It’s more like a snip it here and there throughout the day.  An “oh by the way…this just popped into my head so let me tell you before I forget about it.  Or I promised them I would mention this to you, Big Guy.” My prayers are not said in reverence to Him as my Lord and Savior.  I’m not coming before Him on His throne.  Instead I’m just tossing words out like bean bags hoping I hit the mark.  God wants us to converse with Him throughout the day, but He also taught us how to pray in Matthew 6:5-15 with the Lord’s Prayer.  In addition to the time set apart for Him and praying in reverence, I’m also writing the names of those I’m praying for down in a book so that I can pause and lift them up to the Lord in specific ways.  My friends and family are worth so much more than for their names to be haphazardly tossed up to Him like a Frisbee during the day.

2.      HIS WORD

Again, I stink at this one.  Two of what should be the most important parts of my day – prayer and time in His Word – are always the first to come off of my schedule when I think I need more hours in the day.  Yet when I do get up just a few minutes earlier and read His Word, my day ALWAYS goes so much better.  My attitude is better, I get less anxious, my son seems to behave better.  So why is it that I know all of these things and have seen how much better my day is when I spend it in His Word before doing anything else, but I am not consistent?  Why is it so hard?  Satan loves to keep us busy and our schedules packed with things (even good things) to the point that we lose our focus or we hit snooze a few times too many in the mornings.  God doesn’t tell us we have to spend "X" amount of time in His Word.  And we shouldn’t do it because we have to.  We should do it because we crave it – because we want to know Him more and strive to be like Him more.  Whatever time frame that looks like in our day, He just wants a part of us.  And we all have to do what works for us.  For me, I am starting the 365 Days of Truth reading through the Bible with the She Reads Truth app along with their study packs.  I find that diving in with other women and conversing about it even on Instagram gives me accountability and encouragement.  No, I probably won’t get through the entire Bible in one year because I love to study in depth.  But the important thing is that I’m reading it cover to cover and journaling my way through it for my son and future generations.  I want to leave a legacy – one of a woman that loves her Lord and spend time with Him daily.

3.      MARRIAGE

Marriage is not always easy.  No relationship is.  It takes effort, especially after children come into the picture.  One of the best decisions we made as a family was for me to end my demanding career so that I could devote myself to my primary mission field as a wife and mother.  I am by no means saying this is right for everyone or that all women should stay at home.  But I am saying that you should do what makes you a better wife and mother whatever that means for you.  For many that is working outside of the home.  For me, it meant directing my attention off of myself and my selfish goals so that I could support my husband and care for our child.  Even as a stay at home mom though, I have to be intentional about my relationship with my husband.  At the end of the day when he returns home I can be exhausted from endless why questions, no’s, and don’t do that’s with our little ball of energy.  So what works for us?  Date nights or just an afternoon alone.  I have wonderful parents who know how important it is to still be husband and wife and not just parents, and who also love being with our son.  But I need to be better at the little things like greeting him with a smile and hug when he comes home and listening when he talks to me even when I feel like my ears are bleeding from a day with a rambunctious three year old.  I have to make effort even when I’m tired.  I have to be intentional.

4.      PARENTING

You would think since I stay at home that this one would be easy for me, yet it is sometimes one of the hardest.  I still have selfish tendencies and my to-do lists full of things that can most always wait.  Yet I find myself getting frustrated that I can’t get anything done. The one thing competing for my attention and energy right now is the most important – our son.  And these moments of wanting and needing mommy every single second of the day are ever fleeting.  As much as I wish I could just go to the bathroom in private, I have to remind myself that one day (in just a few short years) he’s not going to want to spend time with me.  I will no longer be his best buddy. And I have a very short time to teach him, play with him, and most importantly mold him into the character of God.  Now is the time for making memories and teaching him about God.  I don’t get a second chance at this one and I can’t afford to blow it.

5.      RELATIONSHIPS

Like most of us, I’m pretty good at those relationships that I can maintain through social media.  I can pop in and out and check on everyone and be on my merry way – when it’s convenient for me.  Not that social media is a bad thing.  I love that it allows me to stay in touch with so many people I may not otherwise and it has brought me some dear friends through adoption.  But I can’t neglect that personal contact with people either.  In this busy world, it takes a lot of intention to maintain personal relationships.  I don’t want to be too busy for those talks over coffee or lunch dates anymore.  I want to forge long lasting friendships.  The same goes for family relationships especially now that we have moved further away. 

Living with intention won’t end at midnight on December 31.  Instead it is the year to develop new habits, a new way of life and new way of thinking to carry me through the rest of my years so that when my life clock on this earth stops He will look at me and say, “well done my good and faithful child.”