Cultivating What Matters: 2017 Goal Recap

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Hi, friends! Happy Thanksgiving weekend! :) I'm currently about to make my third cup of coffee and grab myself a slice of pumpkin pie... I also may have been in my Christmas jammies past noon, but you'll have that on a holiday weekend, right? ;)

Cultivate What Matters is kicking off their 2018 Powersheets Prep week the first week of December, so I thought I'd get my 2017 goals recap written and posted in preparation for that. It gets me in reflection mode for all God did this year, and it helps me prepare my heart for all He might have in store for 2018.

2017 was my year of FULLY surrendering, trusting, and following Him. And while I'm still learning that in so many ways, this year stretched me more than any year has in quite some time.

At the beginning of the year, I wrote the following vision statement:

My 2017 vision…

I want to live fully for Jesus in 2017 — seeking Him fully, knowing Him more fully, and being used by Him fully. I will prioritize time spent with Him, choosing Him above all things and keeping Him at the center of everything. I will make space in my life for what truly matters, saying no to meaningless distractions and investing in my faith, family, friends, and using my creative gifts fully for God. I will fill my life with meaningful moments and memories shared with loved ones, inspiration, truth, encouragement, art, praise, and worship. I will seek to be a good steward of all the blessings, gifts, and resources God so graciously gives, using the margin in my life to the fullest for Him. 2017 will be a year of daily encountering Jesus, intentionally building relationships, and sharing His love and light with others. It will be a year where I invite Him to have His way in all things, trusting that the story He’s writing will always be so much greater than the one I could write on my own.

That statement helped lead me to prayerfully select the following overarching goals for my year:

  1. Encounter Jesus daily and read the entire Bible this year.

  2. Be a good steward of all the blessings, gifts, and margin in my life.

  3. Complete the Whole30 Program and focus on cultivating healthy habits. Find an exercise and strength-building routine that works for me.

Looking back on the year, I can definitely see the ways God was teaching me to more fully trust, surrender, and follow Him. And before I jump into goal-setting prep for 2018 these next few weeks, I thought I would take the time to reflect on my progress toward the three main goals I set above.

Goal #1:  Encounter Jesus daily and read the entire Bible this year.

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Ready for some honesty? :) This goal did not happen AT ALL the way I thought or planned it might. I did not read the entire Bible this year. In fact, after finishing up the New Testament in the spring, I spent the rest of the year jumping around without much of a plan. The summer months found me reading a lot in Genesis, focusing on Joseph's story, and this fall, I've spent quite a bit of time studying the book of Ruth. BUT in His grace, even though this goal technically was not achieved, I am ending the year so encouraged and excited to keep prioritizing time encountering Him and being in His word.

Because while I did not read the entire Bible this year, I did learn a lot about HOW to study the Bible. And I realized that timed plans may not be the best fit for me. I want to take as long as necessary to really dive deep, absorb, and hear what He wants me to hear. I've been learning to study more inductively, too, and to do what Jen Wilkin talks about in her book Women of the Word: to read and study His word with my heart AND my mind.

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I've also been utilizing new translations (like the Amplified translation), new journaling formats (like the Dwell Deeply journal above from Machelle Kolbo Design Studio, and Bible study resources, including videos and commentaries from The Bible Project and the studies on RightNow Media. All of this makes me very excited, because it's PROGRESS. And I know I'm ending the year with a deeper and fuller understanding of His powerful and life-changing truth. As Lara always says, the little by little steps really do add up! And instead of being disappointed I didn't read the entire Bible this year, I'm encouraged by how deeply I studied what I did read and how I went deeper in the Word this year than I have in previous years.

(And here's a little sneak peek at my 2018 goals: you'll definitely see another Bible-study-focused goal. I'm giving a lot of thought to focusing most of my in-depth study time next year in the Old Testament. More on that and my 2018 goals soon...)

P.S. I have a little treat for you guys! Machelle's given me a code just for you guys to use! :) Use code APLACETODWELL for 15% off of her shop. I love her Dwell Deeply journal, because it's so easy to tuck into a bag and carry with me wherever I go!)

Goal #2: Be a good steward of all the blessings, gifts, and margin in my life."

This goal covered a lot! And I continue to learn what it looks like to keep Christ at the center of my life, influencing and directing all of my prayers, thoughts, decisions, and actions. But overall, this year found me being more mindful of my time, margin, and decisions. I watched less Netflix and Hulu and spent more time reading books, journaling, and being in the Word. I listened to more worship music to fill my mind with truth. I wrote scripture on post-it notes and taped them to my mirror, so I'd fill my mind with His truth first thing each day. I've also been praying through Unveiled Wife's 31 Prayers for Your Future Husband every day since May, because I want to be a good steward of the future marriage I hope and pray for, even before it's tangibly in front of me. I know that the decisions I make now are seeds planted for the future. And each one of those little decisions are helping me to be more mindful and cultivate habits that help me seek first His Kingdom in all I do.

I was also excited to take the Five-Fold Ministry Assessment this year and learn that I'm a Teacher, or Light Giver in the Kingdom! That was a huge learning for me that has impacted (and will continue to impact) how I'm stewarding, building, and using the gifts and passions He's given me. He's been growing the love I have of studying His Word and helping others discover and apply His truths to their lives. I'm very excited to see how He continues to develop and use that in my life and to build His Kingdom.

I also became more involved with the Women's Ministry team at my church and started writing a women's devotional journal that I hope to publish sometime in the next year (more on that in my 2018 goals, too). Oh, and I almost forgot! I also redesigned and relaunched my website! That was an adventure for sure. :) My heart is to continue to pour out all I have to know, love, and serve Him in every season and circumstance.

Goal #3: Complete the Whole 30 Program and focus on cultivating healthy habits. Find an exercise and strength-building routine that works for me.

“AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL (life), AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND (thought, understanding), AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’”
‭‭MARK‬ ‭12:30‬ ‭AMP‬‬

My progress on this goal has perhaps surprised me most! After completing the Whole 30 in February, my focus on making healthy choices and cultivating healthy habits waned a bit. But in August, my heart for this goal was refreshed and reignited (all thanks to God), and one of the main goals I set for the last few months of the year was to focus on STRENGTH: growing stronger both spiritually and physically, because I wanted to truly focus on loving and serving God with all I've got — my entire being.

To focus on physical strength, I signed up with a personal trainer at the end of August, and I've been strength training twice a week ever since. In that time, I've only missed one training session, just due to a scheduling conflict. And while that may not seem like much to most, it's a HUGE deal for me — someone whose fitness plan and routine has always been incredibly inconsistent and hit-or-miss. To be working out and building strength for the last three months (and to be able to actually SEE and FEEL the progress) is amazing. I've committed to a year of training, and I'm excited to keep increasing my weights and growing stronger little by little.

Strength training has been another lesson I've learned this year on the power of small, consistent steps forward — and also the power of doing things that may not always feel comfortable. In the breaking down of my muscles, there's always some discomfort, but with each breaking down, my muscles grow back stronger and more capable of handling more weight than they could before. I'm finding the same to be true for my faith. The more God challenges me and breaks me down, the stronger I grow in HIM, and the more capable I am of handling more and doing more for Him than I was before.

Whew thanks for sticking with me through that VERY long post! ;)

This year definitely held many challenges and heartbreaking circumstances, but I'm so encouraged to look back and see His work in my life and heart despite all of that. He met me right in the mess and brought beauty from ashes little by little, changing me in the process.

And I don't believe He's done yet, either.

I think the best is still yet to come.

I'm praising Him today for all He's done and all that's yet to come.

See you back here soon for 2018 goal-setting! :)