Okay, I’ll admit it. I love to plan. Nothing thrills me more than putting my plan down on paper and checking those little boxes off after completing each and every task. Implementing my plan makes me giddy like a schoolgirl, I tell you!
That’s one reason I love the beginning of a new year. Because, as you know, every new year comes with New Year’s Resolutions, right? And, everyone knows there is no better opportunity to make new plans than at the start of a new year.
Last year my list of plans looked something like this: (Before reading this, you have to promise not to judge me for not completing all of my plans. Deal?)
- Lose 10 pounds
- Exercise 3 times per week
- Read the Bible thru in a year
- Be more disciplined
- Write two-three times a week on my blog
- Go on a mission trip
- Build my women’s ministry leadership team
- Host a prayer event at Warren
- Write a book proposal for Dancing in the Rain
- Write the book, Dancing in the Rain
- Provide a free download on my blog
- Build my online platform presence
- Set aside a few hours one day per week to make plans that will help me achieve my goals for 2015
Quite a list, I know. But I must admit that I did not fully execute all of these plans as I had hoped I would. I did learn a lot in trying to accomplish my to-do list for last year, however.
- I did lose ten pounds, but I gained them right during and after vacation because crash diets really don’t work!
- I did not exercise three times a week consistently. I only exercised when I was trying to lose the ten pounds, which is partly why I regained said poundage above.
- I did not read the Bible thru in a year. I did read my Bible and learn a whole lot, but I found that I spread myself a bit too thin with the number of Bible studies I led and the amount of Bible study writing I did. (This is no excuse, it’s just the truth.)
- As far as being more disciplined. This was a major downfall for me in 2015. I can honestly say that I was not nearly as disciplined as I should or could have been. In an effort to create more margin in my life, I really went to the extreme and in doing so became a bit slack in some areas. The lesson here: Moderation! (Again, NO JUDGING!)
- My blog. Hmmm … Yes and no. I wrote a lot of things, but I didn’t post 2-3 times for the entire year. Make a blog schedule – that is the lesson. Also, I must remind myself that we shouldn’t be legalistic when it comes to these things.
- Go on a mission trip. Yes! I did this. Plan accomplished. My oldest son, Austen, and I went to Swaziland in May. What a blessing in so many ways!! I did an entire series of blog posts on what I learned in Swaziland. Track back to Swazi Stories to read about it.
- Thanks be to God, I have an incredible team of leaders working with me in Women’s Ministry at Warren Baptist Church.
- We hosted not one, but two prayer events at Warren Baptist Church. Thank you, Lord, for blessing your people through the ministry of prayer!
- I did write my book proposal for Dancing in the Rain, and then I was rejected by a literary agent and went into what I called my “Depression of Rejection Funk” for a few months. Honestly, I didn’t care to write at all for a while, but I got over myself and things are all better now. (No, I have not resubmitted my proposal to another agent yet. I’ve decided to rework the proposal and try again in 2016. J) The lesson here – don’t give up on your dreams or what God has told you to do even if someone steps all over your dreams and crushes them in a zillion pieces. LOL!!
- Write the book, Dancing in the Rain. No, I have not done this yet. See above.
- Provide a free download on my blog. With the help of my dear friend, Laura Starnes, I did this! Yes, during the month of December you could have gotten (and maybe you did) my Daily Advent Devotional, Thoughts of Advent. The lesson here – just do it! Don’t be afraid.
- Build my online platform presence. This is a bit tricky, you see, because I want my email subscribers, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook following to be real and authentic. I don’t just want numbers, I really want to influence, impact, and be engaged with my people. That being said, my following has grown, but it’s a slow process that takes time and trust. And you know what, I’m okay with that.
- Set aside a few hours one day per week to make plans that will help me achieve my plans for 2015. So, I totally flopped on this one. I didn’t do this at all. Even though I put it on my calendar, other things always got in the way. This is perhaps the biggest reason I didn’t complete all of my plans last year. Lesson learned!
As I think through 2015, though, there are some things that I did do that I had totally not planned to do. In fact, they weren’t even on my radar, but God, in His infinite wisdom and sovereignty, had planned all along.
- My son, Austen, got his permit in January, and I managed to go an entire year without having a nervous breakdown every time he drove my car. Major accomplishment!
- My mother and I planned the most amazing tenth birthday Winter Wonderland Tea for my daughter, Leanna. It thrilled her little heart and will be something she never forgets. We made some wonderful memories with Anna and Elsa! Yes, Anna and Elsa, real, live royalty came to our party!
- My Women’s Ministry Leadership Team knocked it out of the park on our Women’s Retreat last February. I also had the honor of leading worship at the retreat with my sweet cousin, Kelly, which I totally had not planned to do. The entire retreat was life changing for so many! Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to be a part of something so impactful.
- JD, Leanna, and I did a lot of horseback riding. Yes, I can honestly say that I am a horseback rider. I am no longer a novice. I can really ride. JD can jump (It’s incredible!), and Leanna is a natural little horsewoman.
- We attempted to sell our house, only to discover that we really do love our little white house, and there was no other place that we really wanted to live! Contentment – that is what I learned.
- My incredibly sweet husband took me to Cancun twice in 2015. Once for our annual “couples getaway,” and the second time for my 35th birthday! (Okay add ten years to that, but whose counting!!??)
- I hadn’t really planned on making any new life-long friends last year, but I did. God blessed me with multiple friendships from the Swazi mission trip that I am so grateful for.
- I took my precious mother to a women’s conference in Greenville, SC for Mother’s Day. The conference blessed me so and spending time with my sweet mother is a favorite pastime.
- I didn’t write Dancing in the Rain, but God did prompt me to write a new Bible Study. It’s called Remind Me: a guide to praying the attributes of God. I released it in October for a small group of Bible study ladies at Warren Baptist Church as a pilot. I’m excited to tell you that Remind Me is now in the final stages of editing and will be released in mid to late January along with a beautiful journal that, again, my friend Laura helped me with.
- Our family went to Pigion Forge with my daddy and step-mom at Thanksgiving. We had an amazing time. I even learned how to drive a go cart. BTW – I’m a natural!
- Lastly, I had the privilege of going to Writers Bootcamp in Atlanta. I was taught and mentored by Margaret Feinberg and Jonathan Merritt. This was not on my radar at all, but God knew, and God blessed me with an amazing opportunity.
As it turns out 2015 ended up being a productive year. No, I didn’t get to check off all those little boxes and complete all of MY plans, but I’m certain that God’s plans for me in 2015 were realized. There were bumps along the way, of course, but God knew those were coming too and He prepared me and got me through.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
As we look to 2016, an important truth to remember is that God already has the plan. In His sovereignty, in His grace, and in His timing, He knows the plans He has for you and for me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t make plans and set goals, but we should always inquire of Him, and we should always hold our plans with a loose grip and hold on to Him with both hands, firm and fervent.
And when tempted to be disappointed if things go awry or don’t turn out the way we planned, this verse has always comforted my heart and given me peace, hope, and confidence in my future.
This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30
What are your plans for 2016? Have you asked God’s opinion? Are you open to His leading? Will you keep a loose grip on your plans and hold firmly to Jesus in 2016?
Here’s to 2016. May it bring God much glory!
Happy New Year!