No Resolutions New Year

It's day 2 of a brand new year and it's hard not to get caught up in the resolution craze that loses it's glimmer like New Year's Eve confetti before the month ends. Lose weight, feel great, write a best selling book, run 7 marathons in 7 days, make a gourmet wedding cake, become a finalist on The Voice. Thanks but I'll pass.

2015 was a big year for me. Starting with the fact that I turned 40 early in the year. So last year's goal was only to have more patience with myself, turn 40 with a little grace, and not let my age define me. I got to do some pretty amazing things last year but not a single one of them were resolutions that I set for myself on January 1. All of them presented themselves as opportunities throughout the year and doors opened that we chose to walk through.

My husband pulled off an amazing surprise 40th birthday celebration for me with my dearest friends and family. Such a sweet night of love, celebration, and surprises for me. If you need to know one thing about me, it is that I have never met a party I didn't love. I am a party girl and love to celebrate everything! So to have a celebration, that I didn't have to plan, just to honor me was overwhelmingly beautiful.

As part of that birthday celebration, my husband gave us a trip to Jekyll Island over Memorial Weekend. First time we had ever gone to the Georgia coast and left all three kids behind with family for an extended weekend. We didn't decide last year to spend more time away and do more traveling, but the timing was perfect and it was a good time for us to reflect and refocus on our relationship.



In the fall my husband was offered a great position to do some legal contracting and advisory work. This is something that he didn't ask to do on his own or have to submit a resume for. They approached him and it was an opportunity that he couldn't pass up. He also asked to take a trip to Coronado Springs CA for the annual legal conference. I got to tag along with him. We found ourselves spending a three days in beautiful Southern California which is something that we could have never guessed or resolved to do on our own in 2015.

In June we were traveling to the beach for our annual family vacation and Greg and I started having a conversation in the car about taking on a bigger fitness challenge. Doing several sprint distance triathlons around our area has always been easy and manageable for our schedule. But with our children getting a little bit older and a little more independent, we are finding that we are able to be more flexible and take on bigger goals. Somewhere during that "riding in the car" conversation we talked ourselves into signing up for a Half Ironman distance triathlon. Before we could convince ourselves that this was a terrible idea, we completed the registration and paid the entry fee. Done. And just like that we had four months to train for over a mile of swimming in saltwater, 56 miles of biking, and 13 miles of running.

Almost  as soon as we registered we began to have lots of self-doubt and "what was I thinking" moments. Matter of fact that was my hashtag on lots of posts leading up to race day. Long swim today and I'm pretty tired #halfironman #whatwasIthinking. 40 miles of a hot summer afternoon bike ride #halfironman #whatwasithinking. Just finished 5 mile run in the heat and I'm completely exhausted #halfironman #whatwasithinking. Thankfully we had each other to rely on for encouragement, accountability, and as training partners we pushed through. I even had to spend 4 weeks off of running when I should have been ramping up my mileage thanks to a bone bruise that needed to heal before it turned into a full blown stress fracture. Race day came, nerves were at an all time high, self-confidence was at an all time low, and next thing we know we're off and swimming in the NC Intercoastal Waterway for the first leg of a really long race. Six hours later we were crossing the finish line and on one of the biggest adrenaline highs ever. Completely and utterly exhausting while simultaneously exhilarating and grateful. I liken it to making the winning field goal in the championship game and everybody going crazy because you are a superstar for the moment. Except the moment was just for us (no ESPN coverage here) and we accomplished a goal we never intended to do. No January resolution for completing a half or full Ironman this year. We'll just wait and sign up for something on a whim, I'm sure.

The ministry partnership that I am involved with as a writer, speaker, and event coordinator, has seen huge growth this year. Encouragement Cafe is an online community for women to receive the encouragement and love of God through radio, devotionals, and bible studies. We always wanted a way to bring our online community together for more of a personal touch by hosting an event once a year. We have watched our event grow slowly over the past four years in our local market and last year we saw almost 1,000 women attend our Encouragement Cafe Live event in Winston Salem. Thanks to this success, other radio partnerships began to take notice and last year we were asked to expand this event for more cities and radio markets. We now are finding ourselves rolling into 2016 with five cities on our calendar from Tennessee to DC to West Virginia and we will take this little ministry on the road with bigger worship artists and more speakers. It wasn't even on my radar that last year we would roll into 2016 with five cities on the horizon as Encouragement Cafe gets to expand to more markets and touch more women. God knows my heart has always been writing, speaking, teaching, and helping women to break free of the lies that the world sells us by reminding others of the encouraging Truth of God's Word. I think that this is probably one of the most exciting things that I look forward to in 2016, not just for Encouragement Cafe but also for my own personal growth and heart for women.

I cannot even begin to tell you what 2016 will bring. Honestly, pretty much everything that happened last year wasn't even on my calendar last January. I like to pick one verse at the beginning of each year and this year it is Romans 12:12, "Be joyful with hope, be patient in testing, be constant in prayer." Pretty good advice for this year. My one word for this year is Prayer. I'm not setting any big goals or focusing on huge resolutions this year and I really like this approach to 2016. I am resolving to pray, to discern, and to walk through the doors God opens when the opportunities present themselves. Got my running shoes on, because I have no idea where God will take me and my family this year, but it's working a lot better for me to walk by faith than by sight. I don't need resolutions, I need dependence on God to guide me this year as He opens doors and gives me direction for 2016.

Happy New Possibilities to you! May God bless you and keep you as you too learn to walk by faith in 2016.

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