In 2019, I’m going back to one of my first loves: writing occasional blog posts about what’s going on in my life. My only goal is to reflect on each month and as it draws to a close, take note where my intentions and actions intersect. I’m calling this 12 part series, “The Art of Paying Attention.”
I’ll keep these updates brief. They are mostly just for my own accountability and contemplation. Taking inspiration from Emily P. Freeman’s “What I Learned” series I participated in a few years ago and the act of “soulful listening,” I know this exercise will be valuable for me. I hope you also find some inspiration of your own.
Each month this year, I am keeping my intentions (or goals) to a minimum of six small but significant items that help me to live out what is most important in my life. Below are the intentions I set for January and a short note on how I found myself paying attention.
Set Up TRX System:
Ryan and I combined some of our Christmas money and got this portable fitness system. It will be great to take with us when we are traveling and it’s perfect for getting in some exercise at home. I particularly love the resistance and flexibility training. I have only completed one workout so far, but I know how to set it up now.
Paying Attention: I need to move my body more and make sure I am maintaining my overall health and wellness. This system seems like it will be more convenient that going to a gym or trying to create exercises/routines on my own. The TRX system is already spelled out for you.
Read Three Books:
I was actually able to read more than three books. Here are the titles I read:
- The Contemplative Pastor (Eugene Peterson)
- Out of Sorts (Sarah Bessey)
- How to Survive a Shipwreck (Jonathan Martin)
- Let’s All Be Brave (Annie F. Downs)
- The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
Paying Attention: Over the past few years I have been on a continuing journey to deepen my faith and this year I realized that I need to continue feeding my head and heart with words and ideas that nurture that.
Cancel Hulu Subscription:
If we can’t find something to watch on cable, Netflix, or Amazon Prime, then we have problems! We basically did a free month of Hulu to get caught up on Brooklyn 99 and then I forgot about canceling and we just let a few months pass where we paid for something we aren’t using, but thought we would.
Paying Attention: We are already overloaded with choices for television and movie viewing. We don’t need another streaming service. I can’t stand the idea of monthly subscriptions and automated payments that go unused or unchecked. During our time in Louisiana, we have had some aggressive savings/future goals and each month aim to increase our percentage from the previous month of what we are able to save/invest. Even at only $7.99 per month, something extra and unused doesn’t get us further along to our dreams.
Host BMC Coffee:
It has always been my intention to make our home a place of hospitality for our family and those among our community– no matter where that may be. As 2018 ended, I found myself mostly just worn out from the transition of school for the kids and me and realized I hadn’t done as much hosting or entertaining as I’d like. In 2019, hospitality will get renewed focus. The first event of this year was to host the coffee group I’m part of here with JRTC OPS Group: the wonderful ladies of BMC.
Paying Attention: Having friends and family into our home actually invigorates me. I enjoy cooking, cleaning, preparing, and then serving those who come to fellowship. This assignment has made it more difficult to do much “couples” entertaining with Ryan’s schedule but that’s okay. More game nights and more girls’ nights can be just as fun!
Write Out Rule of Life:
What’s a Rule of Life, you may be asking? I first heard of and learned about the Rule of Life from the C.S. Lewis Institute. You can read an overview here. I can unequivocally recommend Ruth Haley Barton’s Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation as an excellent resource on the matter. (By far my favorite book I read in 2018 as well!)
A Rule of Life is an intentional pattern of spiritual disciplines that provides structure and direction for growth in holiness. A Rule establishes a rhythm for life in which is helpful for being formed by the Spirit, a rhythm that reflects a love for God and respect for how he has made us. The disciplines which we build into our rhythm of life help us to shed the “old self” and allow our “new self” in Christ to be formed. Spiritual disciplines are means of grace by which God can nourish us.
Paying Attention: This way of thinking and pursing spiritual disciplines could not have come into my life at a better time. I have read up on it and continued studying about what exactly a Rule of life is for months. As I began this year, I wanted to reflect on what my own rhythms of grace might look like. I won’t share specifics of what I have included, but you essentially arrange what a day, week, month, quarter, and year might include in terms of personal practices that help you to grow spiritually.
January Blog Post:
So those were my January intentions and how I particularly paid attention to my life. Below I’ll include some noteworthy honorable mentions for the month.
- got on Tricare Prime where we are using on-post primary care for the first time in our military career– so far I love it and wonder why we didn’t do this earlier
- sports, sports, sports– we are almost to the finish line with Thomas’s high school basketball season and Mae’s softball season has started– we were living in an idyllic wonderland of un-busy during our homeschool years– I think we have seriously put about 4,000 miles on our vehicle driving all over the state but that’s just how you do when you are doing traditional school and extracurriculars
- I did a small amount of “fluffing” the nest– January is always a favorite month to clear out all of the Christmas decor and let the light shine in the house; we all spent time watching and practicing our best KonMari folding, I got some pillows and bookshelves for our living room/sitting area, and hung a meaningful sign above our bed– Ryan says he can live with ANYTHING but the cow
- I want to remember January as a month that felt hard at times because it felt long, dreary, and a little tiring. However, I also want to remember January as a month where I saw and felt nearly daily reminders of God’s continued faithfulness and goodness. I want to remember it as a month that was full of great experiences for our kids with school activities and friends, a month where Ryan was home a little more than usual, and a month where I was intentional with less scrolling and more face-to-face interaction.
What about you? How did your January stack up? Did you pay particular attention to anything meaningful in your life?