Do you make New Year’s resolutions?

I never know the right age to divulge more information to the girls. Should I just say yes because they’re going to do it in school or should I really say what I think and practice? And most importantly, will my truth result in an email from a teacher who thinks I’m the craziest parent ever when one of my girls repeats something I’ve said?

I do not understand New Year’s resolutions. Once you’re a grownup, when you realize you need to do something differently you need to do something differently. Starting right then. Combine that with the fact that we abandon 80% of resolutions within 30 days, and I think we can deduce that the vast majority of the time the vast majority of us just don’t want to do the hard work to do or be better.

I found myself admitting to Audrey that I do not make New Year’s resolutions. However, I do end each year and begin each year by reflecting on three things:

(1) What are the ways that the past year’s word were fulfilled in my life?

(2) What is my word for the coming year?

(3) Is my list still good or do I need to make changes or additions?

I have a word each year. A point of focus that I talk to God about, journal about, research, look for signs of, speak out loud, and expect to make progress in. In the past few years, my words have been things like fruit and promise and I can easily name how God showed up in my life in those years in those ways. So my words are also a way to practice and stir up my faith. Because I don’t always feel so faith-filled, and maybe more often than not am a bit of a doubting Thomas.

My word for the coming year is freedom. Among dozens of other things on the topic of freedom, the Bible says we are called to freedom and that God responds to us and sets us free. There’s also the obvious the truth shall set us free. But the one nugget I like the most (so far) is that we are not to let ourselves be burdened again or to let go of our freedom. That implies that we already have freedom – and yet I don’t feel very free in several areas of my life. Perhaps this year will bring freedom from some negative thought patterns or the expectations of others, or maybe it will bring greater freedom in my mind and heart to dream bigger or simply to be silly more. It’s only day 2 and the possibilities are endless.

And then there’s my list. The list of things that I want to be true for Ella, Audrey and I. I started it long ago in my phone and it helps center my thoughts and prayers for us – and as we all get older and the world gets bigger, new things get added to the list. The old faithfuls are that we are healthy physically and spiritually and mentally, and that we are full of hope, givers of grace, brave. As we got further into the teen and tween years I made additions like we embrace helpers and help, we enjoy school and work, we are safe and trustworthy friends, and we make good choices. And now this year, as Ella in particular has big decisions coming up, that we seek God’s plan for us, that we are not enticed by distractions, that we are honest with ourselves.

I do have two constant resolutions: to put my girls first in all things and to be the best Mom I can be. On days when the house is tense because we’re all arguing about curfews or the length of shirts or how it’s OK to need help, I don’t feel like I’m doing a very good job. One of the things I need to be free of is the in-the-moment worry that their anger with me means they’ll act out or hate me. It’s on those days that the list reminds me of what’s really important and all the ways that things are going right.

Our friend Abby took this photo of us a month or so ago. It’s one of my reminders that we can go from happy to mad to playful to dessert at The Cheesecake Factory all within about a 2 hour time period.

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