Ephesians 4:22-24 – Change the former way of life that was part of the person you once were, corrupted by deceitful desires. Instead, renew the thinking in your mind by the Spirit and clothe yourself with the new person created according to God’s image in justice and true holiness.
Are you a resolutions person?
Sometimes I have tried them. But repeatedly, I have discovered that by the first day that ends with a 0 in the month of January (or whatever month I try to start them), I have given up. I’ve ate sugar by the second day. It’s windy and cold and exercising outside is not appealing. I’m not a great sleeper and so getting up early in the morning when I’m sleeping best? It’s just not that simple.
Yet, like most people, I see things in my life that I want to change. Improve. Help me become the person God and I yearn to be. As I shared a couple weeks ago in 1% improvement, I am convinced that dramatically expecting to change everyone in one day or one week or one month just is not realistic or sustainable. Rather, I think it’s making small, little changes to our daily lives that can help move us towards the person that we dream of being. And the person God longs for you to be.
One of the challenges of figuring out life, I think, is fully understanding WHO God wants me to be. Well, or at least this is a constant struggle in my life. So much of our lives is defined by WHAT we do rather than WHO we are becoming. Now that I am officially the same age as the normal speed limit, my thoughts on this have shifted. As much as I have focused on WHAT I have done during my life, in this next stretch of life, WHO I am becoming is really far more important to me. Am I putting my energy into the most important things to me and where God sees me sharing my gifts and talents? How am I creating little legacies that will continue beyond me?
As much as I struggle with answering all these “big” questions, life still goes on. The sun still comes up and I still have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that I get to fill with what I think is most important. Even if I do not have all of these “big” questions answered, I still can include things in my daily life that are really significant and important. These are things that I know in the bottom of my heart are super important to me; no matter what. So today, I’m sharing some of the things that I try to incorporate into my life on a regular basis. They are important to me, help me care for the temple God has granted me and provide me a sense of keeping myself fit emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. I pray that some of these ideas may inspire you to incorporate into your days as well.
- Bookend the day with prayer.
Because I am a pastor, this would seem obvious. But this idea is not just for pastors. My lifeline to God is exactly the same as yours. Together, we can lift up those things we want to share with God. This is why bookending my day with prayer is SO. IMPORTANT.
Before I get out of bed in the morning, I say a little prayer. Literally, while I’m still laying in bed. It’s just a couple sentences long and super quick. I simply ask God to be with me all day long, to guide me as I make choices and to take God with me throughout the day. Please keep this simple. Easy. It does not take more than 30 or 60 seconds.
At the end of the day, the last thing I do, once again while in bed, is pray the Lord’s Prayer. I began this years and years ago when my Grandma Deaton asked me to pray it with her at the end of the day. It was right after my Grandpa Deaton had passed away. My Grandparents used to pray this prayer together every night. I know. How sweet is this? So, even though my Grandma Deaton has been dead for years, I still pray this. Please join me in praying it every single night. Let’s be prayer buddies.
- Practice gratitude daily.
I began this a couple years ago and continue to make this part of my morning devotion time. I write down three things that I am grateful for. Usually, it relates to something that happened the day before. Personally, I think writing this down is important. Yes, I could rattle three things off in my brain. But writing them down cements these thoughts more to my heart and mind. I am more aware of what these things mean to me when I take the few extra seconds and write them down.
Again, keep this super simple. These acts of gratitude do not have to be earth-shattering. Simple, easy but important ways you see yourself as blessed. As you write these down, I’m convinced you will begin to see more things to express gratitude for in your daily life.
- Drink more water.
This is something I have been working on and off with for years. Most days, I drink 60-80 ounces of water a day. Why is this important? Most often, we are not hungry but thirsty. I drink a lot of coffee (yep, that’s me) and I love hot peach tea in the winter and cold peach tea in the summer. But there is something about drinking good old fashioned water. Sometimes water becomes boring. I get it. Add fruit to it. I love water COLD. With ICE. And lots of it. For me, drinking water is one way I take care of the temple God has blessed me with.
- Move my body.
I know exercise offers lots of health benefits. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people who experiences all the endorphin rushes when I exercise. It just doesn’t happen for me. Nonetheless, I challenge myself to move my body every day. Again, keep it simple. Going for a walk is moving your body. If the weather is crappy outside, walk inside your residence. Yesterday, I ran outside in freezing cold weather. It was not fun. But I moved my body.
I’m at the stage where I have less life to live than I have already lived. I know that keeping myself active is increasingly important. I also do weight-bearing exercises every week; not to build big muscles, but for bone health, balance and stability.
Start small. Very small. Start with 10 minutes. Start with 2 lb. weights. While there are great classes available, if going someplace is not your jam, use online resources. There are a ton of them.
- Prioritize what you want to do today.
Truth? This is a major struggle for me. Each day, I make a list of what I would like to accomplish. Most often, it should probably be what I’d like to get done this week. Lately, I have been trying to pick the three most important things I want to do today and focus on these first. Anything else is a bonus.
Honestly, most often, we have time for the things that are most important to us … if we so choose. Sometimes, it means pushing ourselves to just do it and not procrastinate or think something is too hard. If it’s hard and/or a big project, just do one small step today. I get easily distracted and waste precious time doing things that aren’t important. Any suggestions in this area, I’m all ears. Yet, I keep challenging myself to be mindful about choosing what is most important TODAY.
- Eat one meal together with the people who live in your house.
Research says this over and over: if you want to communicate better with your family, eat a meal together. If you want to feel more connected with your loved ones, eat a meal together. Every. Single. Day.
For most families, eating three meals together is not realistic. So, pick one meal and make sure everyone knows this meal is a priority. Maybe it’s only 10 minutes. But it’s 10 minutes. Chose not to eat with the TV on and without phones. For the last number of years, Hubby Rick and I have eaten our middle-of-the-day meal together. We sit at our kitchen island. We don’t answer our phones. We talk. In Rick’s retirement, we have continued this time and now often eat dinner together as well. I feels wonderful to spend this time together.
What if you live alone? Yep, the struggle is real. Still create a special meal ritual at least once a day. Make sure you connect with someone every day. Create moments that are meaningful with people you love.
- Read regularly.
This has become super important to me. I love books but have not always made reading a priority. In the last few years, I have moved reading up on my priority list significantly. I usually have three books going at a time: one book related to the work I am doing; a fun book; and an audio book that I’m listening to in my car. For me, audio books have been a game-changer. I also know certain books I will want to actually read because I will jot down things while reading them. Most mornings, I spend time doing a devotion, journaling and praying. Reading is part of this ritual as well.
I push myself to read books that I would not normally pick up. The library is one of my best friends. I use it All. The. Time. At times, I have checked a book out from the library and then decided I wanted my own copy. I keep a running list of books to read and have a bunch available to me as well.
A couple years ago, I started keeping track of the books that I read. This provides a reference for later. And I use it. Some people use an online service for this like Goodreads. I’m old-fashioned and still like a handwritten account.
Maybe reading isn’t your jam. That’s OK. It’s not Rick’s either. What I encourage you to do is to be a life-long learner. I never want to stop learning and growing. I do not agree with everything I read and know every book is not for me. Sometimes, I do not finish a book. It is so interesting to discover new things. For me, reading is a way I do this. You do you and find your way.
Do I accomplish these things every single day? No. But most days, I prioritize these things. Can we do these things and still have a full-time job? Yes, if we choose to. It does require some planning though.
Every day, I try to think about how God wants me to use my life, time, gifts and talents for God’s kingdom. Some days, I do better than others. These are the little things I use to keep me emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally sharp. When I include these in my life, then I feel I am becoming the person God yearns for me to be.
What works for you? What things do you do most days to keep you in-line with God’s call in your life?
Holy God – I know that You have some important things that I can do for Your kingdom. Please challenge me to seek those things out and pursue them. Yet, may I also value taking care of myself emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally so I can be in a good spot to serve You and Your kingdom here on earth. Amen.
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