We’re well into a new year now, so I decided to spend some time reflecting on what’s working in my life right now…and what’s not…in hopes of sticking with the things that work, making changes to the things that don’t, and trying to make this year an exceptionally intentional one.
Here are some things that are working for me:
- Journaling: I’ve never been much of a journal-er. (Is that weird given the fact that I’m a writer?) But for the past few months, I’ve found a number of journaling resources to be extremely helpful in keeping me on track with certain habits and spiritual practices I’ve wanted to focus on. A few resources I’m loving are the Parent Who Prays journal to keep me praying intentionally for my kids each week, the Every Sacred Sunday Mass journal which has helped me become much more consistent at preparing for and reflecting on the Sunday Mass readings, and the Two As One devotional that my husband and I are doing together (this resource isn’t Catholic and we aren’t all the way through it for me to give my 100% Catholic approval stamp on it, but we are really enjoying it so far). I have some other journaling tips and great Catholic journaling resources to recommend, so stay tuned for an upcoming article on the topic in the National Catholic Register. (Sign up for my email list if you’re not already on it, so you don’t miss the feature when it comes out. Plus, there are a bunch of free resources for you there, too.)
- Consistent prayer routines: Have you ever found it hard to start a prayer habit? I’ve got an easy trick for you. Attach the prayer routine or habit you want to start to an activity that occurs consistently, pretty much every day. This has been helping me so much this year. Here are three examples: After the kids and I finish breakfast, we head over to their little altar table to sing one verse of a hymn or religious song, read a Scripture verse (we usually repeat the same one for several days until they’ve got it memorized), read a little about the life of the saint for that day, and do a short catechism lesson/question. The whole process takes 5-10 minutes, a good time-frame for toddlers. After dinner, my family and I sit down in the family room to pray together. We usually do a decade of the rosary or, if the little ones are really fading, the St. Michael the Archangel prayer + the Guardian Angel prayer + intentions and prayers of thanksgiving. Finally, after the kids go to sleep, I immediately do my personal prayer time – usually some Bible reading and Lectio Divina (check out the Lectio series on Prayer at FORMED.org – so good) + spiritual reading (right now it’s The Power of Silence) + the daily examen. All of these simple prayer practices are attached to a reoccurring activity – breakfast, dinner, bedtime… In other words, I don’t just have a goal that prayer will happen that day, but I already know, right when I get up each day, exactly when it will happen; otherwise, it just doesn’t.
- This quote:
Perfect motivation as we continue striving for holiness and trying to reach our goals as the year goes on, right?
And here’s what is not working for me so far this year:
- Being in control: Over the past several months, the Lord has taught me a great deal about surrender, but I still have so much to learn. Some recent health issues have left me needing help from others and slowing down a lot more than I’d like, which has been humbling and challenging for my driven, “I can do it all” personality type. But the reality is I can’t do it all, even under the best circumstances. None of us can. Becoming a saint is far less about what we can do and a lot more about what God is doing in and through us. Often times, the most productive and proactive thing we can do in our spiritual lives is to surrender to God and to His will for us, letting Him take the reins and responding to His grace accordingly. I need a lot more of John the Baptist ringing in my ears these days – “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
- Resolutions: Vague New Year resolutions aren’t cutting it for me anymore. Resolutions can be a little broad, immeasurable, and hard to accomplish because of their lack of specificity, intrigue, and practical application. Rather, I’m focusing on monthly goals this year to give me the chance to regularly check my progress on specific things I want to achieve or areas in which I want to grow AND I get a restart every 30-ish days if I find that I’ve been lagging behind. I’m using this goal setting method/template for spiritual goals and tucking them into my Blessed Is She planner (one of my favorite Christmas gifts!), where I also write a few non-faith-related monthly/weekly goals.
So, what’s working/not working for you this year?