New Year’s Resolutions?

New Year’s Day has come again, like it does every year. New Year’s has come to mean a time to reflect on the previous year and make plans for the new one. We have come to call these plans, resolutions. However, when I looked up the word in the dictionary, (remember I told you I was a word lover) it has little to do with plans. Here is the dictionary definition:

Resolution: the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc.: the act of resolving something: an answer or solution to something

You may think these plans are an answer to some problem in your life. Or you may simple be resolving to do something in the New Year. But so many times those resolutions are forgotten by the end of January. If you have this problem (and I freely confess, I have it), then why not try something new. Why not try setting Goals instead of Resolutions. A goal, by its very definition, is a process that requires effort be put into it.

Goal:  the end toward which effort is directed: something that you are trying to do or achieve

If you use the acronym SMART in connection with your goal, you might end 2014 saying, ‘I have accomplished … (insert here your desire for 2014).’ SMART means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. By applying these principles to your goal for 2014, your goal is refined and quantified. Instead of saying ‘I want to lose weight,’ SMART says, I will lose 20 pounds by the end of the year by joining a gym, going on a diet, etc. This goal incorporates SMART. (Here is a link to get you started.)

To help you stay on track with your goal, you should break your larger goal into smaller goals that also follow SMART. For example, I will lose 2 pounds every month by walking one mile every day. (I would urge you that if losing weight is your goal, PLEASE do this in a safe and healthy manner.) These small goals help you achieve the larger goal but are easier to handle. When I was a child, we listened to Patch the Pirate. In one of his Character Building Dramatizations was this song. ‘Little by little/Inch by Inch/By the yard it’s hard/By the inch what a cinch.’ This is exactly what those smaller goals accomplish. It is easier to stick to something small than a large project. If you don’t believe me, remember your broken resolutions.

Why am I going on and on ad nauseum about goals and resolutions? I am also trying this new approach this year. A couple of years ago, I made a trial run with this approach. My hobby is knitting and in 2012, I made a plan that I would knit one item off my personal wish list each month. I came very close to accomplishing my goal. I ended up making 10 ½ items off my wish list. Did I accomplish my entire goal? No, but I did more than if I had just stated I wanted to knit off my wish list in 2012.

One of the parts of setting goals is putting them down on paper. You may say I do not have time to write things out on paper. Here is my suggestion. Think about it for a few days. Really mull it over when you have a few moments to yourself. Then when you put it down on paper it will take no time at all.

Once you have your goals on paper, put it somewhere where you can refer to it during the year. If you lose paper easily, put it on your computer, tablet or phone. Just somewhere you will see it from time to time. If you think you may need someone to keep you accountable, find a person and give them a copy of your goals. Let them know they have permission to check with you from time to time to see where you are. (Just don’t give it to someone who will nag you. That will make sure you never accomplish your goals.)

Now every so often look at those goals. How are you doing? Where do you need work? Are you reaching your smaller goals? Does a goal need to be changed because of circumstance? (Really if you have broken your leg, how can you join a gym to lose weight?) If you have an accountability partner, talk these goals over with them.

Goals are necessary for life. Without a dream to follow, many people become overwhelmed and depressed. A goal gives us something for which to live. As Hebrews says,

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Jesus who is our ultimate Example had goals as well. He knew the prize He was trying to attain and endure much to attain it. We should strive to please Him with our goals and seek to emulate Him by making and sticking to those goals. He did not turn back at the first sign of an obstacle. Let us do the same.

As for me, I am off to take my own advice. I would be interested to know if anyone wants to join me on this adventure in 2014. If so contact me by email at servingsingle’at’gmail’dot’com.

At the end of the year, we will take time to look back and see if we have met our goals or not.

Christmas – ‘Home Alone’? Or ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’?

Christmas can be a lonely time for a single person. Usually they are away from family or even have no family. So far this blog has been concentrating on ways to spend the holidays and tackle that loneliness issue. However, someone recently reminded me that sometimes after the hustle of the Christmas programs and special dinners, a day alone is a restful thing.

Photo Credit: jamescharlick via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: jamescharlick via Compfight cc

Another friend told me recently that one of the best Christmases she had was when everyone forgot to invite her to Christmas dinner and she spend Christmas night at the airport. She took her Bible and some gospel tracts and spent time with the people who had no choice about spending time away from family. She said that the time spent in prayer and Bible reading fed her soul and the people working at the airport appreciated the company. She was able to witness to a few of them. She turned what could have a time of pity me into a ‘best Christmas ever’ memory.

Sometimes being home alone on Christmas can be a good thing. It can allow us to reflect on what Christmas truly means. I think of how Jesus must have felt. He came to Earth to do His Father’s will, but He was the only one who understood His purpose. Even His own family rejected Him. His parents were upset when He was caught teaching in the Temple. His half-brothers and sisters rejected His divinity until after His death and resurrection. His disciples deserted Him when He needed friends the most. However, He continued with His mission, to save the souls of men. It must have been very lonely at times but when He had time to Himself, He always sought to spend that time with His Heavenly Father. We can learn from His example. You know that old saying, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’? Well, when life gives you alone times, seek to use it in a manner that would glorify God.

Alone time can also be a time of renewal and refreshing. Many times in the Bible,we are admonished to seek time alone with God. Many of the heroes of the Faith were refreshed and renewed by alone time with God. Sometimes God had to shake them out of a pity party (I’m looking at you Elijah and Jonah) but time alone with God was instructive and refreshing. It gave the prophet, teacher, king, priest, and even the Savior a renewed sense of purpose and commitment. Elijah picked himself up and continued with his work and even Jonah eventually saw what God was doing in his life.

As to the title of this post, the kid in ‘Home Alone’ eventually got his family back and the hero in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ learned that no man is an island, no matter how isolated they feel. And yes, I firmly believe in happy endings. Only our idea of a happy ending and God’s idea of a happy ending sometimes differ. We look for everything to turn up rosy and God looks for the best ending, which is not always rosy. IMG_0457

So whether you are having a Home Alone experience or are feeling isolated this Christmas, remember God is walking with you and you are never alone. Use this time to get to know your Heavenly Father better.

Sharing Traditions

This week my mother, Kathy, is my guest blogger. She is a missionary in Africa. As you will see, she taught me well.

As a single person you are out on your own. Working at a job. Doing things for yourself.  However, when the holidays come, what do you do? Well you could sit around and mope, get depressed and think of yourself only. On the other hand you could reach out and share your time with others.IMG_0391

Everyone has traditions they have grown up with. When and how to decorate the tree and house. Special cookies, cakes, or candies that are made or bought. There is no reason one could not continue these traditions. If you cannot be with your own family,  I am sure there are others in the same situation as yourself. Reach out and invite friends over to make those special baked goods. If you can’t cook, then invite them to help decorate your tree or home. Make a little festive party of it, put on Christmas music, get out the chips and dip, have fun. Get out of yourself and think of others at this time. Make some new traditions or celebrate with the old ones. You could always volunteer to help some couple by watching kids while they shop for gifts, or help out in a shelter or soup kitchen.

Reaching out is what Christ did for us. He reached all the way to earth from heaven to save and help us to the point of dying for our sins. He is the reason for the season. Make a new tradition of thinking of others at this holiday season. Let us forget self and reach out to those who have need of a friend.

“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”Philippians 2:4

In Celebrating, We Forget to Celebrate

My sister is once again a guest blogger.

The Christmas greetings were mailed the day after Thanksgiving. Cookies are baked with dough made a month ahead. Gifts for all the principal people in your life were purchased and wrapped by June, carefully tucked away, and you remember where they were hidden. You had the menu, guest list and decorations planned for all your Yuletide events almost as soon as the bells finished ringing in the New Year. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day you have little else to do but enjoy your family, share the Christmas cheer with your grumpy neighbor, and watch reruns of It’s a Wonderful Life. If you are human, your holiday season is nothing like this fairytale!


Photo Credit: kevin dooley via Compfight cc

Christmas has become a contest. Not between you and your neighbor, but between you and the home magazines, the Pinterest boards, the party planner books, and even the holiday portraits of how we think Christmas should look. We attempt to satisfy our vision or perception of how Christmas should look, feel, taste, and smell like, but still feel empty and disappointed. We have fooled our senses into thinking that unless Christmas smells like peppermint, tastes like fudge, feels like fur, and looks like freshly fallen snow, Christmas never really came. Unfulfilled expectations cause depression and self-hate that spills over into our relationships with others.

We like to over complicate things. We make to-do lists and to-get lists and to-make lists, then we check them more than twice. We feel like we have to perform or die! We must have a party. We must have piles of treats for all those people who might drop in. We must have hot cocoa with tiny gingerbread houses perched on the lip of each mug above the sea of snowflake-shaped marshmallows. We must watch a “Christmas” movie every night in December. Then, we must not forget to buy trinkets for the baker, barber, banker, butler, butcher, dentist, doctor, dog trainer, financial adviser, fish monger, manicurist, mail carrier, museum curator, massage therapist, psychotherapist, physiotherapist, pet therapist and waste management personnel. See what I mean by overcomplicated?

IMG_0389Simplify and save yourself a great deal of disappointment and heartache. Why do we, as Christians, celebrate Christmas? Compared with the world, we have the Greatest Gift and Bringer of LASTING Joy to celebrate! Focus on the simple gift of life that God gave us in His Only-begotten Son, Jesus. Not only His Son, but also each breath we take is a gift from God. Make the few years we have here on earth matter and spend the time with those you love.

So turn your Pinterest brain off and find joy in the simple things this year, and celebrate the life God has given you!

The Giving of Thanks

Today’s post is written by my sister, Rebekah. Her unique perspective on Thanksgiving is an encouragement to me. I think it will be a blessing to you as well.

There cannot be enough said about our generation’s lack of thankfulness. We cannot be reminded too many times of the gratitude we owe our Savior for what He has done and is doing for us. There are not enough articles on how to teach our children how to say “Thank you!” and mean it. All of these things need to be written about, but this article is about none of these. I want to share with you my journey to a thankful heart.

I began a tradition my junior year of college around Thanksgiving time. I had lived on campus since the summer before my freshman year and through all the summers in between! Like most college students at the beginning of the Holidays, I was severely homesick. I wanted to hang out with my best friend, my mother. The thoughts of all the things my mother has taught me; all she has done for me; and her enduring love, patience and friendship; flooded my mind. In a few moments, I opened a new email message and began my first gift of thanks. Then the following week I wrote one to my daddy.

We usually think of giving gifts at Christmas time but every year around Thanksgiving time I wrap a gift of thankfulness. I choose a person that has influenced me greatly and write them a thank you letter. With many tears of gratitude, I write a note of appreciation for what they have done and what they are to me. This gives back by reminding me of the love and friendships I may have taken for granted over the years. It reminds me that life is short and the person you are thankful for today may not be here tomorrow!

Photo Credit: Love is the key via Compfight cc

This year I have chosen to thank my siblings for the impact they have had on my life. My sister, Dawne Hart, invited me to right a piece on giving thanks for her new blog. Little did she know that I would be giving her a gift of thanks on her own blog for the entire world to see!

This year give a gift of gratitude to those who mean the most to you!


Thank you for being my sister. Some would say you did not have a choice, but you could have chosen to push me away and not love, teach, and endure the millions of questions I would ask you every night before we would go to sleep. You are smart – you were the “Google Search” of my childhood. Now that I have Google and Pinterest, I don’t bug you quite as often!

You are an amazing woman with a caring heart, an awesome talent, and an immense inner strength. We have always teased you about panicking at times, but you have the fortitude to endure difficulties and hardships. You have dealt with less than ideal circumstances without complaint. Thank you for encouraging me to endure the hardships I face in my life.

Your relationship with God is an inspiration to me. You have followed the Lord’s calling through many mountains and valleys. You have kept your commitment to God for many years and continue to do the work He has called you to with dedication rarely seen in our generation. Thank you for doing what you know is right and providing an example to me.

Thank you for the French braids, the manicures, the knitting help, the piano lessons, the clothing advice, the knitted treasures, and the long conversations while N was deployed. Thank you for the colorful knitted socks you made for me to cheer me and keep my feet warm after I broke my back. I am still wearing them SIX years later! God made you the sister He knew I needed.

I am proud to call you my Sister.

Your Inquisitive Little Sister,


Creating Traditions

It’s that time of year again. You know the one I mean. The holidays! Just today I was preparing a shipment for my sister’s family in the States. A Christmas shipment filled with presents for the nephew and nieces. If I don’t send it now, it might not make it in time for Christmas day. In fact, it may already be too late. We will have to see!

Such emphasis is placed on Thanksgiving and Christmas and being with family. This emphasis makes it hard for those of us who are single and away from family. My least favorite Christmas song is ‘I’ll have a Blue Christmas’ and I LOVE Christmas songs. However, every time it comes on, I skip to the next song.

So what can we do for the Holiday Blues? (That sounds like it should be a song. A 1940’s song with a swing rhythm. Hmmm, that is an idea!)

How about creating your own traditions? One’s that take your focus off yourself and put it on someone or something else.

My brother inspired this blog post. He is a former soldier with at least two tours overseas and lives in a part of the US that is far from family. When I talked to him a short time ago I asked him, ‘What are you doing for Thanksgiving?’ He proceeded to tell me.

He will be following a tradition our family has had for many years.

This tradition started when my parents were in college. They invited single college students with no place to go for Thanksgiving. This tradition continued when we left for Portugal as missionaries. In Portugal we took in soldiers from a local air base, basketball players in a foreign country, British ex-pats, other American missionaries and anyone who needed the closeness of family.

My brother is following that tradition by starting his own.He will be inviting friends who have no family close, have no family or cannot travel to visit family. He will be creating his own ‘family’ for Thanksgiving.


Photo Credit: knitting iris via Compfight cc

The holidays are hard for single people. Usually they are away from family and have no way to get home for the holidays. Their thoughts turn inward. ‘I am away from home.’ ‘I have no family around me.’ ‘I am by myself during the holidays.’ ‘Poor me!’ Instead, why not say, ‘That person has no family or friends and is alone on Thanksgiving (or other holiday), I will help him be less lonely on the holiday.’

If you are living in a foreign country, at least share the spirit of thankfulness. You never know who you can touch. This year, my co-workers and I are sharing our holiday with our church. We have made it a time of remembrance and thanksgiving for what the Lord has done this year.

Is this to say my brother and I are perfect and never get lonely on Thanksgiving or any other holiday? NO WAY! We are still people and people are people as the saying goes. We still feel the lack of our loved ones, but our focus is not on what we cannot have. Our focus is on what we can do for others. Having this view point takes courage and fortitude. It takes courage to turn your focus outward and fortitude to keep it outward.

So … what are you doing for Thanksgiving? What traditions are you starting? Where will your focus be during this holiday season? Remember God has placed you where you are for a specific purpose. There are people around you who need YOU! When you feel lonely or depressed at the lack of family, look around. With whom can you spend your holidays?