Tag Archive | New Year goals

New Year’s Resolutions

A Conversation with Abbey

Well, Abbey, it’s already January 2, 2012, and time to continue our conversation from last week about the changes in our lives in 2011, and New Year’s Resolutions for 2012.

I’ve been thinking a lot about whether or not to make any New Year’s Resolutions this year, and I don’t think I will. I don’t like the whole idea of New Year’s Resolutions. It reminds me of Lent – giving up something I really like, you know, like sneaking food off the kitchen counter. Giving up that is giving up one of the special joys in life.

New Year’s Resolutions can be about more than just giving something up, Abbey. Think about something that would make your life better, and think about what could you do all by yourself to make that happen. You know what the ten most popular new year’s resolutions are according to About.com?

  1. Spend more time with family and friends.
  2. Fit in fitness.
  3. Tame the bulge.
  4. Quit smoking.
  5. Enjoy life more.
  6. Quit drinking.
  7. Get out of debt.
  8. Learn something new.
  9. Help others.
  10. Get organized.

Okay. I choose number 5. I’m going to enjoy life more this year. Kitchen counter, beware!

Oh, Abbey. It’s fine to enjoy life more, as long as it’s not at the expense of someone else. You know how it upsets Mim when you take food off the counter.

You’re right. How about if I let the Grandmas sneak food to me. They love to do that, so that’s helping others as well as increasing the amount of joy in my life. How about you. Did you make any new year’s resolutions this year?

Yes. I made a couple. My first one is number 10 on the above list – to get organized. I know you think of me as pretty organized, and I am quite organized in lots of things. But keeping my office picked up is always on the bottom of my to-do list, and I seldom get that far on my list. I only get to it when my office is so cluttered I can’t work. This year, I’m making it a priority to clean up my office every Saturday, so I have a fresh start for the new week.

That’s a good one. Last night I could hardly find a spot to lie down near the patio door.

That should cease to be a problem in 2012.

You know, now that we’re talking seriously about some changes we’d like to make in our lives, there’s something else I’ve been thinking about. You talk a lot about going away on retreat to have some quiet time to reflect on the meaning of your life, about God, and about other things. I’ve never done that. I think I’d like to try it. Can I go to Whispering Winds sometime with you to experience a personal retreat? It’s hard to pray and meditate at home, without being distracted by something. Like last night, I was lying on the floor in the kitchen, thinking about this conversation we would be having this morning, but then I looked up and saw one of the grandmas sitting all by herself in her chair in the living room. I knew she needed to have me close to her, so I went over to her and sat next to her so she could pet me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I really liked doing that. But it distracted me from thinking about God-things.

Normally, we don’t allow dogs at Whispering Winds, but I think we could make an exception for you, considering the circumstances. I could let you stay in my room at Whispering Winds, so guests with allergies wouldn’t have problems. I’m glad you’re thinking about how important it is to have time to be still, away from distractions, to listen to God. Maybe your New Year’s Resolution could be to go to Whispering Winds for a day or two each quarter throughout the year.

That’s great. How about starting this Wednesday! I can hardly wait for some quiet time.

I’ll have to check the calendar, but I think that will work out okay.

By the way, speaking of finding time to listen to God, I also made a resolution related to that for 2012. You know how I read the book, Jesus Calling, almost every day last year. This year I’ve chosen another book to read every day. It’s called A Year with Jesus by Eugene H. Peterson. He’s the author of The Message, that very down-to-earth paraphrase of the Bible.  The foreword to the book begins with this paragraph.

The goal of spending a year with Jesus is to learn how to pray. Our prayers do not start with us. They start with Jesus. Before we ever open our mouths in prayer, Jesus is praying for us. Despite much talk to the contrary, there are no secrets to living the Christian life. No prerequisite attitudes. No conditions more or less favorable to pursuing the Way. Anyone can do this, from any place, starting at any time. But it is only possible through prayer. We can only pray our lives into the way of following Jesus.

I expect this book will be as helpful to me this year as Jesus Calling was last year.

That sounds good. So now we both have New Year’s Resolutions for 2012. Let the year begin!

A Year-End Conversation with My Dog, Abbey

[Copied from my first blog. Originally posted on December 26, 2011.]

So, Abbey, as you look back over 2011, have there been any significant changes in your life?

     I guess the most significant change in my life is that I’ve changed my attitude toward sneaking out for a walk. I know it makes you and Mim worry whenever I go out by myself, so I decided I don’t need to worry you. I can be just as happy inside with my Grandmas petting me as I can be outside following Gary Gopher’s scent to yet another gopher hole. Occasionally I lapse back into my old attitude and slip out the door, but not very often. How about you? Did you make any changes in your life in 2011?

     Well, yes, I did. I tried to make one significant change on January 1, 2011. I committed to read and write every day in the journaling version of the Jesus Calling devotional book by Sarah Young.

Were you successful? Did you read and write every day? And, did it make any difference in your life?

To answer your last question first, I’d say yes. The common theme of the daily devotions in Jesus Calling is to be constantly aware that God loves me and is right beside me every day. To be reminded of Jesus being right there to help me with whatever comes my way every single day was very helpful in increasing my awareness of God’s presence with me. It’s definitely an attitude changer. In answer to your other question, did I read and write every single day? Not quite. A few days I couldn’t get to it early in the morning, and sometimes I got to it later in the day, sometimes I didn’t. I also got tired of writing my thoughts in response to the reading for the day. I probably won’t do a journaling devotional again. But I’ll definitely commit to reading from another daily devotional book next year.

I sometimes wish I could read, especially when I see you and Mim get so excited about something you’re reading. But I guess God has given us different gifts. You don’t get to sit next to your favorite people and feel them petting you in silence for hours at a time.

I sometimes wish I could just sit still for a long time like you, but there seem to always be things I need to do. One of the new things I started doing in 2011 is playing the piano for the women’s worship service in the County Jail. In February I started playing the piano in jail twice a month. Last week when I was there, we had to wait about 15 minutes after the service was over before a guard came to escort the women back to their cell block. While we were waiting one of the women asked me if I knew the song, “Dona Nobis Pacem.” I said that I’d heard it, but I didn’t have the music for it. I suggested that we go to the piano together and I’d try to pick it out with her singing it. After we did that song, other women joined us and a spontaneous Christmas Carol Sing-along broke out. It was so much fun!

That sounds like fun. I wish I could have gone with you. I bet some of those women would have liked to pet me. We work together pretty well. Why don’t you ask the chaplain if I can come along next time?

     I don’t think that would be approved, Abbey. They’re pretty strict in the jail. I have a hard enough time getting a songbook past the guards. I’m sure I couldn’t bring a dog along. But you’re right, we do work together well. This blog is a perfect example of that. I started writing this blog in April. That’s one of the best new things I did in 2011. I have fun writing almost every Monday morning to share some reflections with all the friends of Whispering Winds Retreat Haven. But occasionally, I have a hard time figuring out what to write about. And without fail, whenever that happens, you jump right in and help me write it. Thanks, Abbey, I really appreciate your help.

     You’re welcome. I like to write, too. That’s one of my favorite new things of 2011. Do you think we should start any new things in 2012?

     I have a suggestion for you, Abbey. How would you like to commit to not stealing any more food off the kitchen counter? That kringle you stole from the counter yesterday was not good for you, and Mim and I and the Grandmas really wanted to eat it ourselves. We would have given you a taste. Why did you take the whole thing?

     Oh, was that kringle ever good! I couldn’t really help myself. Once I took the first bite, I knew I had to eat it all. I’m not sure I’m really sorry that I did it. I am sorry that there wasn’t any more for you, but I’m really glad I got to eat it, too. I’m not sure about making any New Year’s resolutions about something like that.

     Well, you have a few days before New Year’s Day. Just think about it… And, thanks again for your help in writing this blog.

You’re welcome. My pleasure. I’m glad we had this little talk. It’s good to think back over last year to think about the changes we’ve made in our lives. Maybe we should have another talk about things we might want do do next year. I’ll start thinking about that.

2 comments (0 new) | Add a New Comment
1. Diane Iverson | December 26, 2011 at 03:59 PM EST [ delete ]

What a great blog reminding us how special our nonhuman friends are to us! Abbey sounds alot like a dog we once had – his name was Toma and we got him as a puppy and he lived to be 18 1/2 years old. Toma got into everything, especially food, and after Toma was gone, I vowed that all dogs we adopted would have to be adult dogs and not puppies, who are much more mischiveous. Happy New Year to you both and Mim too. See you at church, Diane

2. Beth Mickelson | December 27, 2011 at 02:47 PM EST [ delete ]


This is such a wonderful \”end of the year\” blog. Your blogs have meant so much and I continue to get such pleasure in reading them. Thank you so much for this gift. You have a God given talent in your desire and ability to write so very well. I will continue to look forward to you stories and thoughts in 2012.

A New Year – A New Blog

One of my goals for 2011 was to start a blog on the Whispering Winds website. Last April, I started a blog the easiest way I knew how, by using the blog add-on in Network Solutions’ website builder, the “easy-to-use” tool I had originally used to build my website. The blog worked, but not very well. My experience with using this very basic blogging software prompted me to set another goal – to come up with a better blogging solution before the end of 2011. With just a few days left in the year, I decided to jump into WordPress, a highly recommended blogging service.

This is it. I’m learning by trial and error, so I’m sure the appearance and functionality of the blog will change as I learn what I’m doing. If anyone has tips that might shorten my learning curve, please share them with me.

Meanwhile, here goes…