New Year’s Goal of Changing the Narrative

Watched any news cycles lately? If so, have you heard the phrase, “Changing the narrative” or “change the narrative”? My guess is that you probably have heard that phrase more than once! As 2018 came to a close, I began to think about what my goal for the New Year would be. With “changing the narrative” freshly on my mind (thanks to ALL the various news guests who love to use this phrase), I began to wonder if a New Year’s goal of changing the narrative would be worthy of giving serious effort towards accomplishing.

Let me explain.

2018 was a bit rough for me. I found myself questioning a LOT about my lot in life. We faced numerous obstacles with our children. I turned away from potential career opportunities because they just didn’t sit well in my gut. I realized that I could not keep my children and husband a priority in my life if I pursued these things. I have to admit that my narrative for most of the year was filled with a big old case of the blah’s. I thought, “Well, if the kids weren’t so hard or if I didn’t have to worry about that or if our financial situation was different or if people would just see that for what it is…then I would be able to do this or that or the world would change…or…” Needless to say, I’m thankful that it is a new year.

Over the Christmas break, I took time away from work to spend with my family. During this time, I was smacked with the reality that my own perception and narrative needed to change. What the Lord impressed upon my heart is that the only way to truly change the narrative in our lives is to fully embrace changing it within our own hearts and minds. It isn’t about seeking others to change their narratives. Sure, we can lobby for that. We can advocate for changing the tone to which we disagree. However, in order to create change, perhaps, we must start from within. My goal for this New Year is to do just that.

I know I have other goals to work on in 2019. I need to eat better, exercise more and focus on a few projects that I have in the works. I need to spend more time being present, in the moment, and less time on social media (which is funny because I’m blogging right now). However, the most important goal I hope to achieve is changing the narrative to which I function on a daily basis – especially when it comes to frustrations at home, at work and in my every day life.

It is with a big lump in my throat that I read, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

With a guilty conscience, I read, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

It is with a twinge of hope-filled remembrance, I embrace, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

As this first month of 2019 is drawing to a close, I realize I have already failed at this goal of changing the narrative. I slipped back into the cynicism that can create a false sense of coping. However, I have had a few successful moments of changing my narrative as well.

It has become a daily ritual that starts out in the quiet of the morning before the kids are awake. I refocus on how I want to respond to my kids or whatever else comes up in the day. I remind myself of the important things that I need to focus on – not the ones that drain me or cause contempt in my heart. I am beginning each day with a self-pep-talk of shifting my internal conversation from defensive to offensive. I am consciously choosing to say, “I love you” more often and at unexpected times. I am choosing to never forget that Jesus loves me no matter my circumstances or when I’m at my best or worst.

Keeping all of this in mind, my New Year’s goal of changing the narrative of my life is one that I believe will change me.

“As someone who thinks within himself, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7)

What are your goals for 2019? Do you think a New Year’s goal of changing the narrative would help you? I’d love to hear your feedback. Post a comment!

P.S. Here is a pic of us as we celebrated the New Year!

What are you eating?

Image:  www.latoro.com
Image: www.latoro.com

After feeling a little distracted by the busyness of life, and after the nudge from a friend, I decided to re-read the book of John.  I have read this particular book in the Bible before, but this time I was reading with the intent of focusing on the words of Christ.

Highlighting my way through it, I read the words:

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” – John 4:34

I continued to read, but decided to go back and take another look at this statement. I have never noticed it before, or maybe, it has not caused me to pause like it did this time.  Several days later, I find myself thinking about these words.  At the same time, I think about the emphasis put on food in our society.

We are either complaining because we ate too much, or complaining because we are hungry.  We either choose to spend way too much on overpriced meals at restaurants, or we spend a few dollars on “non-food” food because it is quick and cheap.

We worry about our food, talk about it often, and plan our days around the meals we eat.  We question if it is organic, or even close to being organic.  What about gluten-free or dairy-free or high fructose corn syrup free?  Does it have GMO’s or additives, or whatever else mankind has introduced to our crops?  What should be fixed for dinner?  Did the kids get enough in their lunch boxes?

We celebrate with food.  We comfort with food, we grieve with food, and we show love to strangers with warm meals.  We compare recipes, plan meals, and sometimes spend all day over a hot stove.  We share news about where to find good meals in town.  We even judge each other based on the food we eat or refuse to eat.  Sometimes, we even have a love/hate relationship with it.  Yet…

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” – John 4:34

The nutrient rich Word provides us directions and insight into life that no menu could provide.  It gives us the recipe for this faith-walk.  It possesses the ingredients of mercy, justice, love, forgiveness, humility, and accountability.

Could it be that the food of our Savior is the very same desire that we should be waking up to every day?

The fullness of a life lived with deep intention to do the will of the Lord, is far greater than one lived with the self-leading desires that often leave us empty and hungry. To emerge onto each new day enamored with the Lord, and the intensity of a life lived with the challenge to fulfill His works is enough, actually more than enough, to feed the soul.

I have asked myself, “Am I really desiring to do the will of God, or am I just wanting Him to fulfill His will according to my desires?”  There have been times in the recent months that I have been angry over decisions and situations, even though, I prayed for God’s will to occur.  I have had to face the realization that my will did not equate the Lord’s will.  I wanted something to happen, and when it did not, I felt starved and dissatisfied.  Yet,

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” – John 4:34

After reading this particular verse, I have looked at the food I’ve eaten these last few days through a different set of lenses.  While I enjoy good food, (and some junk food in between), what Jesus said has played over and over again in my mind.  I have been reminded that the food I eat may sustain my body, but the only source of nutrients that will sustain me is the keeper of my soul, the weaver of my dreams, the One who quenches my desires, and the source of my substance.

The only thing that feeds my heart is waking up knowing that each day is one day closer to meeting my Father in Heaven, and one more day to choose to seek His will and His works.

My diet plan for 2014 is to engage each day with the hunger for doing the Lord’s work, and abiding by His will, not mine.  I suspect this is a life-long challenge…sort of like dieting, and eating healthy.  We may fail miserably one day, but the next, we purposefully seek out the life-sustaining energy that comes from the conscious decision to listen to the One who feeds our souls.

What diet are you on, friend?  What are you eating?

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” – John 4:34

The Blessing Jar

photo (48)I’m not real good at making or keeping New Year’s Resolutions.  I have a few “to-do” items that I need to accomplish this year, but to say they are resolutions is a stretch.  Regardless of the New Year, the items on my list will need to get done for the betterment of my home and health.

Before the New Year came upon us, my son approached me after school, pulled some change out of his pocket, and said, “Mommy, I want to give this to people without money.”  I was happily surprised by this statement.  We have talked from time to time about how blessed we are to have a home, family, food, and other things, and have done some random acts of kindness with the kids on weekends, but I have never tried to guilt-trip my children about the luxuries they have in life.  I strive to balance the desire to raise socially conscious children who are aware of the plights of others, while also keeping in perspective the fact that kids just need to be kids and do not need to worry about all of the hardship in life.

My son’s statement became a teachable moment for a discussion on how to help people who are impoverished.  Mutually, we decided that instead of giving the change right away, we would put it in a jar and start collecting money.  The next day, as promised, I went to a local store, bought a jar, and brought it home to show the kids.  We brainstormed on a few ideas to call the jar.  My son suggested “The People Who Don’t Have Any Money Jar.”  While I told him that was a fantastic suggestion, I felt that maybe the name was a little too long!

I told him that the purpose behind the jar was to save money for the year, and then be able to be a blessing to someone else.  He asked, “What’s a blessing?”  I did my best to explain the complex definition of a blessing.  I said, “A blessing is something that is good and kind that someone does for us, or that we can do for someone else.”  I also explained that God gives us many blessings, and that he and his sister are blessed gifts from the Lord for mommy and daddy.

We decided that the jar would be called the “Blessing Jar”.  From that moment, both of the kids have been scouring the floors of stores, parking lots, and just about anywhere else they can find coins, in hopes of being able to add to the jar.  Just last weekend, I gave my son a dollar.  He held it for a while, then turned around to me and said, “I think I’m going to put this in the Blessing Jar.”  This action made my heart leap just a bit!  This project has become something the kids think about often, and they are eager to add to the money placed in the jar.

There is a small amount in it, and honestly, I don’t know how much it will be holding next Winter when we decide to donate it.  The thought that my children are learning to not only save money, but to make small tokens of sacrifices for others with-whom they have yet to meet, or may never meet, is worth more to me personally than what the jar will ever hold.

I think this is one resolution of sorts that we will keep not only throughout this year, but hopefully throughout their growing years.  It certainly has been a blessing to me to watch my children grow through this.

Do you have any other ideas for teaching social awareness to children?  If so, do you mind sharing?  I would love to hear from you!