2017 Goals – January Recap

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Can you believe we are already one month into 2017? It feels like January just flew by, but I’m okay with it. The winter months always seem to drag on, and I think I get a little bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder by the end of them. Truthfully, once Christmas is over, I’m ready for all things spring!

If you’re a regular reader, you may remember that I gave up Facebook for the year and established some goals to pursue throughout 2017. Let me just say that so far I have NO REGRETS from that decision. Over the last month I have seen an improvement in my overall mood, and I don’t miss Facebook at all. And given that we are experiencing such a heated political climate right now, I am certain that leaving Facebook was probably my best decision ever.

Since we are one month into the year, I thought I’d do a quick check-in on my goals for 2017. These will just be short updates, as I plan to write some posts related to some of these goals later this month.

  1. Writing my book – I have been working on this goal in short bursts here and there. In particular, I’ve been developing a personal essay (that will later become a chapter of the book) for a local writing contest.
  2. Training for a half marathon – I’m sad to report that I didn’t do much running in January. One reason for this is that I need to invest in some higher end shoes – my current New Balance shoes are fine for the treadmill but leave me in pain when running outdoors, which is my preferred running location. I’m thinking of getting some Hoka One Ones, but I’m waiting until we have room in the budget for that investment.
  3. Blogging – I have definitely been blogging more! I successfully posted 2-3 times a week on the blog throughout the month of January – which is a huge improvement!
  4. Being present – Since I still have Twitter and Instagram, this is still a challenge at times, but I have seen a pretty big change here. Most notably, I find myself just forgetting where my phone is, or leaving it at home when we’re out at church or running errands. Stepping away from Facebook has definitely led to a decreased attachment to my phone, which is a plus.
  5. Reading more books – I read 4 books in January! Stay tuned for a review post soon.
  6. Saving money – I am so excited about this goal. For the first time EVER, we came in under budget in every budget category! We have some very specific goals for this year (which include buying our first home), so I’m really pleased with how well we managed our finances in January.

Overall, January was a good month for meeting goals, and I hope that consistency carries on into February as well. How are you doing on your 2017 goals?

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Grandma’s Recipe Box

 

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One of my Christmas gifts this year was this recipe box, which belonged to my grandma and is full of her well-loved recipes. Many of these recipes are signature dishes for our family, iconic features of holiday meals and family gatherings. They represent more than just delicious culinary creations; these recipes represent memories, and the warmth, love and safety of home.

I’ve written before about my troubled childhood and growing up with an addict mom who suffered from mental illness. Because of this, my grandma was a significant maternal figure in my life. While we still lived with my mom, my dad had visitation every two 1134f234-b6a0-4704-aefc-c8f71e3a0c77weeks, and we would often spend those weekends with him at grandma’s house. Those weekends were always full of the best parts of family – laughter around a table, sweet aromas wafting from a much-used kitchen.

It was in her home that I learned many of the values that I hold dear now – the importance of faith, how a good meal made with love can cover a multitude of sins and that true wealth is not a big house with many possessions, but rather the small things of a warm embrace and a kind soul.

It was my grandma who taught me to cook. Having been raised on a farm, her culinary style was Southern to the core – comfort foods like homemade dumplings and dressing. To this day, the aroma of celery and onions cooking in chicken broth harkens memories of grandma’s kitchen at the holidays.

However, grandma’s recipe box shows that there was more to her than just the Southern farm girl. One of her best dishes was a cake based on a mixed drink – the Harvey Wallbanger cocktail. Just like her recipes, grandma was tall glass of sass and spirit – and she taught me to be the same.

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So, back to the Christmas gift – it was given to me with a caveat: I get to have the original recipes, but only if I type them up to distribute among the family. This is achievable enough – typing up a box full of recipes is no big deal for someone who types 90+ wpm (expert typist is on my resume) (just kidding). However, to make the task more enjoyable, I’ve decided that one of my goals for 2017 is to not to just type through the recipe box, but bake through it as well. I want to make every single one of my grandma’s recipes. When I’m in the kitchen, making one of her beloved dishes, I feel close to her, and I want those memories of a warm home full of love and laughter to be the trademark of my home now.

As I work through the recipes – I plan to share them on the blog, and I hope you’ll come along on this journey with me through grandma’s recipe box. I’m definitely not a foodie, so there probably won’t be styled pictures of succulent sweets posed just right with the best lighting. There’ll be messes and probably some failures. But, there’ll be bittersweet joy and love as I honor the gift I’ve received and my grandma’s memory.

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5 Free Digital Discipleship Tools to Connect You to God’s Word in 2017

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As we approach New Year’s Eve, now is the time to make New Year’s resolutions for lifestyle changes in 2017. Maybe you’re like me and you’ve resolved to spend more time in God’s Word next year. Whether you want to read the Bible more consistently or work on scripture memory, here are five digital discipleship tools that are free and effective for connecting you to God’s Word.

1. The Marketplace Ambassador Advancement System (advance.cbmc.com): Discipleship is not only an individual experience, it’s meant to be experienced in community, just like Jesus shared his life with his twelve disciples. The Advancement System is an excellent platform for diving into God’s Word with another person in an authentic life-on-life, discipling relationship. This resource contains bible studies, audio files, videos and more to encourage men and women in the marketplace to be ambassadors for Christ in their workplaces, churches, homes and communities. It’s constantly updated with new and improved resources, and it also comes in app form. The Advancement System is your Great Commission tool-belt for discipling another person to spiritual maturity who can then make disciples as well.

2. First5 (first5.org): If God is first in our lives, shouldn’t we give him the first 5 minutes of each day? That is the premise behind the First 5 app. Developed by Proverbs 31 Ministries, the mission of First 5 is to connect a woman’s heart to God in the first 5 minutes of her day. You can set an alarm in the app to notify you each morning, so you can wake up with a short teaching from God’s Word in order to “exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world” (Lysa TerKeurst).

3. She Reads Truth & He Reads Truth (Shereadstruth.com/Hereadstruth.com): Whether you’re a man or a woman, getting in God’s Word is essential for spiritual growth. These websites (and apps) provide bible studies with stunning visuals to engage your mind with scripture.

4. Got Questions (GotQuestions.org): Sometimes, we encounter Scripture and it leaves us with more questions than answers. This website, and app, is an excellent tool for finding answers to many commonly asked questions about the Bible, doctrine, Church history, and more. You can also submit questions if you can’t find what you’re looking for in their database.

5. YouVersion (youversion.com): This app has been downloaded over 200 million times, so you may already be familiar with this resource. YouVersion is an excellent tool because it offers a variety of translations, whether you want to read the Bible or hear it. It provides options for accountability and keeping track of your progress. Plus, there are constantly new features added, including an option to create scripture images to share with others through social media or via text.

Whatever your spiritual goals are for 2017, these five digital discipleship tools will help you stay consistent and track your progress throughout the year.

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2017: the year I give up Facebook

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New Year’s Eve is a few days away. I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions, because, let’s face it, I don’t usually keep them. However, I have one big goal I’m pursuing this next year that will trickle down into accomplishing a few other goals: quitting Facebook.

Now, let me preface this by saying that I am by no means making any kind of value judgments on those who participate in social media and/or Facebook. I love social media! And, that’s part of the problem. For me, personally, I have found my use of Facebook to have become a toxic time suck – toxic because it often leaves me feeling more frustrated or angry than when I started scrolling through that news feed, and a time suck because I literally spend too much time on it. I know I have a problem with it – I check it first thing in the morning, in the night if I can’t sleep, several times throughout the day, in the middle of church, etc. So, for me, it’s time to cut the cord.

I’ll admit, I’m a little concerned I won’t be able to do it. I won’t miss all of the fake news, the inflammatory political drivel, the “repost this and be blessed” memes or the comments sections where the depravity of humanity is on full display. However, I like Facebook for the purposes of keeping up with friends and family, and I’ve got a little bit of FOMO. Removing myself from Facebook will either (1) force me to be intentional about connecting with those I care about, or (2) cause me to lose touch with important people in my life out of laziness or disregard. I hope to be better about the former, but I am concerned that the latter may be closer to reality.

In an effort to ensure that we don’t lose touch, I plan to blog more regularly about the life and times at the Forrest home. So, if you’re a Facebook friend, and you don’t want to miss out on all the amusing anecdotes from our lives (including the hilarious Raleyisms), sign up to follow the blog! There’s a handy little widget on the right hand side of your screen where you can enter your email address and follow along with me.

Also, if you don’t want to miss out on cute pictures of the kids, follow me on Instagram (@forrestrachel). That’s where I post most of those pictures currently, anyway. If your life is improved by (sometimes) funny witticisms of 140 characters or less, follow me on Twitter (@rachellforrest). And if you like random nonsense, follow me on Snapchat (@forrestrachel).

What I’ll be doing instead of Facebooking

With the extra time I’ll hopefully have by not wasting it on Facebook, I have a few goals I plan to pursue in 2017.

  1. Writing a book. This isn’t widely known, but I’ve been working on a book about growing up as a child of abuse and mental illness. I’ve outlined the chapters and begun writing, and I’m hoping to make some serious headway, if not finish the book, next year. We’ll see. This is incredibly unfamiliar territory for me, but I’ve reached a point where I don’t want excuses to hold me back any longer. I’ve allowed fear of failure and lack of knowledge and experience keep me from pursuing this goal for too long. I need to tell this story, so it’s time to do it, if for my sake only.
  2. Training for the Route 66 Half Marathon. This is a bucket list item that I’m ready to tackle. I’m not sure whether I intend to run the entire half, but I want to train for it and finish it at the very least. Running is particularly challenging for me, because I have painful arches and arthritis in my lower joints, but I’m not getting any younger so it’s now or never.
  3. Blogging more often. I mentioned this above, but I hope to contribute to this space more since I won’t be posting my whimsical thoughts on the Facebooks anymore. I also want to follow along with my friends and family through their personal blogs, so if you have a blog, please leave it in the comments so I can bookmark it.
  4. Being present. Social media is great in that it connects people across time and distances; however, it’s absolutely terrible in that it removes people from being where they are, and being all there. I’m tired of being in the same room as my family but my mind being elsewhere. I want to live in this moment, where I’m at, and with the people I’m physically near.
  5. Reading more books. I finished 20 books in 2016, and while that’s admirable, I’d like to push myself to read more next year. I am thinking I may set my Goodreads goal at 30 books. Do you have a reading goal for next year? Are you on Goodreads? Let’s be friends follow each other’s progress! You can find my Goodreads feed on the right.
  6. Saving more money. Facebook tends to be a drain on our budget (hello, LuLaRoe), so I’m hoping that by spending time away from it, it’ll lead to more financial savings for us in 2017.

I hate to admit that I am worried I can’t do it, giving up Facebook for an entire year. However, I think this will be so good for me personally, and I look forward to seeing that develop. Facebook is a drain on my time, happiness and quality of life, and my motto for 2017 is more fountains, fewer drains.

Do you have goals for 2017? As you think about what you want for life next year, I will leave you with this scripture verse, which encompasses all I hope for myself and those around me in the year to come:

“As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.” – Galatians 6:10a

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Goals for May – how I did and what I learned

 

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Well, even though it’s not the last day of May, I wanted to go ahead and report on how I did for my goals this month. To begin with let’s review my goals:

  1. 21 days of no sugar
  2. Read 5 books
  3. Blog 3x/week
  4. Stay within budget
  5. 15 minutes of physical activity each day

How I Did

Have you ever heard the phrase, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”? Well, that sums up how things went for my May goals. Since I set these goals without organizing a plan to achieve them, I quickly got off track.

The 15 minutes of physical activity and no sugar goals were abandoned within the first week, honestly. However, I am happy to report that I’m back on the exercise bandwagon, and have been consistently working out the past few days. Our recent family getaway included taking some family photos that were a gut check (literally) about my weight and health. It’s time to get serious, and I’m hoping to stick with it. It helps that I’ve found a YouTube channel with workouts I’m really enjoying. Physical fitness will be a goal for June, so we’ll see if I can stick with it next month.

For the most part, I was able to achieve the blogging goal. I think last week and this week were the only two where I missed the mark, and I’m okay with that.

As I said in my original goals post, I knew the budgeting goal would be a challenge because of the travel we had planned for the month, and that proved to be true. We ended up going over budget in the categories I was hoping to stay under budget in, but I’m pleased with how well we did in spite of the travel. We didn’t exceed our budget by too much, which is remarkable given the extra spending we did this month.

My book goal was pretty lofty for me, so I’m not surprised I didn’t reach it. I’m about to finish my 3rd book of the month, so I’m thinking I should set a goal of 4 books for June to push myself.

What I Learned

As I said before, the primary takeaway I have from my goals for May is that planning is the key to success. This reminds me of a verse in Proverbs, which says something to the effect of “refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed” (Proverbs 15:22 MSG). When I set goals for the future, I need to plan wisely to accomplish them. Accomplishing goals is not just going to happen on its own, and I need to make the effort to succeed or I’ll fail.

The other thing I’ve learned through my goals for May is this: the point is not to be perfect, the point is to try. I’m not trying to beat anyone, this isn’t a competition and I’m okay with failure. What I’m not okay with is simply not trying because of the possibility of missing the mark or failing to achieve. I’m glad I’m setting goals, even if I’m not meeting them. The point is to try, anyway.

Did you set any goals for May? How did you do?