Posted on

When Goals Get Good: 2016 in Review Part Quatre

cropped-dscf0270.jpg
The 200+ stairs I walked up (and down) at the St. Augustine Lighthouse.

My goals for 2016 were outrageous. I wanted to do some huge things this year. You would think with the challenges of the second part of this year I would have failed miserably at achieving anything. However, because God knows best, some of my greatest fails opened the doors to make the achievement of many of these goals possible and probable. I didn’t achieve them all, but I knew I wouldn’t going into it. They were BIG goals. But what I was able to achieve? Amazing!

So, what did I say I was going to do this year? How did I do?

DSCF0295

  1. Seek God. The overall goal this year is to seek God with my whole heart. The ways in which I plan to do this are to study the bible more, pray more, and integrate other spiritual disciplines into my life. To this end, I will study the bible each day, pray each day, and meditate each day. I want to attend Sunday school and bible study each week and fast at least once this year. Performance: Modest. I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped to, but I did study the bible, pray and meditate on the word more this year than in times past. I made it to Sunday school more consistently, but *late boots* and still not as often as I should have. I made most bible studies, even going to other congregations when out and about. I did not fast intentionally this year (although I did go whole days where I forgot to eat. I know, that doesn’t count. Sigh).
  2. Seek to make God known. The goal of the books that I write and things that I sell is to promote the cause of Christ. It’s hard for me to market or get my work in front of other women, but I want to reach more women and get them excited about being serious about God in whatever season they are in. I will speak at least three (3) times in 2016. I will sell 500 copies of my new book, The Season for Getting Serious. I will sell another 100 copies of Altered before the Altar. Performance: I did FAR better than I ever would have thought on this goal. I did speak three times: I spoke on Single, Spiritual and Satisfied and on Writing a Book at our ladies day in July and I spoke on Writing & Publishing at a workshop day as part of my dad’s conference in October. I got VERY close to selling another 100 copies of Altered before the Altar. Ladies are still buying this book over two years after publishing it! I still get Facebook posts, comments, and messages as well as emails and people stopping me at different events telling me how Altered before the Altar has changed their perspective and improved their relationship with God. To God be the glory! I absolutely haven’t sold 500 copies of Season. I didn’t publish it until month 7 of this year. In five months, I’ve sold close to sixty copies, and momentum is gaining. I’m expecting this number to grow as more women read and recommend this one.
  3. Seek to Serve Others. I want to get back into serving others well.  I will: participate in the benevolence Ministry at least three (3) times this year, go door knocking at least once (1x) this year, and complete at least two (2) Passion Projects. Performance: Listen. When I looked at this, I got sad because I didn’t think I’d done any of this. But then I remembered: I did go door knocking–I went to spread the word about our gospel meeting. I did complete two passion projects–I helped plan this year’s ladies day, and I hosted a young adult fellowship at my house. I did not go out with the benevolence ministry this year, though. Something to work on next year, Lord willing.
  4. Seek to Soar. I will get a publishing contract for my inspirational fiction. I will get a contract for my third Christian Living/Non-fiction book. I will turn The Season for Getting Serious into a site that encourages women to get serious about pursuing a Christ centered life no matter what season of life they are in. Performance: FAIL. Epic fail. All around, knock down drag out fail. I didn’t submit any fiction this year. None. I didn’t write a book proposal. I neglected this blog SO HARD. But did I fail in my goal to seek to soar? No way! I traveled on my own. I wrote amazing journals. I attended amazing events. I showcased talents other than writing. I’ve worked on three projects which will change lives (hopefully in 2017 and beyond). I soared, y’all. Not in the way I thought I would, but I did it. I soared.

823

Want to know something truly amazing? The unintentional goals I met this year. I wrote a list in 2015 based off an exercise in Lara Casey’s Make It Happen of things I was afraid of and why I was afraid of them. I said I was afraid of teaching, writing another book, making a decision about my relationship, moving, pursuing my passion full-time, and speaking for various reasons. This year, I taught, wrote another book, made a decision about my relationship, pursued my passion full-time, and spoke! The very things I was afraid to do, God allowed me to do them, and do them well. I love God’s timing. I love how He works to rid me of a spirit of fear. Some of my fears were for nothing and things turned out way better than I expected; other times, the thing I was afraid would happen happened. Either way, I’m still here and all the better for it. God is good all the time, y’all. Goals get good when God gets glory.

Did you achieve your goals in 2016? Why or Why not? How will the outcome of your 2016 goals affect your goal setting process for 2017?

Posted on

2016 in Review

 

fullsizerender

Historically, I’ve seen things not working as failure and counted it as a loss.  But sometimes what I would count as failure contains something even better than what I set out to find. A successful outcome isn’t always the desired outcome. I’ve seen this at work in my life this year.

I had an epiphany: many things I saw as major failures or disappointments were actually invitations and opportunities to stop and reflect, to take stock of where I was and where I wanted to go. In a season of tremendous growth, I looked for opportunities to deepen relationships and realize a truer sense of self hidden in the dirt of what the world classifies as failure. Once I understood the true meaning of success, major fails became major opportunities

This isn’t a post of major fails, but huge opportunities and invitations. Let’s get into it.

fullsizerender-1
Me before a job interview!
  • I lost my job.  A job I found when I was unemployed for a month became a career. I never planned to be in the claims department, or insurance, for the rest of my life. It just sort of happened that nearly eight years later, I was still there. I thought about leaving. I prayed. I joined LinkedIn. I wanted a change. I got one. It wasn’t the desired outcome. I didn’t get to slap a two week’s notice on my boss’s desk. I wasn’t “prepared” to leave. But that’s the beauty of God’s timing–I had to trust Him with the next steps because I couldn’t see them. I was invited to trust God to provide. I was also given the opportunity to examine what I really want to do with my professional life. For the first time in eight years, I get to decide what I want to do. How do I want to spend my days? What fires me up? Where can I serve people well? It’s still an ongoing journey, but honestly? Something which should have shaken me to my core…gave me peace. I didn’t have to stay where I was, doing what I was doing. I took a hard look at myself and what I could have done better while employed at the company. I accepted my fault as well as the blessing of losing one job. Being “let go” frees my hands to grab something better suited to me.
    img_1078
    One of my “photo shoots” Loved taking this amazing pictures of this sweet mama to be! 

    Since I’ve been unemployed, I have honed my photography hobby into a paying side hustle, sold books at conferences, edited books, and worked temp jobs. I’ve done things I loved to do and made money from them. God is good.

img_1081

 

 

  • I broke up with my boyfriend. I received the long awaited answer to a long and painful prayer, a la Sarah Mclachlan. Apparently eight was the magic number for endings in 2016. After almost nine years (!!!) of dating, my relationship ended with an awkward conversation in the church parking lot the day after the Presidential election. An end of an era. A historically poignant moment to hang a memory on like a winter coat wet with snow dripping in a mud room. It’s so poetic, my poet’s heart just eats it up. I prayed for this! Again, this wasn’t the desired result, but God answered a prayer I’ve prayed for years this year. As painful as the answer may be, it wasn’t a sucker punch in a parking lot, but gentle nudges and a calm voice saying “it’s time.” God has been incredibly gentle with my heart during this time. What once would have started an epic search to figure out what was wrong with me…gave me peace. It also gave me an invitation. My soul asked me on a date. Who is Erica, 31, single, Christian, no kids? What parts of myself have been pushed down, lost, or ignored in the last nearly nine years? It’s been fun rediscovering who I am, spending more time with myself, my family, my friends, and my God. I’ve said yes to things I wouldn’t have before, and no to things I wouldn’t have before. It hasn’t all been roses. One doesn’t spend so many years getting to know someone, investing in a shared future, and end it with no hurts or regrets. One doesn’t sit with oneself and examine one’s heart this closely without seeing some ugly things embedded there. When two great catches don’t catch each other, it’s bewildering and sad. As the girl who wrote Altered before the Altar, I’ll continue to get asked “the question” everywhere I go with my book. Ironically, I have a sequel to Altered before the Altar in the works now. And it’s for couples. And no, I’m not waiting until I’m courting write it. 😉
img_1108
For those who asked, “Ask and it shall be given you.” Matt. 7:7. I carry this on my key chain
  • I have to move four months earlier than I expected. My roommate is getting married in April (!!!), which means my lease is ending in March instead of July. With no job, relationship or lease commitments to figure into plans, I can consider roles I never would have considered before in places I wouldn’t have gone.

The Season for Getting Serious Front Cover

  • The Season for Getting Season was published six months late.   The Season for Getting Serious was supposed to be published in January of this year, but came out right on time in July. Four days after I sold my first copies of Season at a ladies day, I was fired. Season is a book about growth in your relationship with God through hard times. I didn’t publish in January because I still had some areas to dig deep into. Some of the chapters I struggled to get right are words I’ve read over and over again in the season of life I’m in now. God gave me the game plan for this season right before I entered it! How amazing is it to see the preparation He put me through to be able to walk this season out in front of so many to His glory!

This year wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but it wasn’t all stress and struggle, either. The above opportunities have all come in the last half of the year. There a many more desired outcomes and “wins” to catalog, a year in books to review, a goals update to share, a word of the year to reveal, goals to lay at the feet of Jesus, and new books to read and write.

What opportunities did you find in the rubble this year?

Reveling in Opportunity,

806

Erica Denise Hearns

Posted on

Starting Out the Way I Plan to Go…

A quick post today. I’m sharing my January goals. These aren’t deep or meaningful. The point is to get started. I’m diving into the muck and the mess and getting started. So here are my life goals for this month:

  • Change my clothes when I come home from work each evening. It’s a mental thing that helps me switch gears.
  • Cook more at home. It will save money, it’s healthier, and cooking is stress relief and a chance to decompress from my day.
  • Exercise 2x a week. This has been a major fail this week, but I’m hoping to get better.
  • Set a bedtime. I always wake up at the same time, but I don’t have a regular bedtime. I want to change this for a more consistent sleep pattern and hopefully more energy throughout the day.
  • Pay all bills on time this month. No more late fees!
  • Start keeping a journal again.

More entrepreneurial goals:

  • Set up Square site to sell books.
  • Email three people about speaking
  • Email three people about sponsorship/advertising
  • Buy Adobe
  • Create book cover/marketing materials
  • Pay for 1 vendor opportunity
  • Finish The Season for Getting Serious? More on this question mark in a future post.

Personal spiritual goals:

  • Encourage friend who is struggling spiritually. (I have a specific person in mind)
  • Spend time talking to two older members of my congregation.
  • Read bible daily.
  • Pray daily.
  • Study and pray about seeking.

This seems like a lot, and a lot of these things are to occur daily, but I think this is a list that will help me jump start a year in which I grow closer to Christ and look more like Him.

Posted on

Wind Up Wednesday: Bringing Books Back

Note: I missed yesterday. It was my intention to have a post every day this week, at least, to kick start my blogging. Let’s all just move on to a fun post, shall we?

As an avid reader and writer, I always have a ton of books I want to read. My TBR pile is ridiculous. I love reading all the books my writer friends are putting out into the world (I’m reading one, Interrupted Lullaby by Dana R. Lynn, one of my critique buddies!) that I can’t put down (though I’ve read it at different stages two or three times). I’m so proud of all my romance, women’s fiction, inspirational fiction and self-help writing friends. But this year I want to dive deep into some books that focus more on developing myself as a Christian and a writer. I know I’ll get to all the fiction my friends put out, but I want to make sure I read at least 12 books that I hope will revolutionize or completely change an area of my life.

Here’s what’s on my list to read so far, in no particular order:

  1. Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman. Simply TuesdayI’ve heard wonderful things about this book, and have heard a couple interviews with Emily P. Freeman that have piqued my interest. I caught this book on sale yesterday and move it from books I want to buy to bought. Yay!
  2. A Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster. Celebration of DisciplieI’ve read this book and loved it, but it’s been years (other than a few peeks back in for my submission goal in 2013 and that palms up/ palms down meditation from Monday’s post). Not only do I want to read it again, I want to give a copy to a friend and read it with her to encourage her in the Lord. It’s be our Girl Talk thing. So excited for this!
  3. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Big MagicI bought a copy as soon as it came out. I was a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert’s style in Eat Pray Love, but the podcast for Big Magic, Magic Lessons, sold me on this book. It’s a book about tapping into your creativity and how we are all creators. Can’t wait to let my imagination out.
  4. On Writing by Stephen King. On WritingI bought this book last year after checking it out of the library and not having time to finish it. I’ve heard many wonderful things about this book, and really enjoyed the parts I’ve read. Time to focus and read this start to finish.
  5. Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver. Having a Mary HeartThis one has sat on my shelf for years. Is it ironic to say I don’t have time to read a book about making time? I’ve started it and nodded along with the opening points. This is another I need to buckle down and get read.
  6. The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst. The best yesConfession Time: I’ve never read a Lysa Terkeurst book. I’ve had friends who’ve raved about Made to Crave and Unglued, but I haven’t gotten around to reading one of her books. I knew I had to read her work when I watched her at the creative summit The Influence Network put on.
  7. Rising Strong by Brene Brown. Rising StrongConfession Time #2: I’ve never read a Rene Brown book. But I did hear her speak on Magic Lessons, and the moment I did, I had to have this book. This is a book about how to rebound from failure. This is something I struggle with. I hate failing. I can’t tell you how many things I didn’t do because I was afraid to fail. So I’m hoping this one has some insights I can use to conquer that fear a little more.
  8. A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer. A Curious MindI heard Brian Glazer on the radio talking about his curiosity talks and was fascinated. As someone who loves to  interview people, I’m interested in reading about how he made the most of opportunities to talk to some of the worlds most fascinating people, and how I can use a few tips to make my interviewing better.
  9. Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. Not a FanThe back cover copy sold me on this book. I’d heard all the hype about it and largely ignored it. But going through the Religion aisle at the bookstore studying covers, I picked this up and read the back and instantly knew I needed to add this one to the list.
  10. Muscle and a Shovel by Michael Shank. Muscle and a ShovelSo many of my friends have told me how this book completely changed their views on God and Christianity that I’ve just got to read it. It’s a true story about a newlywed couple who befriend a man that challenges their religious views. It’s supposed to be a challenging read that incites some strong feelings. I’m not one to shy away from things that may challenge my views, so I’m eager to see how this strengthens my faith and causes me to dig deeper into what I believe. We are to be prepared to give an answer for the faith that is in us, so it will be interesting to see the interaction between my faith and this book. I would love to get a small group together to read this one with me.
  11. Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo. Talk Like TedI REALLY want to be a better speaker. I know that I have messages to deliver to women. But I can’t expect people to want to hear me speak if I’m not going to put in the effort to be the best speaker I can be. I’ve long admired TED talks and find them to be wonderful. I really want to see a Christian version of this speaking series come to be. I’m anticipating learning a lot about speaking that will help me improve my presentation reading this one.
  12. Still Writing by Dani Shapiro. Still writingI checked this out of the library with On Writing and didn’t get a chance to finish it, though I loved Dani Shapiro’s writing. I bought it last year when I bought On Writing. I’ve gotten almost to Middles and I love it. I can’t wait to see how Dani relates more of the writing process.
  13. Bonus Book #1: Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin. Women of the WordI heard Jen Wilkin on a podcast and was really intrigued by this book. Since then I’ve seen many women talking about this book online, how it changed the way they study the Bible. I love anything that gets women reading the Word for themselves, or anyone else for that matter. I’m always looking for ways to improve my Bible study time. This should be a good book for that.
  14. Bonus Book #2: The Art of Fiction by John Gardner.  The Art of FictionI read this book some time ago and loved it. The exercises led to some great writing for me. I can’t wait to dive into it as a more mature writer.

I have a ton of fiction that I plan to read as well. I write more about fiction and my writing process on my writing blog, Copywrite1985.com.

What are you reading? I’m always looking for book suggestions, so feel free to leave your favorite reads or what you’re looking forward to in the comments section.

XOXO,

Erica

Join me tomorrow for my 10 January goals!

Posted on

GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAALS!!!

Every time I have to sit down and contemplate my goals, I start to sweat. I feel so much pressure to make SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. Goals too dependent on numbers are thought to encourage comparison, competition, or feelings of inadequacy. The trend in Christian women’s goals now is to simplify, focus on family, go smaller. It’s not on trend to have big, scary goals anymore. Not in Christianity.

I don’t believe that goals need to be SMART. I believe dreaming big allows God to be bigger than our dreams. I want my goals to be reaches, big leaps of faith that require God to catch me and carry me to the finish line. I don’t put easily achieved goals on my yearly goals list.  I don’t make goals if they don’t make me a little anxious and encourage me to depend even more on Christ. I like goals that show my belief in God’s ability to meet me where I am and take me further than I ever imagined.

I dream big and make goals people think are crazy. I’m also reticent to share my goals because there is a good chance what happens may be different than I imagine. I don’t want to fail so spectacularly in front of everyone. But if I don’t give God room to work, how can I bring glory to Him?

All of that to say, some of my goals have scary numbers and metrics. Some of them are huge (to me). I can say with confidence I may fall flat on my face on them if they aren’t in God’s will. But I felt led to take a big leap this year. So without further adieu, here are my yearlong goals for 2016!

Aim High
Aim High
  1. Seek God. The overall goal this year is to seek God with my whole heart. The ways in which I plan to do this are to study the bible more, pray more, and integrate other spiritual disciplines into my life. To this end, I will study the bible each day, pray each day, and meditate each day. I want to attend Sunday school and bible study each week and fast at least once this year. I’ve never completed a fast from food for any period of time, so this is one thing I am excited and nervous about.
  2. Seek to make God known. The goal of the books that I write and things that I sell is to promote the cause of Christ. It’s hard for me to market or get my work in front of other women, but I want to reach more women and get them excited about being serious about God in whatever season they are in. To challenge myself to reach more women, I’m giving this area number goals. I will speak at least three (3) times in 2016. I will sell 500 copies of my new book, The Season for Getting Serious. I will sell another 100 copies of Altered before the Altar. Writing these goals makes me queasy.
  3. Seek to Serve Others. I want to get back into serving others well. I think that the point of Christianity is to be united with God and others in the body of Christ as one. I’ve created goals here that will help me love on others this year. I will: participate in the benevolence Ministry at least three (3) times this year, go door knocking at least once (1x) this year, and complete at least two (2) Passion Projects. A Passion Project is something that can enrich my local congregation that I see. I don’t want to say what they are. The point is not for people to know that I’ve done them, but to do something that helps spread the gospel or encourages other Christians right where I am. These goals make me want to hide in my room and read or stay behind my computer, but I know it’s important to serve right where I am. In person. Gulp!
  4. Seek to Soar. These are the personal goals I want to pursue. I will get a publishing contract for my inspirational fiction. I will get a contract for my third Christian Living/Non-fiction book. I will turn The Season for Getting Serious into a site that encourages women to get serious about pursuing a Christ centered life no matter what season of life they are in. This goal makes me the most insecure. Rejection is a real probability for every one of these goals. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

cropped-A-Serious-Season-best1.png

What are your goals for 2016?

XOXO,

806

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erica

Join me tomorrow for my first Monday Motivation of 2016: Praying Hands!

Posted on

Word of the Year 2016

I’ve chosen a word for the year for at least six years documented (nearly 13 based on my diaries!). Each year I choose a word that will guide my spiritual, professional, and personal goals and dreams. It can be difficult to set an intention for an entire year full of unexpected twists and surprises, both good and bad. The Lord has given me great words that were exactly what I needed in each season of my life and this year’s word is no exception. I believe it will help me to lean into, press into, and abide in Christ like never before in the upcoming year.

The words I have chosen in the past are:

2010–accountability

2011–balance

2012–focus (which I obviously didn’t accomplish if the linked post is any indication!

2013–savor

2014–submit/submission

2015-attendance

The word I’ve chosen for 2016 is: SEEK. 

What are you seeking?

alice_in_wonderland01

Why did I choose seek? Up until I began this post, I was thinking of using other words, but the Holy Spirit placed this word very strongly on my heart. Thinking about everything I wanted to do this year–publish another book, speak, serve, be more disciplined, ask for the things I want, and really dig in and make some big changes–I knew that overall I wanted to glorify God. I wanted to want what He wanted for my life.

I was struggling with what word would best convey that when I remembered David saying that the one thing he desired was the thing he would seek after:

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. Psalm 27:4

If we seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first, everything else will be added to us. God calls His people to seek His face. We seek Him for safety, freedom from worry, for our everyday needs, and for our lives.

In the last sermon of 2015, Brother Drummer preached a sermon on Phil 3:12-14 that really struck me. In these verses, Paul talks about trying to grab hold of the reason for which Christ grabbed hold of Him. Why did God choose me? In verse 10 we learn that Paul seeks to know Christ. An apostle with intimate knowledge of Christ is writing that he seeks to know Christ. A man who knows he has been called to preach the gospel to the Gentiles is still pressing to learn why Christ saved him. Because there’s more to know and more to why we are called.

Christ is everything. I love the promises of God through faith in Christ, but sometimes I don’t love the process by which I obtain those things. Sometimes I go about gaining the wrong way. I covet things God never meant for me to have. I don’t bring glory to Him in what I do sometimes because He didn’t tell me to do it in the first place.

That is a hard, hard truth to acknowledge. You have no idea how much I want to backspace over that sentence. So I’m going to write it again:

Sometimes I don’t bring glory to God in what I do because He didn’t tell me to do it in the first place.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m getting tired of running hard in the wrong direction and getting turned back; of worrying about myself and not being able to rest in all the promises we like to “speak over ourselves” or “speak into existence”; of claiming the promises without keeping the conditions and ending up disappointed. I’m just plain tired of wanting things God doesn’t want for me and being heartbroken about things that were never in the plan for my life. 

So I’ve decided this year will be the year I seek God. For real. I will seek His will for my life, His kingdom, His righteous, and His forgiveness of sin. I will seek His face. I will live in His presence. I will live in the truth that if I seek, I will find. I will pursue with purpose and passion one thing: a closer relationship with Christ in which I know Him as He knows me. 

I know I won’t get there this year. I won’t fully get there until I’m in Heaven. But this is the guiding framework for how I want to be in my life.

There have been quite a few wonderful posts and periscopes on people’s word of the year. Here are some of my favorites:

Courtney Kirkland chose SURRENDER (this was a contender for me, too): Instagram

Katie Brown chose SERVE (another contender of mine!): Instagram

Val Woerner of Val Marie Paper wrote about her word of the year, Small, and her goals for 2016 on her blog.

Lara Casey is doing her annual goal setting series on her blog. You can read the first post here. She revealed her word of the year, ASK (again, one of my contenders), on Periscope yesterday. You can view it via Katch here (and it won’t disappear in 24 hours like on Periscope!).

What is your word for 2016? How did you choose it?

Join me tomorrow to see my year long goals and my goals for January!

XOXO,

785

Erica

Posted on

A Serious Year: 2015 in Review

I’ve been largely absent from the world of social media for most of 2015. 2015 was a challenging year for me. It was the first full year that Altered before the Altar was on the market. I’m excited about the way God has used it to change the hearts and minds of single women and turn them back to Him. I’m hopeful that God will continue to use it.

My word of the year was attendance.

In short, it’s time for me to show up in my own life and participate in that instead of being an audience member in everyone else’s life.

So how did I do with my word of the year? How did I do on my goals? What worked and what didn’t this year? Let’s get into it, shall we?

Perfect Attendance?

How well did I show up in my own life this year? That’s a huge question that took a long time for me to unpack. I moved from my home of four years to a new place in March, then moved again July 31st. At work, my desk has been moved three times in the past year. My boss, department, duties, coworkers, and department structure have all changed. For a slow changer like, this year full of personal and professional changes threw me for a loop.

It was an uncomfortable way to conduct a year for me. I was tempted to call in sick to life this year. A few times I did. I struggled in it mostly because I struggled with it.

When I told God that my word of the year was going to be attendance, it was because I was supposed to be going places that I wouldn’t want to miss being. I was expecting to do some hard things. I expected to be uncomfortable selling Altered before the Altar and speaking at conferences. I was prepared to sit with God’s word and to be called into deeper relationship with Him through it. I was even prepared for moments of doubt and uncertainty. I wasn’t prepared to be tossed about so hard by life in ways I couldn’t control. And because I wasn’t expecting it, the winds of change nearly blew my house down.

Guys, this year was hard. Beyond hard. 

But this year was also amazing and so much more than amazing. 

It’s both because I did show up in my life. I stayed in those hard places. Sometimes I sat in the corner with my arms crossed, pouting and complaining, but I stayed there. Most importantly, I cried out to God in those places. I read His word in those places. I made a big step forward in not complaining so much about everything that felt wrong in my life. For full disclosure, I tanked at not complaining in the little things that happened, particularly at work, but for the most part, I went to the Lord.

I didn’t always do this because I wanted to. This year I really felt the Lord calling me to shut up. I was largely silent on social media, especially the last half of the year. I kept a lot of things between me and God. And without so many people and their opinions muddying the waters, I was able to see very clearly how God moved in situations. I got to trust Him and look to Him for things I’ve run to people for in the past. That was life-changing.

GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLL!

839
A fraction of the 500+ women I had to stand before and explain the heart behind Altered before the Altar to…gulp!

I didn’t choose my goals until my birthday, so I still have nearly two months to make them happen. The ones that I’ve already accomplished are: speaking at a conference; shooting at least one YouTube video (I’m counting a Periscope I did for this), and; creating a professional vendor table set up for events. The goals in process are: writing and publishing another book, opening an online shop, learning to create book covers, and; improving my business cards. I’m not sure if I can achieve the rest in two months, but with God all things are possible.

That’s Not Really Working for me…

What worked and what didn’t? It felt like a lot more didn’t work this year than did, but that’s a perception thing. Even though it felt like very little worked, what did work worked  in a major way and was SUPER significant. In order to leave on a positive note, I’ll reflect first on what didn’t work.

581

So what didn’t work? Fighting change, only being present, complaining, fleeing situations I didn’t want to be in, being angry and upset, working from a place of competition, trying to be perfect, comparing myself and my efforts to others, and trying to replicate what other people were doing didn’t work for me. Neither did jealously, envy, self-pity, or striving. I didn’t expect this list to be so philosophical or difficult, but there you go.

I Worked It!

781

What did work for me? Shutting up, accepting change, bringing my best to life’s worst, pressing in to God, speaking up, recording myself in the car, following inspirational people online, pulling back from social media, speaking in front of women I don’t know, and being courageous in getting Altered before the Altar out to more women worked. I am so humbled by the feedback that Altered before the Altar changed hearts and lives and led many women back to their first love. I loved getting to meet new sisters in Christ.

Another thing that worked was participating in Blurb to Book. I entered a contest with a 100 word blurb and the first page of an inspirational romance and made it all the way to submitting a full manuscript! I was sent a revision letter and have another opportunity get a contract for a fiction book. I would say trying worked for me this year. Trying and failing and being willing to try again.

Stay tuned tomorrow to find out what my word for 2016 is,why I chose it, how it informs my goals, and my goals. 

806
Me and my cousin Deloris. Prettiest picture of 2015!
Posted on

Goal for 2015: Perfect Attendance

As those who have been reading my blogs for a long time know, each year I make it a point not only to write out a list of goals, but to choose a word of the year, a simple concept that I can focus on in this calendar year to guide the improvements I want to make in my life. In years past, I’ve had some wonderful words to guide my goal setting and make positive changes:

2010–accountability

2011–balance

2012–focus

2013–savor

2014–submit/submission

This year has a tough act to follow. Last year’s goal to submit was an amazing opportunity to grow. I’m in awe of how God worked things out so that I REALLY had to learn this submission thing if I wanted to get out of this year alive. I had to learn to submit to those in authority spiritually and in the world in a major way this year! I also had to learn to take any disappointments and setbacks and submit them to God instead of dwelling on them. Finally, I learned to submit my writing for publication and for public consumption. God was really with me in achieving this goal. So what do I hope to accomplish this year? What’s the word that I hope will develop me even more on this journey?

The word of the year for 2015 is…attendance.

One simple definition of attendance is a record of the number of times a person has been to a certain place. If you want, you can make attendance into a numbers centered thing. I could make this goal about how many times I attend church, get up and study the bible, pray, visit the sick, and so on. But that’s not what this goal is about for me.

I want to use another simple definition of attendance: the act of being present in a place. One thing I noticed last year was that I had a really hard time being in the moment, appreciating the accomplishments that I made, etc. I was always rushing off to the next thing. I wasn’t present for most of my life; rather, I was waiting to get to the next goal, to reach some other pinnacle. I was waiting for the next thing to happen, or actively pursuing the next thing. In doing a year end review, I realized how many things I simply missed because mentally I was somewhere else. So one purpose of this goal is to adjust my focus so that I am present in each moment this year.

But there’s more. I want to attend things, or be at certain places consistently, and I want to be present in the moment, but there’s another part to this goal. A couple other definitions of attend: to apply the mind or pay attention; heed, and; to direct one’s attention. I’ve spent entirely to much of 2014 attending everyone else’s life and leaving my own unattended. I spent a lot of time focused on what others did to achieve success in different areas of their lives and trying to replicate it in my life without actually giving my attention to my life. Occasionally I would see my life clearly and note that I needed to work on something or change it, but then my mind was consumed with something else and I never got around to doing anything about it. This year, I want to be where I’m expected to be, be present in mind as well as in body, and apply my mind and direct my attention where it needs to be. In short, it’s time for me to show up in my own life and participate in that instead of being an audience member in everyone else’s life.

So what’s your word of the year for 2015? What are you trying to change in this new year?

Posted on

Healthy Heart Race 5K

Leaving the finish line in my dust
Leaving the finish line in my dust

This Sunday, I participated in my first 5K with some coworkers. It was the first baby step in what promises to be a long journey towards taking better care of my body…a really long journey. Although some things didn’t go as planned and it wasn’t the race I would have hoped for, all things considered, I’m glad to have this tiny accomplishment under my belt.

The race day and the course were really good ones for a first race. The weather on Sunday morning wasn’t too warm (to begin with, by the end it was pretty warm) and it was slightly overcast. I didn’t eat anything before the race (probably a bad idea, but I didn’t wake up early enough to eat a little before hand). I also forgot my headphones (again, just like my last “training run.” The only two times I’ve run without music). The course itself was an out and back course run mostly on paved trail (the rest was a small piece of road and some sidewalk). I wish the trail were a little wider to accommodate so many people, but other than that, it was a good course.

I started in the wrong “wave.” I was towards the front with my coworkers. Some of them were walkers and some of them were runners. I guessed that since it was a mixed race (1 mile, 5k, and 10k) that we were going to be more or less grouped by which race we were doing; this was not the case. Everyone started together at the same time. So I ended up starting too fast and almost being trampled after the first few turns.

I had a bit of cramping, but it didn’t last very long. My hip pain did not go away, however. I tweaked it a couple of days before the race and it just never felt right. My hips have always been tight, but I haven’t had a hip pain like this since college (a long, odd story I forgot about until just now involving a co-rec yoga class). I had to run, walk and hobble a bit for the out part of the course.

Shortly after the turn around (and almost falling throwing away a cup–which further tweaked the SAME hip), I was ready to run again, but Mr. Perfect was not. He was getting out a toothache/trip to the dentist, and running caused it to hurt worse. He encouraged me to run on without him to try and make my time (which I knew was probably a by gone dream already). I did run walk intervals for the rest of the rest and felt really proud of the pushing through in the second half. I had a good conversation with God as I listened to my footfalls and breathing. I finished strong. I was happy with the effort.

I didn’t get a great time, and I was way past my goal time, but there were some good milestones. I didn’t make 15 minute miles, but I was considerably under 17 minute miles. I was the last one to finish in my age group by a lot, but I hadn’t really trained seriously for it. It wouldn’t be fair for me to beat people who had trained for this. My breathing was not a problem at any point during this race, and my ankles were problem free. The other runners were very encouraging to each other and  giving each other a heads up on what was coming.

According to one of my runner friends, my race photo (taken by my coworker’s fiancé) was taken at a great angle and looked better than most race pictures. There were, of course, some fail pictures (such as the one of me sucking a donut hole off a toothpick  while double fisting water  and Gatorade post race–classy!).

I can’t say that I love running (even though my race tee and medal both say (I Heart Running), but I did enjoy the experience. The race atmosphere was really celebratory and fun. I think I will keep running as a part of my “Getting Serious About Fitness” routine. As for a 5k, I can say I’ve been there, done that, and have the T-shirt to prove it (and the medal).

What did you do this weekend?

Erica

P.S. I have the new banner in for the site! I am trying to wait for this whole domain transfer, etc. to happen, but I may put it up today, just to see how it looks (even though it will look completely different on the revamped site). I am looking through all of the different file types sent to find the best one. I will have a post up soon on my awesome graphic designer. I have been holding off on posts to finish getting some things done on the site, but since it is taking forever, I will stop depriving you. 😀

Posted on

Quarter Year Crisis or Celebration?

The first quarter of this year is already over. It’s time to evaluate how well you’ve done with sticking to the resolutions/goals that you set for the year. Whether or not you started out the year gung ho and fell off, or you weren’t exactly sure at midnight on January 1st what you intended to accomplish for 2013, it’s not to late to get on track.

The first quarter of 2013 was a busy one for me. I was accomplishing goals left and right in one area of my life, while seeing little to no progress in other areas. It was truly a feast or famine quarter in each individual area of my life. If you read my word of the month recaps for January, February, and March, you know that this year I’ve already reset, developed and transitioned. Most of the goals I have reached have been those pertaining to developing my website. The goals that have fallen by the wayside have been those pertaining to my personal life and my career. I’m also a little behind schedule with the book, but that’s another story for another day.

The reason that I haven’t made any progress on some of my personal goals is that I haven’t spent much time executing any of the steps I planned to help me reach those goals. In my work life as well as my personal life, organization has gone out of the window. Just like they say in the movie 28 Days, “it works if you work it.” I haven’t been working it in those areas. I’ve worked my butt off finding things for the website and working on my presentation for the seminar, but with the loss of organization in my personal life I find myself doing whatever comes to hand and trying to straighten things up in this haphazard manner is not helping me accomplish much.

So even though I have achieved stellar growth in one area, I am lagging behind in other areas for the year. But it’s still early. I am going back to my earlier framework of organization. I am going to take some time at work to write out a schedule of my work days and recurring tasks. I am going to come home and begin a more focused approach to running my household of one. I’m going to have some more difficult discussions. It’s time for a liberal amount of INEBIGTDIA* to be poured on everything.

How was your first quarter? Are you on track to reach your goals or are you in need of refocusing? 

XOXO

Erica

*INEBIGTDIA- I’m not excited, but I’m going to do it anyway. You’re welcome.