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When Goals Get Good: 2016 in Review Part Quatre

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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?

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  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.

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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?

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2016 in Review

 

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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.

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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.
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    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.

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  • 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. 😉
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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.

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  • 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,

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Erica Denise Hearns

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Catching the Spirit

I’m currently sitting in Orlando International Airport after a day of epic adventure waiting for my plane to board. I’ve had mixed feelings about “Leaving on a Jet Plane” back to Michigan (ironically, that song was played in the dorms during a very touching senior ceremony). I wonder how many people even realized that I graduated with them. I had a lot of friends who lived in the dorms from the grades under me, other people who were in the Horizons-Upward Bound program. I wasn’t exactly a social butterfly. But even if no one remembers me, I am excited to walk the halls of my old school and introduce Mr. Perfect to all the places that were special to me growing up.

Today has been eventful. I had to work half a day, and I still needed to pack. Getting my hair done or a mani/pedi were out of the question (hopefully tomorrow before the cocktail party). I managed to find everything I needed to pack and get it into the suitcase and my “purse,” a large tote that I purchased with part of my bonus money while in New Orleans (I’m also wearing the hoodie I purchased from the Audobon Aquarium). I found all of the cords to charge all of my devices, packed a few options for the more structured activities, chased down appropriate footwear, and started a load of dishes before going to work. Mr. Perfect scheduled Park to Fly services and finished up some last minute details on his end, while I reserved our rental car in between wrapping up a few projects at work. A co-worker of mine was trying to coordinate a donation to the church’s Free Market with me, but I didn’t have time to go to her car to get it, especially since I had to finish packing, make sure all of our itinerary and documents were printed and stored within easy reach, get something to eat, and get to the airport in good time to make our flight.

Once I was off work, I had to contend with the horrible rain in the area. I checked OIA’s website and the weather channel obsessively to ensure that our flight wasn’t delayed and we would be able to take off without incident. I had to go to the bank and do a bit of running around before we packed our bags into the car and headed out. I had to repack my tote to make sure it met the weight and height requirements. We stopped for gas and drinks then set out.

Other than driving rain for most of the way, the drive to the Park N Fly was uneventful. Mr. Perfect got his vehicle checked in quickly and we hopped on the shuttle to the airport. Check in was accomplished with a modicum of difficulty (aside from paying $90 to check 2 bags!).We loitered while finishing the drinks we refused to throw away. I had a mini-breakdown about the Satin Hands hand lotion I found in my tote, trying to rearrange things in my bag to prevent detection. As much as I wanted to be tackled by TSA for trying to hold on to expensive hand lotion, I escaped this fate because it met the size restrictions. Since I’m a veteran traveler, I wore flip flops (easy to remove) and compression pants, t-shirt, and hoodie (no pockets), and therefore missed the chance to be felt up in a back room for non-compliance. Today was a day of missed opportunities.

We dined in the airport Ruby Tuesdays, counting how many people had ordered alcoholic drinks and how many were on laptops working. I had a shrimp parmesan pasta and Mr. P. had a New Orleans seafood dish. We were shocked with how reasonable the price was for airport food. After the initial delights of having finally had a substantial meal wore off, we made our way to the lounge to wait for our flight, and for me to jot down a few things here. Chance truly does favor the prepared mind, because I have enough battery power on all the requisite devices to get caught up on Net Galley books and start reviews during the flight.

I will record all of my thoughts about stepping back into time once we are on the Detroit side of this equation. I’m just happy that the rain has stopped, the trip to the airport was nearly painless, and to this point I haven’t forgotten anything essential. Pray for our safe travels and a good trip.

What are you doing this weekend? Anything exciting?

XOXO

Erica

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Wrapping Up Month 3

It’s hard to believe that yesterday was the first of the fourth month of the year. This year is a quarter over already; how did this happen? The recap for the month of March is a rollercoaster one. There have been many ups and downs this month. Things have definitely been moving right along in my world. Coming up with a word for the month has been really difficult, but Mr. Perfect gave me the best word yesterday.

The word of the month for March is: TRANSITION.

March was a month of transition in several different ways. It was the first month that I’ve seen some of my ideas for the website transition into reality. It was the month that things transitioned from the planning phase to the execution phase. I am wrapping up the writing of the book and preparing to transition to the editing phase. I transitioned from not knowing what was expected of me at work from a meeting with higher ups to my manager being really please with my progress–all without figuring out what the issue was in the first place. Lastly, but by no means least, Mr. Perfect’s grandmother transitioned from this time side of life to the hereafter and his family came together to say goodbye to her. There have been a lot of transitions in the past month.

Early in the month, I contacted a graphic designer to begin working on the logo and header for my website. I was made aware of his work through a fortuitous tweet from a blogger I follow whose header I really like. She posted a blog highlighting the graphic designer who had designed the header as well as the logo for her personal brand. I immediately checked out his twitter and Facebook page before contacting him on twitter. After some online research, I sent him an email with my mission statement, vision, and website information, along with a general idea of what I wanted for the logo/header. He emailed me back that he had been to the site and loved the concept and goal behind it. He sent me his price list and clarifications, and we had a phone conference that sealed the deal. A few days later, he sent me his first drafts and I sent him the deposit. I engaged a graphic designer! *With help from Tech Support, of course.*

I also signed up for a service to review advanced copies of a book and began reading the first title. I love it so far and have taken extensive notes for a review. The books will be reviewed on the site. I am going from reading books in my bubble and spouting opinions every now and then here and there to reading and writing formal reviews. It’s like writing book reports in elementary school, but so much better. I can’t wait to share the first review.

One thing I haven’t shared yet is that I have decided on a host for my website after some careful searching and lessons in web speak from Tech Support. The host will offer me the features I want to use on the site and I can lock in hosting and other features for three years at a good price. I don’t know how this transition will effect the site’s availability yet, but I will appreciate your patience as we begin transitioning things this upcoming week, hopefully.

One goal for the month I wasn’t able to meet was getting the book ready for my selected editors to read. I haven’t been able to finish the writing of the book, as we were dealing with the passing of Tech Support’s grandmother and I was dealing with some changes at work. The graphic designer I engaged was dealing with a sudden death in the family as well. It has been a month of people departing this life for many that we know and love, and after a very productive two weeks in the middle of the month, I wasn’t able to finish everything I wanted to. I think that I can have the first chapter done and hand it over tomorrow or Sunday. That way, he can tell me what his initial thoughts and findings are and see if he wants to finish it. This person teaches English at one of the local colleges and will be great for editing for grammar, punctuation, and general proofreading. I will get some instruction on the content and concepts from my minister. I may have to do it one chapter at a time, but it will get done. I want the book to be ready by the seminar in May.

That was the other thing I did in March, agree to be a part of my aunt’s Authentic Self seminar, speaking on the subject “Getting Serious About Who You Are in Christ: Go Godly Early.” I spoke with the leadership at church and the ladies’ bible class instructor and I was able to secure presentation of a trial run at my church on the second Sunday of April as well. I am excited to be able to present this lesson and have been busily preparing material to present on both occasions. I still have some work to do on the presentation and what I will need, but I have a topic outline and have pulled several scriptures and illustrations. I will be transitioning some ideas from the page to the stage, so to speak. I’m praying that this will be an endeavor that brings glory to God and encouragement to all the women who hear it.

I will present the graphic designer and name the web hosting service I am using when both are completed. I will also be releasing the new and improved title of the book. April promises to be a month filled with new experiences, hard work, and further development personally, spiritually, and as a writer and speaker.

How was your March? Did you reach your goals? Did things go as planned, or were your plans derailed?

XOXO,

Erica aka 2blu2btru