Category Archives: Christian Living

In Search of Joy and Wisdom (Guest Post)

Red heart with a puzzle piece missing.
Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

In Search of Joy and Wisdom

by Steph Beth Nickel

In the English Standard Version, James 1:2-5 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

I can almost guarantee we’re all going through a trial of some description. Thankfully, as believers, we can cling to the promises in this passage.

It won’t be easy. And the full effect of steadfastness won’t happen overnight, but we can rest assured that God will be with us each step of the way. And I need that assurance right now. How about you?

In the early days, COVID-19 exacerbated my tendency to procrastinate to a full-on “What’s the use?” attitude.

With God’s help, I pushed through … although I still have a tendency to put things off. However, I no longer believe my efforts to forge ahead are essentially futile.

And then George Floyd and the racial divide spotlighting the need for God-honouring forgiveness and reconciliation.

In Ontario, churches have been allowed to reopen with restrictions. You would think this would be a cause for celebration, that we would delight in the opportunity to be together again. And while that’s the case to a certain extent, we are witnessing everything from those staying away because of fear to those who think we should completely disregard the governments directives.

We have come to realize we don’t know one another as well as we thought.

Enter social media. Facebook, in particular, has become a place where we hurt one another because of the hurt we’ve been carrying, the hurt that those who attend church with us may not be aware of.

Enter, once again, the “What’s the use?” mindset.

Why would I explain myself? What good would it do?

Why would I share my perspective with that particular person? Their mind is already made up.

Why would I voice my opinion? It will only cause an argument.

Or the other extreme …

Why shouldn’t I voice my opinion? I want to start a conversation. (Sadly, this “conversation” often devolves into something completely emotion-driven and just causes more hurt—especially if posted online.)

After 35+ years in the same church, I have seen countless hurts and disagreements. Those are unavoidable. I get that.

But what do you do when one person you love and care about wounds another but you haven’t witnessed it firsthand?

You want to submit to authority.

You don’t want to cause division.

But you believe we, as the body of Christ, could be more than this, more genuine, more authentic, more loving.

I long for the day when beloved brothers and sisters don’t simply disappear into the night as it were.

However, in all this, I must cling to James 1, trusting God to work it all out not only for me but also for all those involved.

When we face trials and heartbreak, we can count on God’s promises.

When we just don’t know what to do or say, we can ask for wisdom and trust Him to provide it.

It may be cliché, but “God’s got this!” And boy, am I glad!

Tweetables:

The full effect of steadfastness won’t happen overnight. (click to tweet)

God will be with us each step of the way. (click to tweet)

What do you do when one person you love and care about wounds another? (click to tweet)

When we face trials and heartbreak, we can count on God’s promises. (click to tweet)

When we just don’t know what to do or say, we can ask for wisdom and trust God to provide it. (click to tweet)

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is eclectically interested and eclectically involved. She is an author, blogger, a regular contributor to the HopeStreamRadio online radio station, a freelance editor, and birth doula. Steph brings her interests together under the Nurture and Inspire umbrella. Ladies, you’re invited to join her Facebook group by the same name: Nurture and Inspire

An Extrovert’s Journey through Months of Social Distancing (Guest Post)

Steps and trail, with text: "An extrovert's journey through social distancing"

An Extrovert’s Journey through Months of Social Distancing

by Steph Beth Nickel

I gave up listening to the news … well, when one still did so at 6:00 PM on network television.

And then the headlines became virtually unavoidable thanks to the worldwide web.

And then … COVID-19.

Our world changed overnight.

Some people got sucked into the 24/7 coverage of the virus. Some tried to avoid it altogether. Whether sheltering in our homes or trying to live life as we’ve always done, there’s no denying our world has changed. But what about us?

You might think that introverts aren’t struggling as much as extroverts, but that’s oversimplifying the situation. (Click to tweet)

It’s one thing to choose to come apart and recharge your batteries. It’s another thing to be told you have no choice. For those living on their own, it can become very lonely—depressing even. And no matter how much introverts love their family, it may be challenging to share the same four walls with them day in and day out.

And while there are memes about how difficult social distancing and sheltering in place have been on those of us who are extroverts, there is another side to the story.

Given, I share my home with my hubby, and we love spending time together. I have been allowed to continue working—while keeping my social distance from co-workers and keeping the doors of the church locked. That has made it easier on me than many people.

Plus, I have discovered how nice it is to have fewer obligations. Sure, I have a mile-long To Do list, but most things are far less time-sensitive than before. There are fewer people counting on me to be at a certain place at a certain time on a certain day.

Still, there have been indicators of how this situation has affected me. Can you relate?

  1. I spent so much time talking to my pastor that he had to admit he’d become frustrated. He is a task-oriented introvert. So, you can see the challenges with the two of us working together at the best of times. (I often refer to myself as “an extrovert on steroids.”)
  2. Although I didn’t spend much time watching the news, I was aware of what was going on. I’d spend the evening on the couch, overwhelmed by the surreal days we are living in, and often fall asleep early. (I may be an early bird, but I didn’t used to fall asleep before 8:00.)
  3. I became mildly resentful when I got the impression that someone thought I should be doing more. I suppose I was well-aware already of what I wasn’t getting done and couldn’t imagine taking on anything more. To an extent, I became withdrawn. I haven’t reached out to family, friends, and neighbours the way others have, even others who would normally find it more difficult than I do.

But during this time there have been many blessings as well.

  1. My pastor confessed that he had become frustrated. I explained that talking was my way of processing the situation. And we settled into a routine that has been better for both of us.
  2. Some evenings I still fall asleep early, but those evenings are fewer and further between. Now, I intentionally go to bed between 9:00 and 10:00 and get up at 4:00, so I can get some things done when I’m fresh and (somewhat) more raring to go.

    And…
  3. While not having as many obligations as pre-COVID, restrictions have begun to ease up some, and I’ve been sharing my space, at a safe distance of course, with more people. And, wow, have I missed it! I’m still a little overwhelmed with all the changes we’re going to have to implement going forward, but I look forward to seeing people I haven’t seen in months—even if I can’t give them a hug. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed being around them.

How about you? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Alone or sharing your space with family? How have you been coping these last few months?

Other Tweetables:

I’d spend the evening on the couch, overwhelmed by the surreal days we are living in. (Click to tweet)

I look forward to seeing people I haven’t seen in months—even if I can’t give them a hug. (Click to tweet)

Join the conversation below!

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is eclectically interested and eclectically involved. She is an author, blogger, a regular contributor to the HopeStreamRadio online radio station, a freelance editor, and birth doula. Steph brings her interests together under the Nurture and Inspire umbrella. Ladies, you’re invited to join her Facebook group by the same name: Nurture and Inspire

Review: Fiercehearted, by Holley Gerth

Fiercehearted, by Holley Gerth

Fiercehearted, by Holley Gerth (Revell, 2017)

I have so many lines in this book highlighted! Some because they’re comforting, encouraging, or challenging, and others because the word pictures are beautiful.

A few favourite lines:

In the introduction, Holley Gerth writes that she wants the book to help women

…feel less alone and more comfortable in our God-sewn skin and a little surer that we are a force to be reckoned with in this world. [Kindle location 189]

It’s in these moments that we carry wonder and fear like twins. [Kindle location 2080]

We’re all just clay on the wheel, which is another way of saying we are dust being sculpted into glory. [Kindle location 2214]

I found author Holley Gerth through Ellen Graf-Martin’s Change Makers Podcast, and have been appreciating her email newsletters and posts ever since. When I saw the digital version of her book, Fiercehearted, discounted recently, I snapped it up.

With short, conversational chapters transparently reflecting the author’s life experiences, Fiercehearted touches on topics common to many women: conflict avoidance, identity, self-worth, insecurity, success, perfectionism, expectations, failure, work, depression, friendship, and more.

Highly recommended for Christian women, and especially for those who appreciate the writing of Emily P. Freeman, Carolyn Watts (Hearing the Heartbeat), and Ann Voskamp.

For more about Holley Gerth and her ministry, visit holleygerth.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

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Words Aren’t Enough (Guest Post)

Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay

Words Aren’t Enough

by Steph Beth Nickel

When I miswrote the title of this post, I realized I had stumbled upon truth.

Instead of “Words aren’t Enough,” I wrote “Word aren’t Enough.”

But wait! The Word is enough.

Only Jesus, the Living Word, can comfort the Nova Scotian families* (and others) who are grieving.

Only He can wrap them in His loving arms and sustain them today, tomorrow, and into the future.

Only He can give them the strength to put one foot in front of the other.

Only Jesus can stir the compassion in our hearts and remind us to pray for those whose hearts are broken.

Only the Living Word is enough!

And only the Written Word, the Scriptures, are enough to satisfy our desperate need for answers.

We won’t find the specific answers to the whys of this tragedy, but we will find the answers to questions we didn’t even know we were asking.

Can God really be trusted?

Does He care about what we do to one another?

Does He leave us on our own?

Will He hear me when I cry out to Him?

What does He know about the pain I’m going through?

Dear readers, may you find comfort in the Written Word. And may you come to the Living Word, who promised His followers, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30 ESV).

I know it doesn’t feel this way now, but when we humble ourselves and acknowledge our need of the Saviour, we learn that He is willing to bear the heaviest part of our burden on His own shoulders.

My words most definitely aren’t enough, but I pray that you will come to know the One who is the Word.

*[Note: I thank Steph Beth Nickel for this very timely and personal guest post written for Nova Scotians (of whom I am one) in the wake of Canada’s largest mass shooting, which claimed over 22 lives April 18-19, 2020. With all the world dealing with COVID-19 and other issues, this post still has something for everyone! Many thanks, my friend. ~Janet]

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is eclectically interested and eclectically involved. She is an author, blogger, a regular contributor to the HopeStreamRadio online radio station, a freelance editor, and birth doula. Steph brings her interests together under the Nurture and Inspire umbrella. Ladies, you’re invited to join her Facebook group by the same name: Nurture and Inspire

Some Things Never Change (Guest Post)

Image by Engin_Akyurt from Pixabay

Some Things Never Change

by Steph Beth Nickel

Livestreaming church services. Economic upheaval. Social distancing. Self-isolation. Pandemic.

It’s what we talk about. It’s what we think about. It’s what we pray about—when we can muster the energy to pray.

It seemed like a very good time to focus on some of those things that simply never change. Here are 11 things to consider:

We are called to be outwardly focused.

As Christians, we’ve known this all along. But true confession time … Until recently, I didn’t realize just how self-focused I am. Am I really doing what I do to 1) honour God and 2) bless others? I want these goals to be my motivation, but too often they haven’t been. These days are the perfect opportunity to ask God to refine our motives. (All the while, we must extend grace to ourselves and remember that self-care isn’t necessarily selfish or self-centred. See below for further encouragement in these areas.)

There are always opportunities to minister to others.

Even now, there is so much we can do to bless others: post something encouraging on social media; pick up the phone and check on a senior who doesn’t have access to the Internet; offer to drop off groceries to someone who is apprehensive about venturing out. Even with social distancing, there is much we can do for one another.

Turns out our parents and Kindergarten teachers were right; it is nice to share.

This truth needs no explanation except to say there will be people who need financial assistance, a kind word, and/or a smile today. If we have the opportunity, let’s be generous with what we have and trust the Lord to provide for our needs.

We need one another.

Of course, this is another truth we’ve known all along, but it’s crystal clear with the current situation. Kindness and acts of service are crucial at this time. There may be restrictions as to how we can help, but we certainly need one another.

Our healthcare workers need our prayers—as do our government leaders.

There has never been a more important time to add our government leaders and healthcare workers to our prayer list. With the everchanging information about this virus that is circulating—even among the professionals—it’s difficult for them to know what the right thing to do is. They need the Lord’s wisdom and protection. (If you are either a healthcare professional or a government leader, thank you so much for your service!)

During difficult, uncertain times, we have Someone to turn to.

We’ve all gone through difficulty in our life: illness, loss, economic hardships … God was faithful then, and He’s faithful now. When we’re confused, overwhelmed, and struggling to make sense of it all, God invites us to draw near to Him, promising that He will draw near to us (James 4:8).

God loves us.

Don’t you love the fact that the Bible teaches not only that God is loving but also that He is love (1 John 4:7)? We can rest assured of His love when things are going well—and when a worldwide pandemic has changed so much.

God was not taken by surprise.

When the world changes overnight—and sometimes, hour by hour—we don’t feel equipped to keep up. Could any of us have seen ourselves in this situation a month ago? I know I couldn’t. Still, God wasn’t taken by surprise. And whether or not we feel prepared to face the days ahead, He’ll see us through.

No matter what happens in our world, we can rest assured that God never changes.

This is, perhaps, the singular truth that sees me through each day. While my life hasn’t changed all that much, I still sense the heaviness of this new reality. I can vegetate on the couch and watch Netflix and sleep more than usual—or I can trust in our unchanging heavenly Father and seek to accomplish the tasks He has set before me.

We are called to extend grace—to others and to ourselves.

The word should can cause big problems. Of course, the Bible lays out hundreds of clear Shoulds and Should Nots. However, when it comes to facing our current, unprecedented situation, we must be careful how we seek to impose our convictions—even God’s—on others. Even as believers, there are many times we’d be in big trouble if it weren’t for the Lord’s grace and Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf. We must remember that many of the people we interact with do not know Jesus as Saviour, which I believe provides the opportunity for us to show them we are Christians by our love—not our judgment.

There is a balance between self-sacrifice and self-care.

We can find several examples in the Scriptures that indicate that we are to put others’ needs ahead of our own. At the same time, we must remember that, unless we care for our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, we will soon have virtually nothing to offer those the Lord has brought into our life. May we prayerfully seek God’s perspective in this area, as in all others.


Click to tweet:


Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is eclectically interested and eclectically involved. She is an author, blogger, a regular contributor to the HopeStreamRadio online radio station, a freelance editor, and birth doula. Steph brings her interests together under the Nurture and Inspire umbrella. Ladies, you’re invited to join her Facebook group by the same name: Nurture and Inspire

When a Plan Comes Together (Guest Post)

When a Plan Comes Together

by Steph Beth Nickel

Planners. Journals. Notebooks.

Do you love them as much as I do?

Maybe you make a simple To Do List on paper or on your phone.

Maybe you keep it all in your head. (Kudos if you do!)

Still, there’s a challenge no matter what method you use to record your plans, hopes, and dreams … follow-through.

I can make a mean To Do List. I can decorate it with stickers and even use fancy writing if I’m so inclined. But none of that matters unless I take the needed steps to make my plans come together.

Sadly, creating a beautiful, comprehensive list and then lying back on the couch to watch “just one more episode” on Netflix doesn’t get me any closer to my goals.

Plus, nine times out of ten, I fall asleep. And when I wake up, I either 1) restart the episode I missed or 2) head to bed, promising myself I’ll do better the next day.

So, what practical steps can you and I take to move beyond list-making?

  1. As much as possible, head to bed at the same time every night and rise at the same time every morning.
  2. Get regular exercise.
  3. Eat well.
  4. Pray before putting pen to paper, asking God to guide you as you make your list.
  5. Be honest with yourself. Just how much can you reasonably accomplish in one day? Your list should reflect reality.
  6. Your list should also reflect what is truly important, including time with God, family, and friends.
  7. Assign a time for each task, remembering to factor in “the margins,” times to catch up on projects that take longer than expected, and scheduled downtime.
  8. Pray again, committing your plans to Him. After all, Proverbs 16:9 is true, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (ESV).

February 17 was Family Day. I had prepared what I felt was a reasonably long list of things I wanted to accomplish, most of them in my home office. Before I got busy there, I did some extras around the house, which turned out to be a very good thing. Not only did I enjoy looking around at the less cluttered areas I had dealt with but also, we had unexpected company. (See Proverbs 16:9 above.)

I was able to sit and chat with a young man who has been a friend of the family for many years. And as it turns out, he has been reading the Bible in order to overcome his dark thoughts and draw close to the Lord. He wants to begin coming to church and was asking about baptism. What a wonderful way to spend an hour or so!

Our visit reminded me of the importance of positioning myself to be ready to be a blessing—online and in person. While sleep will still lure me away, tempting me to procrastinate and escape the overwhelm that prowls around the perimeter of my mind, there are steps I can take to make my plans come together—and steps I can take to be attentive when the Lord is bringing His plans together.

How do you handle your To Do List? What potential stumbling blocks do you have to overcome? What suggestions could you add to the list above?

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is eclectically interested and eclectically involved. She is an author, blogger, a regular contributor to the HopeStreamRadio online radio station, a freelance editor, and birth doula. Steph brings her interests together under the Nurture and Inspire umbrella. Ladies, you’re invited to join her Facebook group by the same name: Nurture and Inspire

We Need One Another (Guest Post)

Two hands clasped together, with words like cooperate, unite, serve...
Image by John Hain from Pixabay

We Need One Another

by Steph Beth Nickel

I’ve recently begun Rachel Starr Thomson’s study 31 Days of Joy: A Devotional Journey in Fiction & Scripture.

The study springs from James 1:2-4, which says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (ESV).

Each entry includes an excerpt from a novel, a scripture, and an inspirational thought with room to journal in response.

On Day 1, the author asks readers to record their personal battle.

Sure, I get in a funk every once in a while. But, hey, my life is pretty darn good. What personal battle am I facing?

And then it struck me. My heart is heavy because I see the hurt, misunderstanding, and disrespect happening all around me—in the church.

And hard on the heels of that revelation, I ask, “What can I do about it?”

Ever had one of those instantaneous D’uh Moments?

You’re a writer, Stephanie. So, write!

And here I am.

Am I writing to rag on the church? No, they’re my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Am I here to say I’m on the hunt for the perfect local fellowship, where we all love one another and get along 100 percent of the time? I’m almost 60 years old. I know such a place doesn’t exist.

But am I intent on doing my part to identify the type of community I want to belong to—and then doing what I can to bring about change as I have the opportunity? Absolutely.

Now, you may be a mover and shaker, intent on following the path you feel has been laid out before you, eyes focused straight ahead, blinders firmly in place.

Don’t get me wrong, we need people who keep us moving on a God-honouring trajectory. But we also need people who will identify obstacles in the road and come up with a creative way to deal with the obstacles. Sometimes barreling right through them is not the best course of action.

Even more importantly, we need people who recognize that there are men and women, young people, and children among us who may have ideas that are far better than our own. We need decision-makers who are humble enough to learn from those without as much experience as they have. (The Bible has a lot to say about humility and pride.)

We also need people who will recognize the giftings in others and nurture those giftings, setting individuals free to minister in ways that give their uniqueness an opportunity to flourish.

And, without a doubt, we need people who recognize the wounded. Sure, some are obvious, but some people have developed great skill at withdrawing into themselves because they’ve been hurt over and over and over.

Where do you fit?

Do you clearly see the path ahead? Cast that vision in a way that enables others to see what you see. Be patient with those who don’t quite get it. Don’t rush out too far ahead. And be humble enough to consider others’ ideas and input.

Are you motoring along, keeping your head down and doing your own thing? While we need diligent, hardworking peacemakers who keep things moving forward, we also need them to speak up when things aren’t moving in the right direction. Just this past year, I learned there is a way to respectfully address concerns about the direction our churches are going without being prideful and argumentative, without seeking to cause descension and division. And when we see issues that need to be addressed, it just may be our job to bring them to light.

Finally, there are those who are so hurt and wounded that they do their very best to blend into the shadows. Some are “so done” with church. Do we provide a place for them to be open and honest? Do we really listen to what they have to say? Do we consider if there is something we should change, both individually and as a fellowship? Do we truly weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice?

Church, there is a place for every believer in Jesus. He has made each one unique, with specific gifts and talents He has called us to develop and use. Let’s make a place for everyone at the table. (click to tweet this)

And let’s do what James said in James 1:9, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (ESV).

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is eclectically interested and eclectically involved. She is an author, blogger, a regular contributor to the HopeStreamRadio online radio station, a freelance editor, and birth doula. Steph brings her interests together under the Nurture and Inspire umbrella. Ladies, you’re invited to join her Facebook group by the same name: Nurture and Inspire

The Importance of Contentment (Guest Post)

Girl in hat and sundress, picking daisies in a sunlit field.
[Image via Pixabay]

The Importance of Contentment

by Steph Beth Nickel

Why do you do what you do? Complacency, contentment, or conviction?

An onlooker might not be able to tell the difference.

Sometimes even we can’t tell the difference.

It’s what I’ve always done. That’s complacency.

I believe this is right, and it has been confirmed over and over again. That’s conviction.

But what about contentment?

It may look like complacency, but then again, it just might be conviction.

Contentment is my word for 2020.

As you may know, I am eclectically interested and eclectically involved. Too often I’m distracted by the Oo, Shiny! Books, online courses, careers …

Do you think it’s time to stop buying books (or at least slow down) when you have over 1,000 physical and ebooks you haven’t yet read?

Most of mine are accessible on my phone. <sigh>

And what about courses and lifetime access to online conference sessions, some of which were inexpensive, others … not so much?

I’ll buy this healthy living annual subscription and access to this library of workouts, and I’ll be healthier by the end of the year … if I access them and put what I learn into practice that is. (We won’t mention the fact that I was a personal trainer and know what I need to do to get healthier.)

Of course I’ll maintain my doula certification while writing, editing, working as our church admin, and helping my hubby clean the church each week. Sleep? Who needs it? (That would be me.)

To be honest, my whole life might be a case of FOMO, fear of missing out.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

In 2020, I will seek to live by my conviction that I have been called to contentment.

I will read 24-36 of those books I already have.

I will complete at least 12 of those online courses I’ve purchased and put into practice those things I learn from my paid subscriptions.

I will devote myself to writing—and publishing—the books I’ve begun.

I will maintain my doula certification because this is something I’m passionate about, but I will pace myself and not leave the requirements of my recertification to the last month or so.

I will stop becoming distracted by the Oo, Shiny! and look for the sparkle in the opportunities and possessions I already have.

Plus, I will regularly give thanks for my life as it is in the Here and Now.

How can you grow more content in the year ahead?

Do you have a word of the year? If so, what is it and why did you choose it?

All the very best in 2020!

Steph Beth Nickel is eclectically interested and eclectically involved. She is an author, blogger, a regular contributor to the HopeStreamRadio online radio station, a freelance editor, and birth doula. Steph brings her interests together under the Nurture and Inspire umbrella. Ladies, you’re invited to join her Facebook group by the same name: Nurture and Inspire

Christmas Devotional and Giveaway

If you like Christmas devotionals, check out my guest post at Patti’s Porch. Someone who comments on the post (on that site, not here) will win a print or ebook copy of my daily devotional book, A Year of Tenacity. Draw is on December 17, 2019.
Link: This is the Lord’s Battle.

Just Around the Corner … 2020 (Guest Post)

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Just Around the Corner … 2020

By Steph Beth Nickel

Can you believe it? In a little over a month it will be 2020. Does that sound as futuristic to you as it does to me? (Maybe I’m just showing my age. <grin>)

I like to make plans for the new year at the end of November.

Here are six reasons to do so:

  • Making New Year’s resolutions has a built-in expectation of failure. Let’s face it, most resolutions get tossed aside before the end of January.
  • If we leave planning until the end of the year, we don’t feel as if we have as much time to fine tune our plans with January 1 looming before us.
  • We may feel pressured by all the yearend advertising. Join this gym. Buy this discounted bundle online. (Guilty.) Make this the year you do … (I’m sure you can fill in the blank with any number of things.)
  • If we “test run” our resolutions next month, we can do so with a minimal number of onlookers. (Hey, even the gyms are less crowded in December.)
  • And if we start in December, we can see what works and what may be best set aside. But don’t forget to give yourself grace since many of us are especially busy during the holiday season.
  • And if you’re just coming off the writing high of trying to pump out 50,000 words in November (NaNoWriMo), you may feel as if you can conquer the world. Why not start before the feeling fade? (I will be away for part of the weekend. A dear friend’s mother passed away this past week, and the service is on Saturday. However, I’m hoping to hit 50K before getting on the road. It would be the first time ever.)

Many of us choose a word for the coming year. And if we’re Christians, we may feel the Lord has laid something on our heart. That is the case for me this year. I believe 2020 is to be my personal year of contentment, which is not to be confused with complacency.

So, just how can our Word of the Year line up with our List of Goals? (Notice, I didn’t call them resolutions.)

Here are six of my goals, all of which should lead to greater contentment. (Hint: It’s best to frame goals as positive statements. Negative ones just make us feel as if we’ve failed up to this point.)

  • If you know me, you realize I am eclectically interested and eclectically involved. Call it the Oo, Shiny Syndrome, the Butterfly Syndrome (I have a tendency to flit from one thing to the next to the next), or just call it Oh, Squirrel! Regardless, my goal is to focus more on the task(s) at hand and only pursue something new if I’ve thought it through and maybe, just maybe, set something else aside. (That is almost painful to commit to. Who says we can’t spin two dozen plates at the same time?)
  • Narrowing my focus means it’s far more likely than I can do some of those things I’ve been planning for years, things like publishing a novel and a nonfiction book. There, I’ve said it. I won’t only be content if I birth these two book babies, I will be ecstatic.
  • Between a gym membership, online fitness site memberships, and the DVDs I have on hand, there is no reason I can’t be stronger and healthier by the end of 2020 than I am now. That plus the fact that I actually like to exercise. Yes, I am one of those weird people.
  • Hand in hand with getting more exercise is the importance of eating a nourishing diet. To all of you who do, kudos! Really! By the end of 2020, I want to be consistently eating more healthfully. I’m not committing to perfection, whatever that may mean, but the more I eat healthy foods, the more I want to do so. I already know that. It’s just a matter of putting the knowing into practice—and using all those fancy gadgets and cookbooks I’ve purchased, hoping they’ll motivate me to do better.
  • My To Be Read (TBR) pile is monumentally high. Plus, several of my favourite authors will be releasing new books that I will be tempted to buy over the next 12-13 months. Contentment doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t buy some of these books, but it does mean I will deliberately get to some of those books I have neglected far too long.
  • And speaking of books, I have numerous versions of the Scriptures—and access to the others online. While I will be using some of the Bible study tools I have on hand, I don’t need anything more than my Bible to grow in my faith over the coming year. The plan is to focus more on reading God’s Word than being distracted by all the shiny study resources that are sure to come to my attention.

So, what about you? Do you have a word for 2020? Have you set some goals for yourself? I’d love to hear about it.

May 2020 overflow with the very richest of blessings!

Tweetable: 6 Reasons to make your plans for the new year at the end of November. Via #StephBethNickel #2020 #newyearsresolutions #goals [Click to tweet]

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is eclectically interested and eclectically involved. She is an author, blogger, a regular contributor to the HopeStreamRadio online radio station, a freelance editor, and birth doula. Steph brings her interests together under the Nurture and Inspire umbrella. Ladies, you’re invited to join her Facebook group by the same name: Nurture and Inspire