Friday, January 1, 2010


Happy ninth day of Christmas, folks!

I love New Year’s resolutions. They work for me. Even when I don’t completely follow them, they always make a positive impact, either by getting me further towards a goal, or by showing me what methods of reaching that goal don’t work for me.

 Like last year, I’m giving myself till Epiphany to figure out exactly what my New Year’s resolutions will be. Trying to solidify my intentions for the year during the week after Christmas never works – it’s always too full of celebrating the season! And I want to take the time to properly think and pray through my ideas for resolutions before I decide on them.

 (btw, this is a long, rambling post - I'm posting it because I've enjoyed so much the past few days looking at other folks' resolution posts, and thought others might enjoy looking at mine. But if this isn't your sort of thing, feel free to skip it.)

Last Year

I was looking at last year’s resolutions to see how I did. I did lose the weight from the twins' pregnancy, and I’ve almost finished reading all the way through the Bible (I’m about 10 days behind on the scheduled readings, so I should finish it this week). I wanted to do more regular devotions with the kids, and that happened because we started homeschooling, and Bible reading and Bible verse memorization is part of the curriculum (funny how that one worked out – not how I expected, but it’s good!). 

 At the beginning of last year, I also wanted to make some housekeeping resolutions, but couldn’t figure out a good way to do it, and so didn’t make any. But that worked itself out too, because we started doing our Saturday morning chores, and though the house isn’t perfect, it’s much more reliably clean that it was before.

 I did not end up praying the hours. I’m thinking about trying again, but am not certain that’s how I want to do devotions.

 Doing Devotions vs. Being Devoted

“Do devotions” by the way, is a phrase that’s been rolling around in my mind for about a month. That’s how it was phrased in the churches of my childhood (“make sure you do your daily devotions”), and I’ve been thinking about rephrasing it as “be devoted”. That's what's really meant, I think. Why, after all, would a Christian regularly pray and read the Bible? Because he is devoted to his Lord, and the prayer and listening (reading the Bible is, after all, the practice of listening to the Lord) come out of that devotion. What I think of as “doing my devotions” is really the fruit of being devoted.

The fruit and the food, actually, because praying and listening also increase devotion, I think, if done sincerely. Because after we pray and listen, we then obey, and that makes us more wholly devoted, makes more of our selves available to be  devoted.

The thing is, though praying the hours is still attractive (both the idea of praying the Anglican rosary, and the idea of doing morning and evening prayer), I’m not sure it’s what I’m supposed to resolve this year.

Devotionally, I think what’s going to be more important for me is to memorize Scripture and to journal about what I’m memorizing. However, I would like to more often have times in my life where I do read Morning Prayer, do sing the hymns, do pray the Anglican rosary. I want, when I am remembering my devotedness (how’s that for rephrasing?), to remember also those good, old, tried-and-true methods for expressing it. Too often, I think, “I love Jesus,” without thinking of sitting and taking the time to praise Him or to meditate on His mercies. And those devotional practices of prayer and singing would be profitable to me, I think, and honoring to Him.

(Also reverberating through my head as I think of these things is a line from a song I learned in childhood: “read your Bible/pray everyday/and you’ll grow, grow, grow”. True that!)


Then, there is writing . . . last year this time, Lucy and Anna (our twins) were still waking at night to nurse (a lot!) and I planned on waking early to write once they were sleeping through the night. I’ve done this with limited success for the past six months: I’ve managed to get an average of about 3-4 solid hours a week in on the book, and right now it’s standing at about 35,000 words (out of a likely 75,000). Given the year we’ve had, I’m pretty pleased with this.  But in the new year, I’d like to regularly be doing an hour every weekday morning.

And the truth is, I want it to be more like ten. I want writing to be what I think of doing in the evenings, what I think of doing when the twins are napping. I want it to become something I turn to easily and often, my default behavior. And there would be the dedicated hours of writing in the morning, those would be strictly for the novel, but at other times I want to be journaling, I want to be taking down those small ideas here or there of a funny conversation or a poignant moment, making a file of them for reference for later stories, I want to be thinking in type about what I’ve been reading, I just want to be always writing, writing, writing, so that I get good at it, so that I gain a facility at it, greater than the one I already have.

 But, the resolution? An hour a day on weekdays, working on the novel. Yes? No? This one I need to think about a bit more, because I don’t feel happy about it yet.


Then, there is improving my Spanish. Learning Spanish, I’m not sure is a New Year’s resolution. I’ve been thinking of it more as something I want to be a lot better at by the time I’m thirty (about eleven months from now!). I’m listening to more Spanish music and learning the lyrics, and working on practicing it more with the children. I’ve gotten a couple of Spanish novels out of the library, to read with dictionary in hand, and I’m still researching to find a curriculum for myself that will let me systematically solidify what I know and learn what I don’t. I would like to be fluent in a few years - it’s scary to admit that, because it’s such a huge goal, but at least I’m not starting from scratch (I passed the AP test in high school, and I’m finding I retained more than I had the right to hope I did!).  And I really, really want my children to be bilingual. My sister (who is bilingual, and teaches Spanish for a living) has been a huge help in getting us started, and I want to go further this year, building on the foundation we already have.


Then, there is housekeeping . . . here, I would like to be more efficient? I would like to clear and declutter . . . soon, we’ll be able to get rid of all the baby stuff. Soon, we’ll be able to have more things lower, because hopefully this year the twins will learn what not to touch or they will be old enough to play with the things they couldn’t before. So, this year might be a year of changing things around in this house so that it’s a house for kids and not a house for babies. Not sure if this is resolution-material, or just something to be aware of and work on . . . .


And the kids . . . I half-listened to a conversation my mom was having with her best friend, talking about how she used to, every six months, think and pray over each of us kids, and think about what we needed and how we needed to grow . . . or something like that. I didn’t actually hear all of the conversation, but it made me curious, and I’d like to ask her about this and see if it’s something I want to do with the kids. Intentional parenting. Not that we aren’t already being intentional in our parenting – we are – but this sounded like it might be a good tool to be moreso. So, I’d like to ask her about this next time I see her.

I also want to think about making a resolution to become less passionate when caring for my children. "Passionless" in the way the Christian fathers meant it: in being controlled by the Holy Spirit and not by my own wants and desires. It's amazing how little toddler tempers can trigger my own temper! Anne Kennedy wrote recently about doing things slooooowly with her kids, and that's close to what I'm thinking about . . . parenting with less haste and pride and anger, and with more love and reason and kindness. This is something I want to deliberately work on.


And homeschooling . . . not sure this is resolution-material either, but I do want to think about what I’m doing for this second semester – how to make it better, how to get to things we haven’t managed to get to yet, at least not in the depth I’d like to get to them (esp. science and music and the church year), how to do some things better (especially Spanish).


I'm pretty happy with my current routine (though I've dropped it for the past week while celebrating Christmas - adding a little vacation to my holiday!). I might want to make some specific resolutions just to add some spice to things. But doing the 30 Day Shred regularly, and adding in other fun DVD workouts when I get the chance, + more or less following the No S Diet seems to be pretty sustainable. I'm also doing fun stuff like the 100 push-up and 20 pull-up challenges. But I might want to specifically resolve to a certain number of workouts just to hold myself accountable . . . gonna think more about this one too!

Btw, something cool? I’m starting to dream in Spanish sometimes.

So . . . I'll update when I figure out what I'm doing on all these things. But I have to admit: a great deal of the fun is in the pondering.

peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

p.s. For more on why I think resolutions are cool, see last year's post called A Sinner's New Year.


MomCO3 said...

I love your sum-up. (That makes me think of Inigo Montoya.)
What about reading through the Bible in Spanish? You know so much of it, the vocabulary will come-- and think of how great it would be to have scipture at your (spanish) fingertips!
I like your writing goals. I'm trying to have some, too.

Jessica said...

Hi Ann!

I've thought about reading the Bible in Spanish, but my devotional goals feel a little daunting already, and I'm not sure I want to add to them. It might make sense though to do something like reading a Psalm a week in Spanish, or something like that.

I think I might try reading through a Narnia book in Spanish. El Leon, La Bruja y el Armario? (sp?) :)