Thursday, December 31, 2015

2. Family First

Yesterday, I spoke a bit about my plan for spiritual growth in the new year.

Today, I'd like to focus on my second goal: Putting Family First.

Here's the deal.  There are a lot of things that I do day-in and day-out that are arguably putting my "family first"...working for hours at the studio editing pictures to make some extra money to pay off debt, spending time sitting in the waiting room of the dance studio because the older girls are in two separate classes with 45 minutes of wait-time between them, and setting up routines & schedules to help the house run smoothly.  

These things are great...but it's crazy that these things I have done to put the family first actually sometimes TAKE AWAY from spending time with them.  

And so, in 2016, here is my plan for putting family first.

1. Be Present.  Goodbye, cell phone.

Ha.  That sounded very dramatic, didn't it?  I won't be getting rid of the cell phone completely.  But in the evenings...from suppertime to bedtime, I'm going to charge it beside my bed.  

We have no home phone, so I'll leave the ringer on, in case somebody needs me, but no texting, no facebooking, no Pinteresting. 

Sitting in the same room with my family while I'm surfing the latest happenings on social media isn't the same as spending quality time with my family.

And so, goodbye evening cell phone usage.

2. Schedule monthly date nights with the hubs.

I said I was going to do this last year.  But it's hard to follow through if it's not on the calendar, isn't it?  

And so...we are going to put these bad boys on the calendar IMMEDIATELY!  Or maybe tonight...or tomorrow night.  Immediately just sounded so much more dramatic and sometimes I like to be dramatic.  ;)

The kicker to this situation is that we're REALLY trying to pay off debt this year and we REALLY don't want to eat out (more on that later!).  Soooo...our date nights will revolve around the gift cards we have in the gift card drawer. food!

3. Schedule "alone time" with each girl.

Matthew is good at this.  I almost always have all three of them at one time, and when he takes one of them to the farm, I have the other two.

Our oldest daughter loves hunting & farming with Dad, so the other two sometimes get left out of that activity.  

Our second daughter loves grocery shopping with me, so the other two sometimes get left out of that.

Three nights a month though, we are going to schedule a "one-on-one time" for each girl.  The third child will have to visit Grandma for a little while on that night.

We want the girls to know that we care about them individually and that they have our full attention sometimes.  

1. Read the Bible daily.
2. Put Family First.
- Be Present.
- Schedule date nights with Matthew.
- Schedule date nights with each girl.

How will you change your relationship with your family in 2016?

1. Faith

Each year, I set goals in eight areas.  In the past, I've made several sub-goals in each category, and's just not manageable.  

At the end of 2014, I was so overwhelmed with having a 6-month old that didn't sleep (thank you, God, for the tubes in her ears this past June!). I mentioned a few "resolutions" last December 31st and worked a little throughout the year to meet those goals, but until we all started sleeping through the night again (for the most part), I was in survival mode.

This year, I'm going to set ONE goal in each area.  ONE.  That's eight goals total.

Maybe if I meet a goal mid-year, I'll set another goal in the same category.  Or maybe I'll just ride out the rest of 2016 feeling pretty good about myself. ;)

Here are the eight categories:
1. Spiritual
2. Family
3. Personal
4. Career
5. Physical
6. Financial
7. Relational
8. Intellectual

Today, we'll start with my spiritual goal.  I truly believe it's the most important area of my life and the one I need to keep in constant check.  It's the category that affects all other categories and the one that matters eternally.

Spiritual goal for 2016:
Study the Bible EVERY day.

Seems simple enough, right?

Well, you would think.  

But sometimes, when babies don't sleep, when children want to eat, when houses need to be cleaned...spending time in the Word of God is one of the first things that gets thrown to the back burner. 

That...and showering.

I've created a plan to help myself meet this goal.

1. Study in the morning.

Seriously, when Jesus got up early in the morning and went to pray by Himself (Mark 1:35-36), He was onto something!  

Let's be real here...if I don't get up early and spend time with Jesus before my three girls are up and around, I can kiss that "quiet time" at my kitchen table goodbye.

I can pray in the car, read a few verses of scripture sitting at my desk on my plan period, and even listen to the Word on the way home.  

But it's hard to listen for God's still small voice when the kids are fighting in the backseat of the car and you're trying not to spill your Raspberry Iced Tea from Sonic.  Am I right? Jesus in the morning, before I have a chance to open my own mouth.

2. Make a checklist.

I am a "check it off" kind of girl.  When I make a "to do" list, I add the items I just did to check them off if they weren't on there to begin with.

When I'm trying to keep up with the Couch 2 5K running plan, I put a sticker on the calendar every time I run.

Yeah.  I'm not kidding.  I heart stickers.

So on a Bible Journaling Facebook group that I follow, a woman had created a Bible Reading Log in the back of her Erin Condren Life Planner (you guys know how much I love my planner!). 

I loved the idea so much that I made myself a little reading log in the back of MY planner, too!  (You saw that coming, right?)

There it is!  So I'll just color a little box each time I read and watch the page FILL UP WITH COLOR!  How fun is that!?!

3. Use technology to help me stick to it.

We live in a technological age.  I hate to admit that I am on my phone, iPad, and computer WAY more than I should be (keep this in mind when you read my "family" goal in the next few days).

Technology isn't always the best avenue to build relationships and encourage family interaction, but it can be a great tool in studying the Bible.

This little app has been a life-changer for me over the last few years.

It's called the "YouVersion" Bible.

This Bible has everything.  You can get the Bible in several different versions and some of them even come with the audio version, so you can listen in the car or during your (morning) quiet time.

It has plans that can help you stick to your reading...from plans that take a year all the way down to plans that take 5 days, from devotional plans to chronological plans, topical plans and certain books of the Bible.  

When you "sign up" for a plan on the app, it sends you notifications to read it and you can mark off your progress through the month (score!).

You can also take sermon notes on the app, which I absolutely love (although it looks like I'm texting through the entire sermon...).

Here is a screen-shot of some of my sermon notes from the last few weeks.  The thing I love about this is that my notes sync to my computer or other devices, so they're at my fingertips wherever I go.

I have started using this feature when I'm doing my Bible journaling.  I'll open up the message I want to focus on, read through my notes again, and pull out the main thing that has spoken to my heart that week.

Bible journaling is another great tool in my walk with Jesus, but that will have to be another post...

YouTube is another great Bible study tool, as many churches, ministers, and Christian authors, have tons of free resources over there to help with spiritual growth.

Our church subscribes to an online program called "RightNow Media" that has thousands of Bible studies available to help with spiritual growth.

It doesn't have to be complicated.  My dad uses his smartphone alarm to set reminders to pray for specific people at certain times each day.  He is a better Christian than me, obviously, as I hadn't even thought of that concept until my brother told me about it a few weeks ago.  Simple, but effective.

The point is...the information is there.  Technology can be a HUGE asset to your walk with Christ and I encourage you to use it to help you grow closer to Him.

So that's my spiritual goal for 2016.  
Be in the Word daily.
- Study in the morning.
- Make a checklist.
- Use technology to help me stick to it.

What are you going to do in 2016 to grow closer to Jesus?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Every year at this time, I start thinking about what I need to change in the new year. 

Don't we all kind of do that? 

I mean, surely nobody thinks there isn't SOMEthing they could change, right?

The new year always feels like a good time to "start over". 

In 2015, I made a lot of changes. I met a lot of goals. I followed through with some things I had been putting off for quite a while.

But, in true Hannah fashion, I still feel there are so many areas of life that I need to change. 

And so (also in true Hannah fashion), I made a list. 

Over the next few weeks, I'd like to share with you some of these goals and my plan to meet these goals.