Tuesday, January 1, 2013


As I was listening in sacrament meeting this week, a little gem of a quote struck me. The speaker was talking about the end of the Christmas season, and that even after all the gifts have been exchanged and the wrapping discarded, God extends to each of us a final gift of the holidays.

That gift is 365 brand new days, full of possibility and change.  Days gifted to us to fill however we want. Twenty-four hours each day, 365 times over.  What a beautiful gift.

I've pondered her statement over the last few days, and I want to use these next 365 days purposefully. This possibility is what makes the new year so appealing to me--today is really no different from yesterday, except that the 2012 calendar has been discarded and 2013 is blank, ready to fill. I want to fill each day with memories and joy and service and kindness and improvement and discovery. 

Every December I look inward and try to evaluate what I have made of myself over the previous year.  What do I need to improve?  What have I done better this last year?  Where should my focus be for the next 365 days gifted to me by God? 

My focus for 2012 was to "Think outside the box"--think outside what I had made of myself and work on my shortcomings by looking to others as examples.  I found myself slogging through a life crisis that brought me to my knees many times and guided me through self-improvements that I never thought I'd address.  I can honestly look back on 2012 and find areas where I changed and improved past the point I ever thought possible.  My soul was stretched and God led me down unfamiliar thorny paths that in hindsight reveal personal strength above which I thought myself capable.

With all the challenges of 2012 behind me and the challenges for 2013 still unknown, I want to set my sights high but achievable. 

Mosiah 3:19 came to mind: "For the natural man is an enemy to God . . . and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit." 

So, too, did 2 Nephi 2:27:  "Men are free according to the flesh; . . . they are free to choose." 

I want to conquer my natural instincts and draw closer to God and the person He envisions me to be, but I am often lazy and impatient and flawed.  How to focus this year and truly be better in 365 days, not just a year older?

I found this quote that summarizes my desires perfectly:

"The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react."
--George Bernard Shaw

I love the word actAct by definition is movement, achievement, accomplishment, a means to an end.  It's not sedentary or lazy, but always moving with purpose.  That's the key--with purpose--not just busy but directed movement, intended change, progression. 

Act also describes our conduct--our ability to control our reactions and by so doing changing our very souls.  C. S. Lewis penned:  "Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is. Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth."  (Mere Christianity, 164-65) 

These actions don't have to be world-altering to be important or necessary. I know a little change in each of us can make a big difference in our own circles of influence. In October, M. Russell Ballard referenced the example of the honey bee as a creature that only generates 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its short lifetime, yet when added to the efforts of the beehive, the result is substantial.  He added this challenge:

In your morning prayer each new day, ask Heavenly Father to guide you to recognize an opportunity to serve one of His precious children. Then go throughout the day with your heart full of faith and love, looking for someone to help. Stay focused, just like the honeybees focus on the flowers from which to gather nectar and pollen. If you do this, your spiritual sensitivities will be enlarged and you will discover opportunities to serve that you never before realized were possible.

I want 2013 to be a year of intentional action, a year of controlling my reactions, a year of prayerfully finding 365 ways to serve others. I know I will never change the world, but I know that I can change me, 1/12 of a teaspoon at a time.

It's going to be a great year, I can feel it.



  1. Great reflective post.
    Full of great inspiration.
    Thanks for sharing it.

    Now..... CHARGE! ( I'm imagining you with your sword held high on a black shiney horse conquering all )

  2. Wow! What terrific happiness will come your way with 365 days of service! LOVE

  3. Love this, so well written. Will I ever stop being surprised that our thoughts walk paths that are so close? Probably not, but maybe that's the real reason my blog holds no appeal for me anymore, you say my thoughts and where my head is going so much better than I ever can! Hope you are having a great Christmas break, can't wait to hear/read about it :)

  4. I feel exactly the same way. Lots of anticipation going on over here.

    Happy New Year, Jen. I love your word.


  5. One of my favorite posts. You said so many good things. I'm going to reread this one a few times and take notes. I love January for just that reason: we have a clean slate ahead of us and I do love a clean slate. It's exhilarating.

  6. Ours are so much alike. Maybe we can encourage each other along.

  7. When are you coming home? I miss you!

  8. Such a great and inspiring post, Jen. I love the word you have chosen to lead you into the new year. It's such a powerful little word. You're right about how our actions don't have to be big and world moving. Just a small act of kindness or generosity can go a long way.

    Happy New Year to you and your family!

  9. i love this. i love your theme for the year each year too. you know you've been reading someone's blog when you feel the patterns and habits:) anyway, i love act. i'm with you.