Monday, December 2, 2013

The Final ACT

On January 1, 2013, I set a New Year's Resolution.

"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."

Although November 30th came and went without me posting, I knew I couldn't neglect my next-to-last update for the year.

Where did November go, anyway?  

When November started, I took a long look at how I've improved this year. I recognized instances where I had acted to serve others in October.  I saw where I had fallen short in some of my personal habits, and I learned one of the greatest lessons of the year from my son Ben.  I realized that I had been spending way too much time focused on things I needed to do, ignoring the highest priorities in my life--serving my family and playing with my kids and reading to them and being present with them.  

So . . . 

I switched gears for November.  Whenever a child asked me to read to them or play a game with them or help them or talk to them, I would consciously turn from whatever I was doing (usually homework on the computer). If it was possible to leave what I was doing to help them, then that's what I did. I noticed that I was up later doing homework a couple of nights--later than I'd hoped.  I noticed that my house was a little messier most days, and that the laundry piled up one week.  I also noticed that most of that stuff didn't matter.  My homework still got done.  My house was mostly clean most days, and the laundry eventually made it to kids' drawers.  I also noticed that my kids and Brad need me.  They need me to take them stuff when they have an emergency.  They need my attention when they're struggling with a homework assignment.  Then need me to read to them and play with them and shop with them and talk with them, because that's how they know that I love them. 

It made a difference.  I realized how self-focused I had become, and I began to see some of my previous priorities as selfish or unimportant. I wasn't perfect, to be sure, but I recognized the difference it made in my family's day when I would take time for their needs, not just for the next thing on my to-do list.

Here it is--December--and I have to say that I have stayed focused on my New Year's Resolution better this year than any other.  I have thirty days left for this experiment of ACTing to take residence in my soul before 2014 rolls around.  I've thought about how I want to approach my ACTing for these last thirty days, and my goal is to keep ACTing as uppermost in my thoughts as I did in January--

  • I am going to plan each day with purpose.  This is harder in December than it is in January--why is that?  I hope that ACTing with purpose will make this most festive and stressful of months easier on me and on my family.  I'm hoping to finish my final paper tomorrow (fingers crossed!), and by completing it six days early, I think I'll gain a whole extra week of December to accomplish all of the wonderful craziness that defines the holiday season.
  • I am going to control my reactions.  As the due date for my final paper gets closer, I find my fuse getting shorter, and the holidays often sap my patience faster than any other time of year anyway (I'm not the only one, am I?).  I want to be positive and happy, not ruled by what others are doing or how others are acting around me. By controlling my reactions and remembering that the purpose of this season is to remember the birth of Jesus Christ, I hope to bring a different spirit to my holiday season this year.
  • I am going to prayerfully ask for ways that I can serve others through my actions.  I have a few tasks already on my calendar that focus my attention on others, but the rest of the month I hope to leave the days open and be willing to ACT as the Spirit guides me, find those who need my help, and then have the courage to follow through with those promptings.
What I really want is to have another month of big changes like I experienced back in January--I want 2013 to be recorded in my soul as a year that I orchestrated some big changes in myself, so I can look back and know that I really did give this resolution to ACT everything I had, for all 365 days of the year.


  1. I love what you did in November, what a gift to your to your family, and really it ended up blessing you as well. I hope your December is just as meaningful, can't wait to hear about it.

  2. I remember how hard it was to be in grad school while parenting. I'm not sure I always did the best job of making sure needs got met, so I found your post particularly interesting. Sounds like you are doing a good job, all around.