Moving Forward in 2014

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Last week I shared with you what worked best for me in 2013.  I want to be a person who learns from my mistakes and is encouraged by my progress.  I also want to prayerfully consider my plans and goals, and make sure they are in alignment with the word of God and his plans for my life.  I was amazed at how quickly these goals for the year came to me.  True self-reflection often points us in the right direction.

If you haven’t set goals for 2014, don’t feel like it’s too late.  January 1st is a great time to begin working toward changes, but really there is no better day than today.  Jimmie and I used this guide from The Art of Simple as a launching point.

So, here they are!  My goals for 2014:

Personal Goals:

Develop in the following areas:

1. Be present.  Whoever I am with deserves my full attention, whether it is my family, a friend, someone at my job, or God himself.  I want to eliminate distractions and focus on whoever I am with.   I want to be conscious of the beauty and blessings that surround me, whether in nature or in the life God has blessed me with.

2. Be intentional.  I don’t want to simply hope for the changes I know need to come about in my life or in the work I do.  I want to plan better, set goals, and be accountable for my progress.

3. Be joyful.  I need to smile and play more, especially at home.  A daily gratitude journal will help me focus on the gifts that God gives me each and every day.

4.  Relax.  My stress levels have been enormously high.  I need to set realistic expectations for myself.  I need to focus on my priority list and nothing else.  I need to take time to decompress.  I may need a massage from time to time to relieve the tension I carry.

Learning Goals:

1.  Read at least two books per month.  One should be spiritually edifying.  Use Goodreads app to keep track.

2.  Complete at least four Kay Arthur Bible Studies.

3.  Learn to use my camera in manual mode.

Physical Goals:

1.  Maintain a paleo lifestyle the majority of the time.

2.  Slowly introduce running into my lifestyle.

Marriage/Family Goals:

1.  Take time to relax.

2.  Go out on occasional dates.

3.  Have family devotion time at least two nights per week.

4.  Take a family vacation.

Accountability:

To stay accountable in accomplishing my goals, I will:

1.  Use my weekly calendar to schedule study times and devotion times.

2.  Schedule a monthly check-in with Jimmie to go over our progress.

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These do not include my goals for Gathering.  Thankfully, we have frequent leadership, team, and launch meetings in which we set goals and keep one another accountable.  It is also my goal to devote my time and energy to each item on my priority list.  These are just a few things that stood out to me as needs in my life.

What about you?  Do you have any resolutions?  Any goals for 2014?  Do you have any thoughts or advice for me in reaching my goals?  I would love your feedback.

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What I Gather About 2013

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This year on January 1st I sat down with my husband and spent several hours discussing the ups and downs of 2013 and setting goals for 2014.  After a long break from blogging, I thought this would be a good time to share some things that worked for me in 2013.  Soon I will also share some goals I have for the coming year.

Health:

1.  The Paleo diet.  Nothing in my 32 years of existence has brought about more positive changes in my body than our radical change in eating habits.  I’m reluctant to call it a “diet” because we have become so accustomed to eating this way that it feels very natural.  I have more energy, have lost nearly 30 pounds, sleep better, feel alert and don’t have any digestive issues.  Several weeks of eating cruddy, sugar-laden food at Christmastime left me feeling bloated, tired, foggy and depressed.  This Paleo lifestyle is here to stay.

2.  The Whole 30.  Thirty days of saying no all sugar and processed food did wonders for my sugar addiction.  I was amazed at how little I craved foods I have always craved after even a week of adhering to the Whole 30 plan.  I highly recommend The Whole 30 for anyone who needs to reset their nutritional habits or kick their sugar addiction.

3.  Food.  Who am I kidding?  Food always works for me!  There were some clear winners, though, in 2013…. foods that I rediscovered or helped me meet my goals or made the Paleo lifestyle a breeze.  My favorites?  Brussels sprouts, eggs, dates, Lara bars, bacon, prosciutto, greens (especially kale, spinach, and beet greens), chicken sausages, pistachios, sweet peppers and organic ground beef.  Yum.

Books:

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1.  Bread and Wine  by Shauna Niequist.  I can’t recommend this book enough.  It inspired me to open my home and my heart to friends, neighbors and even strangers.

2.  Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver.  I am a huge Kingsolver fan and this book didn’t disappoint.

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3.  Prototype by Jonathan Martin.  I closed this book feeling more beloved by God.  My eyes were opened to the way God sees and loves me.

4.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  This was such a fun book, full of whimsy and mystery.  I couldn’t put it down.  Thankfully I read it on vacation and was able to read all hours of the day and night to finish it!

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5. Saturday by Ian McEwan.  This book was beautiful and descriptive and made me want to become a novelist.

Personally:

1.  Transparency.  It has been a challenge blogging about some of my biggest struggles and insecurities, but I have found it to be extremely therapeutic.  I find myself working through my feelings as I write them out for the world to see.  Thank you to all of you Rachael Gathers readers, for your e-mails, comments, phone calls and shares.  You let me know that I am not alone and I draw so much courage and encouragement from your stories.

2.  Letting go.  This has been a  year that forced me to recognize that not everyone is going to like me, approve of me, or support me.  I will admit this has been a hard lesson to learn, but it is an essential lesson for us all.  I have found great peace and comfort in the love and acceptance I find in Jesus Christ and am trying not to care so much what everyone else thinks.  

Spiritually:

1.  Reading through the Bible in a year.  I didn’t quite finish on time, but I am almost done!  While this doesn’t take the place of Bible study, it was really good for me to be disciplined about reading the Bible nearly every day.  The app I used on my iPhone was extremely helpful in this regard.

2.  Creating a list of priorities.  This may have brought about the biggest change for me this year.  I didn’t see a drastic change in my behavior immediately, but rather a change in my thinking.  I began to think about what is important in my life based on time spent in prayer and study.  This has allowed me to evaluate many aspects of my life and begin to say no more often.

On the Blog:

Being flexible.  I am a very goal-oriented person, so I have felt a huge amount of frustration at not being able to plan posts better.  With my family, job, planting a church, and various other commitments, I have had to come to terms with blogging when I am able.  I try not to pay attention to stats and just enjoy posting when I can.  Mostly I enjoy the comments and feedback from all of you!

With that said, here are my ten most popular posts from 2013:

1.  Gathering Ideas for a Shabby Chic Bedroom

2.  A Gathering of Recipes for Crowds

3.  Gathering for a Shabby Chic Baby Shower

4.  A Gathering of Goodwill Finds:  Kitchen and Dining Edition

5.  I Gather a Letter of Love (Happy Birthday, Jimmie!)

6.  A Gathering of Goodwill Finds:  Dress Edition

7.  A Gathering of Bible Study Methods

8. Gathering Delight

9.  What I Gather About Chelsea

10.  What I Gather About Women of Valor

Many of these were popular thanks to Pinterest.  Thanks to those of you who pin my blog posts!

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There is a look back at some of the things that worked best for me in 2013.  I can’t wait to share with you some of my goals for 2014!

What about you?  What did you learn in 2013?  Was there anything that really worked well for you?  I would love to hear about it!

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