Every January, like you, I feel this urge to rid my life of excess. To start over. Fresh.
I attack closets, papers, shelves, kids’ rooms. And I make attempts to purge my bookshelves.
I’ve managed to edit the bookcase beside my bed down to books I’ll never get rid of. These are the books I go back to over and over.
If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share a stack of them with you.
The following books are about resolutions. Seven of the books in this pile have been successful at achieving their purpose in my life. Two of them are earning a place on that bookcase.
Resolution: eat right
The NEW Sonoma Diet is much more than nutritional weight loss. It’s about reclaiming meals as celebrations, making the kitchen the heart of your home and the preparation of the meal an integral part of family life. And it worked for us.
Mealtime in my busy family can become purely sustenance and dinner just another chore. I find myself eating too often on the run: standing up, in the car, in front of the TV. Now, I get a child or two to help me cook and the prep time becomes valuable conversation time. Eat slow and savor. Not just food, the time with your family.
Resolution: have family devotions
I found Little Visits With God in a church library eight years ago and for six years, everyone in our family got something out of it — including me. A verse, a brief story, questions, a passage to read and a prayer. This little book prompted spiritual conversations with our kids from pre-school through middle school and made it easier to be consistent.
We still pray each night as a family and most nights the kids do devotions on their own — a habit this book helped us form.
Resolution: read to my kids
I must admit, reading to our kids has never been a problem. But I hated reading books that only entertained the kids and bored me to tears.
Over the years I’ve come up with a good list of children’s books that have enriched my life as a grown up much as much as they’ve been enjoyed by the kids. The Chronicles of Narnia top the list.
In fact, I think it’s time to read them all aloud again. My 18-year-old voted The Horse and His Boy as her favorite, so we’ll start there. I may even let her read . . .
Resolution: pray more
The year before everything changed in our dysfunctional life, I faithfully read and prayed through The Power of a Praying Wife. I know these prayers changed me, and I am sure the changes in Dave were somewhat a result of those specific cries out to God. Why I never picked up The Power of a Praying Mom before this year is a mystery. With three teenagers in my house, it’s a staple on my nightstand from now on.
Resolution: worry less
Every woman I know who has read Calm My Anxious Heart has told me it has profoundly affected her life. I am so, so grateful for the worry lessons Linda Dillow has gone through herself and passes on honestly and openly in this book. One of the most valuable parts of the book for me is how she decides what’s worth worrying about. Revolutionary.
Resolution: stick to my priorities of wife and mom
A dear friend gave me Creative Counterpart as a wedding gift 20 years ago, and the writer’s “priority planner” still rules my annual goals. I always list them in this order: the Lord, my husband, my children, my home, myself, outside the home. Even my prayers, when they are regular, follow this trail.
I’m going back to this book again this year — at least one of my priorities has taken a back seat for too long. Husbands can get lost in a mother’s busy life . . .
Resolution: have a clean house
I have tried every housecleaning system under the sun and have come to the conclusion that the art of housekeeping is definitely personality driven. And those of us without a sincere love of order, who could care less about piles as long as they’re hidden, who ALWAYS have to shut AT LEAST one door when there are visitors cannot truly learn housekeeping from people who are naturally offended by mess.
I want a house clean enough that I’m not embarrassed, but lax enough that my boys and their friends feel comfortable. Also, I hate daily maintenance. So The House that Cleans Itself was written just for me.
Mindy Starns Clark gets me. And my husband will concur that this was the best gift he’s ever received from my mother — next to me that is. I almost never have to shut doors now for guests. Almost. Never.
Resolution: write a book
“Procrastinating Perfectionist.” The moment I read Jon Acuff’s description of himself in Quitter I knew this book was going to light a fire under me, and it did. Read it before you quit your day job to pursue your dream. You won’t be sorry.
Resolution: be a completely different person
Sometimes you just get tired of living with yourself. You wake up one day and realize you’ve missed so much because you focused years on the wrong thing. You are unhappy with your life and can’t figure out why.
I’ve moved furniture, changed houses, states, jobs, projects — in search of contentment. If Dave was different… If my kids weren’t so…. If we had enough money…And then you come to the end of the excuses and realize maybe it’s just you you don’t like.
I had seen the hype online about One Thousand Gifts, been told I would love it. So I asked for it for Christmas. Love it is not the word. I’m thankful for it. Written by someone who was tired of herself, someone who struggles with the exact things I do. It feels like I’m reading words written specifically to me.
One Thousand Gifts has given me one word to rule all my resolutions this year: gratitude. And we’ll see how much it changes me.
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What book have you found effective at helping you keep a resolution?