Why I Didn’t Make Resolutions (And What I’m Doing Instead)

It’s been an annual tradition of mine for as long as I can remember. When the new year arrives, I bring a list of new aspirations along with me. Things I want to achieve. To change. Do differently. Do better.

Until it just isn’t worth it for me anymore to put forth the effort. And I wait until the next year to start fresh.

Last year, I didn’t make resolutions – I set goals. Date specific and all kinds of stuff. I went through Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever program and it shed some light on some things and got me really excited to go out there and make 2016 different from all the years before it. And it was!

But not because I stuck to my guns, necessarily.

As 2016 drew to a close, a lot had changed. A lot I thought I was going to do, I ended up shutting down completely. The areas of life I thought I was going to grow, I felt a strong sense I needed to let them rest instead.

It didn’t go as I planned. But it wasn’t because I failed, or because I didn’t follow through on anything. It didn’t go as planned because I took a lot of steps in obedience, versus in my usual stubborn-heel-dragging.

The revelations of last year showed an entirely different path to take this year. In (super short) summary, I’m running two businesses now. One being my own independent contracting as a virtual assistant, and another I’ll be launching shortly, still very much involved in the virtual assistant world. I never thought I’d be my own boss – in TWO businesses! This is exciting!

In October, when Little Miss was home from school an entire week with a fever, I felt a nudge to pursue something I swore I would never pursue. (Sound familiar? Remember when I swore I would never live in North Dakota? January 1st marked 11 years since we moved here…) I wrestled and fought and argued, but now I’m all gung-ho for the upcoming year… Gah, do I even share it? Gulp. I think I’m going to homeschool Little Miss.

I winced a little just then. It’s a thing I never thought I’d do! Or be! Or whatever! And here we are, making plans for just that.

A third thing. Last year when we started going through the Little House On The Prairie books, I became obsessed inspired by simpler living. I taught myself to can, I started knitting like …, I don’t know, like what? What knits like crazy that isn’t a reference to a grandmother? Anyway – simpler living.

Also, I was made for the mountains. I’m not sure how familiar you are with the geography of North Dakota, specifically the Fargo area… but there are no mountains. None. Nada.

I adopted the #littleapartmentontheprairie to attempt to keep my sanity for having my family in an apartment that only sees east, and only whatever is above the garages. I almost forgot what a sunset was, I haven’t been able to see to the west for so long.

A recent tale for you. We made one of the quickest trips yet as a family home to Wyoming for Christmas. We basically were there for Christmas Eve and Christmas day, then headed back home. As we pulled away from my parents’ town, Little Miss was sobbing in her seat for how she would miss her cousins, auntie, uncle, and grandparents. I was choking back tears myself, but not because of our family. I was choking up because the mountains were getting further and further away. Again.

So the third thing. A move. A big one. We want to move. We feel like we’re supposed to move. We have an idea of where we’d like to move to. Now comes the big question: “But is it what we’re supposed to do?” And I’m reminded of sitting in Pastor Montey’s office, 12 years ago now, and him saying, “Trust God to lead you in the NEXT step, even if it isn’t the FINAL step.”

I’m trusting. And I’m stepping. Light-footed yet, but stepping all the same.

So I didn’t make resolutions this year. I’m not going to go on a diet or go to the gym or stop watching documentaries. I’m simply going to keep following the nudges.

Also (and this post is already longer than I imagined it would be), I’m going to move toward some super-radical, crazy, what-on-earth-is-she-thinking? type of lifestyle changes. Are you even ready for this?

  1. I want us to stop using/buying/depending on paper towels. No more. All cloth from now on. (As soon as we use up what we’ve got left, because one time at Costco, we bought paper towels and it took us ten years to go through them all…)
  2. I want us to stop using/depending on our microwave. (Right now I’m guessing my Mom just read that, rolled her eyes, and called my Dad in the room to tell him I’ve lost my mind.)
  3. I want to make whatever I can and buy less and less. Soaps. Detergents. Food (obviously). Clothes (one day. I know nothing about sewing.) Entertainment, even!
    1. This leads to another fun story. Today, hubs and I had a day-date. I, unbeknownst to him, declared Friday our date day until the end of time. Since we won’t always get a sitter for the night, we will have day-dates whenever possible. So long as the two of us can spend time together, it counts. Today we went to lunch (and the food was good but our waitress was amazing). In between bites, Hubs and I played a game where I named a band and he named the first song of theirs that came to mind. This is a game I stink at, but it was still a lot of fun. I even was able to name some songs (correctly) by singer/band when he turned the tables on me. We paid for lunch, but the game was totally free, and a lot of fun!

All that to say, I didn’t make resolutions this year. All I did was commit to following His ways instead of my own. And I can already tell this year is going to be way better than anything I could have set out to do myself.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

What I Learned From Resting

I’m weird. Different. A little unconventional. And I’m okay with that.

Most of my life, I tried to simply blend in. With buck teeth, big hair, bigger glasses, and the last name of “Butts”, blending in didn’t exactly come naturally for me. It took a lot of personal pain and suffering for me to come to a place of understanding that I wasn’t created to blend in. I’m unique, and I’m okay with being who God has uniquely called me to be.

It’s in that calling, I’ve recently sensed he was urging me to a time of rest. Some of you might think what I’m about to explain is a little weird. Just remember weird is my normal. So here we go.

What I Learned

I have been rushing around constantly. When Brent gets home from work, I scarf dinner and try to get away to finish work. I hastily spend time with my kids, getting them what they need, so I can take care of other stuff. When the week winds down, I spend it trying to fit in as many recreational trips or visits I can. I’m always doing something, and coincidentally, not accomplishing anything.

I sensed it clearly: “You need to rest.” I didn’t know what it meant, though. Take a nap? Read a book? Order out?

“Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”

Oh. That whole commandment on the stone tablet thing? But how? Where do I start?

I had no idea, but I jumped in to finding out anyway. By 10:00 a.m. this past Friday, I had decided I was going to enter in to an intentional day of rest, and somehow, observe my first Sabbath.

I’ll save the details of how and what I did for another post, but I want to share with you some lessons I learned from my day of rest.

So often I hear, and have said myself, “I just need to get away.” If only retreating to a cabin for a few days to work, write, or just be, would give me what I needed to get right back at it. Yet what happens when I take those retreats? I come home and long for that escape from reality all over again.

Mostly, our weekends are our “catch up” days. Let’s go here, do this, visit them, buy these, get this done, and start these new. Somewhere in there, we should try to have some fun! Then, when Monday rolls around, we’re completely exhausted. So much for resting. This weekend was going to be different. This weekend, I was going to be obedient.

The Sabbath is an Old Testament law, but I don’t believe that at all means it’s now irrelevant. Yes, I have freedom in Christ! I also have the responsibility to exercise that freedom in ways that glorify Him. Running around like a headless chicken, falling further behind, and getting sucked in to my electronic devices doesn’t accomplish that. The Sabbath just makes sense.

The day was a long one, but not because it was drawn out by boredom. While I was intentionally resting, I was experiencing every single minute, fully present in it. It was incredible to experience the day for what it was, and not for what I was trying to shape it into to fit a schedule.

There was incredible power in simply being still. I didn’t have to cook or clean for my family – it had all been done the night before – and we were able to just be together. No obligations, no plans, no distractions, no interruptions.

The Bible says to work for six days, then don’t work – at all – for one. It goes on to say, essentially (and this is in my very loose translation) whatever you’re in the middle of, no matter how busy you try to say you are – just stop what you’re doing to and take a breather. For an entire day. One day. Every week. No matter what.

Resting for the entire day was absolutely glorious. Ironically enough, on my day of rest, I woke up super early. It allowed me, though, to spend the first 90 minutes of my day reading the Word. I haven’t spent that large of an uninterrupted time reading the Bible in….ever. I poured into my family. We played games, we read, we hung out, we wrestled. We rested. And wow, did we eat well. When everything was prepared in advance, with the intention of not having to do anything else to prepare meals – I made sure we were taken care of. The food was great, and totally stress-free.

I spent the close of my day in the Word as well. All day long I was wondering why we don’t make a regular habit of this. I don’t believe, especially after my Saturday, that the Sabbath was a burdensome commandment. Instead of feeling like I was being obedient to a command, I felt exponentially blessed. All day long, my heart was lifting up prayers of thanks. It was incredible.

Rest is totally necessary. We need to recharge. We need to disconnect from ourselves (and unplug from our devices) and reconnect to God. So many times we take a brief reprieve (a cat nap, a shopping trip, catch a movie), and call it good. And we keep working. And wasting. And getting worn out. And for what?

I was getting frustrated. I was totally disconnecting from my family. From my creator. All in the name of getting stuff done.

After observing my first Sabbath, it’s a practice I want to repeat. I’ve somehow used a lot of words to describe an experience I don’t really have the right words to articulate. It truly was a holy experience. I learned so much from simply resting.

What about you? How have you taken time for intentional rest lately?