How to Make the Most of the New Year | Ashley Varner
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How to Make the Most of the New Year

The year 2018 is over, it’s in the books, it’s gone. And I’d like to take some time to be very retrospective and look back at the year and see what went well, what didn’t go well, and then I want to tell you what you can do to make 2019 the best year for you and your family.

If you really want to make the most of your year, then you need to be intentional. You need to be planning. You need to have a set course and a vision for where you want to go.

I love making New Year’s resolutions and setting goals, but there was something missing.

See, my goals were all over the place. I would have goals for my health, and goals from my family, and goals for work. It was just all over the spectrum. I really needed something that brought everything together so I had a plan that was cohesive across the board.

2018 Word for the Year

What I decided to do was to have one word for the year and then let that one word be what drove my resolutions. For 2018 my word was faithful. I want to share with you how that translated in my life.


Faithful With My Podcast

I wanted to be faithful with The Graceful Life Podcast. There is a staggering statistic that says that most podcasts don’t make it past the 15th episode and I didn’t want mine to be that way. I didn’t want to promise you content and encouragement and then let life get in the way.

I am happy to report that this whole year I did not miss a single week of recording, I’ve been faithful. It has been something that has brought me so much joy because I feel that this is God’s calling for me to speak into the lives of women, especially moms. 

Faithful to Rest and Have Time With My Family

Another thing that I wanted to be faithful with was to take time to rest and spend time with family.

My husband and I started being more intentional about this in 2017.  I wanted to be faithful to get rest and to get that joy that comes from just being with my family.

How to Make the Most of the New Year | AshleyVarner.com

Mine and my husband’s families live close, which we love, but sometimes if the four of us just need to get away, we call it our little family time. We took two vacations. We took a smaller trip to Moab, Utah to The Arches National Park and we also went to Lake Powell.

My husband and I also took some trips alone. We took some weekends away so we could have some one-on-one time, and that was something that I wanted to be faithful in.

My family works really hard (yes even my boys!), so we want to have specific and intentional downtime for us to be away from our phones and away from the busyness of day to day life.

Actually, when we were at Lake Powell it felt like we were away from civilization. That was something that was really important for me to stay faithful to that mission.

Faithful With My Finances

Lastly, one of the things that I wanted to be faithful with was with my money.  My husband and I have always done pretty well with our budget; however, I wasn’t being too intentional with it. I wanted to be faithful with the way that I spent my money.

At the beginning of the year, I realized what I habit I had of going shopping and spending money on stuff. It was a bad habit of not paying attention to what I was buying as much as I should have been.  

For instance, I would buy clothes off the rack without trying them on, take them home, and realize that they didn’t fit me well or even fit with anything in my closet. 

So, I swallowed my pride and ended up returning a lot of stuff, and I hate doing that. It was good for me to learn not to spending unintionally so that I wouldn’t have to keep going back and returning stuff.

Being faithful sometimes means breaking habits that aren’t good so that you can have good habits that you can be faithful in.

My 33 List

My birthday is actually in the middle of the year and I turned 33 this year.

So I decided to make a list of 33 things that I wanted to do while I was 33.

There were some small things, some big things, things like raising money for a good cause. Or watching the sunrise and the sunset on the same day.

It was a mini bucket list of sorts that I wanted to do this year. And I was really faithful to start chipping away at that.

Whenever I started being intentional about being faithful and consistent, that changed my whole year.

It’s the end of the year now and I have been able to look back over my year and say, “Was I being faithful? Was I faithful to my commitment to getting rest and getting vacations with my family? Was I faithful in the ministries that God has called me to?”

For me,  being faithful also means doing what you say you’re going to do and showing up whenever you say that you’re going to do something and doing your best at it.

I feel like 2018 was a really beneficial year for me. It really got me on track with what I had wanted at the beginning.

My 2019 Word of the Year

Around October I started praying about what my 2019 word was going to be in order to make the most out of my year.

If you make goals that are based on what you are already doing, there’s nothing to shoot for. There’s nothing to look forward to.

How to Make the Most of the New Year | AshleyVarner.com

I had to intentionally get out of the box and pray and say, “Lord, what is your plan? What word do you want me to use to focus my year for 2019?”

Lord willing, in 2019, we will be able to make an impact on the Kingdom of God and we’ll be able to make an impact on our children. And it starts with intention.

As I was driving to a conference in October, I heard the word “uncomfortable” and I thought, “No, there’s no way that that can be my word. That doesn’t sound fun.”

I like the idea of being comfortable, but the Bible doesn’t talk about being comfortable.

Sure, it talks about the Lord being our comfort, but that doesn’t mean that in every situation we’re going to be super comfortable.

Peace and being comfortable aren’t the same thing.

I started doing some research and looking up what the Bible had to say on the subject and one verse stuck out to me: Jesus tells his disciples and the people who are following him, “If you want to be my follower, you have to deny yourself, take up your cross and come follow me.”

I thought about denying myself. How is that supposed to make you comfortable? And you deny yourself? Taking up a cross doesn’t sound comfortable to me at all.

The more I read, the more I realized that the Bible speaks to being uncomfortable. The Bible really tells you that you know you’re going to have peace in the Lord and you’re going to have the joy that comes from Him.

Our lives weren’t meant to always be comfortable.

A perfect example of this is the fact that conviction of sin is meant to make you uncomfortable.

I believe with all my heart that even serving God should cost you something, that could be a night at church when you’d rather be at home, or some of your finances when you’d rather spend them on things you want.

Whatever it is that God has called you to do, it will cost you something.

How to Make the Most of the New Year | AshleyVarner.com

I wanted to share how I’m going to make the most of 2019, and then I want to challenge you to come up with a word for 2019. You don’t have to use “uncomfortable” obviously, but I want you to choose a word that makes you a little bit uncomfortable.

Choose a word that says, “I’m not okay with the status quo. I want to mature in my relationship with the Lord. I want to reach these new heights with Him.”

There’s so much that we gain from getting out of our comfort zone.

What Does Uncomfortable Mean

Whenever you are choosing your word for 2019, I want you to choose a word that challenges you like “uncomfortable” did for me:

Choosing To Do the Harder Thing

That means getting up early when it’s easier to sleep in, that means staying quiet when I’d rather make my opinions known (if you know me, you know, that definitely makes me uncomfortable), it means getting up to see what my kids want to show me whenever it’s easier to just stay in my comfy chair.

Trying New Things

Secondly, uncomfortable means not being afraid to try new things. That means getting out of your comfort zone and seeing what God has for you.

When we get out of our comfort zone, whenever we say yes to things that make us uncomfortable, then it’s going to grow us.

How to Make the Most of the New Year | AshleyVarner.com

Saying yes to things that I’ve previously avoided is something that is going to make me uncomfortable and something that I’m going to end up doing more of this year.

Sometimes I would avoid doing things I didn’t think I was good at.

I didn’t think I would be well received, but whenever I stepped out in faith and got uncomfortable, I found that’s where God’s glory shines.

When we step out in faith, His strength is really made known in our life.

Denying Yourself

We’ve heard that verse where Jesus says, “Deny yourself”  saying no to the flesh saying no to things that we know are wrong”.

There might be something that your flesh is comfortable with and you’re used to it.

It has become such a habit that once in a while you may feel convicted about it, but it’s just so much easier to ignore it.

Choosing not to ignore those convictions is what it means to be uncomfortable.

Whether that means that you have a pint of ice cream every night and it’s uncomfortable to have that empty spot in your stomach, or having that sweet taste on your tongue before you go to bed. Maybe that’s what it means to be uncomfortable: letting yourself feel that real hunger.

That’s something that I teach in Faith Food Freedom.  I teach women how to really start living instead of eating and enjoy life more than emotional eating. A lot of that has to do with getting them uncomfortable and letting yourself feel real hunger.

Stop Procrastinating

Once I started thinking about being uncomfortable, there was a quote by Ben Franklin that I kept thinking about and he said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

I would be in my comfy chair thinking, “Okay, I’ll just do that tomorrow”. Then I would think of that quote and then I would go and make lunches for the boys or go and do those things that normally leave until the next day.

Waiting

Denying yourself also means waiting for things.

This year, I created a wait wishlist. If I wanted something, a certain type of makeup or whatever it was, I would put it on this list and I would put the date next to it.

I did this in Trello and it had to stay on this wait list for 30 days. If I still wanted it, then I got it after those days were up.

If the item lost it’s appeal during those 30 days, then I took it off of the list. Denying yourself is a third definition of being uncomfortable.

Trusting

Last, being uncomfortable means trusting. Have you ever gone downstairs in your home in the middle of the night and you can’t figure out where the light switch is. As you walk down the stairs you have to trust that the next step is there.

Even whenever you can’t see the staircase, it’s trusting that when you take the next step that God’s going to be there to pick you up, to hold you up.

Instead of that staircase going down, imagine it going up. We are going to new heights in Him.

We’re going to be experiencing new heights in Him and  getting out of your comfort zone is how you do it. It takes trust. 

Whenever you get uncomfortable, you start to make a bigger impact, and so that’s my goal for 2019 and see we’re going to have plenty of time to be comfortable in heaven and our time here on earth is short and we need to use every breath that we have for his glory.

What are a few mornings of getting up early whenever we have all of eternity to live in paradise, to live in heaven with him? That’s what I’m hoping to gain from being uncomfortable this year.

Choose Your Word of the Year

So I want you to get out a pencil and a piece of paper and say, what is my 2019 word? God, what are you wanting me to focus on this year? What are you wanting me to do? And then I would love it if you would go to my Instagram, go to my facebook and let me know what you’re going to be focusing on next year so that I can encourage you. Go to the Girl of Grace Facebook group and share it there. I’ll be putting a couple of posts there letting you know what I’m doing, and giving you space to share what you’re doing.

A lot of this just goes back to what I started with being a woman of intention. I started being a mom who plans and has a vision for where she’s going.

The beautiful thing about it is that when you have that vision, it gets easier to wake up in the morning, it gets easier to say no to that third piece of cake, it gets easier to deny yourself and to do things that you use to avoid. It gets easier to get out of your comfort zone.

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Really consider and pray about what God has for you in 2019. Get a verse to help reinforce it.  I’m so excited to hear all of it in the Girl of Grace Facebook group.

New Years Resolutions | AshleyVarner.com
New Years Resolutions | AshleyVarner.com
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