Bye 2018, hi 2019

Here’s my look back to 2018 and look forward to 2019.

My 2018 theme
Rest through soul harmony

I like having a theme for the year. It keeps me focused on one key leverage which pulls every other thing together. Kinda like having a strategy and then aligning the tactical plans with it. 

With this theme, I was more intentional than before to centre my life on God and cultivating a close relationship with Him. 
That was to become the domino effect that caused a chain reaction to all areas of my life.  

More chilled, less rigid (in my “standard”)
I’m a creative person who likes systems. And that’s how I approach my Bible reading and spending *quiet time with God: systematically. However, there were murmurs from my soul which started in 2017, that it wanted to slow down and rest (in God). So, I took action.

In 2018, I learnt to be more chilled and go-with-the-flow-ish, less goal-driven and achievement-centric, which is not my typical Choleric, Type A behaviour. My quiet time because less structured, less measured and sometimes it can just be a time soaking in God’s presence and worship. Probably explains why I couldn’t complete the one-year Bible reading plan. I supposed God knows what I needed most for the season. In 2018 I learnt to: so be it; let it be. 

*An article from CRU.org explained quiet time as “a point during each day when we remove ourselves from the busyness of schoolwork, dorm life, and the ever-increasing demands of Facebook to spend time praying, reading God’s Word, and quietly listening to what God has to say to us.”

Less is more 
2018 was also big for me in “less is more-ism”. I became increasingly less accepting (ha, increasingly less, that’s an oxymoron!) of the world’s bigger, faster, better.

I think—in losing things, losing people, death to my misaligned dreams, and losing control (of which I never had anyway) did a brilliant job in making me realise what is really important in life. The first and most important is relationships. First with God, with that, everyone else. I think relationships are the only thing that will last after I die. And I want to leave behind memories with people that they are loved and they are important. But more than the flawed love of mine, God loves them whether they messed up or not. 

Turning points and shifts in 2018

Work
I stepped out from my five years of church communications work with no concrete plans of what’s next. Then with no part of mine in planning—joined a non-profit organisation seven months later. My work’s role purpose is to enhance the fundraising team’s ability to generate funds by writing compelling donor proposals and reports, and innovating the proposals and reports’ processes and systems. 

Write
Mid 2018 was the first time I dared to call myself a writer. When a new acquaintance asked me what do I do, I figured out saying, “I’m a writer,” sounds better than “I’m jobless.” It’s also the first time I have the word “writer” on my name card when I took up the fundraising writing role in the non-profit organisation. So now it’s official. “What do you do?” “I’m a writer.” 🙂

Looking ahead to 2019

My 2019 theme
Training (flex bicep emoji) 

The word “training” became clear to me as I looked ahead to what I want to do in 2019. I think after 2018’s “rest through soul harmony”, God knows I’m more ok with knowing what to drop and what to take on, yet with lesser striving. Hence, training is apt as I expand beyond my comfort zone. 

Health; cycling
I want to be able to cycle, travel and tour around with my husband. That means I got to have endurance and strength: strong core, quads, arm strength (to carry the bicycle up and down staircases!) minus the back and knee pain. 
I gotta train: schedule my workout instead of letting five days slipped by without knowing!

Writing; work
I want to consistently produce a weekly article for HopeMail without burning out in the long run. Work-wise, I want to improve my skills—writing compelling proposals and clear reports which our donors would love to read and take action upon.

I also want to have an accelerated learning curve for fundraising and the organisation I’m working with. Perhaps even tinker with Indesign (design software). Did you know that documents look awesome-r with Indesign? 
I gotta train: schedule regular writing time to practice how I deliver my written messages and to learn new skills. 

Bible reading; prayer
I yearn to draw closer to God. What’s great is there’s no limit to how deep and intimate a relationship with God can be. So I read the Bible—as God speaks through His words in the Bible “to inform my mind, inspire my heart, and instruct my behaviour”. (Borrowing a favourite quote from my pastor.) Where else prayer forms the foundation to everything!

These two spiritual disciplines have yet to be on auto-mode for me. Given the chance on certain days, I’d choose to do other things than reading the Bible. As for prayer, yes, I will still forget to pray and rely on my own wit and strength, resulting in stress and time-wasting.  
I gotta train: intentionally build the habit of setting aside a daily time of reading the Bible. And instead of worrying or doing things my own way, to always pray, pray, pray and let God direct my steps. 

By the way, for my workout, quiet time, and daily reflection, I’m using a habit-building app called Strides and it’s helping to keep me on track. 

Another fantastic way of keeping up with regular Bible reading is to use the app, Youversion. It has a feature for you to invite people to read the Bible together using a Bible plan where you can share your thoughts from the Bible passages with the group. My group has three people. We kept it small to reduce noise. This has worked marvellously for me as seeing my friends’ sharing motivates me to follow the Bible-reading plan daily.

To make prayer an ongoing posture and habit, I’ve set the alarm clock to go off twice a day, reminding me to pause and pray, especially throughout my work day. Something as simple as setting the alarm clock worked like magic. I look forward to increasing the frequency until prayer is ingrained in me and I have a greater sense of abiding and communing with God. I learnt this tip from The Prayer Course: a six interactive sessions for small groups based on The Lord’s Prayer, covering topics such as intercession, dealing with disappointment, learning to listen and spiritual warfare.

Hospitality; care
God is working in me and my husband’s hearts, moving us from a more inward-living lifestyle to outward-living, serving others. Having people over for meals and spills; making time and space for others, etc. 
I gotta train: is there a workout to expand our hearts? 😛

That wraps my look back to 2018 and look forward to 2019. Do you have a theme for your 2019? How do you look ahead to this year? I’d be happy to hear from you. 

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