For our fifth wedding anniversary on December 28th, Ryan surprised me with a night's stay at the Blue Lantern Inn--in the same room where we stayed on our wedding night. It was so relaxing and wonderful. I felt like I got to see my husband for uninterrupted, precious time, away from phones, e-mail, blogs and a little distraction called Carter. We had dinner at the Charthouse, walked in the harbor and spent much of the time discussing and writing our annual marriage goals.
Now, when I say goals, I am not talking about your typical New Year's Day goals of which the world speaks. Since we got married, Ryan and I meet together on our anniversary weekend to do annual goals. He will be training other couples in this practice at an upcoming Thrive night, and I cannot stress the benefit we have seen in our own marriage.
We started the session by telling one another what the other did well in 2007. I encouraged Ryan that he is a godly dad with Carter, he is a wonderful provider, he is responsible and organized with our budgets and finances, he is doing a wonderful job serving the church body by co-leading Thrive, he is amazing at encouraging me, he has done a fantastic job at getting home earlier from work and balancing the two worlds of work and family, he has been a gardener extraordinaire at our home each week, he is much better at bringing up issues or discussions at ideal times, and he is doing a wonderful job at planning dates and trips for our family. After we read our list of encouragment, we have a safe time to offer some ways in which the other person has an opportunity to improve or grow. For example, I can work on organizing piles around the house and not getting defensive when Ryan wants to help me find places for things that are sitting around the house. This time is convicting (as you know your spouse is right on the mark), but it always is such a blessing to us both. Issues are brought up lovingly and at an appropriate time, and we really think about what the BIG issues are to us when we make our list--tending to those weeds that might creep into our marriage.
After this time, we make goals as a couple (about 10) and goals as individuals (about 10 each). The goals cover our walk with God and spiritual growth, our marriage, our finances, our home and personal "other." For example, my goals for this year are to memorize at least 10 more verses, along with reviewing and knowing my last 20. In addition, I need to quickly recall the Old Testament books in order (those minor prophets always get me). I will do learning time with Carter for 30 minutes, three times a week (one on one, focused learning time for Bible teaching, letters, numbers, art, fine motor, etc.). And the list goes on . . .
We then end the session, which takes a full day, so we break it up into chunks and take breaks, by going over our finances and budget for the year. This helps me plan grocery shopping, budgeting for clothes or home stuff, etc.
What is most important in our goals, which we discussed this year, is the flexibility of our goals to allow for God's leading and will. We might plan to take a trip to such and such place in May, but God might have us all sick that week. I don't plan on leading a Women's Bible study small group next year, as I imagine I'll be in bed sick for months if we get pregnant later in the year. However, God has every ability to give us a smooth pregnancy, and I could lead a small group again next year. Our finances might currently set a particular budget, but Ryan could lose his job or get transferred to Kentucky, and then we'd be back at square one. It is fine and, I believe, responsible to plan, but we must be open to God's leading and be holding on loosely to dreams and goals.
Have you made any New Year's goals? I highly recommend meeting as a couple and communicating about these issues. Have your husband lead the discussion and goal setting. It is such a blessing to be in Biblical roles when planning for your family in the year to come. Ultimately, however, hand it all over to God and let His will be done. He will change some of your plans, and He will exceed your expectations in other areas. The blessing is knowing that He has the final say and His sovereignty is filled with holiness, mercy, grace and love. Let trusting God in your goals be number one on your list this year!
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good
crop. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns
and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And
I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take
life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool!
This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you
have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with anyone who
stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21