Thursday, January 6, 2011

Refresh and Reflect

By Alice Valdal

Ah! January. The Christmas play has been performed, the Christmas Pageant staged, the Christmas "Messiah" sung, the Christmas dinner eaten, the Christmas toasts drunk and the Christmas indulgences have made our waistbands too tight. The time of year when we make resolutions (lose ten pounds by February), and plunge into the new year with gusto. Or . . .
We can take some time to refresh our minds and bodies from the whirlwind of the last few weeks.

I'm all for the rest and reflect option.

For me, that means, get outdoors and breathe. My husband and I have a New Year's tradition of taking a walk some place new. Since we've lived here for over twenty years, the "new" part is getting harder, still, we've had fun searching out untrodden trails. Sometimes, we're charmed with beautiful views, or surprised by a spray of red berries. Sometimes we get wet and muddy and cold. The adventure is still refreshing to body and spirit.

Once I've cleared away the Christmas decorations, restored order to my disordered rooms and calm to my mind, it is time to reflect on the year that has passed and to make plans for the months to come. That's where I'm at today. Note: these are not resolutions -- resolutions are hard-edged and unforgiving, often doomed to failure.  Rather, these are areas where I will seek opportunities in the new year.

-- Improve my writing. All writers dream of being published, seeing their words on the printed (or electronic) page, seeing our work on the shelves of our favourite bookstore, receiving a royalty statement -- hopefully one with a cheque attached. Sometimes we rail at the fickleness of the publishing industry which brings out ( in our opinion) poorly written books, while ignoring our masterpieces. I've done that, but in this time of reflection, I am at peace with the fact that I can't control what publishers do. I can control what I do. To see that dream of publication come true, I need to be a writer who is impossible to ignore. So, I will study to improve my writing. To read and re-read, work and re-work my prose until it shines. Published or not, I will have grown in my craft.

-- Keep a prayer list. I've made attempts at this in the past, but I hope to be more diligent in recording what I pray for and when and what God answers. All too often, I grumble because God hasn't fallen in with my plans and provided the people and resources I want the moment I ask. I can become so fixated on the times I've been disappointed that I forget all the times when God has shown His love to me and responded to my needs -- often with extravagance.  A written list will remind me.

-- Sing more. I've been blessed with a singing voice. This talent brings me joy and fulfilment. Singing gives me a voice to praise God, to find new friends and to give light in dark places. But, all too often, I don't sing because I have chores to do. I don't sing, because the piano is out of tune. I don't sing because I'm too tired. Yet, I know, if I sing while I work, the chores are easier. If I sing without the piano, I'm free to explore the sound of singing. If I sing when I'm tired, I am refreshed

So there, are three areas of life where I will be alert to opportunities in 2011.  What about you? I won't ask for resolutions, but what of your hopes and plans. Anything you care to share?

Happy New Year everyone.



  1. Happy New Year, Alice. Good resolutions! Mine is to try to read more. I know, it seems I read every waking moment, and yet my TBR stack gets higher and higher. And now i see all these great books on the ICFW slideslow and I want to read every one of them! What an amazing group this is.

  2. Super blog Alice. I haven't compiled a list of resolutions for 2011, but I read about My One Word on the Seekerville blog (the link is ) and I have chosen the word TRUST for 2011. It reminds me to trust God for all and in all that happens this year.

    On Monday I felt compelled to drive through heavy rain to visit a friend who is battling with life. I was really scared of driving in heavy rain on a highway but set out with my one word in mind. I consciously trusted God to take me safely to my friend's house, and He did.

  3. Alice, a wonderful list of destinations. May I join you in your journey. With one exception. I don't sing well, but I do sing loudly and joyously. Thank you for the gentle prod.

  4. Thanks for an inspiring blog...At the start of this New Year I decided that either I could continue on the path that I followed last year and get the same results or I could take on the New Year with renewed energy and a resolve to make this year "better" than the last one...I decided on the latter....With the help of the Lord I hope to do just that....:-)

  5. Thanks for all your comments. Ruth Ann, I love the one-word concept and "trust" is huge.
    Judith, feel free to sing loudly and joyously, it will raise your spirits and bring joy to the Lord.
    Ah, yes, the TBR pile -- just seems to grow larger. Good luck on reducing yours Donna.
    Yvonne, good luck with a "better" new year. You might like to try a one-word promise too.

  6. I think my word is Faithful. God is certainly faithful to me, but am I faithful to Him every step of the way?