Happy New Year’s! We love that our anniversary is on New Year’s Eve for multiple reasons. It is especially helpful for really important reflection on our year and our marriage! Each year-all two of them :)- we discuss our “best of’s” for the previous year of marriage on our anniversary date. Two general things really stuck out from our conversation for me.

  1. The “Us” part of 2011 was great. We worked hard on learning to communicate better, support each other more, and honor God with our marriage more. (Who knew that when you get married and move in together these aren’t automatics?! oh right…we were warned too.) Praise God that His Mercy enables us to work hard at this thing and see the benefits. Marriage is good. :)
  2. The rest of 2011 was hard. Lots of hard work, and a lot of changes that required more hard work and energy. These weren’t bad things at all (hello we moved to Africa!), but it was an emotionally exhausting year in the midst of great blessing.

We have been at GGA almost exactly 3 months. This weekend off came as a much needed break from ministry and time for renewal. Ministry is going really well–relationships with the kids and volunteers are deepening and I think we are doing a good job of edifying the kids and loving with intention. God is also providing lots of hard situations for opportunities to give hugs and care for the kids. I’m not thankful for the heartache, but that we really do get to be His hands and feet often.

Things have also been pretty difficult lately- I (Julie) had a nasty tummy thing last week, Trey has been working at his paying job around the clock for a very stressful launch tomorrow, we have been busy busy busy with activities for the kids this whole month, I am facing a lot of brick walls in my administrative work at GGA, missing holidays with our families was awful, cultural shock is no joke, our hot water heater has a big leak and so we have to keep our water turned off, and so on and so on. We 100% knew this thing was going to be difficult- most things that are worthwhile are. But there is no real way to prepare for it. Which brings me to the real reason for this post…


It is a new year.

New day.

New Mercies.

Praise Him for that.

We felt that God wanted to teach us a lot about the rhythm of our life in coming to South Africa–to develop in us truths and disciplines and priorities for the rest of our life. Our hope is that these rhythms will not only equip us for our life of ministry together, but also develop in our children the same disciplines and value. That we will learn freedom and simplicity and how to LIVE through active, disciplined, and practical surrender each day. So far I have learned that I am still a perfectionist in Africa, I still don’t know how to take time to do the life-giving things I need in order to walk with God each day consistently. I’m still prone to stress. I still want to escape it with worldly things. I still am bad at being present unless I am face to face with someone. I’m still broken in a bad way. BUT…


It is a new year.

New day.

New Mercies.

Praise Him for that.

I will create the space and time I need to reconnect with God, Trey, and myself. I won’t use that as an excuse to escape. I will trust that ministry and lives will not spin out of control when I am faithful to the Lord.

My good friend Leanne and her husband share their goals on their blog and she provides monthly updates on how they are doing. I love this about her and this is why we are friends–goals and accountability are important!–and I’m going to copy her. I want to be clear that the purpose is not the goals themselves, but creating space for transformation. Also, I want to be clear that these are my goals as Trey’s would look much different from mine. But he’s busy being a worker bee at the moment…you’ll have to be patient for his.

Here we go!

1.Pray after breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

This prayer book is an incredible tool. Trey and I bought it this time last year and were really good about doing it together for a while. There are morning, noonday, and evening prayer services in it that follow the liturgical calendar–scripture, prayer, liturgy, singing. It is good stuff, and it takes less than 30 minutes for the longest prayer time.


This goal also requires me to get up early enough to a) eat breakfast at our table and not in my office or on a break at 10:00 and b) pray after.

I’m not going to maniacal about the number of times a day, but rather focus on making it a daily habbit- that is why it is goal and not a resolution. See goal #5.

2. Walk my dogs

We are surrounded by some of the most gorgeous land you could ever see. My Mom always says a walk will make you feel better. My dogs make me happy and relaxed.

These three things mean it is important to walk my dogs everyday for my sanity.

(don’t worry…they run freely most of the day so they have been getting plenty of exercise)

3. Journal Calendar

I am making this journal/calendar thing. I think it will be a great way to get back into “real” journaling, I can use it like I would a gratitude journal, and it is going to be a long-term visible reminder of God’s faithfulness.

4. Mindful Eating

This is about health-spiritual, emotional, and physical. I get sick a lot. I get headaches a lot. And I think it has a lot to do with what I’m putting into my body (and everything above this and below it!). I love to cook and do so most always, but there is a lot to improve about our eating.

  • I will eat all my meals at a table, preferably with Trey.
  • I will take time to be thankful for food–and how it came to be on my plate–before eating.
  • I will make intentional steps towards clean eating. I’ll take a few months for each of the following to eliminate:
  1. Caffeine
  2. Sweets (other than special occasions such as holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations–but I will not use chocolate as a reward!)
  3. Processed foods
  4. White flour

There are very few options as far as organic or free-range foods here, but Trey and I

would like to move toward buying local, free range chicken and locally grown produce.

5. I will be gentle with myself

I will hold these goal loosely, although seriously. I’m hard on myself, which means I can be hard on others. I want to extend grace to me and you!

I will do what I can, for how long I can, with what I have. And then you all can remind me to trust God with not only the rest, but with the all of it!

Goodnight my friends…if you were wondering if I should add sleep to these goals, don’t worry :). I have no problem with this one!