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5 Resolutions to Keep

New Year's goals that are worth making

This year I promise to do … I really want to … Oh my, maybe I won't make any resolutions this year after all—I never keep them anyway. It's just too hard!

Have you ever felt like this? I have—many times. Yet I've also learned New Year's is a great time to reassess the influence my actions and attitudes have on my children's character development. Here are five resolutions I know I need to keep this year:

1. To reach someone who doesn't know Christ

Perhaps like me, you're tempted to spend all your time with fellow Christians—people just like you. After all, if you want your kids to grow in the faith, you need to expose them to people of faith! Yet at the same time, God commands us to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16); that won't happen if we spend all our time with believers.

Will your kids be likely to reach out to non-Christians when they grow up? You bet—if they see it modeled for them in your life.

For example, my friend Sandy took an active interest in a neighbor named Carol. Sandy invited Carol over for lunch, and took her to a craft show. Although Carol and her husband didn't have children, Sandy included her in things she did with her kids. Carol and her husband weren't believers and didn't attend church, but out of curiosity, they soon began attending with their new friends. After a period of time, both Carol and her husband became believers. It all began because Sandy was intent on reaching out in genuine friendship to non-believers—and her kids saw the results.

This year, resolve to befriend someone who's not a Christian. She may be a coworker, neighbor, your child's teacher, even your hair stylist.

While reaching out feels scary, when you take the risk, you'll see God work through you in exciting ways!

2. To become a grateful person

I used to wake up in the morning thinking about all the things I had to do and all the people who needed me. I got depressed before I even got out of bed! I realized I needed an attitude adjustment. So I started meditating on one of God's character traits the moment I awoke. As I lay quietly in my bed, thinking about how awesome God is, my perspective on the day changed dramatically!

No one enjoys being around whining kids. But when they're grateful, it's delightful. In the same way, when we appreciate God, it thrills his heart.

My friend Elaine says, "The practice of thanksgiving is the discipline that helps us experience God's love." Re member, your kids catch your attitude. If you whine, they'll be more likely to complain. If you always see the negative, your kids will focus on what's lacking. Your disposition permeates the atmosphere of your home. Do you want to raise positive kids? Then re solve to become a woman of gratitude. You'll have a positive impact on generations to come.

3. To spend more quality time with my spouse

My husband, John, and I used to have a wonderful raspberry patch. In the early years I carefully tended it, and it produced prolific crops. Then I got busy with carpools and commitments, and before I knew it, weeds took over and my raspberries died out.

A marriage can become like my raspberry patch. We get busy with kids, career, church, elderly parents, and volunteer needs. We think, I'll spend time on my marriage when life calms down. The problem is, life never does.

Don't let the weeds of "other important things"—even your children—choke your marriage. Resolve to nurture it. This year, ask the question, What can I do to help my husband and I grow closer together? Begin by making a commitment to a weekly date together—an evening, a breakfast, an afternoon.

Keep in mind, your children's sense of security is built on the knowledge you love them, but it greatly increases when they know you love their dad. You're raising future husbands and wives who need to know a happy marriage takes time. If they see you nurturing yours, they'll learn a tremendous lesson.

4. To say "no" to something!

Okay, we all know there are simply too many demands, too many choices, and too little time. But part of maturing means learning to postpone something you'd really like to do now to another season of life in order to focus on something even more important. Maybe it's that career opportunity so you can have more time with your children, or that outing with your friends so you're around when your teens have their friends at your house. Maybe you need to say "no" to your kids being in yet another sports team so your family can have dinner together.

Ask yourself, in 10 years, what will matter most—that you signed your child up for yet another activity and spent evenings apart, or said "no" and had family dinners together? Or that you participated in yet another committee, or said "no" so you could spend more time with your husband?

5. To pursue Christ with fresh vigor

Do you sometimes feel as though your relationship with Christ is stale? I sure do. But when that happens, I pray King David's prayer, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me" (Psalm 51:12).

As this new year begins, resolve to recapture that joy. Vary what you normally do for your time alone with God. Decide on a new topic for Bible study. Begin a fresh journal.

If you make some changes but still feel stale, ask God to show you the reason. Is there sin in your life you're ignoring? A wrong relationship, self-pity, jealousy? The writer to the Hebrews encourages us to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus" (12:1-2). That's one resolution you can't afford to break!

Susan Alexander Yates is the author of several books, including How to Like the Ones You Love: Building Family Friendships for Life (Baker Books).

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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