Set Goals! Reach Goals!

goals14Set goals – reach goals?  Really?  Yes, really!

Hopefully goal setting doesn’t sound like a chore to you!  It’s a fabulous opportunity to refocus our futures with intention and direction.

Convinced Goals are Grrrreat!
Year after year I am more convinced that this important habit has a priceless value.  Goals motivate us and help us focus on the “important” and not just the “urgent” in our day to day lives.  Going with the “flow of life” and enjoying moments “as they come” is important too, but deliberate focus on goals is life-changing.

Let’s be honest…we likely won’t achieve all our goals but be assured that focus on direction brings results when we intentionally devote our time and energy.

Practical Tips:
  1. Write your goals and keep them somewhere you can see them frequently.
  2. Organize goals by areas or by roles.  For example, I organize by areas like financial, spiritual, educational, marriage, health, etc. Others organize goals by roles like wife, mother, coach, writer, etc.
  3. Make sure your goals are specific and measurable.
  4. Set some  ‘slow’ goals that take time to achieve and stick to them through multiple years. (For example, learning a language or saving for a once in a lifetime trip)
  5. Add an audacious goal. Allow yourself to dream big.
  6. List benefits of achieving your goals.
  7. Review last year’s goals for successes and carry-over ideas.  Keep a list of goals you achieved.
  8. Review, review, review your goals and act, act, act on them!
  9. Don’t get discouraged of past failures or shortcomings. You are setting goals! It is an opportunity to celebrate.  To reach 60% of your goals is a lot more than 0% of zero goals.

My Failure, My Success
My goal to attend Toastmasters, a public speaking organization, was not achieved for five or six years before I finally joined. Without the goal, I’m sure I never would have gone.  Sometimes taking a step toward a goal can be scary…but let’s do it afraid!  I know we won’t be sorry.

Are you looking forward to the very best for your future?  Do you have a goal setting habit?  I would love to hear about your goal setting philosophy and techniques!  Please share!     -Madge

Below are a couple other articles my husband and I have written on goals…enjoy.
Improve Your Life – Goal Setting Will Really Help!
 A New Year – Honing Some Habits

Ideas for Advent Candles

Don’t have advent candles? No problem! You can make a set up of your own advent wreath/candles to enjoy a rich advent experience in your home.

For the past few years I bought “official” advent tapers from an online Christian bookstore and put them in a brass candle stick that holds five candles.
Adventweek 1

Certainly local stores have candles and wreaths you can purchase but a DIY option might be just for you. Traditionally there are three purple, one pink and one white candle. Each week an additional candle is lit. Weeks 1,2 and 4 use purple and week 3 uses the pink to represent joy. Finally the white candle is lit along with the others on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day

Variations for candles:
1. Some churches use red candles to match seasonal colors.
2. This year I am using all white votive candles as I really like their look and flexibility and we have plenty of them if some need replacement over the course of the season. Plus, I just want something different!

I suggest you use the color scheme and candle type that fit you and your home best.

There are many ideas for wreaths and candles and a few are on my Pinterest board.

Please share your creative Advent ideas…and don’t forget to extinguish your candles before you leave the house or go to bed,

With hope, ~Madge

10 Thanksgiving Prayers

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!  Gratitude is uplifting and healthy!

Below are a variety of famous and not so famous options for your thanksgiving prayers or every day blessings. I most often pray off the cuff, but having a bit of structure to focus my thoughts is an added “blessing”.  Whether we write our own prayers, outline them in our minds or pray someone else’s prayer, a little planning can make bring order and peace to the mealtime flow.

If your preference is a simple prayer or more traditional/formal prayer, I hope you gratefully enjoy your family time. Cherish it fully.

1.  Blessing from Seven Days in Utopia. (A simple prayer)

…Food in a world where many walk in hunger,
…Faith in a world where many walk in fear,
…Friends in a world where many walk alone,
We give you thanks, Oh Lord.

3.  With Gratitude by Madge P Williams

Father, we thank you for your abundant mercy and grace toward us.
We honor you this day as we gather together in a family full of gratitude.
We thank you for this meal and the hands that prepared it.
We thank you for your bountiful provisions.
We ask that you equip and encourage us to serve others who are in need.
May we be good stewards of your creation and of all our talents and blessings
We  proclaim glory and honor to you..
In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen

3.  The Lord’s Prayer (all could join in praying after another prayer)

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.

4.  Traditional Catholic Prayer

Father in Heaven, Creator of all and source of all goodness and love, look kindly upon us and receive our heartfelt gratitude in this time of giving thanks.
Thank you for all the graces and blessings. You have bestowed upon us, spiritual and temporal: our faith and religious heritage. Our food and shelter, our health, the love we have for one another, our family and friends.
Dear Father, in Your infinite generosity, please grant us continued graces and blessing throughout the coming year.
This we ask in the Name of Jesus, Your Son and our Brother. Amen.

5.  Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

6.  We Gather Together, Traditional Thanksgiving Hymn (could be read)

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens his will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,
Sing praises to his name: He forgets not his own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining his kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, wast at our side, All glory be thine!

We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant,
And pray that thou still our defender wilt be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

7. Your Presence Be with Us by Madge P. Williams

Our Father, we give thanks for the time we have together to appreciate each other.
We give thanks for your presence which is shared at our table.
We give thanks for your abundant provisions.
We pray your guidance toward paths of righteousness and wisdom.
May our conversation be joyful, edifying and encouraging.
Strengthen us, O God, to share your good news and to serve where you call us.
We pray, humbly, in the name of Jesus, our Savior.  Amen

8.  Thankful by Madge P. Williams (For a time of recent loss or struggle)

We recognize that although we have struggles, you have rescued us and give us hope.
As we gather together during this difficult season we pray for your Holy Spirit to comfort us and others who are in need.
We honor those who have gone before us and we thank you for our family and friends.
We thank you for this meal and ask that you nourish our bodies with this food and nourish our spirits with comfort and joy at this table.
We honor you and give you glory.
In Christ’s name we pray.  Amen

9.  We Give Thanks by Harry Jewell

Our Father in Heaven,
We give thanks for the pleasure
Of gathering together for this occasion.
We give thanks for this food
Prepared by loving hands.
We give thanks for life,
The freedom to enjoy it all
And all other blessings.
As we partake of this food,
We pray for health and strength
To carry on and try to live as You would have us.
This we ask in the name of Christ,
Our Heavenly Father.

10.  A Prayer of Gratitude by President John F. Kennedy

Let us therefore proclaim our gratitude to Providence for manifold blessings–let us be humbly thankful for inherited ideals–and let us resolve to share those blessings and those ideals with our fellow human beings throughout the world.

On that(this) day let us gather in sanctuaries dedicated to worship and in homes blessed by family affection to express our gratitude for the glorious gifts of God; and let us earnestly and humbly pray that He will continue to guide and sustain us in the great unfinished tasks of achieving peace, justice, and understanding among all men and nations and of ending misery and suffering wherever they exist.

–Thanksgiving Day, 1963

 thanksWhat is your favorite Thanksgiving prayer?  Please share it!  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! -Madge

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell – Review and Noteworthy Quotes

Most of us are familiar with the Bible’s chronicle of the epic battle between David and Goliath. Malcolm Gladwell puts this title story to good use in his New York Times best-selling book David and Goliath, Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants. In example after example, he illustrates how disadvantages in life can strengthen us and oddly become advantages in the long run. He touches on stories like David and Goliath showing how an underdog often uses unexpected and unpredictable techniques and skills to overcome difficulties and launch themselves into unique greatness.

Gladwell masterfully lines up a hall of “giant underdogs” as he details stories of a doctor, a teacher, artists, a dyslexic, and many more. david and goliath For example, he said that “conventional wisdom holds that a disadvantage is something that ought to be avoided – that it is a setback or a difficulty that leaves you worse off than you would be otherwise.” He continues, “but that is not always the case…..I want to explore the idea that there are such things as desirable difficulties.”

 He notes that people with difficulties are forced to be creative and innovative. There are more opportunities to think outside the box than what a more average, normal life might bring.

I enjoyed this book immensely and David and Goliath -2fundamentally agree with the foundation of his thought process and research. If a disadvantaged person has the motivation and ability to push for resources to implement overcoming strategies with new, creative and innovative ideas – success skyrockets. For some, I believe a disadvantage is simply a disadvantage. Some do not and/or cannot capitalize on their disadvantages.

What differentiates those who do and those who don’t?

That question is not addressed in the book or in this research that is quoted. However, it does not take away from the delightful journey as Gladwell describes example after example of people who took their difficulty and turned it into something great.

On a small scale, I can relate to this book personally as I know my own experience facing physical disability changed me for the better in many ways and affords me unique opportunities I would not encounter otherwise.  The book reminded me to honor the blessing of the unique gift that dichotomously exists in my limitations.

Incidentally, I have read other Gladwell New York Times bestsellers (The Tipping Point, Blink) and did not notice the Judeo-Christian influence evident in David and Goliath.  Apparently, Gladwell returned to his Christian faith while writing David and Goliath.

Noteworthy Quotes from David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

There’s no possibility of being pessimistic when people are dependent on you for their only optimism.

Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.

The right question is whether we as a society need people who have emerged from some kind of trauma— and the answer is that we plainly do. This is not a pleasant fact to contemplate. For every remote miss who becomes stronger, there are countless near misses who are crushed by what they have been through.

Unexpected freedom comes from having nothing to lose.

When people in authority want the rest of us to behave, it matters— first and foremost— how they behave. This is called the “principle of legitimacy,” and legitimacy is based on three things. First of all, the people who are asked to obey authority have to feel like they have a voice— that if they speak up, they will be heard. Second, the law has to be predictable. There has to be a reasonable expectation that the rules tomorrow are going to be roughly the same as the rules today. And third, the authority has to be fair. It can’t treat one group differently from another.

The powerful are not as powerful as they seem— nor the weak as weak.

We spend a lot of time thinking about the ways that prestige and resources and belonging to elite institutions make us better off. We don’t spend enough time thinking about the ways in which those kinds of material advantages limit our options.

Some pretend to be rich, yet have nothing; others pretend to be poor, yet have great wealth. Proverbs 13: 7

Did you read the book?  If so, what did you think about it?  If not, I hope you pick up a copy. -Madge