The Remedy for Broken Resolutions

Hello, friends! Today I’m re-posting a piece that first appeared on this blog on January 2, 2017. Because I realized I needed to listen to my own advice. Again.

new-year-new-planner

New Year’s Day is a perfectly fine and logical occasion for taking a self-inventory and setting some goals—if you have time between shopping the sales.

But it’s easy to exaggerate the importance of January 1 as The time to make a fresh start. For me, setting New Year’s resolutions led to thinking of the whole year as one single unit of time. When I relapsed on a habit in February or got hopelessly behind in my reading during April, I’d tell myself, “I blew it!”—and give up for the rest of the year.

“There’s always next January,” I’d say.

I thought about this the last week of December, during my Bible reading. I was working through the first half of the Gospel of Luke, and felt a little twinge of regret. Too bad I won’t wrap up Luke on December 31.

Then I listened to myself.

Really? Am I gonna get sidetracked trying to sync my Scripture reading with particular dates on the calendar?

Did anyone who’s actually in the Bible ever limit themselves to specific times for taking important actions?

Mondays may be my usual “laundry day,” but let’s say it’s Thursday and the dog barfs on my favorite jeans. You can bet I’ll have those babies in the washing machine before you can say “Tide with Febreze.”

As near as I can figure, a “Once-yearly Fresh Start” mindset puts too much pressure on us. The fact is, people need fresh starts all the time. So why wait? The time to make a change is whenever you need one.

Did you hurt someone? Apologize now.
Do you need to spend more time working or studying? Set up a schedule now.
Has it come to your attention that you eat too much deep-fried stuff? Break out the grill now.

And if you mess up?

Admit it and start over. Don’t wait for next year, or next month, or National Salad Day. Start over now.

If you follow Jesus, remember He wants our faithfulness. Not just on the Sabbath or on New Year’s Day. If He tells you to do something, do it now.

After all, that’s how He worked. He fed the five thousand families out on the mountainside at dinnertime. He taught when it was time to teach, healed whenever sick people came for healing… and sacrificed Himself on the cross when it was time to buy our forgiveness once and for all.

That sacrifice made the priceless gift of God’s grace available to all who believe in Him.

All I have to do is admit I’ve messed up, and He extends a fresh start every time.

That’s what fixes broken resolutions: Grace.

Your Turn:
What about you? Do once-a-year resolutions energize you, discourage you, or something in between? I’d love to hear your thoughts. There’s room for you in the “Leave a Reply” box below.

Happy New Year!
Thanks for reading,

Jan

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Zombie Pickup Truck

First, let me say I always use a mirror when bicycling. Nerdy? Who cares? Cyclists gotta see what’s coming up behind them.

Recently while out on the road, a pickup passed me. Followed by a sudden flashback. I can’t believe I never blogged about this before… it would have been therapeutic. It all happened years ago…

I was riding along a rural asphalt road with virtually no traffic. As I neared civilization, I saw an old pickup gaining on me, so I moved to the right. The pickup slowed to match my speed, as cautious drivers will do. Since the road ahead was clear, I waved to signal the driver he could pass me.

But the truck stayed just behind my shoulder. I rolled my eyes and waved again, bigger this time. Nothing.

I found this Mildly Annoying.

I sped up. The truck matched my speed. I slowed. So did the truck. Glare on the windshield kept me from seeing the driver. What was he up to?

This behavior was definitely Suspicious.

How about a broad, sweeping gesture that clearly shouts, “I’m small and slow! There is no oncoming traffic! Go on around me so we can be out of each other’s way!”

Nothing doing. This guy stuck like glue.

He had now ramped up to Intimidating.

This went on for some minutes. We were approaching a semi-rural neighborhood. By now my nerves were taut, heart rate elevated. Why the heck didn’t he JUST PASS ME??

The situation had become Terrifying.

Something had to give. Up ahead on the right was a street which I knew to be a long cul-de-sac lined with several houses. I hatched a plan: If this guy doesn’t get off my wheel by the time we reach that street, I will turn in suddenly. If he keeps going straight, fine. If he follows me onto the street, I will rush to the nearest house, screaming bloody murder, and pound on the front door.

Praying someone would be home, I took a deep breath and steeled myself for action. Half a block before the street, the pickup pulled forward so the front bumper was even with me.

Now what… is he gonna run me off the road?

But the truck continued to pass, going about 1/100 mile an hour faster than me. Eventually the cab was even with my handlebar. What sort of monster had been harassing me? I dared a look.

A tiny, white-haired woman in the passenger seat barely showed above the bottom of the window. Beyond her, the driver clutched the steering wheel straight-armed, his jaw clenched, wide eyes fixed on the road. He had to be 95 at the youngest, and twice as scared as I was.

Oh.

Since ‘Rip Van Winkle’ was finally passing, I slowed down so he could move to the right sooner and both our pulse rates could return to within a mile of normal.

I’m thankful I didn’t need my Death On The Backroads Avoidance Plan. Now, of course, we have cell phones that allow us to call 9-1-1 quickly (or even accidentally!)

But I’m glad to know I had a plan. You know… just in case the drama had been real.

Thanks for reading!

Tailwinds,

Jan

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Remote Shell Game

Hi. My name is Jan, and I’m not smart enough to watch television. (Of course, you could say that avoiding television is smarter than watching it, but that’s beside the point.)

To be honest, I don’t really think it’s my lack of intelligence. No, our media setup has joined the appliances and other electronics in the revolt.* I’m down 22-1, in my own end zone.

Let’s say I pick up the remote that operates the actual television set and push the power button. A menu pops up inviting me to choose what input I want.

But the various inputs are numerically coded and I can never remember which number means “television” as opposed to “Blu-ray” or whatever.

There aren’t even all that many inputs. Like, maybe four.

One day after scrambling around for several fruitless minutes, I gave up and called the AV guys who installed our system. “You want HDMI 2,” they explained.

“But when I select that, it doesn’t show our real network or cable channels. I get something that says TV but isn’t.”

Then I told them we’d recently installed a sound bar. “Ah… so, turn on the sound bar first. Select from the inputs displayed on the sound bar, not the one on the screen.”

“Ohh-kay.” (Why do they not match? I didn’t dare ask.)

“Then you can use the AT&T remote to control the television.”

“Not the television remote?”

“Right.”

Whatever. It worked, so… Fine.

Now, to watch Netflix, we used to turn on the actual television remote, then select “Netflix.”

Apparently, that was too easy. Over time, that method glitched once, then the next week, then every time we used it. We couldn’t access anything on Netflix.

I called AT&T for support. Several minutes of attempted troubleshooting, during which the guy clearly picked up on my level of tech-savvy. Finally he said, “Look, it’ll be simpler if you just turn on the Blu-ray disc player.”

“Use the Blu-ray? To watch Netflix? Which is via internet?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Who am I to question? I used the disc-player remote to turn on the player, which in turn triggered the television to turn on. Oh, lookie–the Blu-ray remote has its own “Netflix” button! After a few exploratory steps, none of which I can remember, I found the series I wanted. But afterward, I couldn’t figure out how to switch from Netflix to a football game on regular ol’ network TV.

I’m trapped in a house of mirrors at the intersection of “Who’s On First?” and “Rube Goldberg.”

All I know is, no matter what component you want to use, you have to start with the remote to something else.

Here, I would normally draw some insightful parallel between my media-component struggle and life in general. But with tech drama this wacky?

I got nothin’.

* If you don’t believe there’s any revolt, enter “appliances” in the search bar, upper right.

Your turn: Is anyone else confounded by too much technology? I welcome your comments in the box below. (Waaaay below.)

Thanks for reading,

Jan

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Mocha Miracle

Most mornings, I wake up pretty early. Rather than disturb Brent, I like to tippytoe upstairs to start the day in my office. First, I turn on my mug warmer and heat a bit of milk in a mug. Next stop: the wet bar, where I delve into my stash of coffee. After Mr. Coffee does his thing, I doctor a mug of the brew with the milk, some hot cocoa mix, and a little stevia.

Voila–mocha!

It’s my favorite.

I’ve been wondering, though…. How is something as delicious as mocha even possible? I mean, have you ever tasted a coffee bean? Ewww. If I ever sampled one from a coffee bush, I’d probably spit it out thinking anything that bitter had to be poisonous. After all, the coffee plant and berries look a lot like Christmas holly, and that’s toxic.

And yet, someone in ages past bit into a coffee bean and thought, “Hey… this wouldn’t be half bad with some sugar on it. And maybe soak it in some boiling water.”

My favorite mocha mug.
Where’s the mocha, you ask?
Um, I already drank most of it.

And what about cocoa? Plain ol’ cocoa tastes almost as bitter as coffee. Again, who decided to sweeten it up and give it a second chance? Once burned, twice bitter, or something.

Yet here we are, with more types and roasts of coffee than we know what to do with, and cocoa that’s not only pre-sweetened, but already mixed with dehydrated milk.

So, what does this tell you?

Miracles really do happen.

As near as I can figure, if God cares about something like coffee, which we don’t actually NEED to live (no, really)–we can trust him with the bigger stuff.

What’s your favorite little miracle?

Thanks for reading,

Jan

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Hazardous Duty, by Christy Barritt

Y’all… I finally found an author who writes in my genre! Well, almost. Christy Barritt’s “Squeaky Clean Mysteries” books are all-out mysteries that are suspenseful and sometimes macabre, while always hilarious. In fact, she’s as goofy as I am, if not more so. I’ve devoured several of her books in the last few weeks, but for now, I’ll settle on one to recommend.

Hazardous Duty, released in 2008, is the first in Barritt’s series. (Some may think that’s old, but Barritt produced fifteen stories in the series and I suggest starting with this title.) Her main character is Gabby St. Claire, whose studies in forensic science got slightly derailed into a crime-scene cleaning business. In this book, Gabby does a really thorough job at a house where the victim was shot. In fact, she finds significant evidence which the police missed. She does her best to insert herself and her observations into the investigation, annoying the detectives to no end.

Image credit: ChristyBarritt.com

Gabby’s friends are all sort of quirky. Come to think of it, so is she. She isn’t just a goofball, though… I developed a strong sympathy for her. Complex characters, humorous moments both slapstick and subtle, and a genuine mystery all come together to make this book a Great Weekend Read.

Find it at Barritt’s website, or on Amazon.

PS: Barritt also has multiple series of suspense novels that I’ve delved into and enjoy.

Thanks for reading,

Jan

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Appliance Agitation

Here we go again… not long ago, I was relaxing on the patio with a good novel while a load of cycling clothes and other truly gross stuff was in the wash. Everything was fine until Brent popped his head out the back door and said, “The washer is making a weird noise.” I sighed and went to check it out.

He was right. It sounded like a cross between a freight train and someone trying to start a car with a weak battery.

According to the knob, the machine was in the Spin cycle. We opened the lid to find the washed clothes just sitting there, having a spa day in the dirty water that was supposed to be draining out of the tub.

Not cool. (By the way, that damage in the center was from years earlier when I working on a sewing project. Who damages their washing machine while sewing?)

Brent suggested I should be the one to choose the new machine, since I’m the laundry guru. We’d been under “shelter in place” for a few weeks by this time, so I was happy to skitter off to Lowe’s. Brent stayed to fish the Lycra out of its sudsy hot tub. Did I mention he’s a hero?

After two hours of looking at machines/considering pros & cons, I came home to find the bikewear all rinsed and neatly hung on the pool fence. Don’t worry; those little things on the spikes aren’t shrunken heads, just our cycling socks.

I gave Brent the good news that I’d bought a Maytag. It would arrive on the next delivery date. Eleven days away.

A look of horror crossed his face. “ELEVEN DAYS??”

“You seem skeptical.”

“ELEVEN? DAYS?”

“Sure. It’s no problem–I can hand wash whatever we need until then.”

After all, we have a sink in the laundry room. Plus enough T-shirts to last until the week before Thanksgiving. Besides, the dryer still works. I pictured swishing a few lightweight items around in the sink, giving them a good rinse under the spray faucet, and tossing them into the dryer.

Brent pictured my suggestion a little differently:

Re-enactment of an imaginary event. No rocks or laundry were harmed.

Okay, fine. The next morning, I called Lowe’s to cancel the order. Brent researched washing machines and found a local indie dealer who could deliver a Speed Queen the same day. The new machine even has some of the old-school features I like!

And so, our wardrobe maintenance hasn’t missed a beat.

But just watch the rest of the appliances talk the Speed Queen into joining the revolt.

Thanks for reading,

Jan

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