Happy New Year 2016

Holy Smokes…it is 2016! When a new year begins, it is so easy to get caught up with looking back on time.  Just in this past week, I’ve had several people comment on how fast the years have sped by…how it seems like just yesterday…how they wish they could stop the clock.  Alas, time marches on and we can’t stop it.  But, we can sure make the most of the time ahead.  That’s usually what “New Year’s Resolutions” are all about.  We want to make our time in the coming year count for something.

The old adage is true: “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it” or to put it another way, “If you don’t aim at something, you definitely won’t hit it.”  If we simply say we want 2016 to be a better year chances are we will arrive at 2017 with the same thoughts about 2016 as we had about 2015…and 2014…and 2013… If we don’t have specific targets, it’s likely we won’t hit anything when it comes to making the most of our lives.  It is far too easy to get caught up with the daily busy-ness that comes our way and before you know it we’ll be looking back on 2016.

If you haven’t come up with any New Year targets to shoot at, I’ll attempt to offer a few for your consideration.  First, it is vital to cover the whole person.  So often our goals or resolutions are purely physical: going on a diet, quitting smoking, working out.   A person is much more than simply a physical being; so it would be to our benefit to set targets for the whole person: Physical, Mental, and Spiritual.

Take a moment and ponder each of these areas.  Each target we set for ourselves must be specific in nature.  In other words, we can’t simply say: “I want to lose 20 pounds this year.”  That’s nice…but unless there is a specific method to losing that 20 pounds, it won’t happen.  Another suggestion is that we make that target realistic.  If I set a goal to bench press 300 pounds by December, it’s not going to happen (not for my body anyway).  One last suggestion is that we realize hitting any target will take discipline on our part.

With all that in mind, here are some possibilities, just to get you thinking (some can apply to all 3 areas):

Physical: 1) Work out three times a week (this could be walking, running, weights, stretching…).  2) Join a Fitness Club and use it three times a week.  3) Replace your lowfat ice cream with Greek yogurt.  4) Eat a bigger breakfast and a lighter supper (except when there is a Divine Liturgy) 5) Keep the Wed/Fri fasts of the Faith. 6) Get up and be at Church by 9:25 on Sunday mornings (I didn’t say you would like these goals…smile). ETC

Mental: 1) Read an “educational” book each month (this can be to yourself or to a child).  2) Take a painting class (no talent necessary as I have proven myself).  3) Schedule a game night once a week with a friend(s) or family.  4) Turn off the T.V. one hour each week and talk with ______ about a current event or help someone else learn something. 5) Do a “brain exercise” each day (apps, books, and online available). 6) Keep the Wed/Fri fasts of the Faith (this one may actually be more mental than anything). ETC.

Spiritual: 1) Talk to Fr. Stephen about your prayer rule. You will get one that you can do and then stick with it each day. 2) Read one chapter of the Bible each day at (you set the time).  3) Pray each morning for one person who irritates you (that gives me 365 different people to pray for).  4) Read a daily devotional each day (The Prologue From Ochrid is a great one online).  5) Give an hour each week or month to visiting a shut-in. 6) Keep the Wed/Fri fasts of the Faith (This shows how the physical, mental, and spiritual are all tied together). ETC.

When it comes to the whole person, the possibilities seem endless.  These are simply ideas to get you thinking about who you really want to be by the end of the year.  We are always changing in all three areas…sometimes for the good and sometimes for the not so good.  We do have the ability to set specific goals to help us change for the good, but those goals will only be as good as our determination to fulfill them.

These areas of our lives can be like an upward spiral. Each year we can gain ground but we have to be disciplined to make improvements. Like the monk on the hill: When you fall (fail to keep your goal one day), get right back up and do keep it the next time.

May the prayers of St. John the Baptist be with you each and every day. Have a blessed 2016!!

With much love and prayers,

Fr. Stephen

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Welcome to An UpWord Glance!

Welcome to An UpWord Glance blog. I originally began doing An UpWord Glance for the both the folks working in prisons and for the men living in those prisons where I served as Chaplain.

Each week a new story will be published to this site. This will be a simple story…no heavy theological treatise.  The goal is for you to receive something uplifting or thought provoking during the week.

May you find both encouragement and inspiration each week to “walk the walk” with our Lord Jesus Christ.

By your prayers,

Fr. Stephen