(Thank you to Tiffany M. for this post!)
Often, at the beginning of each year, people feel compelled to think up some resolutions, seldomly they get written down, yet all too often they become a bit of a joke about how quickly these intentions are forgotten. There is so much running to and fro on this earth that there is a danger that we can often forget that we are running a FOCUSED race to the Kingdom. Whether we are trying to stop certain habits or influences in our life or begin new habits, committing our goals in writing can be a powerful practice.
As families trying to raise a Godly seed, it is crucial we intentionally frame our days around a GREATER PURPOSE to withstand the whims and influences of the world around us. Having written goals for our family’s walk of faith can be an effective way to shape our lives. As disciples of Christ, we are always striving and trying to aim higher, to lift our thoughts, our habits, and our time to heavenly heights. We have set before us a perfect man to strive to be like. The son of God was tempted in all points like us, yet he lived a sinless life. Not only was his life sinless, but it was FILLED with purpose and good works. We live in a dangerous age. The world around us is trying to tempt us at every corner, they are begging for us to give in to our flesh and surrender the standards written in the word of Life. If we do not set clear goals for our lives and build strong boundaries, we can easily wander around without much clear direction. We might find ourselves just enduring each day and not truly crafting a life of purpose and INTENTIONAL LIVING that aligns with God’s way. In Proverbs 29 verse 18 we read “Where there is no vision the people perish, but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”
STUDIES PROVE THE POWER OF THIS SIMPLE STEP
Many years ago, I listened to a Bible class where the speaker touched on the importance of having clear goals in our life. He commented that a recent study showed 83% of respondents had no goals. 14% of the people had plans but they had not written them down. The study concluded that only around 3% of people WRITE DOWN their goals. Neuroscience continually proves the power of this task. When we take the time to record our intentions on paper, we are encoding them in our brain at deeper levels than just thoughts. It is fascinating to understand the intricacies of how our Creator fashioned our brains. The act of writing goals down connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain; it basically sets us up for much more likelihood of success. The right side is our more artistic ‘dreamer side’ and the left more practical and logical. Most people don’t have clear aims, but those that do usually leave their goals floating around in their head with no clear direction to achieve them- just drifting dreams. It seems like such a simple thing…to write it down, but yet it is proven to have so much power as a catalyst in our lives. Are we dreamers or doers? “Be ye doers of the word and not hearer’s only” reads James 1:22. The speaking brother challenged his listeners to begin writing down their goals in a clear and measurable way. God told the prophet Habakkuk to WRITE THE VISION: “And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it”. Hab. 2:2-3
WHAT DOES PIE HAVE TO DO WITH GOALS?
Over a decade ago, after listening to this brother’s class our family crafted a new tradition to make written goals a regular habit in our family life. It started as just a simple idea. We only had a family of 5 at the time, three school-age children, my husband and myself. So we purchased a brand new journal for each family member and excitedly told them about the idea to start having monthly goal writing sessions. I got quite a few mixed looks and knew it might be a bit of a bumpy start getting everyone on board with this idea….. so I started baking….you see there is nothing quite like the smell of something warm and fresh-baked from the kitchen to bring the family together. The smell wafting from the kitchen beckons the heart. it makes the task of coming together for one of Mom’s “new family meetings” a bit easier. A Pie just seemed like the right parabolical baked good for the vision of a family. Hence our “Family Pie Conference” was born. ‘Conference’ just makes it sounds so important. The plan was straightforward. We would have monthly meetings and we would each make individual lists in the new journals of our current goals while sharing a slice of the warm pie around the table.
The goals were diverse and different for everyone. Practical, sometimes comical, often emotional, and of course there were spiritual goals tucked on every page. Some goals were to memorize the book of James, or for the little ones to recite the books of the Bible. Some aspired to commit to Bible marking all the first principles or start each day with a Bible reading and prayer. Frequently goals were set up to cut things out of our lives that were not profitable on our walk of faith. Often little simple goals were tucked in too. Drink more water. Make my bed every day. Hug my brother more. (brothers always need more hugs-especially teenage ones)
HOW DOES IT ALL WORK?
After we all write our ambitions, we would go around the table and read them to everyone else in the family. This little act of not only writing our goals but also reading out loud and sharing our personal intentions has proven to be even more effective.
Three words: Accountability, Cheer-leading. Teamwork.
It has knit us together in purpose for each other as we strive individually- yet encourage each other as a team. Often siblings are the biggest opponents in life. Somehow when you know the goals your sister or brother has for their life it helps to tame that rivalry and you suddenly become one of their best cheerleaders. Hearing Mom’s and Dad’s goals help the kids know we are all striving and growing in this life, both young and old. During these sessions, we often find ourselves in a very teachable mindset. We can gently suggest or advise one another and it is often welcomed and eagerly written down. The Bible instructs us in Hebrews 10 verse 24 to consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works. These sessions regularly set us up for just that. Imagine how powerful following up in prayer on this pursuit of goals would be? This can be done for both our personal goals and those of our family. As we all know the words in Proverbs “A man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps” Seeking our Heavenly Father’s direction and blessing on these pursuits is crucial.
Each family conference that followed, the fresh-baked pie would be the irresistible call to order. After serving everyone their portion, we would read aloud our goals from our previous meeting. We often would laugh out loud at a few goals that we totally missed the mark on. Almost always we would rewrite some of the same ones we were still aiming for. Our favorite moments would be when we would give a cheer for someone who had finally accomplished their goal. All achieved goals felt celebratory, whether they were big and small….selling the house, getting baptized, or just learning to print your name! As the years rolled on, two more kiddos were added to the tribe. It was sweet to see their older siblings help them write out their goals in their personal journal before they could even spell. Somehow, slowly, writing goals had become a habit and a norm. Although originally the intent was to have monthly meetings, that was too lofty of a target for our busy family of seven. Perhaps seasonally would have been a better aim? Yet, if too much time had elapsed since our last Conference often one of my older kids would sigh and remark, “Mom. We REALLY need another Family Pie Conference” Somehow through the years this became a helpful reset to us when we felt off in the direction of our journey.
The trek of goal setting as a family was not always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes we sat around the table with angsty teenagers who were reluctant to make or share goals. So many times our goals were never reached or took a detour from unexpected twists of circumstances we never anticipated. Yet that is the journey, isn’t it? It’s messy and bumpy but we keep striving, reaching and trying…and lifting each other.
This past year, the first of our children left the nest when we gave her away in marriage to a wonderful brother in Christ. As she packed up her things to move over 1,000 miles away, I took down her Family Pie Conference journal to send on the way with her. I took a few quiet moments and looked over the years of goals she had tucked in there. I realized an incredible keepsake had been created. It was like looking through a little window into the past. The intentions of her heart were written on those worn pages and what a treasure it was to reflect on her progress through the years. At the outset of these Family Pie Conferences, I never imagined what a precious keepsake we were creating.
KEEP STRIVING TOGETHER
Somehow these journals of written goals both humble us yet also push us forward. We fall so desperately short of the mark we set, but we keep trying and keep aiming higher together. The Family Pie Conference is a fun way to reach for goals PURPOSEFULLY together as a family. It is an extra boost for all those dreams and intentions that can often just float around aimlessly in our heads. We are all striving to live a life crafted for a purpose, to give glory to our Creator. So many times after Bible Schools we set new goals, so few times we write them down or ask someone to hold us responsible. This is a way to set firm boundaries to keep the world out and to endeavour to fill our lives with Christlike intentions- so we can feel encouraged to FINISH the race TOGETHER.
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil 3:13-14