Saturday, January 8, 2022

A New Year to Resolve Our Ambitions.…One Step At A Time.

(Annabelle learns to walk. She, indeed, has Daddy wrapped around her finger, hence the typography on the shirt.)

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
James 4:13-15 (NIV)

With each year that passes, I try to absorb a meaningful phrase or word, such as “Grace,” “Practicing Thankfulness,” or “My Very Best.” Then I set reminders in strategic locations to remember this theme, to reflect upon it, and to thoughtfully pray on the chosen phrase. This year I picked “One Step” as my personal mantra for self-improvement. I possess a tenacious personality with many goals every year, seeking to accomplish more in my life. I often focus too much of my energy on the future, rather than living in the present.

My daughter, Annabelle, has recently been learning to walk, one step at a time in stride. In fact, she is so fast that I sometimes run after her to catch up. The challenge to go faster and faster consumes her attention while physically walking on her own. I try not to get so caught up in future ambitions that I forget to enjoy the process of watching Annabelle grow up and learn to walk. As I grow older, certain seasons seem to pass more quickly than in previous years. Therefore, I seek to stop, absorb the feelings in front of me, and marvel at the wonderful pleasures and experiences of the current moment.

One might even say I try to stay focused on the bigger picture where these small moments represent the best blessings experienced. This principle is especially remarkable when I share them with the individuals I care most about, this example being my daughter. Like a walker that an elderly person might utilize, Annabelle tends to prop herself up against a standing toy with wheels. This object serves to assist her in this learning process to walk. She is now almost independently balancing herself without assistance. Occasionally, she falls forward or backward, flat on her booty. Then I applaud her efforts in hopes that she will not cry, and in unison, we yell “Boom!”     

Annabelle’s learning process reminds me of how I believe God wants His followers to view life. Rather than thinking about too many days or too many months, God desires for us to enjoy Him now in our current moment. I often pinch my arm to remind myself that I am here in this minute of this hour. One might think of this habit as my own applied mindfulness to intentionally focus on the now. I hope you can relate to my “One Step at A Time” mentality as I seek to improve my own mental health and psychological focal points. Today is the best day to live in my special moments! I would say the same for you, the reader.    

If you have not already written down your New Year’s resolutions, I would encourage you to pick a phrase or word as I have done. I recommend that you use these words or brief quotes to focus on an area of your life you hope to improve for your betterment, including mental health and spiritual reasons. When the end of 2022 approaches, perhaps we will be able to appreciate the current moment in the presence of the people we most cherish. Together we will learn “One Step” at a time.

Please reference some of the pictures below of Annabelle and Lisa from this past holiday season. We focused on each day to remain present in the new memories we cultivated together.

(I love my wife’s many kisses!)

(Annabelle thinks, "This cornbread is so tasty I cannot shove it into my mouth fast enough!”)

(Annabelle thinks, “Cornbread is my favorite!)

(Annabelle says, “I love jumping! This toy is like a sit-down trampoline.”)

(This wood rocking chair has been in my family for a very long time. It is a natural fit for Annabelle!)

(My Grandma CeCe hit the jackpot when Annabelle received a plastic kitchenware and a microwave as a Christmas gift.)

(I wonder how she will react when I buy her a real microwave for college. CeCe might be onto something here.)

(Annabelle learns to play the piano. She is musically talented just like her father.)

(Family picture at City Hills Church after the Christmas service in Knoxville, Tennessee.)

(Downtown Knoxville is decorated for Christmas. This is our decorative family portrait.)

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