I love getting things done.  Crossing off items on my to do list.  Clicking the X in an Outlook task box.  Recycling a just-read magazine.  Returning library books and videos.  Deleting all my emails at the end of a day.  Twice a year going through every document on my computer and purging.  Striking through yet another accomplished goal, no matter how small.  Being done.  Love that feeling. 

And I am a huge fan of the clean slate.  I love new calendars.  New journals.  New checkbook registers.  A blank document in Word.  Starting a new bottle of shampoo.  Opening a new box of cereal.  The I'm sorry and I forgive you after an argument.  The starting over.  Being at the beginning. 

So it comes as no surprise that I love January.  I love, love, love December with the first snows and the waiting for and coming of Jesus.  But there's nothing like a good January to start from scratch.  January 1 is not just another day for me.  It's a deep breath and a let's-see-what-this-year's-going-to-bring.

I have stumbled upon a new way to clean emotional and spiritual house.  The twelve steps.  Okay, it's new to me, not new to millions of people around the world.  I'm not addicted to anything - nor do you have to be to go through the steps - but I decided to go through them as sort of a fresh start process and it was breathtaking.  It was challenging and humbling and freedom all rolled into twelve simple, but not necessarily easy, steps.  So, if you're feeling a little stuck, if you can't seem to get out of something (a rut, a bad relational pattern, an addiction), I highly recommend taking yourself through the steps.  (Note: I'd find a mentor you can trust, if possible, and I'd use the Serenity Bible that you can find on Amazon.)

Another thing I love to do as January approaches is look through my journals from the last year, seeing where I've grown, where I'm exactly the same, where God has totally moved in my life.  And I go through my goals from the previous year, which helps me make up a list of goals for the year to come. 

And then I spend some time asking myself a few questions that I've been asking myself for years and years now:

  • Who were the most stimulating people in your life (and why)?
  • What was your most meaningful spiritual experience?
  • What were your most significant family moments?
  • What was the biggest contributor to your personal growth?
  • What was the biggest blunder you committed?
  • What caused your greatest sadness?
  • What was your greatest joy?

If your 2009 didn't go quite the way you had hoped, carve some time out to think about why.  And then ask God what He'd like you to do about it.  He will answer.

(c) Elisabeth K. Corcoran, 2010

Elisabeth lives her with husband and children in Illinois. She is the author of He Is Just That Into You: Stories of a Faithful God who Pursues, Engages, and Has No Fear of Commitment (WinePress), In Search of Calm: Renewal for a Mother's Heart (Xulon), and Calm in My Chaos: Encouragement for a Mom's Weary Soul (Kregel).  All of her books can be purchased on Amazon or through her website at www.elisabethcorcoran.com.

Check out her book trailer for He Is Just That Into You at http://www.vimeo.com/7093233.

Visit her blog at http://elisabethcorcoran.blogspot.com/.

You can follow her on Twitter at ekcorcoran or friend her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/people/Elisabeth-Klein-Corcoran/1301703500.
Watch Elisabeth and her friends spread hope through Africa with Samaritan's Purse at http://www.vimeo.com/7919582.