Goals to Build a Thriving Life in 2016

This is going to be a short post that will begin my weekly goal posts. I am going to post Mondays, and the goals will not include the weekends so that I have more slack to review my goals from the previous week. I just completed the course Make Over Your Mornings by Crystal Paine, one of my favorite bloggers. Much of the method to my goal setting comes from this course. I cannot place a measurement on Thriving, but by choosing the following measurable goals, I believe, day by day we will begin to thrive.

If you want to see my past posts on Goal Setting CLICK HERE.

My BIG GOALS for 2016

Self, Heart, & Soul:

    Read the Entire Bible Through (New Testament 5 Times)

List 1: New Testament – 4 Chapters Every Night Before Bed

    Once Complete Repeat all but Revelation

Old Testament Read 1 Chapter of Each List per Night

List 2: Prophets

        List 3: History

List 4: Law

List 5: Poetry

    Take Tim Challies’ 2016 Reading Challenge

My Goal is to Attempt Avid Reader this year, which is to read a book approximately every 2 weeks from the challenge list. This is audacious, but I think will help my soul and heart to attain the rhythm God and Louis are both impressing on my heart in this season of life.

Marriage Goals:

After finding the reading challenge mentioned above, Louis and I both have set reading goals, which will come from that challenge instead of add to that list.

    Louis: Read 6 Seminary Books

Finish Third Culture Kids

Finish Serving as Senders & Create our Blog Study for Partners in the States

Read 1 Book Together

Spend Intentional Time Together Just for Us 3x per Week.

Family (Mothering, Parenting) Goals:

Many of the goals for this year are not truly Big Goals for the year, but just building routines. At the end of the year I want to be able to look back and see several things accomplished however.

David Potty Trained

School Decision Made for Davy

Routines in Place:

    Grocery Shopping without Louis

    Teeth Brushing (Davy Learn and Do it Routinely)

    Bath Time (Water Heater Routines and Bathing)

Pause for PRAISE here for our evening routine at bedtime working so well and continuing to include Bible Reading to the kids!

David getting dressed and undressed by himself

Arabic Study Plan: Study 1 hour per day. 20-30 min. per day for Davy.

Ministry & Discipleship Goals

The Arabic Study Plan of course is part of our ministry here, and once that plan is in place it will cover many of these categories.

Mommy Book Blog: Post Weekly Goals once a week for accountability and twice a month posts on books and parenting and life in Lebanon.

Lisses to Lebanon Blog: Post twice a month. Hopefully one from each of us each month about missionary life and ministry.

In the past I made many mini goals, but these BIG GOALS will be broken into bite size (weekly) pieces and posted each Monday in Weekly Goals. Feel free to post your own goals so we can all keep each other accountable.


My Top Ten Books of 2015

The founding purpose of this blog was for me to continue to read. Blogging is one of the ways that I can stay accountable in my goals, especially living overseas from most of the people who keep me accountable, and reading is a huge priority for me. This year was crazy, so I didn’t actually take the time to write book reviews as often as I would have liked, but I did read. So, this post is a general remembrance, anamnesis, and review of the books I read this year as well as a view of what the future posts on books will be in 2016.

  1. This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence by John Piper CLICK HERE for my original review from May 2015

    I made a goal for 2015 to read 6 Marriage books, but only read this one. It was worth it for the whole year for me. This year our marriage had many opportunities to be shaken and challenged and in pain. We were separated for four months this year. Louis returned to Lebanon alone for two months beginning just days after Christmas Day, missing New Year’s and months 6 and 7 of my pregnancy. Through the pain of child birth and then the pain of insurance companies, we ended up separating again. This second time he took our two year old son, who did not handle the transition well, only to find that the surgery that was supposed to happen while he was in Lebanon had been postponed and cancelled. During that two month stint apart he missed our anniversary. Through it all we truly grew stronger and have the best marriage we had ever thought possible. This book does not get all the credit for the good place our marriage has landed this year, but it was instrumental in bringing me peace during a time of chaos. The truths here were foundational, and I highly recommend this book to anyone married or single. It is a foundational book whether or not you are in a relationship because the marriage relationship is founded on Christ’s relationship with the church.

  2. The Secret Lives of Codebreakers: The Men and Women Who Cracked the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay

    If you liked Imitation Game this is the book for you. This is the story behind the setting and point of what Alan Turing was working on in that movie. This book was also read by me early on. I might just have to read this book again because it was so fascinating. I loved it, and it made me realize that I should have had a second category of books in my goals for nonfiction. In addition, the fictional BBC series The Bletchley Circle is also phenomenal and has characters, mostly women, who were a part of the Bletchley Park codebreakers.

  3. The Rook by Daniel O’Malley CLICK HERE for my original review from February 2015

    This book is very high on the list because it was a fun read, a new author to me, and it inspired me to keep reading. This book and number 5 were both read early on in the year when I returned to the States and inspired me to keep reading because of how good they were. I loved that this book was written so well from beginning to end and even though there is a sequel coming out in June of 2016 (I already preordered a Kindle version), the book did not end with a sequel required, it was wrapped up well while leaving me excited to read more.

  4. A Likely Story by Jenn McKinlay

    Yes, a cozy mystery made it into the top five. I read everything Jenn McKinlay writes, go to her sessions at the Tucson Book Festival, and receive her blog, which is why she appears twice in this top ten list. When we moved to Lebanon I was not able to stay up to date with her books because at the time they were not available in ebook form. When I got back to the States I immediately ordered all of her books from the library and had so much fun catching up on all of the series she has written. This is my favorite series, in which the heroine/detective is a librarian living in Maine.

  5. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore A Novel by Robin Sloan

    Great book. Over time it has moved slightly down my list this year because the ending wasn’t as strong as I had hoped, but it was still amazing. I loved it, and it also was one of the books that drew me into reading this year. This book celebrates books, and it was fun to read and be caught up in the adventure. This is a book I recommend to anyone who likes to read at all, or not at all. The characters in this book were people I would like to meet.

  6. The Hen of the Baskervilles by Donna Andrews

    Donna Andrews is another person I will read anything she writes. This book comes from a cozy mystery series with bird pun names for titles. I love the characters and their quirkiness helps me feel like there is a place for everyone in the world. I feel like I could live next door to them, which would be awesome because she is a blacksmith and he is an actor/drama professor, with toddler twins, living on a farm land with llamas and emus and sheep and roosters and murder mysteries.

  7. The Short Drop by Matthew Fitzsimmons

    A great find this year after we accidentally signed up for Amazon Prime was Kindle First. These books are Editor’s Picks for the coming month and I get it delivered before it is even officially released. This book is a Suspense Thriller Mystery with depth and such writing. The main characters drew me in and appalled me and were so real. The book was definitely for adults only, just because of some of the disturbing topics related to a missing child. This book would have been higher on my list, since I loved the ending a lot more than number 5, but I just finished it a few days ago and want to give it more time.

  8. The Green Ember by S.D. Smith

    One of the blogs I receive had this posted in the free ebooks section, and then another blog mentioned it as well the same week. It turns out to be a very moral book, I believe it is Christian based, and it is probably going to be the chapter book I read first with my kids. It is on par with The Chronicles of Narnia as far as age groups that could enjoy it and talking animals and such. It was so much fun, and it was a great book for the beginning of our transition to Lebanon because the main characters suffer much loss and have to leave home and move somewhere else and so that resonated well with me. It shared the process of growing up and learning who we are going to be and how to accept that in ourselves and others.

  9. Grace Under Pressure by Julie Hyzy CLICK HERE for my original review from October 2015.

    This was a book I grabbed at the library in between books I was waiting for, and it was such a good book. The main character is the manager of a manor, which is all administration, and I connected with her instantaneously. I also found myself loving manor life, as it is the next best thing to living in a castle as a princess. The idea of working at a manor has a similar appeal and this book drew on that instantly. I am looking forward to reading all she has in this series.

  10. At the Drop of a Hat by Jenn McKinlay

    As an anglophile, I have found Jenn McKinlay’s newest series, a cozy mystery set in Britain to be so fun. I didn’t realize until this year that I am an Anglophile, but now that I have admitted it I am going to be reading a lot more English literature. This series features an American who has moved to Britain where she has inherited half of a millinery, a hat shop. It is such a fun series and I was so happy to get back to America in time for the release!

In the coming months I will do a similar post each month to review the books I read this year as well as any I have read up to that point in several categories. To give you a taste I have made collages of the categories and every book I read this year in those categories. Yay visuals!

Adult Fiction I Read in 2015

Educational Books I Read in 2015

Children’s Books I Loved in 2015

I am looking forward to sharing these with you as well as reading in 2016.

CLICK HERE to check out the Reading Challenge I will be taking in 2016!

I plan on being an AVID READER using this challenge. That’s 26 books this year (with Louis’ help on some).

December 28 – January 3 Weekly Goals

Bible Reading Lists: 8 chapters per night

    List 1: Read Matthew

    List 2: Read Jeremiah 1-7

    List 3: Read Judges 1-7

    List 4: Read Numbers 1-7

    List 5: Finish Psalms

Reading for Self & Marriage:

Read The History of the Moravian Church Chapters 7-29 (3 per day)


    Play Killer Bunnies together

    Find a Photo List for a 2016 Photo Challenge


    Mommy Book Blog: Bible Goals Met

    Lisses to Lebanon: Make a Blog Plan with Louis for the year


    Focus on Morning Routine consistency EVERY DAY

        8:00 Alarm clock: WAKE UP

        8:15 Coffee: My main incentive for getting up, & Healthy Breakfast

        9:00 Memverse

        9:30 Exercise, Shower, Dressed for Day

        10:30 School, Planning, or Church


A New Year is Coming & 2015 in Review

Last year I spent until the end of February to settle on goals for the year. Since then, a year ago, I have been looking forward to getting a start on this in December. That excitement lasted until I started, of course. Since I haven’t posted in quite awhile I will sum up that the past year has been one of the hardest ever. There have been “worse” things to happen in other years, but I found this year to be the hardest because I had built my faith, diligence, prayers, consistency, and hope so much. I have healed from so much and have grown in ways I never thought imaginable, so the struggles of this year were a blow because I did not handle them all well.

My focus last year was on giving myself grace, but that never seemed to be fully achieved. I still struggle with forgiving myself and letting it go. This has made the process of goal setting even more important. As I write my goals I make sure to write in notes to myself that explain the expectations I have. For instance, last year, in my Bible reading plan was built in to take a few months off when our second child was born and again when we moved back to Lebanon. I have been in Lebanon a month now, but have had unrealistic expectations on myself that are feeding into the lies that I have to do it ALL.

    So, I am planning on working my way back to posting my weekly goals as a way to keep myself accountable, and also to visually give myself grace.

Let’s Look Back at 2015

Well, it has been over a month of preparing for this post. Here are my goals broken down into their categories:

  1. Family
    1. Family
      1. Walks: Two to Three Times a Week
    2. Marriage
      1. Read 6 Marriage Books This Year: Check out my Blog Post focused on Books I Read in 2015.
      2. Encourage Louis’ Photography: Monthly I did take time to do this, and it was wonderful to take the time away from things I have a passion about and to focus on what my husband cares about. Even when he was in Lebanon and I was in Arizona this was something we could share.
      3. Play Killer Bunnies: Twice a Month (When We Return to Lebanon)
        We just got back one month ago, and have played once and already put the next time on the calendar. Yay! Already getting on this focus on relationship and taking a break!
      4. Make At Least 3 New Music Mixes Together: We made a list of music for Kyrie’s birth, but didn’t get to really take the time to focus on this with the hectic year we had. This year we are recommitting now that we will have more months together.
      5. Read 1 Book Together: This goal we have recommitted to for this upcoming year. We took time together to share in great detail about every book, devotion, and Bible chapter we read, but with the 2 months apart every three months, it was challenging to commit to beginning a book since we were never sure if we would actually be together until the end of the book. Now that we are spending a dedicated two years in Lebanon TOGETHER we can try again. This is a goal that is a hope for the future rather than a failure in the past.
    3. Kids
      1. Organize Clothing: Monthly
        This goal was focused on putting clothes that didn’t fit into storage in the right size groups. I had a lot of help from both my mom and mother-in-law to get this accomplished while in the States. Additionally, within a few days of being back in Lebanon we were able to get all the clothes here organized as well!
      2. Write Love Notes: Monthly
        I wrote far more than 12 Love Notes this year. Only four of them ended up being to the kids because I added Louis into the mix. But the goal was accomplished. This year I think I will keep this goal. Louis and I both wrote the goal separately to write an encouraging letter once a week. He is including friends and refugees, so I think I am going to go along with his goal and expand my view beyond the file for my kids. It was a great habit to think each week about writing one, and when one took me longer to write it still fit within the month. A weekly reminder and monthly goal is probably what I could stick to again, but writing something weekly alongside my husband is looking exciting.
    4. Kyrie
      1. Nursing
        Accomplished for the first few months until she weaned herself.
      2. Headbands
        1. Create them This was one thing I gave up on. Maybe in the future, but for now this is one I am happy to let go.
        2. Wear them
          We moved from headbands to tiny little hair bands because of her tendency to take out the bows and try to eat them. We have made it a habit, which was really what I wanted, to have a bow or hair tie to look feminine and keep her hair out of her eyes every time we go out.
    5. David
      1. Improve Routines (ex. Teeth Brushed)
        1. Use abcjesuslovesme.com past self-care skills and manners
        2. Toilet Training: Daily
        3. Teeth Brushed: Daily
          All of these goals are being accomplished especially now that we are stationary for a little bit. We are also using these routines from the 2-year-old curriculum of abcjesuslovesme.com to teach Davy Arabic at home. It is a good start for us. I am sure I will post about potty training and new routines in a few months, so stay tuned.

  1. Education
    1. Homeschooling
      1. Crafts: Twice a Week
    2. Arabic
      1. Homework/Practical Sentences: Weekly
      2. Pimsleur CD’s: Twice a Week
      3. Study Plan: Make Weekly Project Goals
        One of the things that I find myself beating myself up over when I should be congratulating us is Arabic. No, we didn’t really study in America much. But now that we are back Davy and I both are trying to learn new things each week. In only a month we really are attempting to build language routines again, and I have faith that we will see fruit soon.
      4. Make Arabic Books for Davy and Kyrie: Before We Head Back to Lebanon This turned out to be too hard without being in the same city together long enough, so Louis and I put this one aside and are going to see if we can find a print shop here that would help in the future for Kyrie, but for Davy we are letting this go for a little while.


  2. Ministry
    1. Bible
      1. Morning Quiet Time: (Work Back Up To Full Quiet Time in Morning When We Return to Lebanon Take 3 Months) This goal extends into the New Year, so I will check back in with this in coming posts. When I made many of these goals we thought that we would all be back in Lebanon in May instead of only the boys, so some of these goals have been altered by that timeline, so I am reevaluating them for adding to next year.
      2. MemVerse: 4 Times a Week This felt like a Should all year. I had it as a goal, but wasn’t motivated to do it. When I got back to Lebanon I found the opposite was true. All the Bible Lists that had been giving me life the past year were hard to read while Memverse felt like living water. Seasons are changing for us, so now I am doing this every day!
      3. Listen to 12 Online Sermons I never did this. I felt overwhelmed without Louis near, and when he was with me I didn’t really remember why I had this goal. As Louis and I discussed goals for next year we remembered that we wanted to do this while in Lebanon as a way to bolster us past the language barrier found in attending church here. So we are going to begin this again for 2016.
      4. Read 6 Good Quality Christian Books Check out my Blog Post focused on Books I Read in 2015.
      5. Make a Digital Prayer Binder & Gratitude Journal & Write in Them Daily
        This was one thing I am so proud of. I had such a beautiful prayer journal that I made myself from a composition book and beautiful printables that I colored myself, and trying to limit books I was doing my prayers digitally, but taking time to create visually appearing pages on Word was worth the time and makes me look forward to my prayer journaling again. It also makes it so simple to journal and pray.
      6. Read Entire Bible
        1. Read Entire New Testament 10 Times Through (Basically Once a Month & Giving Myself 2 Months Slack for Kyrie and the Move Back to Lebanon) Kyrie ended up needing more than 2 months slack, so this will probably be completed in 2016 but I am pretty close. Look forward to my Bible Review post coming up.
      7. Do 2 In-Depth Bible Studies: One Topical, One Book I still haven’t finished 1 Samuel, but I still plan on it soon.
      8. Attend Bible Study: Monthly
        The entire time I was in Arizona I attended the Bible Studies as often as I could. Amidst my depression that was one thing that I could do.
      9. Increase Giving
    2. Fellowship & Grouping
      1. Find an Arabic Church in Lebanon
        This is probably one of the most exciting goals for me, so I will probably write a post on it at another time. When we were here over a year ago as a family we were searching for a church and it was very challenging for my spirit to not feel a church was for us. When Louis was here by himself and with Davy he prayed and looked on his own. When we came back as a family we had a church picked, and this time we are committed through God’s calling us. I want to share all about it, so look for that in coming posts.
      2. Attend Church: At Least Twice a Month Focus on Fellowship More
      3. Invite More People Over & Visit More People: Aim for Once a Month

  1. Lisses to Lebanon Blog
    1. Posts Planned
    2. Two Posts Per Month (Hopefully, one written by Louis each month at least) Now that we are back in Lebanon I hope to make these goals a reality.

  1. Personal
    1. Mommy Book Blog
      1. Read 24 Books for Fun
        Check out my Blog Post focused on Books I Read in 2015.
      2. Post my Book Reviews
        Check out my Blog Post focused on Books I Read in 2015.
      3. Post Weekly Goals
        It has been awhile since I did this, but I will be starting again soon.
      4. Post Something Every Week
        It has been awhile since I did this, but I will be starting again soon.
      5. Get Blogs Organized and Usable
        I didn’t really take the time I had hoped to do this, but I started on it, so I think I got a reasonable amount done for the year we had.

Coming Soon

So, there were quite a few Blog Post goals mentioned for upcoming Blogs. Stay tuned for:

Books I Read in 2015 & Hope to Read in 2016

Weekly Posts to the Mommy Book Blog

Every Other Week Posts to the Lisses to Lebanon Blog

Arabic at Home


Potty Training

New Goals & Routines

Our New Church in Lebanon

Morning Quiet Time

Reading the Whole Bible in 2015-2016 & My Bible Plan for 2016