Each Christmas I write in a little Christmas book an update about what has come in the last year. I’m forever in wonder about how much happens in a year, and how little I saw coming. This year was no different. From new job opportunities to moving towns to publishing opportunities, it was a year full of surprises, a year full of joy and grief, a year full of life.

Last year, my friend Erik asked me for a word I saw for the year ahead. In 2016 I said “clarity,” and for 2017, I said “build:” “My hope for 2017 is to build on that new confidence and direction, to make time for the sowing of seeds and maybe see some fruit from that work.”

This is what we’ve done in 2017 – we have built on new confidence and direction. We settled into a new home we don’t plan to leave for many years. We entered roles that changed the course of our careers and by extension our lives and the lives of our family.

The last few weeks my mind has turned toward the future a lot. We met with a financial advisor to talk about retirement – when and how and how much – which shifted my vision from the slow plod of days to decades away. Along those lines, I’ve been thinking about legacy and how so much of our day-to-day work lays the foundation for the future – years, decades, and generations – from now.

Ten years ago, we had just entered a dark winter with an 18 month old and a 6 month old in a new town with no friends. Ten years from now, those two kids will be adults. Henry – who was hardly a thought in anyone’s mind a decade ago – will be able to drive. We arrived here one day at a time. We will arrive there one day at a time.

How will we spend those days?

I think my word for 2018, if Erik asked, would be resolve. Its definitions are “to find a solution, to decide firmly on a course of action,” and “firm determination to do something.”

What do we resolve to do that will help us walk toward the future we hope for?

I’m resolved to be happily married in thirty years. I’m resolved to be healthy in thirty years. I’m resolved to be wiser, humbler, and more closely aligned with Christ in thirty years. Will those things happen? Is it possible my train will get derailed and misfortune or tragedy might strike? Yes. But I want to live with the resolve – and hope – that this future is mine to reach.

So here are 18 resolutions for 2018 (if I keep trying to match the number of resolutions for the year, I’ll be in list heaven 30 years from now):

  1. Read 24 books (this will be tough without an audiobook commute, but we’ll see what happens!)
  2. Choose a new book-length writing project and begin work
  3. Plan at least one family vacation (weekend / week-long) with each side of our family
  4. Schedule 2 date nights a month with Brandon
  5. Retreat three times this year with Brandon, without the kids
  6. Practice yoga twice a week
  7. Take the kids to six state parks or recreation areas to explore more of Ohio’s natural landscape
  8. Connect and serve in a more active way at church
  9. Get involved with one cause/organization in our community by volunteering or giving
  10. Practice with my family all of the devotionals I wrote in 2017 before the book is published this fall
  11. Eat no more than three meals with animal protein a week (aiming for a plant-based, whole-foods diet, while keeping room for celebration and freedom and cheese)
  12. Write three articles/blogs a month between here, work, and Off the Page
  13. Get away with girlfriends for at least one weekend
  14. Spend time with girlfriends at least once a month
  15. Stay off my phone from 5 p.m. until the next day
  16. Take walks with Izzy and Brandon (as soon as the weather gets better… or as soon as we buy her a sweater)
  17. Spend a lot of time in our backyard, shaping the landscape and hanging with friends
  18. Plan a day-long or overnight thing with one kid alone at least once each

Who knows what joys and griefs await us in 2018… my prayer is that we will be resolved to find hope, peace, and love in the midst of it all. No matter what. Here’s to a 2018 that is full of resolve.

A Look Back:

2017: 17 Resolutions in ’17
2016: The Middle Ground
2015: Goals and Resolutions in 2015
2014: Resolution Time!
2013: On the Eve of My Mother’s Surgery
2012: My Thirtieth Year
2011: Harry and Henry
2010: Key West Bound and Lydia-isms
2009: Happy New Year

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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