A third of the way through the first month of the year, and I have made progress towards living the life I want. Exercising regularly has been energizing and has helped lift up my spirits during a challenging time. I am watching my portions, getting ready for the day, sleeping at more reasonable times, and communicating more clearly versus reacting in frustration. What does a lovely life consist of? A few years ago, desperate for Sean to understand me, I declared, "I need a pretty house, pretty things, and to feel pretty!" In the past, my standard was perfection in everything, a standard I could never obtain, obviously. But my perfectionistic tendencies have been tempered by experience and grace, so I strive for decency and order, a more biblical standard. Excellence - yes, perfectionism - no. One of my favorite quotes is: "Excellence is not a gift given, but a skill perfected." How exactly does that translate into real life? Towards myself, I aim to take the best care of my temple that I can, inside and out. Filling myself up with regular doses of the Word is first and foremost - it doesn't happen daily like I'd like, but it will continue to move in that direction! I even schedule Bible reading as part of homeschool so that we study the Word together on a more regular basis. Another way is watching my oh-so-judgmental attitudes and being quick to forgive. On the outside, it is my goal to obtain balance in my body and rid myself of excess baggage. Enough said. A lovely life for me is full of meaningful relationships, prayer, a peaceful home that is also lovely to behold, a joyful heart filled with peace, a radiant smile, and a strong body that is healthy and also lovely to behold. Though I may not have every element listed, I claim all of the above and more. A lovely life is made up of moments. A favorite speaker once remarked, "Life is in the every day." Life is what we make of it, how we spend these moments - celebrating the occasional top of the mountain high, pressing through the uncertain descents, and walking through the ever-present valley in between the drama of our lives with a positive attitude. This may sound so simplified and idealistic, but I have come to realize that when I stop focusing so much on what should be or what is supposed to be, then what is becomes a lot easier to deal with. And the current state should be occupied with deliberate attention with hope for the future and grace for the past. Today may not be everything I want it to be, but here I am anyway. So I will accept today, live in it, make note of the lessons I need to apply to make tomorrow better and forgive the past rather than continually dwell on it. This I proclaim to myself, and that 2009 is the year to shine!