December 2014 Goals

Each month we set goals together, intentionally setting a tone for the month.  Here is  a reflection on November and what we are planning for December. You may read more about this here.

December Goals

A Review of November

November Goals

NOVEMBER – A Month of Gratitude

  • Practice Gratitude with Andrew by doing the Instagram Challenge (PARTIAL CREDIT)
    • We did most days, but when the going got tough and it was hard to match the day with the word, we were not on top of it.
  • Model and teach gratitude to Cole by having a project to work on together each week about Gratitude (COMPLETED)
    • We did do projects weekly, three that we posted on the blog (food pantry, friends, and nurses), and the fourth we did at school by joining a service club
  • Be grateful for what we have by returning to No Spend November (PARTIAL CREDIT)
    • We returned to No Spend November and spent less and only on agreed upon items
    • We agreed on more items and spent more than last year, I would rather go the other way.
  • Intentionally plan for the holidays (PARTIAL CREDIT)
    • We are off to a good start, was hoping to have more done by December 1, but we are continuing to be intentional.
  • Read a book together (COMPLETED)
    • We read Gone Girl and saw the movie together.  
    • We are also listening to Serial together and loving it

DECEMBER – A Month of Presence

December Goals

  • Practice Presence with Andrew by doing our own Instagram Challenge #SharpteamChristams2014  A little simpler this time:  Post a picture of the Christmas Season each day through Christmas.
  • Work with Cole on practicing presence by having “Present Moments,” times where we are in the midst and we pause to articulate what is going on and how we are feeling.  We will video some of those moments.
  • Giving our presence to our children each week by going on adventures that they will enjoy and by creating cozy family times at home.
  • Giving our presence to each other by maintaining times of reflection each day and adventure each week just with each other.
  • Individually deepen our sense of presence by meditating each day.

Intentionally Find Time To Read

Each Tuesday I write a blog post to share with you a way to be in more intentional in your day to day.


A couple of years ago my brother-in-law had a great deal of insights from books he had recently read.  He named a number of titles I was interested in, but had not found time to sit down and read.  Curious I asked him when he had time to read, and his answer revolutionized reading for me.

He read while he did the dishes, while he worked out, while he waited.  He was listening to audiobooks.

I have been listening ever since.  Listening to books is thought provoking, and informative.  It can be an adventure listening to someone else’s journey or a work of fiction.  Why not allow yourself to read more, by joining audiobook or taking out audiobooks from your local library (many download right to your phone).

Here are a couple of my favorite reads/listens:

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

Intentionally Balance Adventure and Retreat

Each Tuesday I write a blog post to share with you a way to be in more intentional in your day to day.

Adventure and Retreat

We believe that in each year, month, week, and for us, weekend that we want to balance Adventure and Retreat.

Adventure is a time when you step out of your day to day routine.

It can be an activity that educates you, opens you up more, allows you to face your fear, exposes you to another way of doing things.  We see adventure as stepping outside of what is required of you and into what challenges you.  An adventure may be heading out on a white water rafting trip, traveling to a new place, or seeing with new eyes in a local museum.

We like to follow up a time of Adventure with a time of Retreat.

We see Retreat as a returning.  It is a returning to home or comfort or quiet.  It allows time to rest the mind and body as well as reflect.  Retreat can include times of pampering, like drinking a favorite warm drink, sitting by the fire.  It can also be simple and quiet.  Retreat is the time when we recognize how we want to realign to our core values, principles and intentions.

When we as a family, a couple, and as individuals live a balanced life of adventure and retreat, we are able to stretch ourselves and reflect on how that stretching impacted us.

Our intentional Tuesday challenge to you is to choose a couple of Adventures and balance them with times of reflection and Retreat.

  • You can see our list of Fall Adventures here
  • This month we are Adventuring into gratitude, we will be giving to a food bank this week (by donating at a local police station.  Have you done this?  Something similar?
  • What silly fun thing have you wanted to try?  Sometime we are going for Monkey Trunks, but the boys will need to be older.  We loved our adventures at 5 Wits
  • Because one of our words for the year is “Lighthearted” we have been going to comedy and improv shows  it has been wonderful choosing to laugh.

If you could plan a simple time of retreat in your home what would that look like for your family?

  • This weekend we drank mulled apple cider and ate donuts.
  • We cozied up by the fire and talked about what we are grateful for.
  • We like to drive to the ocean and sit and brainstorm about the month (or week) ahead.
  • Colton loves to draw when he thinks about things.
  • Andrew and I both like writing.

Take some time this month to Adventure and Retreat.

November Goals

Each month we set goals together, intentionally setting a tone for the month.  Here is what we are planning for November.  You may read more about this here.

November Goals

A Month of Gratitude

  • Practice Gratitude with Andrew by doing the Instagram Challenge

    • follow Andrew @the_little_a

    • follow Liza @lizabsharp

  • Model and teach gratitude to Cole by having a project to work on together each week about Gratitude

  • Be grateful for what we have by returning to No Spend November

  • Intentionally plan for the holidays

  • Read a book together

Linking up to The Tiny Twig

A New Month, A Clean Slate

Each Tuesday I write a blog post to share with you a way to be in more intentional in your day to day.


Andrew and I have sought to have monthly goals for most of our marriage.  A new month is like a mini-New Year, a time to set some hopes and goals, to agree together on where we are heading, and what we would like to accomplish.

There are still some days left before a new month of November.  It is a great time of year to set some new intentions.

Here are some suggestions, and then on November 1, I will share some of our goals for the month.

Areas to Begin Anew:

  • Health (any fitness or eating goals)
  • Relationships (any connections, outings, date nights, girls nights)
  • Parenting (a specific area of learning, character development)
  • Finances (budgeting, investing, getting out of debt)
  • Learning (an on-line class, an audiobook, a new podcast)
  • Home Improvements (what little or big things are you aiming for)

Areas to Plan for this Month:

  • Thanksgiving
    • Where, when with whom
  • Holidays
    • Where, when with whom
    • Holiday cards
    • Gifts
    • Time off

Areas to Adventure

  • Review Groupon or Living Social (when you purchase an adventure you are more likely to do so)
  • Seek out Holiday Adventures (Christmas Caroling, Christmas Concerts)
  • Plan Winter Adventures (see our list for Fall)
  • Plan a spring or summer vacation

What do you hope this November holds?

A Story of Open Hands

Each Tuesday I write a blog post to share with you a way to be in more intentional in your day to day.

Andrew and I have chosen to live our lives with open hands.  We receive what has been placed into our lives with gratitude and acceptance.  We let go of what has been removed with trust and intention.


This choice began in 2002 on a warm summer’s night in Caracas, Venezuela.

We had just spent two weeks in the jungles of Venezuela, working with ten extraordinary teenagers in the tiny village of Cosh.  We were welcomed by the Yanomamo tribe and a tremendous family who had given their lives to live in the jungle.  It had been a tremendous time.

We were on our way home.  Andrew left the group early that night, and stayed awake in his room for hours. 

I awoke to a note under my door in the morning.  There was a letter from Andrew.

After getting ready, I took the unopened letter and found a quiet fire escape where I sat and read its contents.

Andrew affirmed that he had truly enjoyed our time together.  He articulated his appreciation of our newly formed friendship and his hope that our friendship would continue.  He then clearly stated that he would be interested in the possibility of dating.  If this was not reciprocated he was respectful of that.  He wanted to let me know about his feelings without in anyway overwhelming me.

I loved the letter.  I had grown admiring of Andrew.  He had been such a man of character on our trip, a hard worker, respectful, thoughtful, fun, intelligent, wise . . . 

And yet, I was hesitant.  There were many reasons not to date him, not the least of which was that I was slow to date and content in my single life.

I closed my eyes to reflect and pray and try and clearly consider how I wanted to answer him.

The image that I saw in my mind’s eye was one of open hands.  I felt a calm reassurance to trust in the timing and the opportunity that was before me.  Andrew was in my life at this time and I could date him.  It did not mean that I had to marry him or that there would be a difficult break-up.  It just meant that today, I could date Andrew, and that that could be really good for me.

I answered the letter with an affirmation.  Let’s move forward and try dating.

On the other side of the letter was Andrew, who received my letter.  He was nervous and unsure, but he too had seen an image that had encouraged him to be open to dating  . . . on his own Andrew had seen an image of open hands. 

This is something we discussed only later and were amazed that we had stepped into our relationship with the very same encouragement and trust.

Having open hands has become a way of life for us. 

It has opened us up to new possibilities.  It has helped us face difficult times, it has helped us trust when something has been removed from our lives.

We seek to live each day with open hands, trusting that what we have and what we do not have today is just as it is supposed to be.  We take the opportunity and we let go of what did not work. 

It is a gift to do both together.

Intentionally Download to Become Present

Each Tuesday I write a blog post to share with you a way to be in more intentional in your day to day.


What are you keeping track of in your head?

Notice the number of times a day you think to yourself, “I need to remember to . . .” or “I would like to . . . “ or “I forgot to . . .”

These kinds of thoughts keep us in the future or in the past, they prevent us from being present.

I challenge you to download these thoughts, perhaps once a month, once a week, or even once a day.

Take out a pen and paper or your computer, grab your smartphone or a timer, put 5 minutes on the clock and write down everything you can think of that you want to remember, do, etc.  Write for the entire 5 minutes.  If you think you have run out of thoughts push yourself to think more about some area of your life: a role (wife, father, friend), your well-being (physical, emotional, social), or your values (more disciplined, balanced, adventurous).  Write about as many areas as possible.  If the timer goes off and there is more to write, there is more to write, set it again.

Initially you may be overwhelmed with your list, but then look at it, breathe deeply and be grateful that it is in front of you and not in your head.

At some point you can take your list and assign tasks, update your calendar, write to-dos.

Just getting the past and future out of your head can help you take big strides toward being more present.