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I skipped making resolutions and goals for 2016. When the year started, I was overwhelmed by our move to Australia and setting up a house yet again. I didn’t have brain space to know what I wanted to do for the year, but I knew what I wanted for January. I wanted my family and I to stop reflexively grabbing McDonalds while we were out, and I wanted to wake up before the boys.

Maybe you’re in the same place, frustrated by the list of big goals but wanting to seize your life and change? Small goals are for the rest of us, the ones whose dreams mock us from the sidelines, the ones who yearn for change but know they can’t just shove everything to one side. We do it bit by bit, piece by piece, and we believe that each piece is making a difference.

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Here are three small changes that have made a bit difference in the past weeks.

1 Simple meal planning. I cook the same food now week after week after week. What this means is that I have essentially the same grocery list, and I use up all of my ingredients because what doesn’t get finished can be re-used on the same recipe the next week (hi there, anchovies). So I save time when it comes to planning meals for the week and writing shopping lists, and I’ve also started memorising the recipes, so I can cook them fast and make adjustments as I wish. I try to cook double so that dinners become our lunches, and I keep it very simple like Mexican for Monday, stir fry for Tuesday, soup for Wednesday, salad for Thursday, curry for Friday.

These are a few of the recipes that have been making our rotations:

Italian Wedding Soup from Edie Wadsworth

Simple 5-Ingredient Falafel and Winter Bliss Bowl (because it’s winter in Australia!!) from Pinch of Yum

Warm Spiced Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas and Pomegranates from Nigella Lawson

2 Maintaining my bedroom. I’m happy to report that two months after redoing our master bedroom, it is still a clean, neat and beautiful space. And I still make the bed every morning. Knowing that no matter what happens to the rest of our house, I have one space that is visually peaceful, makes a huge difference to me during the day. Everyone is different, and I’ve noticed that a mess is a stress trigger for me, but I have kids. And I want our kids to have the freedom to create in messy spaces. I won’t be a mother who is forever nagging or requiring completely neat living rooms and dining tables. It has been great to reclaim our bedroom for ourselves and for order.

3 Phone boundaries. I’m still struggling through this one, but the little changes do make a difference. I’ve made these rules for myself:

I can use the phone before 7am (when the boys wake up), but after that it goes away.

I can use it for fun for 30 minutes in the middle of the day.

The phone goes away from 5pm until the boys’ bedtime (6:30-7pm).

At 8pm, the phone is turned off and put away.

I turn the phone off from Saturday evening to Sunday evening as we celebrate Sabbath.

I bought an alarm clock, so the phone is also not with me is in a drawer in the living room and not next to my bed. I use the phone for calls and texting during the day of course, but I get no notifications on my phone for social media, and this is what I wanted to curb. I love Instagram, but I don’t want to be “on” it at random points in the day, only when I want to be there, and only for a purpose. No more mindless scrolling. Or less mindless scrolling anyway.

There you have it. Now tell me, what small changes are making a big impact in your life? 

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What did they think, I wonder, when they saw his body taken down from the cross? Did they believe it was happening or did they wonder until the end if somehow something was about to change? These women and men, they had followed Jesus for three years because they believed, he was the Messiah, he was the one who was going to fulfill prophecy, change their world and who was changing their lives. He was going to win. It’s not supposed to end with him vulnerable, humiliated, naked and broken on a cross.

I’m one of those people who has her mind set on the ending before it even happens, and when it turns out differently, I’m sitting there shaking my head and saying, It can’t be. It can’t be. I know what I would have been thinking at the Golgotha hill. My hope is gone.

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Several friends recently had major shifts in their lives, prayers they poured out for years to God finally answered. I’m not talking about, Please God I need a parking space, kind of prayers, but long-prayed, deeply-desired things coming to pass. Some of them I’ve watched from the distance of a Facebook news feed, others closely followed over years of friendship.

One of them I’ve known for almost a decade, and the desire in her heart was so heavy, so strong, so good, and I’ve watched her wait for it’s realization. There were seasons of strength and joy, others of heartache and pain, days when her hope was strong and days when hope barely existed, but in every stage she waited. In the end, she waited.

I’ve watched on the sidelines of her lifes, sometimes near, often far, but always knowing the desire of her heart and always wondering when or how God would work this out for her good.

He did not disappoint her. Today she holds in her hand the realized hope, the fulfilled faith, the beauty of experiecing, living and believing that God is faithful to keep his promises to her.

And me? I’m on the other side of a skype call filling up with tears because even though it’s her story and her miracle, it’s for me, too.

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I’m four years deep into major life changes that were wonderful and profound and permanent, I didn’t even notice that my dreams and hopes for the future – what I was waiting for – were unrecognizable to me, so unrecognizable in fact that I don’t know what they are.

Hopes and dreams sound like a fluffy, pink cloud of cotton candy, the stuff of self-help books and cheesy television. But hopes and dreams are pictures of our deepest heart, light in the darkest days and fuel for the toughest stretches of the journey. Hopes and dreams keep our lives moving in a certain direction.

Seeing friends receive the substance of what they hoped for, it renews my hope. It reminds me that I’m not waiting in vain. It tells me to keep watch, to wait, the story will not end as I thought it would. There is still a miracle yet to come.