Goals for the New Year

Christmas is come and gone, and it is January in Seattle. We had a long spell of rain … 26 days in a row, or so they say at the airport. Apparently the record for this area is 33 days, set in 1953. In a surprising twist, we had two days of sunshine (or what passes for sunshine in the Northwest); even more remarkably, the two days fell on a weekend. We hardly knew what to do with our good fortune. Personally, I spent the days with a big goofy grin on my face, pointing at the sky and exclaiming about it to anyone who would listen.

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It is always a little bittersweet when the last of the Christmas decorations is finally put away.

While many Washingtonians pride themselves at having spirits unaffected by the rain, I must admit that the gloom was starting to get me down. I asked Kathy to dig out a bunch of candles and started lighting them here and there … my way of striking back at the dark and wet. Whenever the sun does come out, we all rush out and look at it, making jokes about not recognizing “that strange yellow orb”.

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In Washington, only little girls and tourists are allowed to carry umbrellas. Natives are supposed to sneer at the downpour and say, “This? But it’s only a bracing mist!”

We’re enjoying a period of relative calm these days … Kathy’s buckling down with a new homeschooling schedule, and I’m working away at my job, two-thirds into my six-month contract.

The men’s Bible study I attend every other Thursday is taught by our Pastor … it turns out that he is a big believer in setting (and presumably achieving) goals. He’s been working on us all to identify goals and finally lowered the boom on us at the beginning of the year, announcing that we would all be holding one another accountable for whatever goals we set. With increasing confidence, we each send out an e-mail notification once a week with a half-dozen goals or so, outlining our weekly progress (or lack thereof).

Personally, I’m not a big believer in goals, as perhaps my life illustrates. I find it much easier to start new projects and practices than to carry through and finish them (or keep them up for the long term). I have tended to drift through life, doing whatever came to my hand, taking what joy I can find. The things I have managed to keep doing have tended to be done as a reflection of who I am already, rather than what I aspire to.

It is hard to ignore the claim that goal proponents make: that a life without goals is a life doomed to mediocrity, even (or especially?) in the spiritual realm. Yet too much emphasis on goals seems to cheapen my faith and potentially reduces my walk with the Lord to a Pharasaical reliance on works. Not that I would ever run the risk of being anywhere as disciplined as a Pharisee … those guys were actually pretty ‘together’, aside from their rejection of the Son of God. I guess that is sort of like saying, “Bob sure is a good guy, if you discount his tendency to pick the pockets of passing strangers.” Still, from all outward appearances, the Pharisees apparently did a good job of practicing ‘righteousness’ … but I digress.

How much of my distaste for goals stems from simple laziness, and a desire to avoid accountability for the way I squander my gifts and time? I try to keep some healthy skepticism alive, but it is hard to examine one’s own self in the midst of a potential blind spot. Of course, some questions should only be asked in a rhetorical context.

One of the things I’m attempting this year is a read-through-the-Bible in a year program. Kathy is doing it with me, and we’ve taken to reading each day’s selection aloud in the evening, the older kids listening in if they happen to still be up. The other night I nearly put Kathy to sleep with a passage describing the descendants of Esau … I kept myself amused by changing syllabic emphasis on the name of one of Esau’s oft-repeated wives: (you say “Oholibamah”, I say “Oholibamah“).

I’ve always felt a little sorry for Esau … he strikes me as a big, simple guy who wasn’t very introspective and just never really ‘got it’. With a wary nod to Malachi and Romans, I like to think of him as a sort of chronologically reversed Solomon. I imagine him starting out pretty clueless but coming to care more and more about the things of God as he gets older and as God rewards him for his forgiveness of his brother Jacob. How else to explain his forbearance when Jacob returns from Paddan Aram?

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Somehow, hot tubs and Rescue Heroes seem to go well together.

I finally got the hot tub up and working … for a long time it sat empty and forlorn, stagnant water pooling in the bottom. We have a strange leak condition … it only leaks when it is turned off. I hired a guy to come out and look at it — $130 later and with a good part of the deck dismembered, the repair guy didn’t seem to have a good idea of where or how it was leaking. I cleaned it out, filled it back up and added the 432 (give or take 425) chemicals that the spa people claim are necessary for proper operation … Kathy and the kids seemed pleased, although getting the temperature just right has been tricky.

Kathy said this blog needed some kind of a ‘pithy closing’, so here it is:

Pithy closing.

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