He snorts a laugh when I tell him. I’m aiming to get to bed by 9:30. Nightly. And purposing definitely to make it there before 10:00.

He laughs some more.

So I edit: Well, let’s make it aim at 10, get there definitely before 10:30.

(Here’s where I need my first new “white space” — as key to loftier successes.)

 Two nights later (last night)…

I come snuggling in between warm flannel layers at precisely 10:15.

“There. I did it!” I say. “Put a checkmark on the chart.” (There’s no actual chart but in the mind, the invisible account sheet. And for sure, on this one I have an accountability partner, of sorts.)

“Now you only have 364 more to go!” he chuckles. He’s having a good time with this, anyhow.

He’s not acting mean. He just knows me. Miss Night Owl of 2011. And 2010. And… and… We both know I have maybe the world’s worst sleep habits.

But to the 364-day quip I confidently reply, “No, no, no. Not 364! Only 30!”

“You’re only going to do this for a month?” he asks. I hear the incredulity.

Might seem silly to him, but not to me. Perfectly sensible.

You see, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions — learned not to, long ago! I make New Month’s Resolutions. And they actually tend to work.

Because… 28 consecutive days’ repetition of an action pretty much forms a routine in the brain — or mindless body, whichever. Then, the reinforcement of continuing it into the next month really starts to harden the wet cement of routine into the solidity of habit!

A third month, the thing is really firming up!

It works. It does.

And here’s the other thing: Grace. Grace unto self, as well as others.

As a parent, as a teacher, as a mentoring friend, I’d never declare anyone a failure the first time they fell down in their effort (or got hindered by something outside their control). So why should I do that to myself?

If a friend in need phones at 10:15, I’m not going to hang up on her angst or his grief for the sake of some punctilious regimen! And even if I go lax and fall short of perfect, what’s the sense in quitting? What kind of resolve is that? One of the best resolutions I ever read was Jonathan Edwards’ “to not be utterly cast down” if he stumbled in his resolutions, but to quickly correct his thinking and resume his efforts.

So even if January’s efforts fizzle, February offers a second chance.

And another grace thing I’d do for any friend: I pray for the supernatural help I know I need. God knows I’m doing this so I can “waken the dawn” to praise Him, so I can better order daytime’s hours to follow Him more effectively. He’ll honor that and help, I’m sure.

Then there’s a third thing: you, my readers. Blogging this little plan makes me answerable to you, as well as my grinning husband.

My report comes due at January’s end, not 2012’s. (Pray for me? I’m not being facetious… Though this goal may seem insignificant, it’s a step to higher things.)

This new year’s gifts:

~A fresh start

~ Laughter

~ Reading to each other — and laughing together, sometimes uproariously.

~ Getting to bed, and to sleep (!), at an earlier hour

~ The reliable help of God, giving me His strength in my weakness.

~ Flannel sheets in winter chill.

~ Awake alertness in early morning prayer.

~ Joy in God’s creation, stirred by my Bible reading’s cross-references.

~ Psalms of exultation.


Related posts:

Before You Resolve

Schedule White Space

New Bible Reading Plan

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8 thoughts on “Resolution and Laughter

  1. Oh my gosh. I can’t believe how much we are on the same page! I just told my husband last night that I think I should all try going to bed by 9:30. He’s an early-to-bed-early-to-rise type, but I am a total night person, so this is going to be a real stretch for me. Yikes!

    1. Denise,
      I am just sitting here laughing, reading all this! Three out of the last four of my posts: total same page! Incredible! Well, I guess God *must* have brought us together to be accountable to each other! Maybe even with the early-to-bed bit, too. (I waver on that one; I’m such a night owl, it’s hard for me to think it’s important enough to stick to. Now your presence is giving my motivation a boost.) Keep in touch! I’m going back over to your blog to subscribe by email right now, if you have that option. God bless it all, and happy new year!

  2. I too am on that page. Dr. recommended. I will add a bit of (fleshly) incentive: insufficient sleep (less than 7 hours) leads to weight gain because it suppresses the hormone that tells us when we are full and contributes to craving carbs. So while my goal is a consistent bed time and sufficient sleep to restore my health…it should also help my attitude, my spiritual growth and (I’m hoping) my waistline…

    go ahead and laugh 🙂

    my husband did too.

    1. Laurie,
      *I’m* not laughing — at you! It was my husband that was so amused (as yours).

      In your case I’m guessing physical healing requires sleep? And yes, I had read that lack of sleep leads to weight gain, but I pretty much ignored that wisdom, too.

      Well, now we have a three-person accountability thing started. And I’m in the midst of writing another post about the importance of such seemingly unimportant “small” things — of why we need to stick to our effort to achieve them. (And I suppose early-to-bedders have no idea how hard an endeavor this is going to be for us nightowls! Should we start a “Nightowls Anonymous”?) Anyway, I invite you to tune in to the next post, and to comment here in, say, a week — or less — on your progress and/or difficulties.

      And laughter? Well, honestly, I did laugh with Jim. And we both laughed hard as I read him this post before publishing it. And laughter is also good for our health, isn’t it? So, let ’em laugh, and maybe we should laugh with them, but I want to keep serious about this! (Whether anyone laughs *at* me or not!)

  3. I am an early to bed/early to rise person if left in my natural state. Working 3 pm – 11 pm preempts that and I find myself still up in the wee hours of the morning and then can’t arise before 8:00 am. I feel very sluggish when I have to shift my natural bio-rhythm like this. You ladies are trying to shift what is natural for you. I wonder if that is best for you…or perhaps I am wondering why you believe you need to do it…Just wondering…
    Do you all have to be up in the morning so you can’t sleep past a certain hour so in order to get enough sleep, you must go to bed earlier. I guess I was just assuming you could sleep in as long as you wanted to.


    1. Good questions, Dawn. I can’t answer for anyone else, but I believe my next post, going up today, answers some of them, for me. I am, unfortunately, a late-to-bed-early-to-rise person. I hardly ever sleep late in the morning. And that, for me, means 7:00 or 7:30! I don’t think I could sleep till 9 or 10 unless I were sick. Though I believe I require less sleep than average (normal?) people, I’m quite sure that I’m not now getting enough to be healthy. More about why I don’t want to change that early morning rising even if I could, I ought to include in some later blog post or comment. But there’s some of my answer for now. Maybe some of our commenters will want to add their reasons.

      BTW, I’ve thought a lot about people like you, with “unnatural” working hours. It’s a shame there are so many nowadays. Nurses we need working ’round the clock, but all that shift work… that’s a different thing. You have my sympathy, believe me! But I digress.

      Anyhow, thanks for the good honest questions. I love this kind of thing surrounding blogging. More dialog later. God bless — both your days, and your nights!

  4. I was chuckling as I read your post because I have been saying, for (ahem) some time that I need to get to bed earlier, for all sorts of good reasons…slowly making progress…trying to show myself grace when I fail and reminding myself, there is always tomorrow…His mercy is new each day…Thankfully 🙂

    1. Hi Dolly,
      So glad you stopped by, and that you got some chuckles. I did a lot of chuckling over this failing of mine, with husband and with others like you and me. And now I am slowly making progress, too, and it’s really quite wonderful. I have long loved rising early to spend time with my Lord in the lovely pre-dawn silence, but now it’s getting truly awesome, as I am so awake I sometimes tingle! Wow. This is definitely a worthwhile endeavor. Praying for further progress for you.

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