Most of us are likely thankful to be leaving 2020 and are looking forward to a fresh start with the new year. I love fresh starts—do-overs, new beginnings, and clean slates—and I often write about them in my novels (especially in Standing Strong and Anyone but Him).
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”~ Isaiah 43:18-19
So I’m looking forward to the fresh start, but sometimes it’s hard to know how to begin again. Does 2021 promise to be a better year? Evil forces in the world seem so big, resourceful, powerful . . . and I so little.
Can I still make it a better year by setting little goals and resolutions? If the world falls apart around me, can I still hold onto hope and give it my best? As a Christian, I know that God allows bad things to happen only so that some greater good can be accomplished.
“We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”~ Romans 8:28
I also know that God made you and me for these times. As His followers, He has work for us to do, so we need to give it our all! While I’m often tempted to lose hope, I still look forward to whatever tasks God calls me to.
“And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.”~ Galatians 6:9
This year I need goals that remind me to trust when darkness surrounds me, that help me to grow and remain faithful amidst temptations to give up, and that open my eyes to the spiritual battle that is being played out in these turbulent times. It’s also important that I maintain my health, develop my gifts, and fulfill my vocations of wife, mother, and writer.
No matter what 2021 holds, I want to make God happy.
“…his pleasure is in those who fear him, in those who hope in his faithful love.”~ Psalm 147:11
But I still don’t know what resolutions to make, so I’ve consulted a few faith-filled friends, the CatholicTeenBooks.com authors, and I’ve complied their answers here:
“I’m resolving to make a good night’s sleep a higher priority. For a dozen years or so, I was accustomed to skimping on sleep with children who seldom slept through the night. I’ve found lately that I need to stop skimping in order to feel more energized and be more productive. Forcing myself into bed earlier is difficult because it means some things simply won’t happen, but it’s a discipline I need to acquire.”
~ Carolyn Astfalk, author of contemporary Catholic romances
“My goal is to have 1,000 YouTube subscribers by the end of the year. I chose this because my show Cath-Lit Live! features interviews with Catholic authors who have new books releasing, and I want to get news of these new books out to as many people as possible.”
A.J. Cattapan, author of the award-winning Angelhood
“I would like to read a short reflection each day. My friend, a Catholic sister, posts a meditation online daily. My New Year’s resolution is to read and reflect on them. Her Facebook page is HERE.”
Andrea Jo Rodgers, author of award-winning Saving Mount Rushmore and numerous other books such as At Heaven’s Edge and newly-released Help from Heaven
“My New Year’s Resolution (which I’m super excited about!) is to read the entire Bible in 365 days, using Fr. Mike Schmitz’s “Bible In A Year” Plan and Podcast. I love Holy Scripture and I love challenges, so when I found out about Father Mike’s upcoming podcast, in which he’ll be reading and guiding Catholics through the Bible every day of 2021, I knew I had to sign up. With church closures and the threat of losing Mass becoming a real possibility, it seems to me that immersing myself in Holy Scripture will be a consoling and powerful way to stay close to Our Lord. (Maybe some of you will want to join me in this adventure. Signing up is free!)”
Susan Peek, Author of the bestselling “God’s Forgotten Friends: Lives of Little-known Saints” Series for Teens. Because the saints weren’t boring . . . and neither should their stories be!
“Return to the simple pleasures for physical, mental, and spiritual health. I have always enjoyed walking for better fitness, and I like breathing in the fresh air where I now live. I started reading the Bible more often and resolve to read several chapters each night (instead of spending the time on social media). I invited my neighbor to walk with me, and no matter how that goes, we will meet once a week to share our experiences with the Bible and to discuss the positive things going on in our small parish and town.”
Cynthia T. Toney, author of award-winning MG and YA fiction, including The Other Side of Freedom and the Bird Face series. “I write tween and teen novels with twisty plots—because life is complicated.”
“One of my New Year’s resolutions this year is to be more intentional, whether that’s interacting with my husband — giving him my full attention when we’re conversing — or setting aside an assigned time each day to devote to writing, with no excuses for leaving the keyboard until I’ve put in the allotted time. I chose this as a resolution because I realized that I’m giving the people in my life and my writing projects less than full attention. Regardless what people say, there is no such thing as multi-tasking — it’s just switching your train of thought quickly between one thing or another. It’s time to learn to relax, be in the moment and stop always searching for that shiny object that’s trying to distract me.”
Amanda Lauer, award-winning author, journalist and screenwriter.
“One New Year’s Resolution for me is to continue daily Bible reading in the Old and New Testaments. Years ago, I had spent much more time studying the Scriptures. In recent years I’d let some of that fall by the wayside, and I’d like to continue daily reflections on Scripture to help improve my relationship with God.”
Antony Barone Kolenc, author of “The Harwood Mysteries” series, winner of the 2020 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award.
“To be more disciplined about my prayer time. Because I’m really bad at stopping on time for prayer, and too often my prayer time gets squeezed between other things that ‘have’ to be done that day or are ‘more important’. But that’s an illusion, so I really want to get more disciplined.”
Corinna Turner, Carnegie Medal nominated author of the I Am Margaret series
“I would like to reach out to friends and relatives more often throughout the year. Last year I had the idea that each month I would say a prayer and then send a little note and card to whoever’s name popped into my head – letting the Holy Spirit guide me. I never followed through on the idea but would like to try again this year.”
Leslea Wahl, author of the award-winning teen novel, eXtreme Blindside.
“As part of my spiritual reflection each morning, I will ask, “Lord, how would you have me serve you today?” and spend several minutes in silence, open to His answer. In the past, I’ve asked the Lord, “What would you have me do today?” before a period of silence, and I’ve found it to be a very powerful practice. For 2021, I wanted to develop a goal that would help me focus on my “one word” for the year, which is serviam. (Yes, I’m cheating. Serviam isn’t really one word, but a Latin sentence. St. Michael’s battle cry, it means “I will serve!”) The small change to the question I pose to the Lord allows me to mindfully focus on my life as a service to the Lord, and, I hope, will help me to be more open to embracing opportunities for service throughout my day-to-day.”
Stephanie Engelman, Catholic speaker & author of the award-winning YA novel, A Single Bead, published by Pauline Books and Media
“I’m planning to spend regular time each week decluttering our house. We’ve lived in our home over thirty years and have accumulated lots of things, many of which we no longer need. Decluttering is a slow process for me because it includes making time to find new homes for any items that are still useful. But I not only gain a more orderly home, I also help others.”
Carmela Martino, author of Playing by Heart, winner of the 2018 Catholic Arts and Letters Award for Children’s/Young Adult Fiction.
“I decided to pray the following every morning and night: O my Jesus, all my sufferings and sacrifices I give for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This prayer was given to the children at Fatima from Our Lady. For my resolution, I want to focus on sinners, myself also, and all those who don’t think about their salvation. I wrote Shadow Stalker because I struggled with humanity’s indifference with sin. It’s so consuming and the world drowns in it. Our Lady said the following to the children at Fatima:
‘The sins of the world are very great … If men only knew what eternity is, they would do everything in their power to change their lives.‘
‘More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.’
‘Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much.‘
‘Woe to women lacking in modesty.‘
‘The Mother of God wants more virgin souls bound by the vow of chastity.‘
‘Many marriages are not of God and do not please Our Lord.’
‘Our Lady can no longer uphold the arm of Her Divine Son which will strike the world. If people amend their lives, Our Lord will even now save the world, but if they do not, punishment will come.‘
‘People must renounce sin and not persist in it, as has been done until now. It is essential to repent greatly.‘
After witnessing Our Lady’s vision of hell, Jacinta would say, ‘Oh, Hell! Oh, Hell!…Mother of God have pity on those who do not amend their lives…If men only know what awaits them in eternity, they would do everything in their power to change their lives.‘
My resolution is to pray as the children did, and help pray for sinners, so their eyes will be open to sin, so they will change, and so they will be saved.”
T. M. Gaouette, author of Shadow Stalker and award-winning For Eden’s Sake.
I am inspired by the CatholicTeenBooks.com authors and will take some of their resolutions as my own. It is my great hope to live this year in a way that gives glory to God. To do that I must take care of myself, body and soul. Above all else, I hope to deepen my prayer life, so that I can listen better to Our Lord and grow in trust and surrender. In 2021, I’m going to pray over and over the “Surrender Novena” by Servant of God Don Dolindo Ruotolo (one of Padre Pio’s spiritual directors). You can find this novena easily online. HERE is a PDF of it.
Susan Peek introduced me to this novena while I was writing Fire Starters, so now one of the characters prays it, and you can also find it in the back of the book. It’s very life-changing.
I hope this blog post and list of resolutions inspires you to make 2021 a wonderful year by giving it your very best. St Francis of Assisi once said to his Brothers, when very near his death, “Let us begin again, for until now we have done nothing.” So, let us begin again, dear friends!
Theresa Linden, author of award-winning Catholic fiction.
“And he who sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”~ Revelation 21:5