My Goal This Christmas

My Goal This Christmas

by Cathee Poulsen

As I enter, what is for me, the most solemn and focused part of the year, I have continued to clean out closets, give away stuff, and reorganize. Concentrate and eliminate. Unpacking the Christmas decorations was another opportunity to pare down. There’s such a great feeling that accompanies things set in order.

I’m reading Myquillen Smith’s Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff and loving what I’m learning, the main thing being “less stuff not only simplifies my home but also simplifies my life.”


But What About My Heart?

But I find that decluttering my heart, the daily schedule, or the longterm plans for what I will take on in 2019, is far more difficult.

My goal:  I want to live a peaceful life, focused on only the purposes God has outlined for me. I truly believe joy is diminished when I don’t. There is untold stress in doing more than we’re called to do. That includes anxiety and worry over things for which I have no control, or taking on “good” things that will make someone else happy (because they don’t have to do it) but will cause me to drift from my central calling.

In addition I am somebody’s wife and want to love him well, need to run an entire household (no small task), oversee important writing projects, and desire to also have some kind of life that allows me to read, go to a movie or to lunch with a friend.

I want to live out the words of Jesus when He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God…” I take that to mean find out what His interests are and pursue them with the same diligence as finding the perfect new pillow for the sofa.

My heart is the seat of my deepest desires and if He has really captured it, I will long more and more after what’s important to Him. It’s pretty easy to figure out where I am with that by looking at what I spend most of my time doing.

A Year of Prayer That Changed Me

In January this year, Bob, Texas and I made a commitment to pray Colossians 1:9-13 for one family member. Every day for one year. We’ve kept that promise and as we come to the close of the year, I realize how much that passage of Scripture has changed me.

9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love…

Over the year, reading this every single day, I’ve memorized a good portion of it. The words “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him” begged the question, “Are you doing this yourself, Cathee?” How can I pray this for someone else unless I’m making it my aim?

On the Horizon of 2019

Usually I choose a theme for the upcoming year during these days of December. I haven’t gotten one yet. But I do know this: I want to center a lot of my energy on relationships in 2019. Let’s not kid ourselves, my years are numbered now. (So are yours even if you’re 22!). The days of busy fury getting ready for Christmas while also working full time and having four kids at home are long gone. I can choose how I want to spend my time now. That is a gift I cherish.

I watch people my age and either learn wisdom or feel disheartened by how they live out these final years. It’s so easy to make it all about us. Some are occupied with travel, entertainment and eating out, card games and book clubs. Nothing wrong with any of that. In fact, most of us need those kind of outlets to connect with people who may never have met Jesus.

Some others challenge me to open the circle of my connections to include people who may not easily fit in. It’s a challenge to step out of the boat and attempt to walk across the sea, and it often feels like that when we do something different. Like wraparound a foster family, or someone who has an elderly sick parent living with them.

A few couples will join Bob and I this coming year to form a Sunday Dinner Club (we live in the South, after all). Instead of spending money at a restaurant, we’ve decided to eat at one of four homes after church. The hostess will be responsible for most of the meal, but others will add to the food served. It won’t be just us 8, but we want to make a place at the table for some we barely know just to get to build a new relationship.

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10 MSG)

Study the life of Jesus and you’ll see someone who loved gatherings. Whether in the many homes He visited, or seaside talks, fireside recaps of the day, or larger groups where He demonstrated that a new order for life was here. He loved people and He liked eating with them, talking and taking care of their needs. And since He’s gone and we’re His body, shouldn’t we love doing those same things?

I’d love to hear back from you about your plans for 2019. How will you live differently this year — more fully — to show in a tangible way that Jesus is still here, doing the good things He’s always done?





  1. Beautiful reminders Cat! Thank you.

    Lord willing, 2019 will encompass everything you covered as we downsize and sell our dream home. We’re already weeding out, decluttering and deciding what stays and what goes (it’s so freeing!) We plan to help with the launch of a new church campus and moving into a new neighborhood will open a world of new friends and acquaintances. Goodbye comfortable and familiar life. Gulp!

    • Loved this honest comment about facing change. I don’t think I know any people who connect with others better than you and Buzz. I wish I could put up a notice in your new community that they are getting ready to encounter some fabulous opportunities. Having crossed paths with the Nofals will be a life-changing experience for some of them. You are the epitome of John 1:14 in the Message Bible: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” When Jesus moves into the neighborhood, everything changes! I am so excited for you!

  2. Wonderful words for me Cathee. He is walking me through this very unusual time in my life. This will be the first Christmas in probably 68 years that the love of my life is walking on streets of Gold, praising God.
    I hope to see you next year 2019.

  3. You always share whatever you are learning in such an honest way. It challenges me and also gives me courage. This new year will be full of the unexpected but we know He is going to be with us. I try to take it a step at a time and not be afraid. For me, this year has been a time of learning to be more grateful. So I’m ready to start 2019.

  4. Lynne Jones Lawler

    Beautifully stated, Cathee! I too am at the point in my life where I am working on downsizing and simplifying. With the move to a small town west of Ocala, we have been focused on keeping the things we actually USE not just what we think we might need “someday”. We want this last home to be a place of peace for everyone who enters in.
    We have chosen the word “transformation” as our word for 2019…and we are prayerfully readying ourselves for a phenomenal word as we transform our home and our mindset while GOD transforms our spirits. Exciting stuff ahead!

    Merry Christmas to you, Bob and the Family!

  5. I have been lingering with hubby and dear friends as we have chosen to step back a bit and enJOY this season of de-Light. We covet time with the Lord each morning and long walks on the beach. We made a choice to step back from busy-ness, let our lists of tasks set a bit and endeavor to slow down in order to focus on our ever-lengthening prayer list. Your “Simplicity” focus has crept into our lives. Ever-so-slowly we move into the new year with continued Trust in the Lord. Thanks, again, for your reflective words that I always take to heart.

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