Chautona Havig

I’m Not Making Crazy New Year’s Resolutions That Don’t Work

I don’t remember the first time I ever made New Year’s resolutions. I think that’s because I’ve never actually done it—not “officially” like you’re “supposed” to. I’m more of a planner and goal setter than anything. Making promises to myself just doesn’t fit my personality.

Some might say that goals and plans are resolutions, and I won’t argue that. But I can get bogged down in semantics, and in my brain, they aren’t the same—related, perhaps, but not equivalent.

Considering the statistics on the incredibly small number of people who are actively pursuing their resolutions six weeks into the new year, well… Maybe I’m not as crazy as I seem. Or something. Let me dream, okay?

But there is something extra special about a new year, isn’t there? Strange how we quote the Lord’s promises that His mercies are “new every morning,” but we act as if we really only get a fresh start once a year. I feel like there’s something deeper there. I’ll figure out what it is later, okay?

Anyway, what does all this have to do with anything? Is this a big plug for my book, New Year’s Revolutions? Nope. Didn’t even remember I have it until just about the time I typed that sentence. No… this one is a bit different.

See, back in September, I began something… well, new! It’s not like I’ve never done it before, but I started cleaning my room. Okay, I know what you’re thinking. You saw a picture of it and you’re SURE that I’ve never cleaned it before. I know… I know. When you have nine people in 1,100 sq. ft. stuff gets shoved somewhere. In our house, it’s my room. And I hate it. I seriously despise it.

So, I went on a mission—one I go on every three to five years. Declutter, baby! Get the stuff out! While at my annual writing retreat in North Carolina, our speaker spent a ton of time talking about clutter to a group of writing fiends—time clutter, electronic clutter, task clutter, and space clutter. I came home with her book, Unholy Mess, read it, and got reinspired. Time to get this thing done.

I’ve hauled at least ten bags of stuff out of my room and shipped four boxes of books. Seriously, my room has felt soooooo much… lighter! I’m serious. It feels lighter! It’s a thing. I could walk into my room and there was nothing “stored” on empty floor space “for now.” It was AMAZING.

But Christmas is here. The annual “take out the table and bring in the tree” thing has commenced. Everything that people pile on our table? Guess where it went? You guessed it. My room now has piles on the floor and my desk. *insert weeping here*

For about thirty-two point four seconds, I almost decided to do a New Year’s resolution! No More Piles. EVER. But that would only work if I were the one creating all the piles. Now look, I do it, too. There’s no need to go into why, but suffice it to say, those piles wouldn’t be necessary if other piles didn’t form. Just sayin’.

So where am I going with this? Why am I rambling about stuff and piles and cleaning and resolutions?

Well… because I don’t think I’m alone. I’m not the only one out there who has more stuff than space, “helpers” filling that space, and a need, not just desire but need, to cut down on the clutter.

Enter, the book that expresses the part of me I rarely allow out—the extremist. Seriously, if I could be like Kaye in Confessions of a De-cluttering Junkie, I would. Just being real here. If it wouldn’t alienate my family, I’d totally go crazy lady on them. I have just enough self-control to stop myself from it. Barely.

And I get my fix, by reading about it. Yeah. I wrote the book. And yeah, I read it… and laugh… and wonder, “How did I ever come up with that one?” And I even shudder a bit when Purrlock pulls one of his pranks. #becausecats.

So, if you’re in need of a little New Year’s encouragement (or just a good laugh), may I recommend grabbing Confessions of a De-cluttering Junkie? Who knows, maybe you’ll get inspired.

As for me, I’m putting my house on a weight loss regime for 2022. It’s going to lose a lot of weight. Hey, at least one of us will!


Melissa Wardwell

The year I am happy to put behind me

Here it is, my 2021 summary. It is probably the first of several “end of the year”, articles so I will try to keep it to just books.

Many people complained about 2020 back in January. They wished that 2020 had never happened and hoped God would be gracious to us in the next year. Most likely, this past year did not go according to anyone’s plans and we all know why. I’d say it’s been a rather scary year.

Like so many other families, our own went through several changes. Though they were many happy moments, they were met with conflicting emotions. There were certain times that I could not get my head around what was happening around me. The idea that my home would be emptying shortly left me feeling lonely and a little short tempered. Another family member had a year of old wounds of abuse and trauma open up unexpectedly. My need to help fix it, not my job by the way, got in the way of that person’s need for compassion and understanding as they processed their own emotions. Lastly, my extended family went through a difficult and confusing couple of months that ended with the birth of my beautiful nephew. That time only pushed me further to the edge as I tried to be “the fixer” for everyone. I’m sure many of you know that kind of person, the person that tries to help everyone with their issues. What many don’t see is that a “fixer” will bury their personal thoughts and feelings to make others comfortable. What the “fixer” doesn’t see is that can only be done for so long before everything bubbles over like a violent volcano.

In August, it all came to a head and a dear friend helped me see that I was beginning to spiral out of control. She held my hand through a trying couple of months from across the country as she talked me through one of the most emotionally breaking times in my life. By pointing me toward God and showing me what was more important, she was pivotal in helping me see through the turmoil. At the end of the day, I had to learn when to say “yes” to some things, and when to leave it to God to handle.

These discussions also helped me find a routine so that I could compartmentalize the various containers of my life. Especially in my writing.

See, I am one of those people that thrive under pressure sometimes. Not necessarily emotional pressure, but the pressure of deadlines. I am notorious for never getting a book done and turned into my publisher by the deadline. I’m sure that if my publisher wasn’t as gracious as they are, they would tear up my contract and burn it in the fire. My level of motivation and inspiration in the past has been strictly based on how I was feeling. Until 2019, I wrote my books whenever I felt like It. I didn’t have people standing over me, reminding me that I had deadlines to meet (Even this article is a day late getting it to the editor of this magazine). As the last quarter of this year played out, and I completed my fourth book in the Independence Island Series, a routine developed that was healthy and productive. “Write in the morning, pick up my daughter from school, and enjoy the rest of my day with the family.” Until now all of this happened in reverse which proved for a very unproductive writing career.

Now, what does all of this have to do with the title of this article?

As I sit here pondering the year in the glow of my Christmas tree while the rest of the lights are off, I find myself telling God how much I don’t want to go through another year like this. Yes, there were plenty of beautiful moments like watching my oldest graduate and welcoming a nephew into the world. But there were definitely dozens more moments that I wish had never happened. I’ll save those for a personal blog moment on my website, but I can say that it was truly a breaking year. I never want to have another here that the lives of the people I love are falling apart and I feel helpless while I still have a book to write. I never want to have to beg God to put it on my publishers heart to give me an extension because I’m afraid to ask for some help. Lastly, I never want the people I love feel like they can’t come to me because the stress of their issues will send my emotions over the edge.

So, here’s to enjoying the final holidays of 2021 and prayerfully celebrating the joy that 2022 could hold if I remember to keep my eyes focused on the glory of God and less on the troubles around me.


Stacy Simmons

Faith in the New Year

Happy 2022, everyone. It’s hard to believe a new year is unfolding right before our eyes and 2021 is but a shadow behind all of us.

We’ve packed away the Christmas tree, and its decorations, feasted with friends and family, sang carols-either like an angel or not. We all make “joyful noises.”

Anyway, we always set resolutions to follow in the newborn year. Ones we might decide will stick around, others, maybe, bring them out when the need arises.

What we do need to keep within us is our faith, our Heavenly Father will guide us through things. No matter what. My “word” for last year was endurance. It kept me focused on the task at hand-faith, family, and writing. The path I’ve taken to become an author was tangled in many things, busyness of life, work, and a myriad of other commonplace occurrences.

Throughout it, my faith endured, that come what may, I’d keep laser focused on my goal of writing. It’s one of the first resolutions, that has stayed steady on my list, not erased, nor changed, but in fact, highlighted and prayed upon.

Whether your list of resolutions is short, or as long as Tolstoy’s War and Peace, please take heart. Keep on the path you’re walking, with faith, and most importantly, with Jesus, as our Bible says, “all things are possible.”

May your new year be full of possibilities, faith, and hope. Keep walking, friend.


Tabitha Bouldin

Faith, Hope, and Determination

This December, I look back over the year and I see a lot of things. I see changes being made and decisions being challenged. As I look back over my own year, I see how far I’ve come as a writer, a Christian, a wife and mother, and I feel amazed at the changes that have come my way.

A year ago my first book with Celebrate Lit released. Mishaps off the Mainland was a bit different from my previous series, and I fell in love with the islands, the characters, and the stories. Then, I finished my first Christian Fantasy and found an entirely new world to admire. Last month, my third book released, and I’m still in love with those same things. I’ve noticed some changes, though. I’m still an introvert who will either not talk at all or ramble on for hours if you bring up the right subject. I still second guess  myself every time I turn in a manuscript.

But I found my voice.

My writing voice, that is.

About time. It only took me five years. Give or take.

As the year winds down and I look at how things have changed in my writing career, I had to stop and let it all sink in.

I’ve written a lot of words this year. Around 700,000 to be relatively precise (that’s a thing, I think). And while that number makes my eyes boggle, I know that I needed every single word to find me in the middle of the manuscript. Like pretty much every writer I’ve ever talked to, I wanted to give up at certain points along this journey. I had to push forward in faith and let determination carry me until hope crept back in. This writing thing is tons of fun, and I don’t regret a second of it. Even when it’s hard.

Maybe especially then.

Look back over your year. What do you see?