I had a wonderful thought the other day: Three weeks can be a very short period of time.

It could feel long in some situations – not eating for three weeks would be terrible. The three week mission trip Ben once went on felt very, very long.

But I was thinking about three weeks being the length of time it takes to form a habit, and that is actually a remarkably short period of time. If you could form a habit in only three weeks, and then have the willpower to maintain it, you could change the direction of the rest of your life in those three weeks. Isn’t that crazy to think about?! I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s book “Better Than Before”, and it made me think about the habits I started in 2018. As I went over them in my mind, I had this startling moment of realizing that most of my goals have actually become familiar – they don’t feel strange and uncomfortable anymore, even though we’re not very far into 2018. “But how can that be, I just started doing them!” I thought.

And then I realized – it’s been more than three weeks. If you made any new years resolutions in 2018, and you have stuck with them until now, you have formed a habit! And if you got off track, you can still totally turn things around! Isn’t that a nice thought?!

Dr. Caroline Leaf says if you do something for three rounds of three weeks, you’ve made it part of who you are. I love to think about this. It makes me feel like there’s hope for change in any situation – you just have to figure out how to hang in there for nine weeks, which sounds longer than three rounds of three, so we’ll stick with that!!

Four Types of Habit Keepers

Here’s the thing: I love habits. I think new years resolutions are exciting, but I realize that not everyone does, because I’m married to someone who doesn’t get giddy about a list of resolutions like I do.

It made a lot of sense to find out that according to Rubin, there are four different types of people when it come to habits:

Upholders – have little trouble sticking to habits on their own, and are naturally very disciplined and motivated

Questioners – can stick to habits fairly well, if they believe strongly enough that it’s worth the effort. Will always need to understand the reason behind what they’re doing in order to stick with it

Obligers – are more focused on others than themselves. Need accountability to stick with any habit

Rebels – want to do what they want, when they want. If they know what others want them to do, will often do the exact opposite Everything made sense when I read about these types.

I could think of people who fit into each of these categories. Gretchen Rubin also writes that people can be a combination of two types, depending on the situation. This also fit with my experience, because I think I’m mostly an Upholder, with a bit of the Questioner thrown in. Most of the time, I don’t have much trouble sticking with a habit. I like to do the same things consistently. I still have to work at it, but I actually enjoy the effort.

But every once in a while, the Questioner in me appears, and I can’t make a habit stick unless I understand why. My daily exercise is a great example of this. I see a muscle therapist regularly, and for years, I couldn’t make myself stick to all the exercises and stretches he gave me to do. But one day, when he was working on a particularly painful spot, I happened to ask, “What is that from?” He explained the movement which brought on that particular pain, and then reminded me which stretch would bring relief. Suddenly, I was completely motivated and convinced to keep up with the stretch – I understood the why behind it.

This worked so well that I kept asking the same questions at each appointment: “What is that pain from, and which stretch gets rid of it?” I haven’t missed doing my exercises for a couple of years now, because my actions are connected with results.

What I love about knowing the different types of habit keeping is that once you figure out what type you are, there are all kinds of ways to approach habits which will work well for you.

Even though Upholders have the easiest time with habits, it still helps to know some techniques for starting a new habit, like how to make it as convenient as possible to keep a new habit going, or recognizing what could be the stumbling blocks, and removing those ahead of time.

Questioners need to know the why. If they don’t care, they won’t do it. And if they can’t make themselves care, they either need to research more or ask a lot of questions, or they might need to acknowledge that they don’t care enough to change, and let the desire for a new habit go, and focus on something else.

Obligers need to find ways to be kept accountable. There are many different ways of doing this, and I enjoyed reading the suggestions in the book, because it was clear that there are creative, positive solutions for most obstacles when it comes to new habits. There’s hope for everyone!

And Rebels just don’t care – it seems they don’t concern themselves with habits very much, and they aren’t bothered by the fact that they can’t keep good habits, because they don’t really want to. It almost seems that it’s harder part for the people around them to accept that Rebels just don’t desire habits, than for Rebels themselves. If they really want to do something, they will find a way, and no one will be able to stop them. So it’s possible for all of us to successfully stick to habits, if we want to.

Abstainers and Moderaters

The other extremely helpful information from the book was Gretchen Rubin’s explanation of abstainers and moderators. I had read the information a few years ago in a blog post she wrote, and it is one of the biggest reasons I am where I am today, so I enjoyed reading the full version in her book.

Her research shows that people are either abstainers, meaning they are all or nothing kind of people, or moderaters, which means they can handle things in moderation. If abstainers are on a diet, but are confronted with a bag of Oreos, they can’t eat just one – if they start, they will finish, and eat the whole bag. It is actually easier for them to eat nothing than to eat only one Oreo.

Moderaters, on the other hand, have no problem only eating one Oreo. It is easier for them to stick to a diet if they know they have the freedom to treat themselves every once in a while.

I am an abstainer, but for years, I acted like a moderater, and it made me frustrated and miserable. My health requires me to stick to a very clean, natural diet, and if I eat any junk food, I feel terrible. But I kept allowing myself a little bit of junk food, which always turned into the entire bag of chips. I couldn’t stop myself until the food was gone. The day I learned about abstainers and moderaters, everything made sense. I’ve learned to embrace the fact that I’m an all or nothing kind of person. I don’t eat sweets, ever. I will not touch a bag of corn chips. I exercise every single day, because every other day quickly becomes never. Habits are much easier to keep when I make the decision once, and stick with it.

Moderaters are not able to understand how this approach could possibly be easier, but it just is. It’s knowing that I’m an Upholder and an Abstainer, and I’ve found my groove. But everybody has their own groove, and from my experience, quality of life greatly improves once you figure out what works for you.

It’s been a very interesting, helpful read so far, and if you’re wanting to strengthen any habits in your life, I would highly recommend this book!

So what do you think you are – Upholder, Questioner, Obligers, or Rebel? Abstained or moderater? Any tips you’ve found helpful for sticking with new habits?

Last Day For Giveaway!

Just a reminder that today is the last day to leave a comment to win a free book! (Check out Monday’s post if you missed it) Tell me what goals you want to accomplish this year, or give me tips you’ve learned on how to get better at reaching goals!

I’ll be back on Monday to share the winner. Have a great weekend!

Making the High Points Happen On Purpose

I love the beginning of a new year – fresh, full of opportunities, motivation to make the most of the days and months ahead.


I’ve been enjoying all of the blog posts about setting goals, or not setting goals, choosing a word for the year, and trying to find realistic expectations. There are so many different ideas out there!

I’m a bit leery about making resolutions, because of the tendency to fall behind, and give up. I get quite carried away, and overshoot on the goal making, and then get all discouraged during the follow-through attempts.

However, I really enjoyed some of the thoughts shared by Lisa Byrne on her blog, and during the webinar she shared last week. She talked about looking back over the last year, and picking out the high points – the times when things worked well, and made you feel good.

She suggested looking at pictures or facebook status updates to get an overview of the year, and consider how to go about making those high points happen again, often, in the new year.

I’m not a huge facebook fan, but I think we all know how I feel about pictures! And blog posts are an excellent reflection for me on my highs and lows of the last year. It wasn’t hard for me to think about which posts made me feel good – the ones I love to go back to and look at again.

I have two kinds of favorites – the kind when the writing comes easy, and I’m able to share real, true, and deep, and then there’s the kind when I share what happened when I took my camera, and we had an adventure. Combining photos and words is deeply satisfying for me.

It’s been an evening by the lake, or a walk down by the river in fall, or again in winter. It’s an afternoon on the field during harvest, a date to the duck pond in summer, or an evening out with a friend.

When I realized how much I really loved those times, it struck me how easy it would be to repeat.

So this weekend was about making my high moments happen intentionally.


We went to the park to go sledding. Happily, we went at a time when the light was just beautiful, and I could spend time with the great loves of my life: my family and my camera.






We filled our lungs with cold, fresh air, we whooshed down the slope a bunch of times, and then when the sun disappeared, we went home for supper.

January 2013 009

It was completely perfect. And I will make it happen again!

Who’s Dream is This, Anyway?

This week, we’re talking about dreams. Join in the discussion and leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Heather Boersma’s book, Dream Big.


There was an incredible sunset at camp one evening, and I sat down there by the lake for a few hours, talking with a friend about dreams and love and God’s will.

He was trying to process a break-up, and nothing made sense to him, because he had been so sure this girl was “the one”. We sat there watching the sun go down, and it was such a contrast to me – the incredible signs of God in nature, on display for all to see, and this man’s confusion, pain, and doubt regarding God’s leading in his life.

At one point, he said, “She is the desire of my heart. I know the Bible says that God will give me my heart’s desire!”

It seems to me that this is one of the most common break-down points for a lot of Christians when it comes to dreams and desires of the heart.  “I desire this person, this thing, this goal, and so therefore, as I ask God for it, He will honor my request.”

Like a Sears catalogue, perhaps?

I read once that what the verse REALLY means is this: “Ask God to put HIS desires into your heart, and as you learn to want the same thing He wants for you, you will be able to see all things as a blessing.”

That’s great.


I would LOVE to have God’s desires in my heart. But sometimes I don’t even know which desires are mine, and which are His.

And for some reason, I usually seem to think the best course of action would be to analyze, stress about it, and agonize over it, when really, wouldn’t it make sense just to …ask Him?

“Father, which of these desires are mine, and which ones are yours? Purify my heart, lead me, guide me, give me your wisdom, show me the way I should go. Remove any desires that are not of You.”

He can do that. It is almost like magic, except better.


There was a time when I was ready to leave camp, and Ben was not. I was going through a rough time in my life, and was nearing burn-out, for various reasons. I convinced myself that all areas of frustration and unhappiness would get better, if we would leave camp. I still loved camp, but I decided the challenges of being there were too much for me to bear.

Ben said even though he didn’t want to,  we could leave camp, if I really felt I couldn’t make it work any longer. We could move closer to the city so that all of my appointments, and all the trips in for health reasons would stop wearing me out.

But he really felt that God was not done with us at camp yet.

We discussed the situation back and forth for a long time.

I kept praying (and praying and praying!) that God would put His desires in my heart. Because I wanted my own way so badly, I was very scared I wouldn’t be able to hear God speaking to me.

But one night, Ben and I sat down to talk, and of course, the topic of “When Should We Leave Camp?” came up yet again. And for some reason, that night, as Ben was sharing what was on his heart, I felt my own heart change.

It was so strong, it was almost a physical feeling – everything inside just kinda “flipped”, and I knew, in that one instant, I was ready to stay. It was not time for us to go yet.

I went to bed, completely expecting to experience some kind of emotional struggle with that one for a bit yet, but I woke up the next morning with absolute peace in my heart. My desire to leave had been removed, completely…just like that.

When we did end up leaving, it was with the feeling of release and completion. I will always, always be thankful that we stayed until “the end” – not my end, but God’s end.


I know, I know, I KNOW that God can remove the desires that are not from Him. But for some reason, I still forget to regularly ask Him to do so.

I want my dreams to be clearly labelled and organized, I guess. I want to know which are His, and which are mine. I’d like to know which ones are for now, and which are for later, once these girlies of mine have grown up a bit. (Or I’ve grown up a bit!)

But in my head, I know these answers don’t usually come quickly or conveniently.

So how do you know if your dream is from God? I think you just wrestle through it until it shines with the obvious touch of God.

Sometimes, that is a long time coming.

Often, I slip into thinking of spiritual wrestling as a bad thing. And true, there are times when it is unnecessary. Sometimes more faith in God could eliminate the wrestle. But I think of Jacob wrestling with the angel in the Bible, begging for his blessing. And God touches him.

Oh, that God would touch me! Who cares about the confusion and doubt I felt? Who cares what my future holds? Those moments, when I’m truly, completely connected with God, that is all that matters. I have no worries that He will do what is right and best. Just that He would touch my life and do with me what He will.

I think the worries of this world need to be wrestled down until Jesus is all we care about, all we see. I think we need to ask Him to purify our hearts, our dreams, and our desires far more often than we do. I think we need to ask Him to completely remove the heart’s desires that don’t come from Him, and replace them with His desires.

And when clarity doesn’t come right away, we wait.

Has He ever not shown up? If not, it means your answer is still coming….


Have you ever experienced God removing a desire from your heart that was not from Him?