How to Adult: Goal Setting – A Breakdown

So you set some ambitious goals for 2018… Now what?

ICYMI: I mentioned in my previous post that while I don’t like the idea of New Year’s Resolutions, I’m always game for setting new goals for myself. The start of the year is the perfect time to reflect on where you are in your life and dream about where you’d like to go. I’ve never considered myself very ambitious or really even much of a dreamer, though, so setting realistic goals that I actually wanted to achieve took me some time to figure out. And getting started can be so overwhelming! My keys to success: planning, people, and baby steps.

Now, please realize that what works for me, may not work for everybody. I’m an ISTJ on the Myer’s Briggs chart so I’m all about black and white, concrete details and lists. ALL THE LISTS. This is just how my brain functions.

But if you’re like Jake, you probably just have all these ideas and goals rolling around in your brain and sometimes writing them down makes them more real but basically, you’re good with them in your head. If that’s you, I think you’re awesome but I just can’t live like you.

Long story short, take this and run with it – you do you.

Step 1: Dream Big

There are no rules to Step 1 which is probably what I struggle with most. This is just creative brainstorming of things you’d like to see in your life – people you’d like to meet, places to go, things to do, what kind of person you’d like to see yourself become. Think in ideals for this step, no restrictions, no “buts” or “ifs” or conditions of any kind. Once you have a few good ideas, prioritize. What all can you realistically accomplish? What is most important that you accomplish? Remember, it’s crazy-hard to reach a goal that you don’t care about reaching. The best way to set a goal you can actually accomplish is if it’s something that’s really meaningful to you. Otherwise motivating yourself will to do something you’re not interested in will not be fun at all.

Step 2: Write It Out

There’s something unique about writing things down that solidifies things in our brains. When you see your goal on paper, it becomes real – it’s out there in the world, not just in your head. But to really make this step worthwhile, it helps to get specific. You did your big dreaming to come up with your goal, now narrow it down a little. Give it parameters, a time frame. What is it specifically you’d like to accomplish and how long will you give yourself to get there?

For instance, I mentioned that one of my goals in 2018 is to memorize more scripture. My specific goal when I wrote it out is to have Ephesians 1 memorized by my birthday (end of February). I got specific about what piece of the Bible I wanted to memorize and I set a realistic deadline for myself.

Step 3: Find Your Accountabilibuddy

Now that you’ve written out your goal, the next step is to speak it out loud. Tell a friend, tell your significant other, tell your parents, tell anyone, really. Talking about your goal will make it even more solidified in your brain, but the important part in this step is to ask someone to join you on this journey as your accountability partner.

We as humans are not meant to do things alone. We will fail every time we try to accomplish things in our own efforts because that’s just not how God designed us (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). We were designed for community and part of that is spurring each other on (Hebrews 10:24), carrying each other’s burdens (Galations 6:2), and holding each other accountable (Ephesians 4:25). Partner with someone who will not only hold you to your goal but walk with you on the journey to achieving it.

Step 4: It’s All About Baby Steps

Here’s where my ISTJ starts showing but this is super important! You have a big goal that you’ve written out and told everyone about… Now how do you get started? My answer: plan out some baby steps. Start thinking concretely – what needs to happen for this goal to be accomplished? What do I need to get started? What will I need along the way?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a better sense of direction and how to start. From there, you can make a plan to tackle your goal. I’ve found it easiest to make it part of my daily routine and keep my goal at the front of my mind, but depending on your goal, you might want to have weekly or bi-weekly check-ins with yourself to see your progress.

Continuing my scripture memorization example, there are several ways I could go about memorizing Ephesians 1, but I know from past experiences that a method that’s worked really well for me is the app Fighter Verses which has all sorts of quizzes, like games, specifically designed to help people memorize scripture in ways that work for them. My first baby step was downloading this app to my new phone. From there, I planned out smaller milestones I want to hit (specific verses memorized by specific calendar dates) and made it part of my daily routine to spend at least five minutes a day in the fighter verses app. Now my ambitious goal of memorizing an entire chapter of the Bible looks a lot smaller when it’s just five minutes a day!


Whatever your goal for 2018 might be, I hope this breakdown helps you tackle it. Just don’t forget to bring someone along with you. Sometimes goals can be harder to achieve than we think and we need the support, encouragement, and prayer of the people we’ve asked to join us on our journey. Don’t be afraid to reach out when you need help.

And remember, you’re only baby steps away 🙂

Welcome, 2018!

What would you like to accomplish in 2018?

How did you do on your 2017 New Year’s resolutions? Do you remember what they were? I only had one this year – to marry the man of my dreams – which I accomplished fifteen days into 2017. That’s not really how those things are supposed to work, though, right?

I don’t know your life story but New Year’s resolutions have never been a fit for me. They’re a little like dieting in that if you tell me I can’t do something, it’s more tempting to do it. And usually the things I’m  attempting to resolve to do are so unachievable, I set myself up for failure.

I’ve attempted in the past to schedule new Bible reading regimes or plan out a year of workouts at the gym and all the planning and preparation goes great! It’s the execution that fails every time.

This, inevitably, turns into feelings of guilt, failure, and disappointment and the things I was so excited to accomplish loom over my head in gloomy clouds of self-doubt. So, yeah, resolutions are not my thing.

BUT goals are!

When I start thinking of goals instead of resolutions, the pressure immediately comes off. Goals can be worked toward. Goals can be accomplished or they can be postponed. Goals can be met half way or you can have stretch goals – things you hope to achieve if you meet your other goals, but if you don’t, they’ll be on next year’s list. Goals, to me, are so much easier to wrap my head around. They are a way to reasonably target your time and energy as opposed to trying to check off an over-eager to-do list.

So this year, I’m thinking about the kind of person I want to be in 2018 and setting goals to help me focus my time and energy to becoming that person. Here are a few things I’ll be working towards becoming in the new year:

  1. A Scripture-Knower. I want to get back into memorizing scripture. Knowing what God says is not only how we get to know Him better but how we fight our sin. Working towards this goal will have me in the Bible and reflecting on God’s word all the time which is something I need more of daily.
  2. A Precious Wife. Now that Jake and I are nearly one year in, I feel like I have more of a handle on who he is and what my role as his wife looks like. I want to be the kind of Proverbs 31 woman that lifts him up, works hard, and shows humility and patience regardless of her circumstances.
  3. An Intentional Consumer. I want to be mindful of the things I put in my body as well as the things I put in my mind. 2017 was a big year for me as far as making healthier food choices on a regular basis and I hope to continue that trend in 2018. But even more, I want to be conscious of the other things I consume – TV, movies, books, social media – and their impact in my life. I don’t want to live my life through a screen and the first step in that is being mindful of what/how/when I’m consuming too much of the things I don’t want in my life.
  4. A More Available Friend. I’ll be honest, I have not done a great job being a friend in 2017 and I need to do better. It’s been very difficult to maintain individual friendships now that I’m married but I don’t want that to be an excuse for letting amazing people fall away from my life. I need the support and community of God-fearing women in my life regardless of my marital status and improving those relationships starts with me.
  5. A Gracious Host. Now that we have the space in our new house, I want to put it to good use. We’ll be renting out rooms on Airbnb during festival weekends here in Austin but more than that, I want our house to be a place of refuge for those that need it. I want our house to be a gathering point for friends and family, brothers and sisters – I want to love people with what God’s given us.

That’s the kind of person I hope to become in 2018. Obviously I know it’s not something that can happen over night, but I believe these goals are in line with what God wants for my life and I’ll be praying that He continues to provide opportunities to become more like Him in these areas.

This year, let’s challenge each other to keep these goals in mind as life inevitably starts distracting us. Let’s hold each other accountable to growing as humans together. Because I know I can’t do it alone.

Are you doing resolutions or goals for 2018? What kind of person would you like to see yourself become in the new year?

Ruesink Update – House Hacking

Jake and I are doing exciting things!…and no, tiny humans are not involved.

If you follow me on social media, you may have heard already that Jake and I are embarking on our next big adventure! And no, it does not involve a tiny human.

This week, Jake and I closed on our second home, a house just a few minutes South West of our condo in Austin. We absolutely love our condo and are sad to be leaving it but we’re very excited about our new adventure. Now, you may be thinking, “Jackie, didn’t you just get your condo? Haven’t you been married less than a year? How and why are you buying a second home already?” Well, my curious friend, I’m happy to answer all of your questions!

Jake and I bought our condo in November of 2016. It’s small, cute, and in a fantastic location in Austin, within walking distance of a Torchy’s Tacos. It’s in a quiet community, on a bus line, and is no more or less space than we’ve needed for just the two of us and Stella. We really hit the jackpot with this one.

But Jake has spent the last few years studying the real estate philosophy made popular by BiggerPockets called House Hacking. The idea behind house hacking is that instead of buying a single-family home, you buy a multi-family home (duplex, triplex, or 4-plex) and live in one unit while renting out the rest. This allows you to essentially live for free and even make a profit. So using this philosophy, we’ll be renting out our sweet little condo and learning how to be awesome landlords.

“But, Jackie, you bought a single-family home…that doesn’t count, does it?”

Well, no, not exactly. Single-family homes aren’t exactly what BiggerPockets suggests as ideal for house hacking. Jake and I tried to buy a duplex but ran into some tricky financial boundaries that we just couldn’t commit to right now. We tried and learned and now we know some of the restrictions we’ll face if we attempt to buy a multi-family property again in the future.

The current plan for our new adventure is to live in this house for the next few years, fixing it up, and renting out rooms on Airbnb to help fund our home improvement projects. Once we’ve saved enough and are ready to move on, we’ll rent this house out just like we’re renting the condo and move on to Property #3. We’ll continue this process until either managing multiple properties gets to be too much or until we decide we actually hate moving and should really stop.

While Jake and I may not be following the ideal house hacking model, ideally we’ll be setting ourselves up for a secure financial future that will allow us the freedom to spend our lives doing what we feel is most important: loving God and serving others.

“But Jackie, you know nothing about being a landlord. What on earth makes you think you’ll be able to do this?”

You’re absolutely right. As of maybe a month ago, I knew nothing about what it takes to be a great landlord. But I’m learning. BiggerPockets literally wrote the book on managing rental properties and Jake and I have been studying like college students who care. We’re approaching this whole management thing like a business, and as such Jake is putting his degree to work while I’m getting some hands-on experience setting up efficient business processes. We have a lot to learn and I’m sure we’ll find in this process that we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do but we are nevertheless positively pumped to fail and learn and succeed.

All of this to say, the Ruesinks really are up to something big and we would love your prayers as we take on this new challenge. Ultimately, we’re hoping that God uses this adventure as an opportunity to minister for His kingdom. However, we’d also appreciate prayers for our marriage as we’re basically going into business together which certainly adds a new dynamic to our relationship.

Finally, we’d like prayers for our hearts to resist the compulsion of greed. Yes, financial security would be great but God does not say that Christian’s lives will be financially secure. We are repeatedly told that as believers, we can expect to encounter hard times. While the financial benefits of our plan are appealing, we want to focus our hearts not on money (which God can take away whenever He so desires) but on the lives we’ll have a chance to impact through the doors this adventure opens.

Jake and I recognize that God has given us more than we need in this life and we want to be good stewards of everything that he’s given us. We want to enter into this adventure with the intentional mindset that what resources we have are God’s first and we’re just taking care of things for Him. We appreciate your prayers as we move into this exciting next phase of life and we cannot wait to see what’s in store for us!

Grace and Love For the Holidays

As we prepare to see our families for the holidays, let’s not forget to prepare our hearts to show grace and love.

Adobe Spark (12)Holiday season is quickly approaching and I cannot wait. Cooler weather is coming and with it approaches apple pies, giant feasts, and and the switch from PSLs to Peppermint Mochas! I’m so pumped to get together with my family for Thanksgiving and eat ALL the food. Pretty sure Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I’m here for it.

While I’m stoked to see all of my family together soon, I know that my excitement is not necessarily shared by everyone. For many of my friends, going home for the holidays can be a source of stress and tension. Families are messy collections of broken humans and when brokenness is the center of our family, it’s hard to celebrate and be thankful and show grace.

If this is true for you, I encourage you to read the story of Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9.


This story takes place after David is anointed king of Israel. The previous king, Saul, had been trying to kill David for years but instead of killing Saul when he had the chance, David shows mercy to him and agrees to extend grace to Saul’s household once he’s king.

The Summary:

David is coming off of some awesome war victories and is starting to settle in as king when he asks if anyone from the house of Saul is around to show grace and fulfill his promise. He gets in touch with a servant of Saul’s, a dude named Ziba, who has a crapton of kids and servants of his own. Ziba lets David know that Saul’s son Jonathan, who happens to have been David’s bestie when he was alive, has a son who is still alive but he’s lame and lives over in this crap town, basically in disgrace. In fact, the son’s name is Mephibosheth which actually means “seething disgrace.” David is super excited that he found his bestie’s son and asks for Mephibosheth to be brought to him.

One thing to that’s important to understand is that in that time, when a new king took the throne, it was typical for him to kill anyone from the previous king’s household so that there was no chance of rebellion or anyone questioning the rights to the throne. So when Mephibosheth shows up in front of David as someone who technically had a claim to David’s throne, he was probably terrified that this is how he was going to die. And yet he shows honor to King David by paying homage and offering himself to the service of the king.

And David’s response? He stays true to his word to Saul and honors his bestie by calling Mephibosheth by name and offering him a permanent place at his royal dinner table. Not only that, he gives Mephibosheth all the property and resources he acquired from his grandfather Saul when he took the throne and offers Ziba (and his crapton of kids and servants) to work the land.

According to custom, David had every right to kill Mephibosheth on the spot. It would have been easy, the poor guy probably couldn’t run anywhere. David could have done anything he wanted to Mephibosheth and that would have been his right as king.

And because of his parentage, Mephibosheth had every right to try to take back the throne for his family. In fact, Mephibosheth could have totally been awful to David in this whole situation. He could have been bitter and resentful towards David that his whole life had gone to crap, despite his royal blood.

And yet what do we see here? Two men, humbling themselves before each other and showing grace and gratitude.

If you keep reading in 2 Samuel, you’ll find out that David continues to lavish grace and goodness upon Mephibosheth and his family and Mephibosheth’s response is disinterested in worldly possessions and he’s just grateful to be in the presence of David.

Such an awesome foreshadowing of the gospel! As sinners, we don’t deserve God’s grace, we deserve death, just like Mephibosheth. But like David, God just wants to know us and show us grace and bless us beyond what we can even imagine. And when we humbly accept that grace, worldly things become distracting and we find that we just want more of the presence of God.

I hope that as you head into the holiday season with some maybe uncomfortable family situations on the horizon, you remember to give and receive grace humbly. No human on earth will ever be fully deserving of our love and grace; we’re all broken people living this life together until Christ returns. But maybe we can enjoy more of the presence of God right now to make tense and stressful interactions in the future a little less so with a few words of grace and love.

The Lies of Happiness

Ever wonder why you’re always wanting more?

The Lies of HappinessI’ve been thinking a lot lately about the lies of happiness. I know that’s sounds like such a downer but I’m not depressed or unhappy in any way. Let me explain…

I think society/the world/media/culture tells us that happiness is the ultimate goal. Humans spend their lives striving after it, pursuing some ideal dream, some vague thing that dances just outside of their grasp, only to find out that they can never fill that hole in our heart or satiate that longing.

Some people try medicating with money or power or education or material possessions. Some take the path of humility, striving to serve and give and “be good” in hopes that the elusive happy life they’re seeking will naturally come as a reward. The romantics around us would say that happiness can only be found through love, and so we raise that emotion to the highest pedestal possible and dream about our “happily ever afters.” But here’s the kicker: none of these paths lead to happiness, though the world would not have you believe that.

Many of them lead to comfort which we sometimes confuse with happiness. “I’m in a good, comfortable place in a new relationship so I must be happy.” “I have a brand new tv to play this brand new video game on and it’s going to be awesome!” But how long does comfort really last in these situations? What happens when you’re comfortable in a relationship but you realize you don’t actually like each other all that much? Or what happens when the next version of that tv/video game comes out (because let’s be real, they’re just going to keep remaking things over and over again)? We’re no longer “happy.”

And here’s the thing, most of us do experience moments of intense, pure, true happiness, and when we do, we notice. We get married or have a kid or reach a goal, and we think, “I’m going to hold on to this moment forever” because we recognize the moment for what it is and we know how fleeting real happiness is.

So if we know this truth, that happiness is a fleeting, momentary thing that cannot be bought or bribed or earned, why is it the singular goal of so many of our lives?

And then, most humans hide behind a mask of “happiness” because we see everyone else trying to be happy and we think that this is normal. That if we’re not happy, there’s something wrong with us because we should be happy because everyone else is happy. So we lie to each other instead of being real. We lie to ourselves because we don’t want to believe the truth. We fake how we’re really doing instead of admitting that we might be striving after something impossible. No wonder there’s so much anxiety and depression around us, right?

In a lot of ways, real, true happiness in this world has become more of a lie and a myth than a reality. But if it can’t be found through love or possessions or charity or education or money or the things on this planet, what do we do? Because that’s a miserable and terrifying thought.

Well, first I think we can accept that the things society is shoving down our throats to “fulfill” us are lies. I think we can recognize what we’ve been seeking to complete us isn’t working.

If that’s you right now, if you’re able to acknowledge that truth, my next challenge for you is to google “what the Bible says about joy” with an open mind and open heart.

I know. I just hit you with the Bible. But here’s the thing: God created humanity and we ALL have that same insatiable urge for something greater, the urge that the world tells us is for happiness. But why would a good God create people with this longing desire without the means to fulfill it? He wouldn’t. Or He wouldn’t be good.

But what if I told you that not only did God design a way for humans to experience real happiness, He wanted something more for us than fleeting, momentary emotion we feel from the things of this world? What if He wanted us to experience JOY that never ends? What about lasting contentment and peace and hope?

Good news! That’s exactly what God did and what He wants for us! He designed us with this absolutely infuriating conundrum so that we would seek relationship with Him. All God wants is for us to stop trying (and failing) to do things ourselves and let Him lead us to the life He intended us to have, a life filled with never ending joy instead of fleeting happiness.

Disclaimer: joy and peace and contentment and hope cannot be found in a book, church, or religion. They can only be found in God. So if you’re even the least bit curious, I challenge you to read about how there will come a time when “no one will take away your joy” (John 16:22), how Jesus delighted in dying to save you (yes, YOU) (Hebrews 12:2) or how we can truly enjoy this life we’re given because God is in control (Ecclesiastes 9:7). God wants so much more for your life but you can only truly discover that by getting to know Him.

There’s so much joy and hope to be had in this life. Don’t chase after what you know down deep is fleeting. Don’t give in to the lies of happiness.

Talking Donkeys and Angels With Swords: A Thought on Responding to God

When God’s trying to get your attention, how do you typically respond?

Adobe Spark (8)So, for those who don’t know, I started working with the ninth grade girls in our church’s high school youth group this year and let me tell you, it’s been super awkward, rewarding, and sanctifying all at once! I have so many stories to tell but for now, I’ll stick to something God has really stuck on my heart lately.

Our sermon series this semester is called “When Pigs Fly” and goes over all the crazy, weird, and generally awesome stories in the Bible that might be hard to believe or understand. Recently, we went over the story of Balaam and the talking donkey found in Numbers 22. Please do actually read it because it’s a mind blowing story.

While most people are focused on the TALKING DONKEY (who wouldn’t be, right?), one of the other youth leaders pointed out how unusual Balaam’s response to God is once he finally understands what’s going on. In verse 34, Balaam responds to the angel of the Lord saying,

“I have sinned, for I did not know that you stood in the road against me. Now therefore, if it is evil in your sight, I will turn back.”

When you look at other instances in the Bible where people were visited by angels or otherwise encountered the presence of God, their reaction is to fall to their knees, tear their clothing, fall on their face, weep, or express usually very physical outward demonstrations of their remorse over their sin in the face of the Holy God.

But how does Balaam respond?

“Oops, sorry, I screwed up but I didn’t know you were trying to get my attention. I’ll do whatever you want, Bro.”

Or something like that.

Yes, Balaam is a pagan man, a Soothsayer who believed in many gods and not the One True God of Israel. We do need to keep that in mind. But how often as believers do our responses to God resemble Balaam’s?

I’ve been a follower of Jesus since I was 7 years old, basically since I could remember. I can tell you that God has not failed to get my attention when my intentions have been selfish like Balaam’s and I am grateful that He is faithful to intervene when I stray. But how often do I respond to God with excuses instead of genuine remorse? How often is my heart still focused on doing things my way for earthly reward instead of focused on God and His glory?

Too often, I’m sure.

But how awesome is it that we have a God who loves us and forgives us anyways? Who shows unbelievable grace to the undeserving and incredible mercy to the broken?

Our God cares enough to know our hearts and intentions and He cares enough to show us ways in which our hearts still follow our own path instead of His. God cares so much about your heart that He will do whatever it takes to get your attention. Even if that means making a donkey talk. 

So does He have it?