Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Lifelong Resolution

New Year's Day 2019~


Someone was in a silly mood...



Only in California can you go from temperate coastal to snowy mountain pass to arid desert, all in a relatively short car ride.



Our car rides are interrupted by car sickness and other needs...


We never regret venturing off the main drag...




Not exactly mountain climbing boots.



Jack was the sick one this time. Thumbs up for feeling better.




The Salton Sea~


Otherworldly.


Abandoned.


Desolate.


Ghostly.


And a sort of playground for the imagination...








King of a bygone trophy.


>:<

It's raining tonight. The sound in our quiet house is soothing, but I'm so, so cold. Something happened to me here in California and I don't do cold very well anymore.

I've got two kids at youth group, one upstairs studying for a final tomorrow, one in Canada, and Jon is clear across the country. With the rain and the quiet, it seems a perfect time to write out a few words. I guess the blog will live to grow by one more post. You never know these days.

Resolutions. Do people actually make and keep resolutions? I wonder what are the actual stats. I'm all for resolutions as long as they are uncomplicated, specific, and very flexible. I thought about resolutions in December, and even implemented one that I thought would be good. I figured I may as well get warmed up so that by January I'd be all set to go. My culinary resolution this year is to try a new dish each week that incorporates a new method, ingredient, or flavor combination. I've been in a rut and I want to up my culinary game a bit. Other resolutions implemented before January include simple core strength training every day and daily words of affirmation spoken to loved ones.

According to Google, a resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something. I thought about all the normal resolutions people make, even considered some pretty strict promises myself: daily exercise, zero refined sugar for a year, sex every day, 365 photo project... I'm really curious to know what would happen (if only I could keep such promises) because there's almost always a ripple effect to our big commitments.

In the end, though, I think resolutions miss the point. Strict rules kill the joy of the process. Rules are burdensome and take away from the sincerity and purpose of the act.

I far prefer lifestyle choices over resolutions. That's what works for me. I typically have very specific goals I am working on in order to build upon a lifestyle choice. I envision something that is difficult to attain (outside of my present ability, reality, or comfort zone) and decide on manageable goals to integrate into my routine. Once those goals are reached or part of my normal rhythm, I add to them. This seems far more manageable to me than a strict resolution, and I don't have to wait till January to begin!

Aside from resolutions, lifestyle choices, and goals, there was a passage that stood out to me around the time the new year began. It comes from Romans 4:20 where Paul describes Abraham's faith. I adapted the pronouns when I wrote out the verse in my journal for the opening up of 2019~

"But she grew strong in her faith as she gave glory to God,
fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised."

May this be said of me some day. It's my lifelong resolution and my daily prayer. My faith will increase as a fruit of his Spirit while I give glory to God with resolve, intentionality, and increased skill and comfort. There is both a discipline of my mind, heart, words, and actions in glorifying God, AND a work that God does within my heart despite me. My giving glory to him will be the visible representation of my faith in God to do what he has promised: He will be unmistakably God, King of kings, steadfast in character, true to his word, ever loving and merciful to me till the end.

We are told to "Draw near to God and he will draw near to us." This speaks of partnership. I cannot ask God to increase my faith while I stand back and do nothing. (In the same way, I can't expect God to work the magic of cellular change within my body which result in better health and physical strength if I sit back and do nothing.) There is partnership, dual responsibility and promise keeping.

In this partnership, I find God to be the God of relationship. That's pretty magnificent... and worthy of praise! Imagine that! Relationship with God! May I be proclaiming his unfathomable goodness all of my days!

~Katherine

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

December 2018

When most people have long since posted their Christmas pictures and New Year's resolutions, I'm reaching back to the beginning of December. I maintain that late is better than never.

There was a line that swirled around my head all month, words of a carol that enveloped my heart in occasions of quiet.

"Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth"

Yes, the soul felt its worth because the Lord came to save. His love establishes our worth, makes us precious, makes us whole. What a marvelous truth to grasp, or at least endeavor to comprehend and simply receive. I guess I'd glossed over the words in times past, but this year I was gripped by them repeatedly. Over and over, the words captured my thoughts: "and the soul felt its worth." To feel is far more powerful than to merely know.

December was fabulous: Parts were fabulous in celebration and parts were fabulously hard. I am committed to seeing and remembering the good while learning from our trials, so I will dwell mostly on the good parts today. I pondered the more difficult aspects before the Lord, and speak of them carefully with those closest to me, confident that good will always emerge.

December is for parties of all kinds, especially birthdays. Although Andrew's birthday is at the end of November, he celebrated with friends a week later. (The power went out that night and we spent the bulk of our time iceskating, so I have limited pictures on my DSLR.)

Fourteen years for Andrew. He's doing life well. He is hard-working, entrepreneurial, disciplined, kind. In the car this morning, he told me how yesterday's sermon from Psalm 90 helped him to further understand God's eternality and the immeasurable grace of his forgiveness. I have so much to be thankful for.


A Sunday morning "birthday" picture, below~

This one makes me smile. The placement of his hand is proof that the early teen years are awkward, a time of growing comfortable in how one projects himself to the public. Is it OK to show affection to your mother? Naturally and regularly affectionate, his uneasiness humors me. I am reminded that we are in a season where both my understanding and affirmation are important in his development. (Evidently, I forgot to stand straight and suck in, which says something about how much I care about my "image projection" these days!)


December is for Michael. Sixteen on the 16th.

His slender frame is 6'3" tall. It has become a near impossible task to find clothes that fit. We have to choose between length or width/waist.

The Friday before his birthday, I had arranged to secretly drop off a bunch of cupcakes with one of his friends at school. As luck would have it, it turned out to be a combined lunch hour (all grades) AND open mic. The whole school sang Happy Birthday.

We drove up the coast for a late birthday lunch after church on the 16th, then took in the vast ocean views from the hills before heading back for him to meet up with friends at the theater.




He is beautiful to me. He will be a wonderful adventure for a special someone to discover some day. He is an interesting mix of extroversion and introversion. He is well-liked at school, humorous, and fascinating if he allows you in. He is understated in his skills and abilities, and a wealth of random facts. Things that are unclear to me tend to be so obvious to him. And, if I'm honest, he remains my "wild card." He is the child that leaves me searching, wondering what's on the inside, surprised by what emerges; he keeps me on my knees, sending up flares for prayers, and dangerously more like myself than not.


These days are going by too fast. To those in the infant, toddler, and pre-school years, be aware of the brevity of time now. And if your season is in the bickering middle years, or the smelly pre-teen years, or the precarious teens, endeavor to enjoy each stage dearly. I promise you won't regret it.


December in California is for pomegranates. I was thankful for some regular days of regular home life, afternoon sunlight, a superfood of ruby-colored jewels, and a son who enjoys listening to literature while helping out his mom. I paid him $1 for each pomegranate he seeded, even though he ate a ton.



This December was especially for "lasts." The month is the last of the year, of course, but it marked many other lasts for me. Would this be the last time for the whole family to gather together in the living room to decorate the tree? Probably yes.


It was also probably the last time all four kids accompany me to the tree lot.

We picked out a lovely tree with a wonky top, making it hard to hold the heavy star, but at least we were all to blame for our selection. It took a couple attempts with Jacob atop Jon's shoulders; finally we pulled up chairs to climb up and fasten it. It still gave me grief all season!


Another last: Olivia's last morning departure for her last high school final. I chose to smile past the lump in my throat.





Jacob and I foraged for evergreens and pinecones together. Andrew had more interesting things to do, and I suspect this might be the last year Jacob tags along as I search for Christmas decor. We pitched and bowled the pinecones into the bag before racing to the party store to buy Olivia's graduation balloons.


A short word about reality... December has traditionally proven to be a season of trial in this household, and burn-out has marked us repeatedly. Ministry was never meant to be an easy way of life, so why should we be surprised? Still, we are broadsided at times. We are thankful for some personal time of respite to regroup, reconnect, refocus, exhale, and strategize for a new beginning. (My short word is over.)


Christmas Eve family games~


Christmas morning waiting~


To me, the face of the giver is just as wonderful as the face of the receiver...



One of my gifts: an engraved brass plate for my preacher-husband's pulpit.


Andrew took it upon himself to fill everyone's stockings. He packed them with Coca-Cola bottles, treats and snacks, gift cards, and carefully selected personal gifts. He's claimed the stockings for next year.



This was the last picture on my camera for the year~

Here's to looking at the new year with big, expectant eyes. May our "lasts" toast cheerfully with "new beginnings" like good friends gathered for New Years.


New beginnings. Let that wash over you with joy.


~Katherine


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