Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hello 2016

We remember with gratitude the wonderful holiday just spent as we return to the daily grind of school and chores and obligations! I’m doing what I can for the boys, as school in particular grates against their boyish desires for activity and adventure.

New Years was celebrated with friends. It appears that our group of friends is beginning to make some traditions: Tamale party for New Years Eve (complete with sparklers, poppers, and kisses at midnight), and flag football and chili on New Years Day. Each time we’ve assembled recently, or found ourselves congregated after the church doors have been locked, I have been filled with thankfulness for what these friendships mean to us. The word “loyalty” has come up several times recently, and though everyone needs loyal friends, Jon and I are thankful for these precious friendships. This new year is likely to bring with it some wonderful progress and some unavoidable/necessary challenges as we make some significant changes in ministry, and loyal friendships will be essential.

2016. Wow. I was telling the kids about all the craziness people anticipated for Y2K. Remember that? None of my kiddos were born then, but it seems to me Y2K was just a few short years ago. Time flies. My kids filled a time capsule this year and placed it in the storage space under the house. They wrote letters to themselves and put in coins and small toys. Actually, I'm not sure of all the contents, but I had some good laughs at some of the things I overheard. It will be great fun opening that capsule up in a decade or so! I imagine a few "significant others" laughing along with us!

A new year always gives the impression that we get a clean slate, like an opportunity at living a better life and making a shinier mark on the story of our life. We hope that this next chapter will be better than the last, and we resolved to try harder to be the person we wish to be. Part of me hopes this will be a year of good circumstance and of happiness, but the smarter part of me knows this is frivolous and ridiculous thinking! God doesn’t promise us such ease! My true desire is to strive still more to be who God wants me to be in whatever circumstances he chooses for his glory and my good this coming year.

I like new beginnings. They are opportunities for self-evaluation and for the renewal of goals. It is a good practice to “number our days [so] that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). I especially like that God is always creating new beginnings, too. He creates anew everywhere… new seasons, new vegetation, new life… and someday a new earth. He creates new hearts that reflect his own. He leaves behind the old, that which has been forgiven, and he is constantly making me better and more like his Son. The old is gone and the new person he is making within is being made right now, until I am presented complete when he brings me to glory. This gives me great hope for the new year.

This past year will stand out as one of the hardest of my life thus far. It was spiritual and emotional whiplash, and from it I have not quite recovered. This time last year was filled with hope, excitement, and a feeling of great trust in the goodness of God. We were scrambling to make ready our home for two more children, praying for all the people involved. I knew there would be very difficult challenges ahead, but through it I had confidence that the face of God was shining on us. I had read it in his word, prayed for it, and expected it. I felt that this was God's doing and I was ready to walk the journey of adoption with his divine favor and help.

But I couldn't have been less prepared for what was to come, or for my response to it all. As the weeks turned to months, and the difficulty of our situation became extreme, I couldn't understand the why of God's providence, or what was expected of me. I had never experienced such difficulty within and without, never been placed in such a hopeless situation with only bad choices to choose from. Never did I feel so dirty, or involved in something so dark and destructive. Never did the future look so grim, so painful, so despairing.

I believe that God is the giver of good things to those who love him. Always. Those good things are defined by God, of course, even if they are not understood by me. I have held on to that in faith, though I have not always felt it. But I've been rocked to the core of my being. I still cry in the aftermath of it all. I talk to God when I can't sleep and ask him to search me, and try me... I search for understanding, and I look for the goodness that is promised. I keep looking, and yet I know I may never see and understand.

But I believe in the goodness of God! As the new year begins to unfold, I want to be evermore grounded in who he is and who I am in him. I realize that my numb heart has sort of wandered, so my resolution or renewed commitment has been to draw near to God with greater effort. I want to know him-- his character, his promises, his love for me. And I want to become one whose affections for my savior are such a part of my own character that his praises are in my heart and on my lips with increasing frequency and sincerity. With his help, I've determined to teach my soul to worship.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;[a]
    he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children's children,
to those who keep his covenant
    and remember to do his commandments.
The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his word,
    obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
    his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the Lord, all his works,
    in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Psalm 103

I've committed to memorizing this Psalm because it is the best way for me to meditate on it, line by line, truth by truth. I feel in good company knowing that David, the friend of God, needed to instruct his own soul to worship, too.

So, though I have no clue what lies ahead, I rest knowing that God does. He stands outside of time, he has numbered my days, and has written my story. And he promises never to leave me as it all unfolds.

 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

1 Cor.  2: 9



  1. Like always, I love to read your writing. Your thoughts are always an encouragement to look closer to Christ. I love that. Happy New Year. Praying for you.

    1. Thank you, Jessica, and happy new year to you! xo


I'd love to hear from you...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...