Ahhh…a new year. A fresh start. A clean slate. A blank slate.
Have you chosen a word for the year yet? Nope? Same here. I am finding that choosing a word even if it seems as if the Lord has guided me to it just does not seem to work with me. I don’t know why, maybe it’s the rebellious side of me as well as not being able to focus in on one word for a whole stinkin’ year!
Starting a new workout or eating program? Nope? Me either. Never seems to work in the long run. I am still living in the tension of wanting to physically look younger (in my face/hair/hands) and dealing with a belly that appears as if I am preggers. Oddly enough, however, I recently have taken the attitude that I really don’t care. As long as my stretchy pants from Chico’s and Eddie Bauer fit, who really cares?! Drink the wine (not to excess Ephesians 5:18), eat the dessert, whatever you want to do as long as you do it unto the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:31). People will remember not how you physically looked (if you had an extra 20 lbs. etc.), but how you treated them. Did you treat them with kindness and respect? Did you actively listen to them without interrupting? (Still working on this one, the first one also!) Did you build them up or put them down (1 Thessalonians 5:11)?
Now, I do not find it wrong to want to improve yourself in any way. I just find that mere resolutions do not work for very long. We are weak creatures, (will share one of my favorite quotes by C.S. Lewis at the end of the blog.) A former professor of mine in seminary, Dr. J, was all about the end goal, “implementation steps” or “actionable steps.” Meaning, tangible, doable albeit sometimes difficult steps to achieving a particular goal. For instance, here is a simple idea. Say you would like to eat more fruits and veggies this new year? How about creating a chart with 8 circles or squares per day of the week and check off each day how many servings of fruits and veggies you had that day, the goal being 5-8 servings per day (according to Dr. Oz anyway). And, maybe reward yourself for eating well each week…with a mani/pedi or slice of gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar -free chocolate cake? [Shout out to Dr. J! Although intimidating at first and challenging, you made class entertaining and fun! You were extremely purposeful in your goals and you loved each one of us in an unique, winsome and salty way. You shaped us to go out into the world and care for others in a truly Christ-like fashion. You will never be forgotten; I wish you the very best in your future endeavors. You have many more stories to tell and lives to enrich in this fallen world, go get em’ Dr. J!]
I heard the saying once, “What you say comes your way” and it truly stuck with me. Think about it, when you say, “I will try” instead of “I will…” with actionable steps to take after that…better potential for success, yes?! Just some advice from my seasoned years (JK). There is still SO much more to learn, amen? So, go out there with a teachable heart, a listening ear, and an eternal purpose and live the life the Lord created you to live. All for His Glory and our joy.
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” --C.S. Lewis (Weight of Glory and Other Addresses)
Would you agree that there are some things in life that we choose and some things we do not? Things we would never choose, for instance Covid or Cancer or any other seemingly awful disease or situation. However, the Lord in his omniscience sometimes chooses to allow these seasons in our lives, for His purposes, ultimately.
Every response from us, however, is a choice. We can choose to accept the situation or not. We can choose to fight back, or not. We can choose to praise Him above all, or not. We can choose to heed His promptings, or not.
If you think about it, everything from the moment our feet hit the floor each morning till our head hits the pillow each evening, everything we say, think, and do are choices. We can choose to love people each day, we can choose how we respond to others, and on it goes. Every minute of our lives involves a choice in how we respond.
All this to say, we can choose to be obedient to the Lord’s calling, prompting, and commandments, or not. There have been two specific times (many more actually) but for this blog I am choosing to focus on two specific instances the Lord has called me to thus far in my life.
Another trip around the sun. A friend gifted me custom pints of ice cream and one of the labels displayed this saying: “Another year sweeter” Super cute, however I don’t know about that. 😉 As I look forward to my birthday each year, this one is hitting me a bit differently than previous years.
As I gazed over at the side table in our kitchen that holds several b-day cards received this week, some touching, some funny, all of them thoughtful, and looked at the material gifts that I had received each day this week as the Lord so graciously ordained. My thoughts turned to my dad (and the fact that he is now gone from this earth as of Jan 6th this year) and the thought that the absolute best gift I could receive (from the Lord) was seeing a bluebird on my birthday. I wept at the thought. As, I have yet to see one since dad’s death.
As I woke up this morning (quite melancholy, knowing that this day will not be unlike most others unfortunately) after a restless night of sleep and continued my day as always, feeding the pups, reading devotionals and praying, making coffee, walking the pups etc.…It does hit me that even though my dad, Lou did not recall that Oct 7th was my b-day for many years preceding his death, which was super hurtful the first year that happened, it hit me that no one loves you quite like your parents. And, when they are gone, nothing will ever be quite the same. There is a deep void in our heart and soul that realizes, no one will love you in the same way your parents did. That is my experience now (in this moment) and I realize that will not be everyone’s experience. I was blessed to have parents that loved me despite my flaws, which were truly my biggest cheerleaders in this temporary life on earth. And, when they are both gone from this earth, it changes things, and that truly did not hit me until this week leading up to my b-day.
We entered 2021 excited for what was to come. Things were looking up! We had a goal, a vision, and a purpose that gave us great joy. We had it all planned out. Our amazing graphic designer, Preston, had created the artwork. I had sourced just the right garments. Our trusty local printer printed onto the amazing garments. We had created giftable items for folks who might be looking for something more than apparel. We spent several months curating, sourcing, and working towards our goal of launching THE most amazing thing ever. We had a plan; (we have learned over 5 years to plan far ahead of the seasons.) We even had a pop-up planned at a trendy store. We were super excited to launch this powerful, hopefully life-giving movement. Everything was on target.
Then…during a benign Monday night in early January, we got a phone call. For anyone who has ever been a caregiver, you know that when you see the facility name and number pop up on your screen, your heart drops a little bit.