"…And she smiles at the future." ~Proverbs 31:25

Posts tagged ‘new year’

Out with the old

2013 is done and gone. And frankly, I’m glad to see it go. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, this past year has been one of the worst years of my life. But in addition to making one miserable, having a rotten year can also be an excellent and effective teacher. Here are three lessons I’ve learned:

First, I’ve learned to love the Psalms. They say misery loves company, and there is something very comforting about having someone else pour out his heart in words I can’t seem to find in mine. Just listen to a few of the many verses of the Psalms I’ve relied on this past year:

 When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul. (94:19)

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them. (34:7)

But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,
My steps had almost slipped.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (73:2, 23-24, 26)

Psalm 37:24

Psalm 37:24

I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness,
Because You have seen my affliction;
You have known the troubles of my soul,
But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord,
I say, “You are my God.”
How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!
Be strong and let your heart take courage,
All you who hope in the Lord. (31:7, 14, 19, 24)

The Psalms have reminded me that this is not my burden to bear. God will fight for me if I allow Him to, rather than trying to control everything myself. I can’t do it; but He can!

When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You. (56:3)

Psalm 68:19

Psalm 68:19

And I can’t leave out an old favorite from Psalm 55:22,

Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

Second, I’ve learned the necessity of daily focusing on the positive. I’ve been blessed so abundantly, yet it’s easy to look past all the great people and things I’ve been gifted with if I’m focused on the rotten parts.  Spending time every day expressing sincere thanksgiving goes a long way toward helping keep the focus on what’s great about this life.

Four of my many, many blessings

Four of my many, many blessings

Third, I’ve learned to long for heaven. Yes, I’ll admit it: Sometimes my world is SO good, SO easy, SO comfortable, that I lose sight of the fact that we who are Christians are just passing through this world on our way to heaven.

But this year I have looked forward to Christ’s return like never before, and it has kept me going forward. In the words of Psalm 27:13,

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

So, maybe it wasn’t such a rotten year after all, since I learned some much-needed lessons.

What about you? I hope 2013 was FANTASTIC for each of you reading this post. But I suspect I’m not the only one who’s had it hard this year. If it’s been a difficult one for you, too, why not take a moment right now to leave me a comment and let me know what YOU are truly thankful for? You may be surprised at how quickly it will put a smile on your face, just acknowledging one of the many ways God has blessed you recently. In fact, even if you’ve just had your best year ever, I still encourage you to share what you’re thankful for here. Maybe, just maybe, it will be the perfect reminder the rest of us need.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Still ringing

New Year’s Eve came and went, and we celebrated. New Year’s Day came and went, too, and we celebrated then, too. But further into the first week of the new year, it still felt like we needed to celebrate. So, as evening rolled around, we gathered the kids together for a little still-ringing-in-the-new-year family party.

We broke out a board game from our stash…

…and while we played, we inhaled some fun finger-food snacks, like bacon-cheddar pinwheels

…and these cute little ham and fruit picks…

…and a vegetable platter I knew they’d smile about, since it included specials treats like baby corn and Crazy Ranch Dip. (I just mix Ranch dressing with bacon bits and grated cheddar cheese, and they’ll actually eat the vegetables!)

We even pulled out “the good glasses” for some Holiday Cocktail. (We mixed apple juice, cranberry juice, ginger ale, and ice.)

And we topped it all off with some yumola chocolate-chip cheesecake dip, only I substituted Heath bits for the chocolate chips (and I must say it was amazing.)  I tried to healthy it up with some apple slices, but to be quite honest I could have easily eaten it straight from the bowl with a spoon!

Later that night during our devotional time, we went over our goals for the new year as a family. Earlier I’d had the kids write theirs down.

(And yes, in case you’re wondering…those ARE Beaver Nuggets they’re eating—a belated Christmas gift from friends who know us too well. I figure if I’m going to require them to do this, I might as well make the task as pleasant as possible.)

As always, I learned some things from my kiddos through this experience. I loved hearing them talk about the things they wanted to work on!

Here’s what Addy came up with. (Gotta love the “try” on #5.)

These were Connor’s:

(The last one is my favorite. This is my shy guy.)

I didn’t take a picture of Chandler’s resolutions, but I’ll tell you right now that they blew me away. He went crazy and wrote two full pages of goals to work toward, and after he read them to us Troy and I just sat there for a while, jaws dropped. (How could my 16-year-old’s goals make mine look so piddly?) Here are just a few examples from his list:

Take criticism with a good attitude, and use it to improve myself.

Do jobs until they’re done. 

Develop a servant’s heart.

Try to see the good in “bad” situations.

Try to see good in every person, especially those who are hard to get along with.

Be a good example to everyone.

Use my time wisely.

Apply Sunday’s sermons throughout the whole week.

Be friendlier and more outgoing.

Use better manners.

Think before I speak. 

Treat everyone with respect.

Enjoy each day.

Don’t take anything for granted.

Yeah…maybe I should ditch my goals and just copy his. I’d be a better person; that’s for sure!

So, are you working hard on your resolutions so far? My friend Lisa and I agreed to go over ours together once a week to help each other be accountable in the areas where we’re trying to improve.  It’s nice to know someone else is praying for your success!

Remember, if you haven’t set new goals yet, it’s not too late! (And feel free to share them in the comments. Hint. Wink. Nudge.)

Thanks for stopping by.

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