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Posts Tagged ‘New Year’s Resolutions’

As I mentioned in my last post, 2012 was a rough year for my family and I. From hospital visits, to relationship heartaches, to financial struggles, last year felt like one slug after another. So when 2013 came around, we were quick to pack our bags and shout “Adios!” to the year before. The promise of a new year has never meant more to me.

But now that I’ve had time to look back, I can honestly say I’ve seen God’s hand in every situation we faced. Most of all, I’ve seen His redeeming power at work. And it is so beautiful to behold! But the revelation didn’t come without a fight. And it certainly didn’t come without a few wounds.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe 2012 felt more like one long disappointment than anything else. Maybe it only seemed to take you further away from dreams than toward them. It might have felt like a constant struggle, or a year of great loss.

Or maybe it was a year of great blessing for you! A time of rejoicing. Of seeing dreams come true, and impossibles made possibles! If that’s the case, I am so happy to hear that.

No matter what kind of year you had, there’s some things you’ll want to take with you into the New Year, and some things that are better left behind.

Let me show you what I mean by that.

When 2013 hit, I was focused only on the things I wanted to leave behind-hospitals, bills, and torn relationships, to name a few. But I’d forgotten about some of the many blessings God had given in 2012 that I did want to take with me.

Baggage[1]With every new year, we have a choice: we can pack our bags with lessons taught by the ultimate Teacher, or we can carry the same old baggage we carried the year before.

Once I realized that I had a choice about what I carried, I decided to forgo New Year’s Resolutions and instead make a list of what I would and would not be taking with me into the New Year. I cannot tell you all of the many lessons God taught me in 2012, but I can tell you I was carrying a lot of baggage. And my list of what I would not take with me was much longer than what I would. But I’m so thankful for the opening of my eyes to see the difference!

Here’s some of what my lists ended up looking like:

What I will not be taking with me into the New Year (Baggage):

  • An ungrateful, complaining heart
  • Covetousness/envy  
  • Materialism  
  • Unforgiveness
  • A low self-esteem
  • Worry/fear

What I will be taking with me into the New Year (What I’m Packing):

  • A set aside time in the morning for just God and I, where I read His Word, pray, and listen to Him in return
  • Self-compassion
  • The remembrance of all that our Heavenly Father brought my family through last year
  • Trying not to take anyone in my life for granted, but letting them know how much I appreciate them and treasuring my time with them

We always have the choice of what we carry. Sins like unforgiveness and envy are nothing more than unnecessary baggage and burdens. But we make excuses like, “Well, I’m nice enough to them, after all they’ve done to me. They don’t even know I haven’t forgiven them.” Or “What’s wrong with wanting what they have? This is America-land of dreams, right? It doesn’t hurt anyone.”

But something I learned last year is that God never forbids something in His Word that doesn’t hurt us in the long run. I’ve heard verses about envy all my life, and I know the Commandment that says, “Do not covet.” But I didn’t apply them.

I made excuses like, “I don’t covet. I’m not out there bowing down to my car or some kind of idol like they did in the old days.” Or “I know I shouldn’t envy the way she looks, but c’mon-she’s gorgeous! Who wouldn’t? It doesn’t hurt anyone.”

Let me tell you, I felt all the weight of that baggage last year. And it had grown to be a heavy burden.

But with God’s help, I’m learning how to shuck off those things that had weighed me down. If the sin in our lives isn’t hurting someone around us, then you can be certain it’s hurting us. For years I’ve been killing myself with envy and never knew it-even after I’d memorized the very verse that had warned me about it!

Through God’s grace, there were also many gifts I was able to pack and take with me into the new year. For everything I lost-ingratitude, unforgiveness, materialism-there was something even better to replace it with: gratitude, forgiveness, the treasures of heaven.

When my dad came home from the hospital after being unable to speak or stay awake, I told my mom, “I never want to forget this. What God brought us through.”

What I meant by that was that I never wanted to take the Healer’s gifts for granted again. To forget about the way He showed up in one of my darkest moments, or forget how scared I was at the possibility of never hearing my dad say my name again. The heart forgets quickly, and in the deepest part of my soul, I knew it was something I had to take with me-no matter what. Something I had to make room for and remember to pack.

God’s Word does that. It becomes like bread to a starving man, and if we don’t take it-if we don’t find some way to make room for it, we’ll die. But it usually takes losing some things before we realize just how empty we truly are.

Sins give us the illusion that we’re full, because we are. Full of things that make us full in the moment. But when trials of fire come and reveal our innermost being for what it is-everything burned away-we realize what we really are: emaciated forms shoveling sand down our throats to stop the thirst. And all along a stream lies right in front of us, tucked inside the nightstand and gathering dust.

Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30.) I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have the light burden! And how do we do that? By lifting off the yokes we’ve placed on ourselves through sin. God always wants the best for us, but sometimes He can’t give us His best when we’re loaded down with sins we can’t see.

One of the keys to a good trip is being careful and selective about what you pack. So as you journey into this new year, give yourself a greater chance of success by getting rid of some of the things that have been weighing you down like resentment, unforgiveness, or a low self-esteem.

It will only make room for something greater.

What will you and won’t you be taking with you into the new year?

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Boy, am I glad to be back! Did ya miss me? 😉

I can’t believe it’s the beginning of a new year! If you’re like me, a new year brings the exhilarating thrill of new opportunities, the fresh scent of second chances, and the beauty of unforeseen adventures hanging just over the horizon.

Okay, I admit it. I am one of those people. You know, one of those sentimental types that reflects over the past year and makes resolutions for the new one? Yep, that’s me.

So what have I been doing all this time while I’ve been gone? You got it-reflecting and resolving! I’ve had a lot of time to think about everything I accomplished (or did not accomplish) in 2011, as well as where I’d like to see myself going in 2012. I also did a lot of thinking concerning The Fear List, and I’d like to share some of those things with you today.

First,

Reflections:

2011 was a very difficult year for me at first. I had resolved at the very start of the year to be as free from fear as possible, and to get over my fear of driving. But the longer I got into the year, the harder it became to see the end. I didn’t know anymore if I could get my license. Most of 2011 felt like a fight in more ways than one.

No matter what I tried, it didn’t feel like it was working. I kept driving, but didn’t see any progress. I kept writing, but didn’t see anyone responding. It felt like a whole lot of fight without much to show for it.

I also felt like 2011 was a whole lot about discovering my weaknesses. They were all I could see, and I didn’t remember anymore if I had any strengths.

But you know what? 2011 may have been a lot about discovering my weaknesses, but it was even more about discovering God’s grace. For, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10.)

Without the year I had, I still wouldn’t know what grace looked like. Now I know grace is the hand up when you’ve humiliated yourself and fallen; the dew of spring when winter has lasted too long; the brush of a thumb taking away your tears. It’s Jesus.

I’ve seen grace. But only because I had to face what was unseen first.

It felt like a fight. It felt like I’d never arrive. It felt like… losing. But through the grace of Jesus Christ, the fight ended in a win. It took me ten months to do it, but I got my license by the end of the year. I looked my fear in the face and watched it flee.

I can honestly say 2011 ended in triumph. And I know to whom all the honor and praise belongs. Through every challenge, my God was with me. And other than that, all I can think to say is: “Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things He does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!” (Psalm 103:2-5.)

Resolutions:

Every year of my life I want to be growing. I want the ability to say, “2011 was a better year than 2010, and 2012 was a better year than 2011.” I didn’t think it would happen at first, but by the end of 2011 I was able to say, “2011 was better than 2010.” I want the same to be true for this year.

I’d also like to go in a new direction with The Fear List. To be honest, I haven’t liked where The Fear List has been headed for a while now. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been absent for such a long time-I’ve been thinking and praying about where this blog should go. One of the things I realized with both The Fear List and my writing in general is that I had turned it into something for me, and not what it was meant to be: a ministry.

So with all of my writing, I’m giving it back to God. It was He who gave it to me in the first place, and it belongs to Him. What does this look like practically? Practically, it looks like this:

I used to get an idea for an article then pray, “God, please help me write this well.”

Now it’ll be: “God, what do you want me to say? What message do you want me to deliver?”

I used to pick a publication and then say, “God, please help me get this published.”

Now it’ll be: “Who do you want this message to go to? Show me the publication you choose, Lord.”

I used to pick a publication based on how much I’d get paid.

Now it’ll be: “If you want me to write an article for free, I’ll do it. Wherever you want this message to go, I’ll place it there. Whoever you want me to tell, I’ll tell. Whether I’m paid or not, or whether or not it helps the resume. I’ll trust you have my best interests at heart. Me, I’ll just follow where you lead and trust you. One. Day. At a time.”

I used to write a post for The Fear List because experts say, “You should be writing at least three posts a week if you want people to stay.”

Now it’ll be: “What do you want me to write this week, God? Anything? If not, I’ll ask again next week.”

I’m done following others’ rules, and ready to risk it in faith. I’m ready to trust Him with my career, because He has promised to take me somewhere. And His “somewhere” is better than anywhere else on earth.

Mostly, I want The Fear List to be about you. You’re the reason I started this blog in the first place, so it’s about time we went back to basics. If you haven’t introduced yourself yet, please do! I’d love to get to know you and learn more about you.

If you haven’t seen it already, the new slogan for this blog is, “The place that is for the faint of heart.” It’s for those of us who are scared and scared to admit it; a community of a fallen, fearful people, seeking a good, courageous God. It’s not just for my list, but for anyone who’s ever carried a secret list of fears in their hearts. This is the place for the faint of heart to see their courage renewed.

To be honest, I don’t know all the changes that will be coming to The Fear List yet. I’m not entirely sure where God will be leading me this coming year. But I wouldn’t mind your help in figuring it out, and personally, I can’t wait!

I believe God is going to take us on an amazing journey for the new year. I believe we can see the impossible become possible, and mountains move simply because of a seed of faith.

With that said, I guess there’s only one question left to ask: Whaddaya say? You in?

I Hear Ya: Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions? Was 2011 better or worse for you than 2010? If worse, how would you like to make it better in 2012?

P.S. I’ve also decided to take a break on Phobias of the Week for a while. It was just getting too overwhelming trying to have a new one every week. Now I’ll probably have one phobia per month, and I may re-institute it at some point. But for right now at least, it’s time for a break.

Also, starting on Monday, January 30, I will only be posting on Mondays. I’ll look forward to seeing you then!

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