The New Year

Yesterday felt different.

Today feels the same.

Isn’t that the way it is with the New Year? January 1st is filled with hopeful plans and anticipation of what the year will behold.  January 2nd is a meeting of expectations and reality. And at times, they don’t match up.

But is that really so bad?

We’ve spent the past week and a half in the sweetest way – with family and friends, giving and receiving, eating and laughing, listening and sharing. In the middle of it all, the demands of regular life have not ceased.

Sharing amazing meals with guests means dirty dishes and tablecloths. Floors that need cleaning. Clothes that need washing.

Little kids playing together means big emotions and conflicts to sort out. Hearts that need tending. Cheeks that need kissing.

Work and play go hand in hand.

The other day, my five year old daughter had a moment in her otherwise great day that was particularly difficult. In her pain she cried out, “This is the worst day of my life! The whole day is the worst day ever!”

Amen. I have been there!

I sat with her and listened to her list of reasons why. Then I asked her if anything good had happened at all. She gave me one or two things she thought would qualify as “kinda good I guess”.

“Isn’t it interesting that there are good things and bad things right beside each other in a day?” I asked her. “That’s sometimes how it is. We have something really great mixed in with something really hard.”

BOOM. I chuckle when I think of it now, but it was a lightning bolt to my heart. I realized in that moment that I needed to hear those words more than she did.

2018 was a really tough year, although right along with it, we’ve seen amazing things and enjoyed many incredible moments. And even now, through this season marked with hope, peace, joy and love, we have been praying for three beautiful families in our life who each have a child facing a big battle with cancer, a friend who lost her mother right before Christmas and other relationships that are utterly broken, seemingly beyond repair.

These things do not leave us when the season changes and the calendar flips to a new month or a new year. But neither does the Lord.

Whatever we’ve been walking through, whatever is following us into the New Year, we know that we are not alone.

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV) –

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Thank you Jesus! Amen.

first rose to bloom

Last year’s first rose to bloom

Lingering a Bit Longer

Can I just say that I love the New Year? I stood in the hallway looking at the Christmas tree the other day, knowing that it will have to be cleaned up this week, and I felt wistful yet hopeful.

Every 12 months we have this beautiful moment to look back and realize just what we have accomplished, and celebrate the things we’ve made it through. We’re so quick to forget those tough things, as if dwelling there for a moment will somehow affect how much trouble we’ll encounter in the next 365 days, but we need to linger a bit longer before we move on.

This past year was filled with moments that were so. incredibly. difficult.

We each have a few that stand out – the kind of moments you can’t even believe you made it through. Some may have been played out in the public eye – others are silent struggles that no one else could know. But you and I both know that there is One who sees us and stays by our side through it all. On New Year’s Eve I felt like I wanted to grab onto all my people and hold them close and cry and look each one of them in the eye and tell them I love you and can you believe we made it!

Instead, we played homemade Name That Tune and did the countdown and clinked our glasses with sparkling apple cider, wishing each other Happy New Year and texting fireworks to our family and friends who are far away.

In this life we always have the awful alongside the awesome – but I am praying for wisdom to recognize the latter in the middle of the former.

I choose to be thankful for all of it – the worst and the best of 2017, because of course, like any good year, there were also some moments that were so. incredibly. wonderful.

Are your highlights rolling through your mind right now? Mine too. They make my heart smile! The funny thing is, most of them are smack in the middle of some really tough times.

Let’s embrace 2018 with the confidence that, as in years past, we are never forgotten in what we are facing – the very good, the not-so-good, and all the in-between.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

 – Isaac Watts, 1719

sky colors

One of my favourites from 2017. Sunset glory.