Monday, January 30, 2012

I have opened up my laptop to type more times than can I can count in the past few days.  I have so many things to say, so many things running through my mind, but not the words to put them all prettily into focus.

I am not quite sad, but a little bit.
I am stressed out beyond belief, but not over taken by my circumstances.
I am striving, but not quite reaching my mark.
I am battling so many things, but not really winning a single one.

See why I am having difficulty writing these days?  I am confusing myself, so I know I would confuse you.

Instead, I will just share a passage with you all here that encompasses who my grandmother was, therefore it has become my legacy.  I define legacy by something which is to be inherited.  Something that will be left behind for you even when a person is gone.  Something for me to take hold of, claim as mine, because of a loved one.

From Proverbs 31...

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; 
   she can laugh at the days to come. 
26 She speaks with wisdom, 
   and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 
27 She watches over the affairs of her household 
   and does not eat the bread of idleness. 
28 Her children arise and call her blessed; 
   her husband also, and he praises her: 
29 “Many women do noble things, 
   but you surpass them all.” 
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; 
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, 
   and let her works bring her praise at the city.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The kitchen table...

Some of my greatest memories of her centered around her kitchen table.

There were meals.  Lots of home cooked meals.  For holidays and common days and Sundays, too.  She made her own barbecue sauce in a little pot on the stove top.  She put bell peppers and mushrooms in her spaghetti, which I thought was weird as a child.  I picked out every single one on my plate before I would take a bite.  She made vegetable soup from scratch mixing in whatever she had handy in the big freezer and throwing in a little elbow macaroni for good measure.  Her pound cake was divine, and she needed no recipe to pull it off without a hitch.

There were perms.  Home perms.  I would sit in one of her wooden chairs atop a phone book or two.  She would open the box, separate all the contents, and flatten out the directions and go over them like she had never done it before.  She had this tall plastic cup she would fill with water to dip her comb in before she pulled a perfect little segment of hair to wrap up in the roller.  She combed, rolled, talked as I held the little tissue paper squares and tried not to scratch my scalp.  We rinsed in the kitchen sink and held our breath when the process was over hoping the results would be worthy of a smile.

There were patterns.  Some small, some big.  Thin maize tissue paper and strong shears.  Shapes and pieces that looked insane on their own.  She would cut, straighten, and pin on the surface of that wooden table.  Pieces of fabric would become a dress or a skirt in no time at all.  She could make anything out of what looked like nothing to me.  Some tissue paper and fabric became an Easter dress or a jumper for school right before my eyes, and I thought it was amazing.

There was talk.  Many words.  Some I simply absorbed in my early years.  Others I equally participated in as I grew into maturity.  There were plans discussed, disappointments hashed out, laughter shared.  There was seldom an ill word that crossed her lips, but when they did, it was more than well deserved.

The common thread in all that was shared at that simple wooden kitchen table was love.  Not a common love, but one so broad and deep that it can't be expressed in words.  It reveals itself in home perms, in handmade dresses, in words of wisdom and shared tears of hurt.  It weaves itself beautifully into the fabric of who you are in a way that can't be worn down by time.

My sweet grandmother, Mattie Olivia, 92 years old, went to be with Jesus last night.  She is at rest.  She is restored.  I don't have the knowledge of what heaven is like; I only know what I see her doing there.  She's got a big table, bigger and grander than any she ever dreamed of here on earth.  Spread before her are beautiful fabrics, lovely shears, pins of gold.  She's got a bounty of fresh vegetables and not a speck of dirt underneath her nails.  She sits at that table with her daughter she lost tragically so many years ago and the mother she lost when she was only six.  There are others there, too, others who she's loved and lost along the way.  Their souls are reunited, and they are surrounded by the most amazing light of mercy and love we will ever know.

Praise God!

Friday, January 20, 2012

You are loved...

I don't talk much about my little crafting adventure here, but I just had to share this one with my bloggy friends!  This is one of my favorite pieces I have made so far, and it's all about the meaning behind it.


Do you know that you are loved?  As in every second of every single day.  No matter what.  That's something that I missed along the way somehow.  I never really understood that God loved me despite of my sin, and I spent years spinning like a top on a slick hard surface.  Spinning, spinning, spinning.

So, today, rest in the knowledge that you are loved.  Even if your own child just screamed, "I HATE YOU!" in your face.  Even if you're fighting with your husband.  Even if you've lost a friendship you thought would never fade.  Those are all earthly loves.  They've got nothing on the real deal.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  {John 3:16}

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  {Romans 5:8}

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace that you have been saved.  {Ephesians 2:4-5}

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thoughts provoked by basketball...

I had to write a post today.  When I open up my Blogger interface, it politely lets me know that I have written six-hundred, sixty plus six posts.  I don't like that number, so I am glad to offer a little insight on youth sports in America...

Youth sports provide the largest window into the human psyche ever.  It reveals who we really are deep down inside our souls.  I will never forget when my competitive nature finally bubbled its way up to the surface as I watched my five year old son smack the heck out of a baseball off a black rubber tee.  See, I never excelled at sports, but I was never one who liked anyone being better than me at anything I did.  I was the drama girl in high school, and I always wanted to be the best, the brightest, the loudest and easiest to understand on the stage.  I poured over scripts for hours in complete solitude to get them just right.  I wanted to do my best, and I was willing to do whatever it took to do so.

When my son started playing sports, I naturally shifted that drive onto him since I have no plans of returning to any stage at any point in my life.  I wanted him to be the best little five year old second baseman, the best hitter, the best, the best, the best.  And he was hungry for it.  But I wasn't the mom who just shouted the loudest at the games; I actually threw him grounders and pop flies in the front yard and pulled out the tee anytime he wanted to hit.  I knew from my own experience in life that if you want to be the best you must commit the practice.

Last night, we had a basketball game at 7:00.  Basketball is not for the faint of heart or those who don't catch on quickly.  It's intricate, strategic, and fast paced.  Add kids into the mix and it becomes a show of thrown elbows (both intentional or not) and trips and slides across the parquet.  It's actually more fun to watch kids you don't know because you don't have a dog in the fight and can enjoy all the hilarious situations that evolve on the court.  We walked into the middle of an eight year old game, and the parents were brewing.  Apparently the refs weren't calling enough fouls for most of parents, and a few of the moms were making their disapproval quite clear.

Here's the funny thing about basketball... some refs call every little thing, others not so much.  Whichever kind of officiating you have, the parents aren't happy.  They are either calling too many fouls or not enough, nitpicking every little wrong move the players make or not.  Bottom line is that human beings are never satisfied.  Never.  Give them what they want one day, they will want something else tomorrow.

There's a fine line between satisfaction and settling.  Very fine line.  And the word settle is not one that the American public smiles upon.  To settle means to take something less than what you deserve.  Satisfaction depends on accepting what you are given.  In terms of the basketball game last night, we had officials who poured grace on the players, giving allowance for lesser fouls and minor mistakes in order to keep the game flowing.  One would think that our human race would appreciate grace, but I find more and more as the years tick away that we are not geared that way.  We don't want grace or freedom; we don't want strict regulations.  What we really want is our way.

It made me think about how God must feel sometimes as He watches me go about my life... how He must look down and think, "There she goes again.  Just can't be satisfied with what I have purposed for her.  Always wanting more or less.  Always wanting things to go her way instead of My way."  Listening to the parents rant and rave about the unfairness of the game made me more aware of my true human nature to expect things to go as I want them to flow all the time.  When I relinquish my ways and thoughts and desires and submit to God's purpose, the game can move along at the proper pace.  With a lot of grace, of course.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

I have this memory...
My parents had gone away to Oklahoma for a long weekend spiritual retreat.  My father's favorite minister of the Gospel (I cannot for the life of me remember his name) was scheduled to speak, and he was excited to listen.  We were living in Louisiana at the time and had just endured the split of our little church and the birth of another.  I was left in the trusted hands of good friends from the church family that I adored.  But I have always loved home and missed it when I wasn't there.  One of the afternoons of my parents' absence, my guardian and her daughter retrieved me from school, and we headed to the church for some kind of meeting.  We stopped in at the grocery store located in the same large shopping center as our church.  I purchased a teen magazine, probably Tiger Beat or Bop, and a king size pack of Reese's peanut butter cups.  We went to the church, and I sat down at a table to do my homework.  I also ate every single peanut butter cup in the pack.  When my guardian for the weekend looked down and saw all the candy gone, she asked, "Did you eat all of those?"  I was so ashamed, though I am certain that was not her intention, and my chubby little cheeks probably turned every shade between pink and red.  At the tender age of twelve, I was already turning to food to comfort me without any conscious knowledge of it.

I've had that memory on my mind for the past several weeks as I've been thinking about my real relationship with food.  Not about my efforts to control it, but how I really feel about food and how I use it.  Food filled this little awkward place in my soul during some uncomfortable years, and I am just now realizing it.  Those early days of comforting myself with peanut butter cups and sweet-tarts and other candies have evolved into habits of the mouth now.  All those same emotions ~ insecurity, loneliness, fear, inadequacy ~ that I had at twelve are full grown now.  And, at 35, I am trying to evaluate them and put them in their place.

Here's what I am realizing; God wants to fill every single space inside me.  He wants me to look to Him, nothing else, for comfort and filling.

Consider this passage from one of my favorite books in the Word:
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.  Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.  Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.  I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David... Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him when he is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.  Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.  {Isaiah 55:1-3,6-7}

And yet another:
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." {John 6:35}

Funny how we see food and drink as key symbols throughout the Bible.  My incredibly uneducated opinion as to why is that it's the one thing that unifies humanity; hunger and thirst are common among all men and women from any given country, race, or creed throughout time.  We all know what a dry tongue and growling belly feel like.  And God uses this analogy to explain our soul's need for Him.  Lonely?  Turn to God.  Anxious?  Call out to Jesus.  Empty?  Turn to His Word.  Frustrated?  Take a moment to consider His patience with you.  Angry?  Pray.

Want to eat a king size sleeve of Reese's peanut butter cups?
Think a cocktail is the only thing that can calm your nerves?
Feeling insecure?  Lonely?  Disappointed?  Let down?

Those last three lines are my personal questions.  Deeply personal.  These are the areas in my life where I need to turn to God instead of a physical solution to an emotion.  And the two passages above tell me where to go... the Lord.  Only God can fill any void, any hole, any weak spot in my soul.  Not chocolate or Cheezits, not an evening cocktail, not a new pair of shoes or new tube of lipstick.  Me trying to find a physical way to solve emotional problems is never going to work.  I can only soothe my soul with spiritual things.  

And one final thought, which is a key thought in the first chapter of this amazing book I am reading, Made to Crave:
"Everything is permissible" - but not everything is beneficial.  "Everything is permissible" - but not everything is constructive. {1 Corinthians 10:23}

See, I don't like to be told what to do.  Who does, right?  Don't put me in a box and tell me I can't have what I want.  So to hear that everything is permissible with God is like music to my stubborn ears.  BUT... there are so many times when, if I stop to ask myself if the choices I make are beneficial or constructive (to me and everyone else around me), I may have to alter my decisions.  If I look a little further down the page from that verse, I see Paul state things a little more precisely.  "So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (10:31)

Whatever I do.  Whether it's eating or drinking or talking on the phone or shopping at Walmart or taking care of my family.  Every thing I do should glorify the One who made me.  Ouch.

Lord... I thank you for this intricate and miraculous body you have created for me, and for the spiritual side of me that is forever linked to you.  Help me to make better choices so that I can better serve and honor you in my life.  In your Holy Name, Amen.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

This has just been one of those weeks for me... one in which the total sum of all the little stresses in my life has been teetering atop my head.  I've cried more times in the past week than I have in the past month.  Do you have these weeks?  I can't stand them.  I can't stand to feel this raw, this vulnerable.

I opened the pages of Jesus Calling this morning to read these words...

Let Me bless you with my grace and peace.  Open your heart and mind to receive all that I have for you.  Do not be ashamed of your emptiness.  Instead, view as the optimal condition for being filled with My Peace.
It is easy to touch up your outward appearance, to look as though you have it all together.  Your attempts to look good can fool most people.  But I see straight through you, into the depths of your being.  There is no place for pretense in your relationship with Me.  Rejoice in the relief of being fully understood.  Talk with Me about your struggles and feelings of inadequacy.  Little by little, I will transform your weakness into strengths.  Remember that your relationship with Me is saturated in grace.  Therefore, nothing that you do or don't do can separate you from My Presence.


This reminds me of the many times I touch up my face with makeup after I've been crying.  Been there?  Sometimes the waterworks turn on, and my face is left looking like a mess.  But I am good at touch ups... I can re-conceal, reapply, blush up the cheeks and curl those lashes back into place like no body's business!  In just a short 60 seconds, I have a fresh face that doesn't reveal what's going on inside my heart, my head, my soul.  I've done this countless times in my years here on earth.  Broken and empty on the inside, normal and fine on the out.

That's why I think this devotion was so refreshing to me.  There is no place for pretense in your relationship with Me.  Praise God!

The world we live in is based off pretense.  What you have... your car, house, clothes, handbag.  Where you work... your position, amount of power, salary, ego.  Who you know... your contacts, friends on Facebook, who you barbecue with on Saturday afternoon, the parties and events where your presence is coveted.  Every move we make in society is full of pretense, a little snapshot of what we want people to believe about us and not necessarily who we really are.  But Jesus knows the truth.  He has the whole picture, not just the parts we want Him to see.  How refreshing.  To be loved as a whole, not just off pretenses, well, that's refreshing.

I try, or at least I think I try, to live without pretense.  What you see with me is what you get.  But pretenses are a natural way to protect our self.  If you've hurt my feelings and turned the faucet behind my eyes on, I don't want you to know!  That makes me vulnerable, weak, and an easy target.  So I cover it up with makeup and a smile.  But with Jesus, I don't have to cover it up.  He will see through it anyway.  Save the energy.

Thank you, Lord, for seeing through me.  Thank you for knowing every little thing about me... each layer that I try to hide, each struggle that I face, each inward battle that I fight.  And for loving me anyway...


Thursday, January 12, 2012

A sermon to myself...

I am a jotter.  Meaning I jot things.  In notebooks.  On scrap sheets of paper.  Here on this blog.  This morning, I woke with a verse on my mind, so I turned to one of my little notebooks to find the chapter and verse jotted within so I could read it word for word.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  {1 Thessalonians 5:16-18}

I needed that one today.  And every day.  Seems I've been faltering on the joyful part as of late.  I feel a little blue, a little less than joyful.  Life is hard and stressful and disappointing, but God commands that we find our joy through Him and His Son.  I do well in this area sometimes, other times notsomuch.  And so upon reminding myself of the principles of this verse, I thought I would read the entire book.  1 Thessalonians is not lengthy by any means, and it's a quick little morning read.

Every time I do this... oh let me stop and read this whole chapter or book that surrounds this particular passage I find so timely today... I am pierced at the heart with God's words.

Here's what stabbed me today:

It is God's will that you should be sanctified... For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.  {4:3a, 7-8}

Yikes.  And here's a wee bit more.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.  {5:23-24}

Wow.  See, any time I see the word call, I am automatically fascinated.  This is a term used loosely among Christians today.  Jobs are considered callings, men and women are called into the ministry or to me missionaries, and nearly every Christian feels called to something, somewhere, or someone at some point in their life.  Me, being the introspect I am, have always wondered, "How are any of us so certain we've called to do anything?  How do I distinguish the difference of the will and voice of God in my head and that of my own sinful and prideful one?" The ears of my soul perk up when I read this word in the Bible, as I am determined to figure out what it all really means, and I am finding more and more that it's not a term of to go here or there or to do this or that but more of a beckoning from our Creator.  A drawing toward. A gentle whisper.  Come to me.  Not to go to Africa, take this or that job, be a preacher, but a pulling in of your soul to God, the Holy One, himself.

I read in my Study Bible about the Thessalonians, how this was addressed to the first church in their area, how they lived amidst persecution.  Not a Tim Tebow type persecution (because he is experiencing the modern day version of it in the media for sure) but the real deal... the beating and imprisonment and death kind of persecution.  We are so fortunate in our country to know nothing of these types of things; our persecution comes in social terms but not in a my life is in danger for professing what I believe terms.  And yet, my profession is weak.

This is something I have been tossing around in my head for a while.  I talk it.  I write my thoughts here.  But am I living it?  Am I making a conscious effort each day to live it out?  This is where I fail.  And what does that demonstrate?  A lack of faith on my part.  Complete lack of faith.

The one who calls you is faithful and HE WILL DO IT.  {Emphasis added.}

Just for grins and giggles and because I am a word nerd, I looked up the word sanctify:
~ to set apart for sacred use; consecrate
~to make holy; purify
~ to make productive of holiness or spiritual blessing

What I see in 1 Thessalonians is a call to be purified through Christ, and a promise that He will do it.  The thing that must be sandwiched in between is faith.  Faith that He is willing and that He is able to do that with who I am today.

So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.  For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.  But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.  For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.  {5:6-10}



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Moments...

Some moments in life take you by surprise.  There are no preparations grand enough to brace your heart.  The moment I held my first born fresh and squishy and slimy... I had heard what it would feel like, but there was no way to really know until I experienced it.  The moment I first experienced God's love... I had heard people talk about it, but I didn't know how deep it really was until I found myself swimming in it and dripping with its possibility.

Yesterday, I went to see my mom, continuing her recovery at home from a procedure to drain the right pleural space.  She went home last Thursday, and I had not seen her since.  The kids and I were planning a visit last Saturday, but David's unexpected bout with strep foiled our plans.  She is doing well, but she's tired.  Surgery takes a lot of the average person, so I can only imagine how tired her body and mind must be.  We had hoped to go visit my grandparents at the nursing home, but I don't think she had it in her yesterday.  I don't remember how it all went down, but somehow, we ended up at her kitchen table with the contents of her jewelry box spread out.

It was one of those moments.

My mom doesn't have a lot of fancy stuff.  She's had the same wedding band and engagement ring since they married in 1966.  There are no large diamonds or rare stones.  But there are a few things that I remember adoring in my childhood.  She has this faux pearl tie necklace; literally, the faux pearls are strung in the shape of a neck tie, and it clasps at the back like a necklace.  My aunt gave it to my mom, and she passed away in a car accident when I was only two years old.  The piece has always been in my  mom's jewelry box, though I have never seen her wear it.  But to me, it represents my aunt's sassy style I've heard about my whole life and the relationship between two sisters.  And the strange looking item was one of those things I would want once my mom is gone.  No one else would understand what it meant, and I am not even sure anyone else would even want it.

There are other things I want.  My mother's anniversary band.  It's not extravagant and heavy laden with over sized diamonds, but I remember the day I went with my dad to help him pick it out.  And there's the opal ring I picked out for him to give her for her birthday one year.  And the opal pendant I got her when I traded in my diamond from my first fiasco of a marriage.  And there's this enamel pendant with a butterfly on it she wore all the time when I was little.  And a gold dipped leaf.  And a pearl pendant she got at an arts and crafts festival where you bought an oyster and they shucked right in front of you and made a pendant from the pearl inside.

You see, my moment yesterday was so full of other little moments from my whole life.  All these memories came flooding in.  All these feelings.  All these little tiny pieces of who she was and who she is now.  Memories of the days when I never considered what it would feel like to have it all spread before me on a kitchen table with thoughts and wishes for what would go to whom.  Moments from the past when cancer was something they talked about on the news.  Moments when my mom was invincible and untouchable.  The moments when I didn't realize I had something I needed to prepare for.

Sometimes we get lost in these moments.  I think I did for a little while yesterday.  I got caught up trying to unknot two gold chains, to free them from one another.  We talked about the pieces of jewelry in front of us as my fingers worked to undo this tight knot in the fragile chains.  Another memory of my mother's hands doing the same thing during the sermon on a random Sunday at church.  I can't say why she brought the knotted chain to church, but she did.  And I remember sitting atop a kelley green church pew, feet not touching the floor beneath, watching her hands work out the mess of gold.  There I sat, working out a mess of my own, patiently, determined.  Like a puzzle, I had to work it out.

Sometimes in these moments, I stop and think, How did we get here?  How on earth is that I am sitting at a table with my 65 year old mother making decisions about what jewelry I will have once she's gone?  How did we get from the arts and crafts festival where she found the pearl in the oyster to this moment at her kitchen table?  How can we go back?  I wish we could, sometimes... I wish we could.

And yet still, there are more moments to come.  More to come.  More to do and feel and experience.  More life with her still.  And I move forward wanting so desperately to stay in the moment of now.  Wanting to enjoy what I have instead of trying to figure out how we got to this place.  Living in the moment, not in the past or future.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Winter's dawn...

I had it all planned out, and that's so untypical of how I roll.  I thought ahead and ironed Scott a pair of pants to wear to work today yesterday afternoon instead of saving them for the morning.  Me and the kids are having a time adjusting to the back to school hours.  Scott, however, is not; he's always the same and requires far less beauty sleep than I do.

I woke to the sound at 4:43.  Rain.  I counted in my mind... 10, 9, 8, 7, 6.... and there she was at the side of the bed wanting to join the safety that exists only under our covers.  I got up to get her blanket for her with every intentions of getting back in my warm, cozy spot, but she was out like a light by the time I got back.  So, you guessed it... I took my position on the couch.  I still had hope for my sleep-in morning.  I kept telling myself that when Scott got up to shower, I could take his place in the bed and doze back off.  I drifted back to sleep with the patter of rain on the windows.

6:30.  David is awake.  He went to bed last night with a sore throat and a little low-grade fever.  But this morning, his throat hurt so badly he was in tears.  This is not like David.  He complains very little about pain, so I knew he was feeling pretty bad.  I dosed him up with Motrin, wiped his sleepy little eyes and freckles just beneath, and tuck him back in the bed.  I still held a little hope for a lazy morning at this point as I lay back down on the couch and tucked the quilts around me.

I stared out the window, the silhouette of the bare trees against a million shades of grey and blue fusing together seamlessly.  Winter can be so ugly, but somehow, in this promise of morning light, it was stunning.  I watched as a wee bit of pink began to glow sporadically through the blue, and I knew my hopes for sleeping late were doomed.  But seeing that little snapshot of the winter's dawn made it okay.  Wiping the tears from my little man's face and giving up my warm spot in the bed was worth it, too.  They are the immaculate beauty in my life every day.  They are the dawn of my winter's day, the start of something fresh and beautiful, every shade of every beautiful color of the rainbow.

I am still holding hope for a little afternoon catnap, however...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Here we go...

And just like that, it's 2012.  Seems like just yesterday I was all glittered up in a bar {yes, I was in a bar... only being honest} wondering if everything would really shut down and stop working when the clock struck midnight and the year ticked up to 2000.  Nothing stopped.  The power stayed on, and the music still blared.  Life moves forward.  Thankfully, I don't go to bars anymore.  Too loud and smoky and not my thing these days.  I digress.

Beginning a new year can be challenging.  Well, for me, anyway.  I have all these ideas and resolves in my mind and soul, yet I feel the same.  It may be a new year, but I am not a new me.  I still carry into January all the same hang-ups and shortcomings that I had in December.  One passage I'd like to focus more on this year and every year of my life hereafter is found in one of my favorite books of the Bible, Lamentations.

Because of the LORD's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."  {Lam. 3:22-24}

And then look at this other thought in 2 Peter 3:8-9 after the author discusses how we as Christians should turn from our sinful ways after we turn to Jesus.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 

I'd like to think, and by no other authority than just my own opinion about what I have read, that God sees the slow evolution of my soul.  He can see me in terms of a literal timeline.  He knows the day I was born, the circumstance, the intelligence I was given, my soul, ever little intimate detail (even those I have never whispered aloud).  He is the only One who knows me better than I know myself.  He wants me to know Him.  He wants me to make decision based off His voice inside my soul, but He will work with what I choose.  He called me a long time ago, and I heard, and He has claimed me and sealed me as His.  Even when I screw up big time, He loves me back.  It's a beautiful relationship that I will never deserve.  And I want this year in my life to live more intentionally to honor Him.  Just saying that makes me nervous, because, if I am honest, as I love to be here when I write, I have never thought I was worthy of honoring God.  Or, maybe once long, long, long ago I thought it possible, but mistakes and circumstances in my life made me believe there was no way for me to glorify God in my life.  But I am finally in a place where I feel like I can start making little decisions that honor Him, that make Him smile.  I know exactly what some of these things are, but you won't seem them outlined here.  It's between me and Him.

I have other resolves this year other than being more intentional for God.  Most of them are incredibly superficial and all about me.  Like being better organized, painting my master bath, and cleaning out my kitchen cabinets.  One will blend together the spiritual and the physical and I really set out to drop 20 pounds.  These extra pounds started with ten and have bounced up and down and all around.  I am learning that I not only need to be more intentional about living for God, but I also need to be more intentional about my own health.  Truth is, carrying 20 extra pounds around my middle in definitely not heavy.  Being sedentary is not healthy.  My food choices don't tend to be healthy.  So those are all things I need to address.  I will be participating in the Made to Crave online Bible study at Melissa Taylor's website.  Follow the link to learn more.  I am anxious to dive into the book especially after reading the first couple of chapters.

I am really looking forward to this year.  Anxious about what God has in store for me, what He wants me to learn, what He will do to pull me closer to Him.  Some things will hurt.  Some will be exciting.  Some will be challenging.  But all of them will work for the good in my life.  Of that I'm sure {Romans 8:28}.