Bidding 2010 Adieu

It's been pretty interesting this last week.  So many of my friends via Facebook or in conversation have stated how happy they are to see 2010 leave us and 2011 begin.  The idea of a "fresh start" is so ingrained in many of us for January 1st.  The idea that a year can be "bad" and we can banish the "bad" and leave it behind because it's a new year according to the calendar.  The calendar we currently use...it doesn't have any real significance except to help us mark the days, delineate between seasons, anniversaries, birthdays.  There is no physical mark in time via the calendar itself. It's funny how our brains can wrap around different ideas, though.  How circumstances can bring us down but we find hope - somehow, some way. 

And that is what I grasp every New Year.  A replenishment of hope, of hope that has been drained through the year.  The best thing, though - and I do not say this to make anyone, who does not experience the same, feel bad - I seem to need less "re-filling" every year.  When I keep my eyes on God, relying on Him and trusting in His will, He replenishes my hope throughout the year.  I am not "empty" on December 31st.  January 1 becomes a time of reflection, then.  A day to look back and see just how much God has truly blessed me in the last year.

If I were to make a list of those things from 2010 that happened, I would hope I could remember more good than bad.  Truth is, though, some of the "bad" from 2010 was pretty big so it might be tough.  I believe, though, I need to give it the old college try.  It's important to never forget God wants to bless us and to keep our eyes turned to Him so when the 'bad' in this life tries to drag us under, we know He intends only what is best for us.  So, here is the list I can think of today.  I will probably be able to add more to it over the next day or two but here is my start:

For 2010:
The good:
1.  My husband and I grew closer together, strengthening our marriage.
2.  Both of my sons are healthy and happy.
3.  Connecting with old friends via Facebook.  Who would have thought technology as we have available would ever exist?
4.  Connecting with new people via blogging.
5.  Our Thursday night Lifegroup has seen several visitors and two new people joined us permanently in   2010 bringing our total group to 11.
6.  We caught our water main leak pretty early.  Our water bill could have hit the high hundreds if it had continued much longer.
7.  Snow has fallen and we are all safe, our house is warm and our roof is snug.
8.  When Aaron lost his job, he found another one in 2 months
9.  I have really learned the value of leaving things in God's hands.  A hard lesson to "really" learn - we're not in control - but oh what freedom in letting God handle it!
10.  In breaking my toe/messing up my foot, I've had to sit and be quiet.  A lot.  It's been nice to "have" to slow down.
11.  I managed to get in a trip to the ocean for some much-needed majestic-time with God (I am always in awe of His magnitude at the ocean)
12.  We planted roses last summer
13.  We have developed a closer friendship with one of our neighbors

The not-so Good:
1.  Mom's cancer ~ getting worse, not better.  2011 may not be such a good year for this.  Or, perhaps, this chemo will work so it'll be a pretty good year.  That is all in God's hands.
2.  Mom had to retire so we're trying to replace her at work.
3.  Aaron lost his job and was unemployed
4.  We were robbed in October.
5.  A friend of ours has had a reoccurrence of his metastatic melanoma.  We don't know what that will mean for him as yet, depends on the stage.  2011 will bring all of that.
6.  Broke my toe & bruised my foot pretty well, shifting pins a bit.  There is a blessing in that, too, though (see # 10 above)

Just in the few minutes I worked on that list, my good is twice as long as my bad.  Even when the bad can feel overwhelming, God reminds us of His strength, His beauty and His capabilities.  A teacher once talked to us of learning the material she would share until we "know it in our knower."  How I hope you "know in your knower" the strength our Creator, our Redeemer, our Savior provides.  How He longs for us to cling to His robes, keep our eyes on Him and rely on Him to know what's best, do what's best - even if it means pain and difficulty for us at times.

I can pray - and do pray - for 2011, and it's the same as I pray every year:  God willing there be more happy memories than sad memories for you.  May His blessings pour out on your like warm rain on a summer day.  If, instead, 2011 is to prove challenging, may God grant you His grace and strength to handle it with dignity.  May He remind you of His presence in every moment of every day.  May He shine through you in both the happy occasions and the sad. 

The Irish prayer many people entitle "Enough" (or something like it) comes to mind.  It reads:

May there always be work for your hands to do,
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine warm on your windowpane,
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you,
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

From me & mine, have a Blessed New Year!


Christmas 2010

You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.

~Luke 1:31-33

May the remembrance of the birth of He whose kingdom will never end bring you unending joy and peace today and always.  Blessings to you & yours from me & mine.

Merry Christmas!


Christmas Season

Am I the only one who just realized today that there are only 11 days left until Christmas?  Panic has begun to set in... 

Tomorrow is my son's "formal" at school.  The 5th and 6th graders dress up every year, bring in all sorts of yummy food and share a "formal" lunch with one another before Christmas.  It sounds tremendously exciting but it has crept up on me and now here it is, 24 hours until it happens and does my son have anything even remotely appropriate to wear?  Nope. 

In ten days we'll be at A's sister's house for our Christmas celebration with his family.  Have I so much as even given a thought to the gifts we're getting them?  Nope.  How about what it is that I'm supposed to be providing for food?  Nope.

Then...Christmas day at my house.  My son's opening their gifts, hanging out, eating all day long and then a big dinner.  Have I started to plan?  Nope.

Family gifts?  Work gifts?  Bible study gifts?  Nope.  Nope.  and... Nope.

Oh my oh my oh my... 

How I love this time of year but this year it seems to have snuck up on me and caught me by surprise. 

Hope your holiday season is going just a bit more smoothly than mine!!!!

One thing I can say, though, is last Saturday was the Spirit of Christmas luncheon at my church.  Proverbs 31:20 Ministries puts this luncheon together every year for the local shelters.  We invite the women and children in various shelters and transitional housing to our church, set tables with beautiful china and then serve them a wonderful lunch, give them gifts, spoil their children and just share Jesus with them.  It is the one event every year I ask God to make sure I can please do.  I can miss my office holiday party, various other get togethers and even cancel my cookie exchange (which I had to this year - silly broken toe) but to miss the Spirit of Christmas luncheon would be devastating.  I simply can't imagine it and I pray God allows me to continue being a part of it for years to come.

That'll be a post soon.  Posting pictures of the tables that were set.  They're gorgeous and as always, I am amazed at the creativity of women and the beauty they find in the simplest of things.  I can't wait to share!

Be blessed this holiday season, no matter how crazy or quiet it is for you (and I pray it's more quiet than crazy).  Take some time alone, even if you have to force it, to remember just what we celebrate at this time of year.  The Prince of Heaven gave up all of His riches, His throne and His power for a time to come here to earth, to be amongst us, to teach us and to love us and ultimately...to die for us.  A powerful, amazing gift words can never fully explain or describe.

Blessed Christmas and may your 2011 be the best year you have had yet!


Sunday Strength

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

~1 Samuel 16:7