Love in Every Word

We are less than two weeks into the New Year and the news headlines are much the same as last year’s. A new Covid variant with a sci fi name “Omicron” is spreading like wildfire. Even the fully vaccinated, like me, can get it. Although the outcomes may be less severe, those with compromised immunity, like me, can still end up in hospital. So, I am under a self-imposed lock-down. Some may call it irrational, but I’m just being overly cautious.

You will have noticed that I have been silent the last few weeks (at least from a writing viewpoint). It seems that the January doldrums or “blues” have hit me especially hard again this year. I had prayed that 2022, would be a less stressful year. It started off with such positivity in many ways, but within days the “peace and goodwill” of the Christmas Season was transformed into mind-numbing grief over the passing of a loved one. My dearest stepmother-in-law, the only grandmother my children had known, and truly she was like a mother to me too, closed her ninety-four year old eyes and opened them in heaven on January 3rd. With covid restrictions we must wait with celebrating her life at this time. Instead, I look through family photo albums, and the memories cascade around me like my tears of grief. Etta will be profoundly missed by all who knew her.

The New Year’s “blahs” accentuated by grief, have taken their toll. I admit I feel anxious, perhaps even depressed; I know the signs. So, I put on the battle armour and immerse myself in Scripture. I turn off the bad news that blares through the television and focus on The Good News that comes from being in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

I was reminded today, as I have been reminded at the start of every New Year, that casting my cares once more upon the strong shoulders of my Saviour is a choice. It’s not easy to let go of my anxiety. At times I wear it like a security blanket. I become more comfortable in my stress than letting go of it. Grief is harder to let go of.

Etta, was a letter-writer. She wasn’t one who relied on texting or social media to communicate with loved ones like I tend to do now. I have saved some cards and letters she wrote to me. Pages and pages of newsy letters, and her heartfelt love for me and our family written in her own hand emblazoned on each page. There was love in every word! Reading them, I am thankful I had the benefit of her wisdom, her tender heart, and caring spirit. I am mindful that she is in the presence of God now. He is expounding on His Own Love Letter in Person to her and to all those who have eternity before them in His Kingdom. It gives me great comfort to think on that.

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My New Year’s Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

I have meditated upon Your Word this morning.  I have reflected on this past year, and the lessons You have taught me through the many highs and lows I’ve experienced this year.  In everything, I give You praise!

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:6)

I admit this past year I have squandered opportunities.  I have allowed discouragement and anxiety to overwhelm me while at the same time knowing that YOU were (are) always in control and I need not fear.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.   And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)

I have prayed this year, laying my requests before You.  You have been faithful!  Still, there were times I was surprised by You.  I prayed, with mustard-seed faith, and was surprised when You answered back with mountainous blessings.  Forgive me for my lack of faith!

I BELIEVE, Lord!  Help me with my unbelief! (Mark 9:24)

I confess I became impatient many times, trying to do things on my own, in my own strength.  I would find myself running ahead of You, or lagging behind rather than allowing You to set the pace and then join You comfortably in the centre of Your Will.  Forgive me for trying to circumnavigate my way around You, having the audacity to think MY agenda was more important than Yours!

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Lord, as a New Year unfolds, keep me mindful of the things that are of utmost importance to You.  Rid me of any stubborn pride or vanity.  (John 3:30-35)  Teach me to better:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Luke 10:27)

I thank-You for the year ahead.  I thank-You for Your Son, for Your Word, for the gift of Salvation!  Thank-You for this incredible Journey I walk with You every single day.  May everything I do or say this year be to Your Glory! (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Amen!

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Putting Away Christmas

I’m always a little sad when the decorations and decor come down and are put away for another year. It officially marks the end of the Christmas Season, and a return to New Year “normalcy”, whatever that may be during these uncertain times.

On Christmas morning I posted on Facebook:

“Christmas Eve. 

Mass quantities of food consumed. The Christmas Story read. Grandkids too excited to listen. Then it was wild. It was loud. Wrapping was flying. Kids were jumping up and down. Surprises. There was squealing and smiles and a lot of laughter. Pictures were taken. Memories were made.

This morning - peace.

All is right with the world.

Remembering God’s Goodness. His Gift. His Son.

From our house to yours, Merry Christmas!”

As I put away Christmas for another year, I ask myself what has changed? I mean, what has changed since I put up the tree a few weeks ago to today, when I put it away? The decorations are gone, the leftovers eaten, and my weight scale is showing a few extra pounds added. I will be settling into the familiar routines again; the start-up of activities will commence in the New Year. Except for pictures to look back on, 2021 will become a memory and the countdown to Christmas 2022 will begin again.

What has changed? Has Christmas become a mere routine? Have I allowed the message and meaning of Christmas to impact my life, or am I boxing it all up like my seasonal decor, to be put away and forgotten until next year? It’s a sobering thought.

I should remember that Christmas must be celebrated throughout the year. It must be a daily remembrance of God’s Goodness, God’s Gift of His Son to me, and to all mankind! I can’t “put away” Christmas, like I do all the ornamentation; the Spirit of Christmas can not and should not be packed away.

Do I truly believe “all is right with the world”? I must, if I believe that to know Jesus is to have His Peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 Jesus is the Prince of Peace!

To embrace Christmas in its fullness is to accept God’s Great Gift of His Son and praise Him everyday!

“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Let this be my resolution year after year!

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