As much as I love the beauty of the Christmas season, there’s always a sense of relief when January hits. Putting away the ornaments this year felt way more emotional than normal, and it was kind of a relief to have them all put away. I love how the putting away of the old makes way for the new… and I’m trying to make way for the new.
And here are just a few of the “new” around here.
We kept gifts really simple this year, but they were so thoughtful. Time together was the big gift. I can’t remember the last time it was just me with all 6 of my “kids” who are so not kids anymore. I got choked up as I looked at a table with all of them just hanging out…and it was easy to see the beauty of these gifts pretty clearly. (I know this is 7…my sweet niece came and joined our crew that night as well.)
These twenty somethings all have new things going on in their lives. I love seeing how they are each so on their own path, but can come together and connect. They connect on Monopoly-playing competitive levels (which can strike caution in the heart of a mom who remembers the competitive levels of her sons). They connect on silly- reverting-back-to-siblings levels. They connect on need level. The connections are 2 by 2 and 3 by 3 and 4 by 4 and 5 by 5 and 6 by 6. They connect on rivals levels and some (Tanner) even wear the jersey (Falcons) to have tangible representation to remind rival fans (ZAC- Panthers) of their allegiance in preparation for the game that they actually got to watch together. Pretty cool. (Rival fan wearing jersey’s team won).
They connect with different ideas, thoughts, hopes. They connect with problem solving that sometimes looks like adult deep conversations and sometimes looks like a major wrestling match (which can still make their mom connect with them on with the stare of caution and raised voice, lol). And they connect with problem solving that sometimes looks like a heated monopoly match that is about so much more than Monopoly. So thankful for connections that are as old as these twenty somethings. And…I’m also so thankful for connections that are new as they grow and learn and face new challenges in life. There’s lots of beautiful NEW. Sometimes that comes with digging up the old and trying to make sense of it. And when you can’t make sense of it, well, maybe accepting and forgiving and moving on with grace is all part of the new replacing the old.
After we celebrated with family for the holidays, we all cleaned up the house and went our separate ways. Thankfully that included 5 of my kids coming home for a few days to celebrate the NEW year and have a bit more time together.
One early morning before everyone was up, I read a really good blog post that made me smile. It also made me make waffles for my sleeping crew. It’s been a long time since I had made waffles, but, well, I just wanted them to know in a new tangible way that I loved them and was thankful for them. That morning, am hoping love looked like waffles, real butter and warm syrup. And coffee. Lots of coffee.
The blog post that I had read was by Carrie Cariello. It’s called “Let This Be the Year.” I loved the simplicity of the NEW Year goals that looked like opening doors and smiling at strangers and planting a tomato. Yeah, NEW can be big but come in everyday little steps and small acts of kindness. And sometimes it looks like saying a prayer or running an errand or making waffles for sleeping twenty-somethings who can so make waffles on their own but need to be reminded that someone adores them and is there in the big and the little. Tangible reminders are good things.
And that’s one of my hopes for the NEW year. To remind myself of things not just with words but with actions. To say the words…and when I can’t say them, to write them. To ‘let this be the year’ that the ‘little things’ encourage in big ways. I don’t usually do Christmas cards, and this year, well, I sent a few notes, but, well, this might just be the year that thank you notes come on Christmas cards in January. February even. The ones receiving the cards won’t mind if the cards come after December 25th. So, I don’t need to stress over the date. Christmas isn’t just a date on a calendar, it’s a reality in my heart. It’s a welcoming of a baby…a new life who came to give me new life. A Savior who redeems the OLD for something beautiful and new. That’s something to celebrate all year round…
And that’s my big hope for the NEW year. To celebrate NEW life in little ways that become big. This isn’t the greatest shot of the succulents, but it’s a picture to me of growth, and new coming out of old. Little plants are starting to shoot up from these plants. They just have to be in fertile soil and watered every once in awhile, and they grow. And when they grow, they can break off and make more new plants that grow…and multiply.
Am thinking that the little steps we take in a year can be just like that. They don’t have to be huge leaps, (though sometimes those are necessary as well). But I just want to remind myself and you all out there that little steps can lead to big things. We don’t have to feel defeated with huge goals and expectations. I need to be reminded that huge goals and expectations and demands are met with day by day little steps. Changes in relationships are met with day by day decisions and little steps. Changes in patterns can happen with little choices in the day. Miles are walked one step at a time. (See my new shoes from my oldest son personal trainer Zac? He’s encouraging his mom in very tangible ways, aka, shoes…to walk many many miles <3).
And this might be a year when we have lots of miles ahead. Maybe the miles ahead are like those on a sandy shore…a leisurely walk in beautiful surroundings. Or maybe it feels like there’s a mountain ahead. But the reality is, life is often full of a lot of all sorts of terrains with varying levels of difficulty, and we might not know where the next steps will lead. I just want to remind myself of two things, and here they are: the daily discipline of little steps can lead to big new things.
The second is that God can redeem, transform, and make things new in a heartbeat. He can do in an instant what all my efforts and daily disciplines couldn’t change in a lifetime…and seeking God in prayer can help me tap in to the NEW, the freedom and joy that come in a life surrendered to Him. In the big and in the little. Prayer changes things and invites the power of God to redeem and restore and renew. Reminding myself of that as I begin this venture into 2019.
I don’t know what the year ahead holds for any of us. But I do know that not only do our steps impact our lives, they impact others. That’s just the beauty and the curse of being human…our actions reach so much more than ourselves. I think one of my absolute favorite quotes of the year was said by a four year old grandson of a friend of mine. (Thanks for sharing, Irene!) After dropping off some donations at a homeless shelter, little Maddox said, “When we all do a little, it gets big.” For us, for our families, for our communities, “When we all do a little, it gets big.” And this new year, am thinking that I want to focus on the little. The little steps that climb the mountains….the little prayers prayed, the little acts that lead to big encouragement, the little choices that lead to big change. The mustard seed faith that trusts that God can —and will— make all things NEW in this New Year… Sometimes seeing things in a new light can change everything. I want to see like Maddox…through the eyes of a child who knows that doing the little can get big… step by step, prayer by prayer, word by word, day by day. And now, I’ll sign off to get my day started…Prayers and hopes for you and yours in this NEW year.
P.S. I love the verse Isaiah 43:19. It says, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” I love it because sometimes life can look like a wilderness. Or a desert. Or a dry and weary land. But God can move mountains and create rivers and move hearts and create opportunities. He can bridge gaps and broken relationships. He can heal and restore and renew and do NEW things. Am so very thankful for that. He is not only ‘out there’, He is as tangible as waffles on a plate. Praying we have the eyes to see Him and seek Him and celebrate His goodness (GREATness) in the coming days and year. ❤