a new year + a new beginning

Happy 2018! We made it!

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On New Years Eve, we have a funny family tradition to take a family selfie lying down on the hotel bed (since 2011 we have been traveling with Tyler + MPB the last week of December) -this is from 2015!

So there’s this thing people do around this time of year that unless you’ve been stuck under a rock, you have heard about it – and probably been a person who has done it, too.

Everyone hits December 27th… I’ll give y’all a day or two.. and starts in on making resolutions. Whether you journal it out or joke about it, everyone is working on their New Year resolutions.

When I asked google about the history of New Years resolutions, I skimmed over some information that showed how it was the Babylonians some 4,000 years ago who initiated both celebrating the New Year and making new year resolutions.

So apparently we’ve all been doing this for quite some time. Even though, by … what?, February 10th, to be generous, we have either forgotten, abandoned, or messed it all up … our list is in the trash. Sometimes we do take it out, uncrumple it, and even make it to the end of the year, but in an unwittingly common manner, we make them, and we end up breaking them.

Still, I always find it so fascinating to hear others’ New Year’s resolutions, even though I realize they tend to be about the same thing every year. I like to listen to friends as they share from their past, from what they’re learning, and to the practical ways they hope to change and grow as a person. And even though everyone’s resolutions are so personal, it seems to me that we could sum up resolutions something like this…

reading – books. magazines. journals. articles. the Bible.

running – or whatever form of exercise one has decided upon

arithmetic – all of the numbers… your weight, your budget, and what time you wake up in the morning

These are the three R’s of New Year’s resolutions. 

And though I want to talk a bit more about these three R’s, and while sincerely I cannot wait to share with you my resolutions for this year, let’s start with this question:

What is the WHY of resolutions?

Well, to begin considering this question, and I am just thinking aloud here, not even asking google, and I have yet to talk this over with Tyler, I think we love a good start-again. We love love love a fresh page, a blank slate, a new beginning. And we imagine that we surely will do better with this lovely new. Surely we will be kinder, be thinner, be healthier, smarter with our money, and definitely check off all of our business – home – friendship – plans.

I mean, I love a fresh beginning.

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Happy New Year, 2016!

This love for new is intrinsic in us – it might manifest itself in different ways, in different personalities, generations, and values, – but the thrill of a white page ready for purpose and pen is all around loved by all.

So, you, me, we all love a fresh beginning and it’s intrinsic in us. Think about it with me – we are made in the image of God and it is God who loves a fresh beginning more than any of us…  We are displaying Him in this love.

Here’s the thing though – if we love it, and if it’s the image of God in us, then why do we have to uncrumple our paper so many times >> Why did we crumple it up in the first place?

Well,… We are made by Him in His image. And… we all have sinned and fallen short of His glory.

So, here we are in love with new and fresh but we have sinned and cannot cannot cannot climb back up on our own. Glory cannot be ascertained through New Year’s Resolutions no matter how much we want it – love it – write it down – desire it – try to make it happen.

So Glory came to us. 

And this is what we packed up into boxes, shoved back into our attic, back into December… remember? We celebrated that Glory came to us. “And His name shall be called Immanuel, which means, God with us.”…. “And His name shall be called Jesus, for He will save us from our sins.”

Jesus’ birthday – the Incarnation – God wrapped in the soft skin of a brand new baby – brings new life, brings glory to us.

So often, though, we miss out on Glory because Glory is so small. and we want to be so BIG.

We tend to run right past this grand reality every Christmastime, since, for heaven’s sakes, the advertisements and articles are already ramming resolutions down our throats, and into our longing hearts. As if this is the savior… as if we could save ourselves…. with a list.

But this reality – the Incarnation – Glory to us – Good News – a Real. New. Beginning – will completely and utterly transform our resolutions.

Going back to the question at hand – what is the why of resolutions? – we must realize:  because of sin, our why… the reason we make resolutions… get’s awfully thwarted.

Our why comes out of selfishness, out of sin, and perhaps even from Satan himself.

Remembering the three R’s I mentioned, we read books for all of the wrong reasons; we run and exercise to bring whatever glory anybody – and I do mean any.body. – will give us; we count our pounds, and our dollars, and our minutes because we feel like we have just.got.to.save.ourselves.

and we are out of breath.

NO wonder we are so prone to crumbled papers and despair. NO wonder we are so apt to end up feeling like we are amazing when we actually end the year and we have actually completed our resolution… or at least by swimsuit season we have lost enough weight, we have saved enough money, and we are making!it!happen! by going to the beach in our bikini!

and we are holding our breath, hoping it all stays put.

Bless our glory-stealing hearts. Bless our I-think-I-can-save-myself souls. Oh…. our sinful, selfish, satanic resolutions needs not be kept up but repented of.

Honey, it’s not that losing weight or budgeting your money or reading a book is a sin. The thing is though you are using that goal as an end to gain glory for yourself and when you go after glory for you you are stealing it from the only One to whom glory is due. 

(Remember, we have all sinned… you. and me. me me me me me. And it takes one to know one, and I know about glory-theives because I am one.)

So what do we do with this image of God love of new and this sin-thwarted heart?

What do we do with our shiny resolutions and sin-sick soul?

Well, we dig back out December once again and we unwrap the Gift of Christmas once again and we confess Jesus is Lord and Savior – not me, not you, not anyone else, or anything else, and not any list either.

We repent. You don’t have to cry, but you can. You don’t have to kneel, but feel free. When you and I repent, the only thing we must do is turn away from ourselves, our sin, and Satan, and turn towards Jesus.

So let’s start together – Let’s repent of our sin. Let’s breathe out prayer and breathe in freedom.

Here we go. :

Jesus, I turn myself in. I have been a glory-thief and I’m even been really good at it. I have been self-indulgent, I have been self-righteous, I have been full of myself. I made up this long list of resolutions… But I am over it. I am over myself. I confess my sin and I trust You, Faithful and Just, to forgive me and to cleanse me from all of my unrighteousness.  In Your precious, saving name, Amen.

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And from this year, Happy NYE 2017 and Happiest 2018!

New Year 2010 Must Reads

This New Year Must Reads book list is not a comprehensive list of all of the great books that I intend to read this year, but I think books on the topic of generosity is the perfect place to begin this year.

Our nation is in a recession and we understand this because it has affected our household – the way that we shop for groceries, whether or not we are going far away for our family summer vacation, and the fact that we have friends into our homes for coffee instead of going out for Starbucks.

As we save and steward our resources well during this time – which for some has been easier because even in the midst of excess they were already practicing good stewardship, and for others, has been a much needed and now welcome challenge – it is a good idea to start out the New Year by reading a few inspiring authors who call us to live our lives marked with generosity.

The Law of Rewards by Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn, and The Generosity Factor by Ken Blanchard and S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chic-Fil-A, are three short, sweet, simple books that inspired Tyler and I in our desire to budget,spend, save, and give our money to do good to others and to glorify the Lord.

The Law of Rewards by Randy Alcorn (Tyndale House Publishers, 2003)

Inside the Pages

Randy Alcorn discusses what it looks like to give what you cannot keep to gain what you cannot lose – time, money, possessions, and talents.

Worth Repeating

“Faith [in God and His promises] … motivates us to forgo something in this life for the promise that it – or something even better – will be ours in the next.” (115)

From My Perspective

What great motivation this book provides from a godly man with a scriptural perspective on money, time, and talents. His heart and mind are bent towards heaven, helping his readers to also grasp the good that is to come for all of those who trust in Jesus. This book motivates me to prove my trust in Jesus by daily submitting my finances to the Lord of life.

The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn (Multonomah Publishers, 2001)

Inside the Pages

Randy Alcorn shares his life story and what the Lord has taught him, especially as it relates to God and money. He desires that his reader discover the secret of joyful giving, living the abundant life in Christ here on earth and hoping in Christ for the eternal life in heaven yet to come.

Worth Repeating

“God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.” (73)

From My Perspective

And oh how the Lord has prospered my family! So may we give as unto the Lord with a heart overflowing with thanksgiving, joy, and love. This book motivated my husband and me to consider all of the ways, little and big, inside the box and outside of the box, we can live our lives and use the talent, time, and treasures that He has bestowed on us as vessels of mercy to bring good to others and glory to His name.

The Generosity Factory by Ken Blanchard and S. Truett Cathy (Zondervan, 2002)

Inside the Pages

Blanchard writes a short fictional story to inspire readers – whether you are a business owner or a bag lady – to steward well what the Lord has given you by living a life of generosity.

Worth Repeating

“The successful person knows how to make money, the significant person has learned how to give it away – how to be generous, to share the blessings of money with [others].” (64-65)

“The old [man] desires to have good things flow towards us. The new [man] wants good things to flow out from him.” (107)

From My Perspective

The life of S. Truett Cathy told in a fictional story of the Executive and the Broker was such a refreshing application of all of the principles I read in the two other books. One lesson from this book that deeply impacted is the lesson that we must invest what we have been given by the Lord so that we can be as generous as possible. We must invest our time with Him – He rewards us with time management to spend with our family and friends. We must invest our money wisely so that we have more and more to give to others as He leads. One way that Tyler and I have started to implement this lesson in our lives is simply to purchase products on sale so that there is money left over to give or to invest in others.

{Recession proof your resolutions : to read these books, purchase them at http://half.com, http://amazon.com, which is the link connected to each book’s picture, or borrow them from your local community or church library.}