Each year I think of goals and resolutions. I am just like everybody else and I make a list each year of what I want to accomplish. I keep some of my resolutions and I forget about most of them.
I think about my new goals for 2015 and I think about how exciting it is to have a “do over”; a chance where we can start fresh and have a new beginning. That made me think about what a new beginning is all about.
When I reflect on 2014, I tend to see my failures and regrets. I remember the the things that I didn’t do, the mistakes I made and the missed opportunities. Reflection often brings shame and overshadows the many joys of the past year. Because really, 2014 was a good year. It was a year of healing, growth and redemption. It was a year to be celebrated.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has gone, the new has come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
Paul wrote these words. He believed these words. He experienced these words. If I can think of any biblical character that experienced a new beginning, it is Paul. Paul knew. Paul knew the redemptive power of Christ’s love and sacrifice. He felt the change from his past to his beginning. Paul was able to overcome who he used to be to who God called him to be. Paul didn’t let his past keep him from being used by God. He didn’t let public opinion make him want to keep his story a secret. He didn’t let shame and regret from past behavior keep him from God’s purpose. Instead, he used his past to share the power of God’s forgiveness.
God used a man that used to kill Christians and changed his heart and gave him a new beginning that he became one of the most influential man in history.
Our past does not have to define our future. Our shame does not have to continue to be carried; our fears do not have to hold us back. Our regrets do not have to be larger than our intentions. If we believe these lies (and that’s what they are); than we are not acknowledging the full redemptive power of God’s grace. God is bigger than our past. He IS our future; He IS our hope. He IS our new beginning. The consequences of our past may still be there, but so is God. And God can use each one of us right where we are. Even with the garbage that we have created with our choices.
What is holding you back this year? I encourage you to keep the past from influencing your future. Join me and let’s make 2015 a new beginning….
When fear is bigger than you…
Have you ever felt paralyzed by fear? I have. I remember feeling so overwhelmed with the hows and whys and all the unknown questions that I had no answers to. Feelings of failure and inadequacy that were so much bigger than me; almost bigger than my faith. Almost… It was so much bigger than me that it almost took my breath away; that it was felt all throughout my body. I felt like I was at the brink of tears so many times while going through the everyday motions of life. Feeling so unbalanced; just. on. the. edge.
As a person that has prayed my whole life, it was almost that I didn’t have the words to pray for myself. The heaviness of worry was crushing my spirit. It was at those moments, when I couldn’t move past the worry and fear, that I asked others to pray for me. Few knew the reason for the worry, but all knew that they don’t have to know, that God knows and that is enough. I soooo believe in the power of prayer.
Sitting on my porch drinking coffee days later (one of my favorite places to be!), the worry settled in. It was like an unwanted shadow that pervaded my thoughts and emotions. As I was sitting there and reflecting on all the questions that I had without answers, fighting the worry and fear, I felt God’s presence. It was in this moment, that I felt peace. True peace; one that didn’t provide answers but rather a whisper of assurance that said, “I got this LaDonna. You don’t have to carry these burdens because I am. The journey will still be hard but the end will be okay”.
Can you say life-changing?? The complete peace that I felt is beyond description. It has carried me through so many ups and downs and sleepless nights. The journey has been hard and it probably still will be, but in the back of my mind and in my heart, I know that in the end it will be alright. And that is enough for me.
I still don’t have the hows or whys answered, but I know that His whisper was exactly what I needed to help me on this journey. Because in the end… it will be alright.
I was on my home one day from a busy day of shopping and driving through the country. It was a road that I travel frequently and it was a gray and gloomy day. As I was going around a corner and down a small hill, I noticed an old barn set back from the road a bit. Now, if you know me, you will know that I love seeing old barns and farmhouses alongside the road. I love seeing what they represent; the hard work and kinship that the family farm requires. In Iowa, where I grew up, the beauty of the landscape with the picturesque barns, silos and farmhouses are a spiritual beauty to me. Especially with the rolling hills surrounded by rows of corn with their stalks pointing high in the air and their shiny leaves waving in the breeze. I always feel so close to God and it is one of the most beautiful sceneries to me.
This old barn that I noticed was old and worn. No remains of paint were on the building; the wood was dark from years of being neglected from the elements. Boards were missing from the roof and also the sides of the walls. You could see through the entire structure. The most obvious fault was that it was leaning very noticeably to the west. It leaned so far that it looked like it could topple over at any moment while looking so forlorn and so dilapidated. It made me sad that a barn was in such disrepair that it no longer served any purpose. It was an eyesore that was on the brink of collapse. It looked as if one board moved or fell, that the whole structure would fall to the ground.
The analogy was instant to me. That old dilapidated barn is me. I am worn out and exhausted; I feel like I am falling apart. I feel that I am out of balance that if one thing in my life shifts, that I will fall apart with it as well. Between church, school, shuttling my kids around, helping my husband with the guttering business, keeping up with the constant data entry and keeping my house clean at least to the point of where I am not embarrassed if someone comes by. Add upcoming church and family obligations to that list and I am feeling overloaded and overwhelmed. And if I ‘m feeling this way, I am probably not too pretty to look at just like that old barn.
But that barn has not fallen. It has been that way for years. It’s always been there for as long as I have lived in Oklahoma (going on 20 years). It has weathered storms and the elements for years and yet it still stands even though it looks like it can’t remain standing for much longer. I am still that barn. I am tired but I keep going. My strength comes from God and the endurance that He has given me. I have weathered the daily hustle and bustle of life and I remain intact. I have not fallen, I have not collapsed, and I am still standing.
Maybe it’s time to slow down, relax about the clean house, don’t get so intense about meeting my weekly work deadline, and enjoy the time spent with my husband while I work alongside him. I need to take the time to be new and improved; to be present in my kids’ lives; to slow down and enjoy life. Maybe all I need to do is slap a new coat of paint on myself and not just stand and survive but to stand and thrive.
Does a pedicure with freshly painted toenails count as a new coat of paint? I think it does!
This could use a new coat of paint.