Day 752: Never Too Far Gone

The good people over at Proverbs 31 Ministries shared this on their Facebook page this morning and I just had to pass it on. If there is any message we should think about moment by moment, it is this one.

You’ve never gone too far that God can’t redeem you, restore you, forgive you, and give you a second chance.
- Lysa Terkerst

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Day 751: I’m A User, Baby

I’m on day four of my 7 Fast, and I just have to confess that I am really, oddly enough, enjoying it. It’s so… simple. There’s not a lot to think about in regards to food.  So, as I looked at my list I thought about Jen Hatmaker‘s thoughts in the book, 7, as she embarked upon only eating 7 foods for a month. She just went on and on about food.

I mean, she didn’t really veil it.

Jen Hatmaker loves food.

I said to myself, “Yeah. I love food too.”

But then I really thought about it: No. Actually, I don’t ‘love’ food. I mean, I enjoy it but I don’t like cooking. I enjoy going out to eat, but it’s not like a “have to”. I could eat Chick-fil-a every day of the week for every meal and not get bored. Peanut butter and jelly for lunch every single flipping day? No prob here. Now, chocolate, I really do love a good, decadent piece of chocolate. But food… it’s whatev.

So why in the heck do I eat so much of it?!?!?

Because. I don’t love food.

I use food.

The Covenant Diet - I'm A User, Baby

Photo cred: LegalJuice.com

I use it to nourish myself, sure. But I use it for a gazillion different reasons too.

I use food to comfort myself.
I use food to procrastinate doing chores.
I use food to give myself a treat.
I use food to make me feel better when I’m sick.
I use food when I’m bored.
I use food to help me forget.
I use food to escape.
I use food.

And I am reminded that this is the entire goal of this journey. Not to lose weight. Not to be healthy. The goal of this journey is to switch from using food for all of those things and to start using God instead.

God, when I open my life like a book, I see all the areas where there are small holes designed to perfectly fit you inside. But I see that I have filled those empty spots with food. And it’s so ingrained in my daily way of life that I’m having difficulty throwing out the food and replacing it with You. Help me, God. Help me to throw all of my energy into focusing on You. into using You to fill the emptiness inside of me. You are the only one that can and You are the only one that I want to. Amen.

Day 750: I’m In A Relationship And It’s Complicated

The Covenant Diet Blog - I'm In A Relationship With Food And It's Complicated

I’m in a relationship.

Yep.

And it’s not with my husband.

I know, this is kind of frowned upon nowadays but well, it IS the new millennium.

But ya see…

I’m in a relationship with food, and it’s complicated.

Okay, that was my lame attempt at a little humor this morning. {Am I even gonna get a pity laugh out of that one?!?! Ha!}

That probably wasn’t much of a shocker to anyone reading this though… I mean, it is a diet blog. But really, I’m realizing more than ever that a) it is some kind of weird co-dependency relationship with food, and b) it is just terribly complicated for me.

Recently I went to lunch with my best friend, my very own psychologist Dr. Laura (yeah, that’s weird… when did we get old enough to have doctorates!?!?!??) and although she is always wondering how things are going, she is never pushy with advice (even though I know that she has a slew of solutions or suggestions for me). But recently when we met and I lamented a little bit about having gained some weight, but that I wasn’t worried about it she said, “Yeah, you are just in the process of discovering what it means to have a healthy and balanced relationship with food.”

Seriously.

I thought about that for weeks. You see…

Originally, I didn’t really want to find balance.
I wanted to find SKINNINESS.

As I’ve journeyed along I’ve realized that balance is really probably… better. And as I thought about it even more after talking with her, a thought came to my mind: what if I’m limiting God by saying I just won’t have chocolate ever again. What if what He really wants to do in my life is completely change me, completely renew me, and make me completely strong, resilient, balanced. What if He really does want me to find balance instead of just restriction?

Honestly, I think learning how to find balance with food… learning how to have an uncomplicated relationship with food… that would be even more of a miracle than never eating chocolate again. It would take a whole new level of reliance upon Him.

I think that I’m up for it. This is, after all, a journey from gluttonous to glorious, and I’m starting to see that maybe there is an unexpected turn in the road up ahead. A new direction that will teach me to rely on Him and find balance with food.

Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

 

Day 749: I Start a 7 Fast

Clothes
Spending
Waste
Food
Possessions
Media
Stress

All the areas that Jen Hatmaker decided she had in excess and wanted to go against them. Just looking at the front of the book and seeing that list, I knew she and I were probably two peas in a pod.

7 - Jen Hatmaker

I recently got into a little book club that is reading the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker and I immediately knew that I was going to love/hate the book because I knew that it was going to enrich my life… by ruining it. {Ha!} But I’ve just finished another of her bible studies and I’d heard such great things about this one, so when my friend Mandy asked me if I wanted to read it with her and a couple of friends, I jumped on it. We’re only reading one chapter a month and then doing the “experiment” that follows to attack a specific area of excess.

Cause there is no question that I struggle with excess in my life.

I mean, heck, one area of excess, food, is the entire topic of this blog!

You really, really, really need to read the book to get the full understanding of what is going on here (and trust me, it is totally worth the read and very quick and easy, especially if you only read a chapter a month)! Basically, Hatmaker chose 7 foods to eat for a month:

  1. spinach
  2. avocado
  3. egg
  4. chicken
  5. wheat bread
  6. apples
  7. sweet potatoes

Oh, and water only to drink! I’ll be adding doTerra lemon oil to my water, but that’s medicinal.

I’m doing pretty much the same thing but with these variations:

  1. I’ll be eating rice instead of wheat bread because, well, honestly I’d eat nothing but bread. Rice isn’t as “enticing” to me so I’ll only eat it when I need it.
  2. I’ve added popcorn to the list. I know, I know… why popcorn!?!? It’s a light, slightly filling snack for me. I might get rid of it later or I might just ignore it as an option, but for now it’s on there.
  3. When I eat out (which is not very frequently at all), I’m going to try to get as close to the 7 foods as possible, but, for example, if I go to Jason’s Deli and they don’t have avocado out then I’ll eat a close replacement of fresh veggies.
  4. I’m going to allow balsamic vinegar into the mix. Now, this might seem like a decadence to you, but I’m a Ranch and Blue Cheese kind of girl, so this is still a major sacrifice for me to only use balsamic and oil on my spinach.

I wanted to record what I ate, but I’m not going to post that every day in an individual blog post, so I’m just going to come back to this post and update it every few days with what I ate but actually more importantly HOW I ate it. Just in case you feel like doing a 7 Fast “Hatmaker Style”!

Sunday – Day 1

  • Breakfast: 2 eggs, scrambled and then “fried” into a roll up burrito (imagine the egg part of an omelette without any of the “stuffings”), apple
  • Lunch: Went to Jason’s Deli with my parents: spinach, red bell peppers, carrots, balsamic
  • Annnnnnnnnd then there is no point in recording anymore today because I got a massive migraine (possibly from withdrawaling from coffee which gives me terrible headaches and exaustion) and then it got so bad that I (sorry to be gross) puked my guts out mid afternoon. So I pretty much ate toast and bananas the rest of the day.

Monday – Day 1, for reals

  • Breakfast: 1/2 apple, sliced into spears using one of these, 1/2 avocado, cubed (For breakfast? Yep! When you’re hungry, you’ll eat anything!)
  • Snack: handful of air-popped popcorn, plain (Uhhhhh, that’s not on the list. I know, but I think I’m putting it on my list. So, yeah, I’m doing an “8 Fast” I guess. Hehe)
  • Lunch: 1 cup of cooked basmati rice, and then an hour later: 1 cup of cooked basmati rice mixed with 1/2 avocado cubed small
  • Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup at Chick-fil-A. Well, I thought that I didn’t eat out a lot. It really is very rare (it really only happened two days in a row because my husband is out of town).
  • Snack: handful of air-popped popcorn

Tuesday – Day 2

  • Breakfast: 1/3 sliced fuji apple, 1 scrambled egg
  • Snack: 1 grilled chicken strip
  • Lunch: 1/2 cup basmati rice mixed with 1/2 cubed avocado and 1 small baked sweet potato, skin removed, cubed (much better than I expected!)

That’s all so far, but I’ll keep coming back to update. I’m not sure yet if I’ll go for 4 weeks like she does or just go through until the end of February even though I started earlier. Either way, there will eventually be at least 28 days of “what-I-ate” and then I’ll post a blog at the end of the month with my thoughts!

Praying that God would reveal Himself to me through this experience… through this “experiment”!

Day 745: I Am Just Like Justin Bieber

I’m not so sure that I would recognize Justin Bieber’s voice or one of his songs if it came on the radio right now.

I really think I only knew even a little about him because my husband teaches guitar and sometimes sweet precious little preteens come in wanting to cover their favorite song.

Admittedly, I even misspelled his name just now as Beiber (shoulda remembered my i before e rule).

But whenever his name started to splash across my facebook about his arrest and his mug shot, I have to admit that I felt terrible for him.

Uhhhhhh, but January, he has, like millions of dollars. Why on earth would you feel sorry for someone who has millions of dollars???

I know.

I know.

Maybe it’s the perpetual high school teacher in me. Maybe it was Jon Acuff’s post about him yesterday. Maybe it’s just that when I look at his mug shot I see a kid… a kid.

Justin Bieber Mug ShotI mean, only a kid wouldn’t know to NOT smile in a mug shot. But look at him in his profile shot. I mean, if that were your kid… he looks so… gosh, I don’t even know the word for that expression. Lost? Confused? Hurt? Terrified?

Empty.

But when I read this article in The Atlantic this morning, I felt like I understood that kid in a new way. And it was just in this one sentence:

They can’t mess up.

Gosh.

That’s it.

I mean, really… think about it for a sec. Don’t you ever feel that way? feel that pressure? Have you ever told yourself, “I can’t. I just can’t mess up. I just cannot go wrong again.”

It starts to crush your soul a little bit each time you have to say it to yourself.

And then it obliterates a part of you whenever you fail yourself… again.

And you and I don’t have the paparazzi watching and photographing and videoing our every. single. move. Documenting every mess up. every slip. every time we simply just didn’t meet someone else’s standard. We don’t have exec’s whose billion dollar enterprise hangs on our every moment.

Can we even imagine that life?

So often that’s how we feel about God. We have this weird idea that He’s up in heaven just ticking away each mess up. Filing away a pic of every time we sin. Shaking His holy head and pursing His lips saying “Why should I even be surprised?”

But here’s the deal…

He’s not doing that.

God is not the paparazzi hoping that you’ll make a mistake. God isn’t even like your agent who needs you to do it all perfect so that you keep your status. God is like a perfect parent… He just wants to love you, to be with you, to help you up when you stumble, to guide you to make decisions that will help you feel at peace and content with this world.

So, even though it seems weird, we are all like Justin Bieber: we don’t WANT to mess up. we think we CAN’T mess up. but we DO mess up.

But we don’t have to respond the same way. Because our God: His plan doesn’t hinge on our actions. His salvation for us doesn’t depend upon our success. His love has nothing to do with how well we sing, dance, talk, or act.

He truly loves us just as we are.

And He loves us just as much despite all that we aren’t.

Day 738: Every Day, In Every Way

Day 738 The Covenant Diet - Every Day, In Every Way

My son has a ptosis on his right eyelid. He’s had it since birth and the doctors said it might just resolve on its own but it hasn’t.

Honestly, I hardly even notice it anymore.

It’s not super severe, but it’s there.

He never really noticed it until lately. I mean, he’d say: “One of my eyes is sleepy” and then he’d move on to build something amazing with his Legos, but that was really it. No biggie.

Until.

Until he went to school.

And wow – other kids were really keen to point it out. Not maliciously, but just “Hey! One of your eyes is closed!” He would just shrug at first and say “Yeah. I was born that way.” He handled it so well. Again, no biggie.

But recently he has become very aware of it and whereas before he wouldn’t let us even discuss the idea of surgery, now he is the one asking for it. {He’s going to have to have surgery because it is affecting his vision.}

And last night on the way home from church he said, “Mom! Please, can we just go get my eye fixed tomorrow? Cause, like, everyone is making fun of it and I just want it fixed.”

I wanted to sit down with him and say, “Oh man. I get ya. I get it. But I promise that even though we’ll get that eye fixed, kids are gonna find something else. They always find something else.” But I decided that was a bit too “mature” of a response for him. So, I said,

I understand that you want it fixed and that it hurts your feelings when others tease you. I’m really sorry for all of that. Ya know, when I was younger, people used to tease me about something too.

What? What did they tease you about?

My hair. My very, big curly hair.

But I like your big hair.

Yeah, me too. But it’s wasn’t “normal” and so kids teased me about it. But know what I learned? I learned first of all that Jesus loves me, all of me, big hair and all.

{My son then pointed out that I also have a big belly and that sometimes people make fun of people with big bellies. Yeah. Thanks dude.}

And I also learned that it didn’t matter what was on the outside… my big hair or my big belly… because what was on the inside was more important: that I am fun, that I love to laugh, that I am nice to people no matter what, that Jesus loves me all the time, every day, in every way.

{He then pointed out that I am fun but that I am not very good at Mario. Okay, well, I’ll give him that one. I am not very good at Mario. Like… at all. And this is a serious hit on my level of “coolness” in our house.}

And later that night I thought about our little conversation. I was trying to decide if I had gotten anything into his soul about the truth of what he should think about himself. But I couldn’t make myself think of him: I just kept talking to myself… about myself.

January, do you really believe that? Do you really believe that it doesn’t matter what is on the outside? When you looked in the mirror before church tonight and cursed the fates because you were wearing your “fat jeans” and you still had a roll sticking out over the top – it mattered to you. It mattered what was on the outside.

I had to answer myself: Yes. Yes. It does matter. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to totally make it NOT matter on this side of heaven. But what a great reminder that it’s not what matters to Jesus. Not saying that He doesn’t want me to take care of my body, and not saying that He doesn’t care about what I care about, but that just that He… He loves me.

He loves me.

He loves you.

All the time.

Every day.

In every way.

So just stop. Stop for a second right now. Stop and close your eyes and whisper His name. Whisper the name of Jesus.

Jesus… fill me with Your Love right now. I want to feel Your Love. I need to feel it. I need to know that when you see me, you just see the core of me. I need to know that in your mind, your gaze pierces through to the heart of me. I need to know that in your mind, your gaze burns through the mistakes, through the fears, through the facades, and that it just sees me: Your daughter. Your wonderful, beautiful, lovely daughter. Remind me today Jesus. Remind me to whisper Your Name. Remind me to push past all that is temporary when I look at myself and to see me as you see me. Remind me to love myself the way You love me: all the time. every day. in every way.

Day 736: Get Your Rear In There

I know that I’ve addressed this time and time and time again… buuuuuuuuut I’m going to harp on it again because of an article I read this week that totally matched up with some of my non-scientific observations.

People: we have GOT to sleep more!

We have just got to get our rears. in. bed.

I mean, just look at this infographic from the Huffington Post! Two of their major points are connected with weight gain and eating! Obviously that’s going to get our attention, but… well, maybe it SHOULD get our attention! {Don’t worry, I have a few tips below it to help us!}

So, can we just agree to do whatever it takes to get our rears in bed tonight in time to fall asleep?

And I’m not saying get your rear in bed at bedtime… I’m saying that we need to put a system in place that gets our bodies in bed, relaxed, and

get ready for sleep before bedtime!

So, here are a few of my little “tricks” for getting my rear in there!

  1. GET UP: No one likes this one so I’m just going to get it out of the way: get your body out of bed at the same time, every day and don’t get more than 8 hours of sleep. (Okay, okay, sleep in on Saturday if you want!) If you are trying to get your body into a habit of getting to sleep at night, waking up in the morning is THE most important thing to do. It might mean a few days of dragging yourself out of bed and just muddling through the day but eventually this can really help you to get to sleep at night because… well, because you’ll be exhausted! But that exhaustion will wear off when you start falling asleep easily (or easier, at least) at night.
  2. DO THE MATH: Figure out what time you need to go to sleep (as in “lights out”) in order to get 8 hours of sleep… even if this means that you need turn the lights out at 9:30, give it a go for a few weeks and see how it makes you feel. Then, plan backwards: 15-30 minutes before “lights out”, you need to be in bed with tech off. I have read the research that supports that your mind can’t “chill out” with the lights of tech in it. And that includes the phone, the laptop, the TV, etc. Now, go backwards more:. 15 minutes before being in bed you need to start getting ready for bed: brushing teeth, washing your face, PJs on, etc. If you look at the “math” this really needs to be happening 45 minutes before “lights out”.
  3. HEAT IT UP: One of my favorite tricks for helping me go to sleep is the heating pad. Lay the heating pad down so that it aligns with your spine (to clarify: so that the bottom of the heating pad is just above your rear and the top of the heating pad is on your shoulders). Put it at whatever temperature you are comfortable with and turn out the lights. The heat will relax all of your extremities and your core making it easier to drift off.
  4. COUNT DOWN: I actually learned this little trick in my high school psychology class from a video that the coach popped in one day, but I have used it time and time again! Lights out, on your back, start with your toes. Make yourself very aware of relaxing your toes (it sounds funny but give it a try) and countdown from 10 with each number relaxing your toes more. Next, move to the balls of your feet and countdown from 10, then move to the arches counting down from 10, then your heels, your ankles, calves, knees, etc. {Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever made it to my knees before falling asleep.}
  5. THINK ABOUT BED AT 2PM: I know I’m gonna have some haters over this one, but really… if you have trouble sleeping at night, make sure that you are cutting off all caffeine by 2pm. You might have trouble even making it to bed the first few days if you have some withdrawal. For some people this can be a huge key to falling asleep easier.

I actually got into being very deliberate about going to sleep when I realized that I am one of those people that simply MUST meet with Jesus every morning before the day starts if I want to be a good person and to help me focus my mind on Him instead of food. And in order for me to meet with Jesus, I just have to get to sleep on time or I canNOT drag my rear out of bed. So, honestly… this whole sleep thing. It might just help out more than just your weight.

Okay, so there are my five (and I think I might have crammed several into number 2 up there), but I knwo that there are other tricks of the trade: let’s help each other out! What are your non-medication tricks for falling asleep at night?

 

Day 735: It Was My Husband’s Idea

A few weeks back my husband mentioned that he’d read somewhere that it was good to eat 8 meals a day.

I gave him that Are you kidding me? look, because I mean, come on… I eat 8 meals a day and gain twenty pounds.

{Of course, let’s not bring up the fact that five out of those eight meals consisted of cookie dough and Hershey kisses.}

But I totally blew him off.

Until I started thinking about Steven Furtik’s new years messages from last year and just the phrase “Change the way we change” kept popping into my head, so I thought that I’d give it a go. Cause I’ve never done that whole 8-meals a day thing even though it’s totally “cool” with the whole nutritionists clan (which is probably part of the reason I didn’t want to do it… it’s a pride thing, but that’s for another blog). But ya know, I knew it would validate my sweet husband a little that I would try his idea and at the same time showing him that I would instantly blow up into a huge blimp.

Only.

Yeah… that didn’t happen.

I loved it.

Cause eating eight meals a day (well, I actually usually only eat six or seven but that is more than the “traditional” three) is awesome. You get to eat, like, all day long. Which is exactly what I was doing before only it was wayyyyyyyy less on purpose and with wayyyyyyyy more overeating and with wayyyyyyy more junk food!

Eight meals a day is like a dream come true for an overeater!

Cause what do we do normally? Well, we eat all day. So what we are doing here is still eating all day, but now we are focusing on our portion control and our hungry cues and smart eating.

It’s purposeful.
It’s fulfilling.
It’s easy.
It fits with any diet!

Okay, honestly, I’m gonna let you look up the science behind it (if you want). I haven’t read any of the science, but I do know that I get hungry about every two hours (if I’m eating smaller portions) soooooooooo, that’s basically my rule of thumb. Since I don’t have a hard and fast schedule like someone might in the traditional workplace, I go by when I ate last. For example, here’s what I might eat in a day:

  • 6:00am – tea with milk, if already hungry, I have a piece of Ezekiel 4:9 toast
  • 8:00am – apple with another cup of tea (or the toast if I didn’t eat at 6:00)
  • 10:00am – small bowl of granola and milk
  • 12:00pm – salad, split in two
  • 2:00pm – salad, the other half
  • 4:00pm – banana
  • 6:00pm – black beans and rice, split in two
  • 8:00pm – (tends to be optional for me) the rest of my black beans and rice (or I usually have a cup of tea)

Okay, I know what you’re thinking:

Uhhhhhhhhh, Rowe. A banana??? Yeah, that is NOT a meal.

Tell me about it.

But I think it’s a meal in the sense that you are stopping what you are doing to eat. I am being deliberate about preparing something for myself. Deliberate about stopping and making food happen. So, if you want to call it three meals and planned out snacks… that’s fine. But “eight meals a day” was just easier to say! (Ha!)

One other caveat that I’d add: I’ve been tracking calories. I know, I know… I always said that I hated it (and I promise to always have at least some mild distaste for the process), but I started doing it because I realized that I needed some accountability and some retraining, so I found this app where other people can see my “food diary”. I’m not like crazy about the calories but it is helping me to get a better understanding of my portions. Like, I always mocked the portion sizes on, for example, cereal boxes… but actually if I’m eating smaller portions (more frequently) then it’s actually perfect. Tracking is keeping me from dumping as much salad dressing on my salad. It’s helped me to know that while broccoli and squash and stuff like that isn’t “free”, it is certainly a great way to “foof” up a meal that would have otherwise been plain.

I know this isn’t a very Jesusy post (but the last few have been pretty spiritual if you need some Jesus: Day 734, Day 730, Day 729, and Day 728), but it’s something that is helping me along my journey from gluttonous to glorious, so I just thought I’d share some of the nitty gritty!

Day 734: You Gotta Pray Through For A Break Through

Looking back over the past year, I learned one really, really, really important thing about dieting.

It doesn’t work.

It’s gonna fail at some point. Your goal is gonna be achieved. Or the wedding you were losing weight for will come and go. Or you’ll just get plain ol sick of dieting. Or you’ll somehow wake up one day with no resistance to all things chocolate.

As much I have learned that dieting doesn’t work, I do know that God has still called me to honor Him with my body… and that includes what I put into it. I know that it includes a lifestyle change… and, well, sometimes a lifestyle change doesn’t come easy and a lot of times it doesn’t come with quick weight loss. Sooooooo, despite my overwhelming desire to just give up… I’ve had to just keep my eyes on Him.

When my pants didn’t fit… I had to look to Him.

When the scale was shocking (like, in a bad way)… I had to look to Him.

When I found myself halfway through a tube of cookie dough… I had to look to Him.

And pray.

Sometimes in a sob. Sometimes in a whisper. Sometimes in an angry yell. But this past year, all I could do was pray.

And after a year of not having a lot of success with your “diet”… well, that adds up to frustration. But here’s the deal. God doesn’t want us to just sit and pray over something once or twice. He doesn’t want us to pray about something for a month or two.

He wants us to go to Him 365 days a year.

He wants us to pray through the thing.

Not pray up until the thing. He wants us to pray through the difficulty. He wants us to pray through the triumph. He wants us to pray when it looks like there is no flippin way things will ever turn around. He wants us to pray when we have seen Him work a miracle. He wants us to pray through.

We have to pray through for a true break through.

Cause it could be that the very thing that gives you so much frustration, anger, and sadness… well, it could be that it is the very place where God wants to show up GLORIOUS in your life.

Not just show up.

Show up GLORIOUS.

So if you are struggling under something, you gotta keeping praying through… and wait in anticipation for Him to break through!

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{Quick props: My husband, who I call Mr. Chord Dice, came up with the little phrase “You gotta pray through for a break through” while reading Praying Circles Around Your Children by Mark Batterson.}

Day 730: In Defense Of New Year’s Resolutions

The Covenant Diet - In Defense of New Year's Resolutions

www.thetomkatstudio.com

When I was a teacher, I loved a lot of things about the job. I really enjoyed getting to hang with teenagers every day… I know that makes me kinda wack, but I really did enjoy it. I loved talking about language and stories and persuasion and all of that “English stuff”. I loved helping a kid who had trouble expressing themselves and helping them find their voice.

But honestly, ask any teacher and once we get past the”touchy-feely” parts about why we like teaching, there are a few semi-selfish reasons that we like the job: the breaks. Especially summer break. No, it wasn’t a time devoid of any work… I found myself up at the school multiple times during the summers, but it was a break.

And that break allowed me to start clean, fresh, new every single year.

A new class, a new start, new faces, new lives, new minds.

I didn’t have to keep figuring out ways to keep Bobby Joe focused during reading instead of dreaming about the car he was fixing up at home… because he went on to the next grade. I didn’t have to deal with Samantha and her sassy retorts to every word that would come out of my mouth… because she went on to the next grade. I didn’t have to try to decipher Megan’s handwriting anymore… because she went on to the next grade.

Sure, the new year would bring new students with their own sets of issues, but it was okay. I was ready. I was going to start new. I’d ended the school year before analyzing the things that I’d done and figuring out how to tweak them so that I could make my students’ learning easier as well as my my life more streamlined. And ya know what?

Each year did get easier.

Despite the fact that sometimes the classes were more difficult to handle one year and not the next. Despite the fact that I had a new principal pretty much every single year and had to learn “their way” of running things. Despite the state changing criteria or tests or whatever. I got better each year at planning and at adjusting.

{Ummmmm, okay, so thanks January for that recap on your educational career.}

Well, the thing is… the turn of the New Year is kind of like that for me spiritually. I can view it as a fresh start. Kind of like I imagine the Jews feel after Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) when they have confessed been forgiven by God and He has sealed their fate for the next year. It’s just an enticing sort of thought… being pure and new and fresh and clear and new. Because…. well, because…

There is hope in a new beginning.

And hope in Him is often what keeps us going. Now I’m not saying that you should make a slew of resolutions, but I think you should make one:

Pursue God this year.

Pursue His Word. Pursue His Love. Pursue His Forgiveness. Pursue His Wisdom. Pursue His Hope. Pursue His Voice. Pursue Him.

Then receive the peace that comes from His Word. Receive the comfort that comes from His Love. Receive the freedom that comes from His Forgiveness. Receive the renewal that comes from His Wisdom. Receive the joy that comes from His Hope. And receive guidance that comes from His Voice.

You can watch how all of that will trickle down into those goals, hopes, and dreams you have for the year. It is one resolution that won’t fail YOU!

Give it a try, oh, and have a Happy, Happy New Year!