January 2017 - Begin Again: Time, Hope, and my 'Black' Year

Endurance and Hope!

...'And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

And this hope will not lead to disappointment.

For we know how dearly God loves us...' ~ Romans 5:4-5

Although what I have written below, as a new year begins, might have a touch of sadness and melancholy to it, for me the bigger picture is a sense of resting in God's goodness, trustworthiness and love for me and for those I love, as well as a centered and grounded freedom and peace - so I hope that comes across! This is my explanation of how, this year, I am seeking to 'declutter my mind' in a sense, of useless and discouraging thoughts, and I hope my strategy makes sense to you and even encourages you! :)

Another year has past, and we get to 'Begin again.'

Time continues on...time for me to re-set some new goals.

2017 - Continuing to Simplify

My 'Simplify' goal (in the Thanksgiving 2016 devotional) I hope to continue for the rest of my life, and I already have my list of specific things to simplify and reduce in 2017! It is so exciting for me to look back and have had some success in that! I ask the Lord for that to continue - shedding and reducing of my home here, and building my home in heaven, until He is ready to bring me there!

2017 - A twist on hope

But I am adding to that a spiritual/emotional goal that may seem interesting to you.  I want this year to choose to not hope in or hope for anything but my Savior.  Hoping for things that don't come to pass can be a real emotional drain for me that sucks my energy and darkens my mood and uses up precious time.  So I am going to do my best this coming year to die to hopes that are simply 'daydreams' and not based in something that is concrete and achievable. I know it will be really hard for me to do this!, but I am asking my Savior to help me!!  Because I think it is the best way for me to live, this coming year at least.  Maybe not always, but for now, yes.

Time marches on whether we like it or not!  The moment that just passed we will never have again, it soon becomes a memory.  So I still want to have goals moving into my future that are exciting and achievable, but I also want to seek to live in and enjoy the current moment and let God shape the future for me and those I love.  He does that anyhow!  And He does that well.  I want this to be a year where I watch Him with anticipation as He as the master artist shapes our futures.  All the moments behind us we have been in His school and He has used them to make the 'me' or the 'you' that is in the current moment. 

The idea of having a nearly 'hope-less' year (except for my hope in Christ!) is certainly not for everyone, nor for me every year even!  There are times for hope in certain ways, often what we hope for and invest time thinking about does get achieved, that is the other side of the 'coin' I am looking at.  But for me, in certain areas, hope's echo has been a black hole of disappointment, and I must let some things go. I believe the Lord would have me grow in that way in this current year. With His help I shall. I want to be surprised by His goodness, not expecting certain things certain ways. I want my hope to be in something promised to never disappoint!

2017 - I am calling it 'my black year.' :) Black to symbolize death to dreams.  To be 'in the black' in the current moment, rather than 'in debt' to dreams. Dreams for myself, dreams for my family, dreams for my children.

In my home, to be a visual reminder of continuing to 'Simplify' as well as a reminder of living the year with an attitude of 'death to hope that disappoints' I am working on some neutral slipcovers to cover some old plaid couches, and adding only a small touch of black fabric for pillows and around the windows.  Less decorations and pictures and patterns to distract - more peace and focus. The black fabric does have some bright colors in it, that can represent the touch of the gospel of hope from Christ alone, my only hope.

Theme verse for my year:

Bernie thought this would be a great verse for this year and I agree!

'Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.'  ~Philippians 4:8

I feel this verse can address thoughts about what others think of me, or what I think of others, or what I think of myself.  And choosing to focus on the true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise in these three areas would be a good focus for my mind, rather than the 'what ifs' and 'why nots,' and 'why don't they,' or 'why did they,' etc. In this present moment, and the next, what good can I see in others and in myself? I am not talking about vanity, but rather honesty as I look for and focus on what is good.  So just like I let go of lots of 'stuff' last year, I want to let go of lots of 'thoughts' this year.  Thoughts of  fearing of what others think, thoughts of disappointments in myself or others, thoughts of having tried so hard yet failed, thoughts of things not working out the way I hoped they would.  I want to learn from these things but not hold on to them! I am enjoying, when negative thoughts or concerns enter my mind, reminding myself that "It's ok. God has this. My mental turmoil and worry changes nothing. God is good. God is in control. And as an outpouring of His love for me and for those I love, He will bring to pass His best. And it will be best!"

To my angels:
As I ponder endurance, hope, dreams, family and the passing of time, I think of my family and the people I have loved the most deeply and enduringly. I want them to still dream and have dreams! And I felt this 'black' and white video by Billy Joel fit these ideas very well.  I might let go of my own dreams this year, but I must never let go of my love for 'my people.'  So as I have mothered, and mother-in-lawed, and grandmothered and possibly even 'mothered' a few people who are not my biologicals, they are all my angels and this lullaby is for them! This sweet video of a song Billy wrote for his daughter, to me is a beautiful picture of loving eternally those dear to us, but yet letting go at the same time, loving them in their innocent childhood, (images of children running and falling down at times, learning new things) loving them through their turbulent and at times darker years of discovery and exploration,
(images of the children seemingly lost and slightly frightened on the crowded street) loving them and encouraging them on as they fearfully put on their 'roller skates' and 'sail' out into their own world. I love the exuberant child, arms stretched wide and wings on, dreaming their own dreams, ready to fly towards their voyage into their own future! (2:31 in the video) No matter where they go, our love goes with them and so does our Lord's love for them because - love never ends!
~ I Corinthians 13:8a.

I just came across this randomly and don't normally listen to Billy Joel! I am such a 'classical' girl. But I did listen to him when I was in my teens. At that age I didn't really own many recordings of anything, but I actually had one LP vinyl record, of his. Yes that dates me accurately doesn't it? And something kind of peculiar in this video is how many images are symbols of things I have let go of!  What those specific images are will have to be my little secret, that's more than I need to share, but for me, it is evidence of a special aspect of how God, master of all, can weave things into our lives to encourage us of His Omnipotence and Sovereignty and worthiness to be trusted. This video was made before the things that the symbols represent to me, even happened! Yet God being outside of the time dimension can weave it all together, in perfection, and use it, in this moment, as I write today, to encourage me that "He has me" and "He has those I love." How can I not trust Him in my present moment?

If you are experiencing anything similar in your own life, I pray the Lord will bless you this coming year with 'hope that doesn't disappoint,' as well as peace that "He has you" in your current situation! He does all things well - may you see His promised goodness to you unfold before you as you put your hope in Him!

Much love to all,

Linda for the Bealls