Happy New Year, everyone! It's insane that 2017 has gone by so fast! I mean, I remember watching J-Lo performing on one channel, and Mariah Carey on the other during the New Years Celebration for 2017. Yet here we are to yet another New Year. To see it go by so fast is insane. Perhaps we can blame it only on our busy jobs, but I'm sure we're also filling our time up, which has allowed us to see days zoom by so much faster. At least that's what I know I have done.
For my family and I, this year has been one of the toughest years of our lives. As previously mentioned in my "Nine Months" blog, I personally dealt with a myriad of trials. Some of these things I put on myself, and others came solely from God sanctifying me. A mix of things had me in a bind, and made my heart hard to the Lord at times.
I remember mid-year saying that I was so ready to cut weight and take better care of my body to God's glory, only to be right back at square one on December 31. I tried so hard to make goals for myself, such as saving money every month, faithfully giving my tithes and offerings to the church, leading family worship in my household, fighting temptations, reading my bible and praying every morning and night, spending quality time with people, etc. Instead of keeping these goals I failed miserably at the majority of them. My savings still has no money in it, and while I did give to my church I did not give like I knew I could've. And don't get me started on my lack of faithfulness to open a bible with my mom and brother for 10 minutes a night to read and pray together.
After some other things in my life such as the breakup, me pursuing sin, and my family's trials (brother's heart attack, step mother passing, cousin's hospital visit, uncle's hospital visit, mom falling and hurting her arm very badly, financial struggles) I found myself focused more on being at home with them, and away from others unless it was at the gym or at work or church. Anyone who knows me knows that a year ago I could barely stay home. I loved being with people. Yet this year I found myself more and more being about the house, with my Nintendo Switch and some Netflix. My heart was in a tough place, and while I did know and confess to others that I was dealing, I didn't know the depths of where it would take me in my heart.
I began to see myself losing trust in many people this year, becoming prideful, defensive, and running to a mental cave of fear and anxiety. I began relying on my finances, that while God provided, became my way of escape, as I would buy more and more games, movies, clothes, etc. I thank God so much for the job, but my prosperity became a comfort instead of reminding me that God is ultimately full of comfort and peace through my trials and during the moments of sunshine. I allowed my excitement for my gifts to glorify God to be put on the side, as I filled my tummy with more food. I became more angry in my heart, repenting but not like I should be. This all in 2017.
God really and truly has been beyond faithful and has shown me so much grace. He has provided me, this sinful person, who proved his sinfulness time and time again this year, to still find mercy in him. He has loved me, and through the saints and my family, reminded me of this love when I felt condemnation for my sin. By his grace he's been building my trust with people back up, and he is restoring my peace with different people, something I never thought would happen. His faithfulness has allowed me to learn to be faithful in caring more for my family, being a better brother, uncle, and son. I've been blessed recently by some good friends that have encouraged me to get better acquainted with my spiritual gifts and talents. I'm starting to sing publicly again! And I'm also writing poetry. I've never been about that really but now I am! Even my brother is going out and sharing his gift of poetry! He has shown himself strong with our family. Plenty of tears have been poured this year, and yet he reminded us that he is still here, that he still cares, and that this is all for our sanctification, for his glory, and to make us like his son.Our church recently went through a merge with another church. We didn't know the outcome but God already did, and sovereignly planned this. We have been loving each other well! I've grown to really love some brothers and sisters in the church as if they were my own family. I really have no clue what I'd do without Christ.
As I look back at 2017, with all the failures, stresses and such, and as I look at 2018, not knowing what will happen, I'm reminded to lean, rest, and trust solely on the Lord and his son Jesus, and, by his grace, be obedient and rely on the Holy Spirit. This year proved that I have no skills, smarts, or abilities to make sure my year is just right. Yet it was just right, because God used it to bring me to understand him and his rightful place as the sun in my solar system. It's never really been about me. I’m so glad I’m his and he is mine and that he loves me in spite of me. It would be a lie to say that I had this all planned for the very reason of knowing God more. I actually had nights of tears, regrets, worries, more than most people. And even in my running to various comforts to get away from my worries instead of running to Christ at times, here it is, December 31, 2017, and he still loves me and has kept me. And I repent of my stupidity and playfulness with sin, and ask God to make me a mature, God-fearing man. How deep the Fathers love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that he would give his only son to make a wretch his treasure.
I pray that in 2018, as I pursue my gifts more, get out more and fellowship with peopl again, etc., that I would enjoy knowing God more than I ever have. That for every one look at myself I would take ten looks at him, and know that my satisfaction is there. That I would love His word, for it is better than gold, better than fine gold (Ps. 119). And to know that I have no reason to enjoy sin, but have 1,000+ reasons to know and find joy and excitement and pleasure in Jesus. I pray to enjoy the things he gave us on this earth, and that I would not worship the things but be reminded that he makes good things and that that would bring me to even more of an understanding of him. I pray I would be a good man, one that is faithful, honest, transparent, loving, forgiving, quick to reconcile, humble, friendly, kind, gentle, confident, patient, sacrificial, bold, and "like a tree planted by streams of living water:" I pray that I stick to my goals this year, seek accountability to do so, and rely on God's grace to get me through each day.I pray to not condemn myself, but to be patient and graceful with myself, as God has unlimited patience with me. I pray I aim to be holy as he is holy, in literally everything I do. And I pray to have a heart more satisfied and full of joy because of him. Oh to be in Christ!
This year bout to be lit.
Hello 2018, It's good to meet you.
Here are a few of my goals that you can be praying for. And if you'd like to walk with me in some of these I'll gladly accept:
- Begin bi-weekly bible study with friends
- Engage Neighbors and neighborhood more
- Workout at least three times a week
- Get involved with church family more
- Commit to family worship at home
- Attend two conferences
- Pursue writing more
- Eat better by meal planning, counting macros, and having accountability and staying disciplined.
- Read bible each day and night
- Eat more meals at home
- Eat out only during meetings, or quality time with friend(s).
- Read a book at least 15 minutes a day
- Commit to growing skills in photography at least once a month
- Commit to growing skills in design at least once a month
- Commit to saving money
- Get out of the country
- Take true days of rest
- Collaborate with more creatives
- Commit to growing in music
Feel free to share some of your own goals below.