01 January 2014

2014: Hope



I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a new year. A new season. A new heart.
I’m so glad for a God who makes all things new.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19
Last year, when I felt like the Lord laid the word “grace” on my heart as kind of a word for my year I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t realize that to truly learn about grace, I would have to be brought to a place where I deeply needed grace. Both to need it for myself and to give away.
This last year, I was wrecked. I have never had a season of life so deeply despairing, discouraging, and disappointing. For the past six months, every day has been a battle. It wasn’t just my circumstances that were despairing (although some were), but my heart’s response to those circumstances. It filtered into everything I did (you might have noticed a lack of blogging and if you came into my house, a lack of order) and really everything I was. I was a hot mess.
I have learned a lot, but I think it will still take more time to really look back and learn all the Lord has to teach me from that chunk of time. One of the biggest needs I realized was the need for my faith to increase. To not just ask for God to help me, but to ask him, and believe him to DO it. To give me grace. To increase my faith. To give me hope.
I started praying a simple prayer, “Thank you God for giving me hope.” Even though I didn’t feel it yet, it was a prayer of faith. All the while, just asking God to do it. Not help ME do it, but for Him to do it in me.
So it was at the end of this year, this season, that I started asking the Lord to give me a new word.
Christmas was a turning point for me in a big way. On Christmas night, after the kids were in bed, I started reading one of my Christmas gifts from Kyle. A book by a favorite author of mine called “Victims of Grace” (by Robin Jones Gunn). In the beginning of the book she defines the word “victim” as meaning a “live sacrifice” and she quotes the verse from Romans about being a living sacrifice.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”       Romans 12:1 
She also talks about Hannah in the Bible and about how Hannah honestly cried out to the Lord.
So right there, on the night of Christmas, I cried out to the Lord. It wasn’t the first or only time I had cried out to the Lord in this season, far from it, but it was probably the most honest and vulnerable that I had been. And then, after the crying was done, I told the Lord I wanted to be a living sacrifice for Him – and I really meant it.
And over the next few days (it already feels like weeks ago, even though its only been one), something miraculous has happened in my heart. The Lord is doing “it”.
My heart is becoming tender again to the Lord’s sweet voice and spirit, and y’all, I’m starting to feel it. Hope.
Did you know what “despair” means? It means “a loss of hope or hopelessness”. When I read that definition, with fear and trembling, I knew what my word the Lord was giving me for 2014: hope. I havn’t had it, not the right kind. And I ran out of the wrong kind months ago.
And I don’t mean the kind of floaty hope that just makes you feel good. I’m talking about hoping in the Lord and not my circumstances. Because God’s word tells us that that kind of hope doesn’t disappoint. And I am just sick and tired and defeated by disappointment. I just. can’t. do it anymore.
“and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:5
Along those lines, I feel like I’ve gotten some directives from the Lord in beginning this year. You might call them resolutions or goals. I’m just calling them the “things I’m going to try to do” list.
– Guard My Heart: I have found some triggers that send me plunging to the depths of despair or cause major anxiety. I need to do a better job of guarding my heart against those things.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23
– Social Media Diet (Namely Facebook since I don’t have a problem with the others): I have become overwhelmed with the amount of controversy shared on facebook, some I’ve participated in and some I have not. I’m not saying it’s bad or even wrong. But for me, it has become a major trigger for despair and anxiety and if I’m going to do a better job of guarding my heart, I think this would be an easy one. I knew it was a problem, when I felt anxiety at the end of an article I read that I actually agreed with.  I don’t know if this is making sense to anyone else, but I know that it’s right in my heart to cut back. So I’m not cutting FB out completely, just cutting way back. I’ve deleted the app from my phone and ipad, and removed it from the bookmarks bar on my computer. The idea is to make my time on FB intentional. You’ll still probably see posts from me, but probably not as many comments or likes. (Not to mention, FB is not the best use of my time…see the next point).
–Cutting back on procrastinating. I’m specifically talking about the little things, like thinking “I should vacuum my bedroom” and then not doing it for a week. I’ve started asking myself, “Do I have a solid reason why I can’t do it right now?” It’s amazing how just this little thing has helped me be more productive in my day.
–Get dressed every day. This is going to sound ridiculous to some of you, maybe all of you. But for me, a stay-at-home Mom, it is really tempting to stay in jammies all day or at the very most, comfy sweats. Getting dressed helps me have more energy, helps me be more productive, and helps to battle feelings of depression.
–Waking up/getting dressed before my kids. My home runs better when I do this.
–More consistent time in the Word.
I’m not really at the point where I’m thankful for the season I’ve come out of, but I am thankful that He’s brought me out of it. And mostly, I’m thankful for the goodness of my Savior, even when I don’t see it with my feeble human eyes or feel it, I trust and believe that He is good.
Y’all, the last think I want you to thing is that I just prayed the right magic prayer and am all better now or even that just because the new calendar year rolled over, that that instantly ushers in a new season. I’m not quite sure I understand the Lord’s timing for me in this and I am still battling a lot. But, I’ve come a long way and I’m still thankful the Lord has given me hope, and I’m believing Him to increase my faith to believe it for the future.
If you’re still reading this, thanks for being faithful to stick it out! Would love to hear your word(s)/resolutions/goals for the year. Leave them in the comments or if you blog, leave your link!

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