Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Pressing on through the new year blues...


I love the happy distractions of the holidays, the parties, the family gatherings, the decorating, the shopping, the baking of holiday goodies, I love it all.  But, then there comes the inevitable longing for the holiday hustle and bustle to be over so that life can go back to some semblance of order and routine.

The way the holidays fell on Sunday this year made everything even more discombobulated for me than usual.  Instead of Sunday church services at our church, we had Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve services and no services for two Sundays in a row.  Throughout New Year's Day I kept forgetting it was Sunday.  The only time we have a relaxing, stay at home and do nothing Sunday is on those rare occasions when snow shuts everything down in our city.  On Monday, January 2nd, I thought that normal life in the new year would begin, except it was the official New Year's holiday for banks, the postal service, and most places of business. Finally, Tuesday, January 3rd arrived, the day when the holidays were officially over and the new year could begin with all of its endless possibilities.

Who doesn't love new beginnings?  Every new year, whether you're one to make resolutions or not, most of us think of the new year as a fresh start.  We make our inner vows to eat healthier, love better, work harder, read more...this new year, this new beginning, is our chance to let go of the baggage and negativity of the past and to embrace the hope that we really can change, that things for us really can be better than the reality that we are now experiencing.

The reality for me?  Four days into the new year and I still couldn't  walk by a salty spicy bowl of chips and salsa without indulging.  I then came face to face with the fact that the top two items on my prayer list are the same two things I've been praying for longer than I care to remember.  Four days into the new year and I began to feel the hope that this year would be any different than the last sliding through my fingers as I realized that the flip of a page on the calendar didn't make a single one of my problems, weaknesses, challenges or frustrations go away.  At this point, satan began to whisper his lies to me, fanning the flames of worry, anxiety, fear, hopelessness and frustration.  he's an expert at kicking us when we're down isn't he?  There's nothing he'd like more than to ensnare us in a bad case of the new year blues.  he wants to make me and you give up before the year has barely begun.

How do you and I face 2017 with hopeful expectation, even while facing the reality that the beginning of a new year doesn't automatically sever the past struggles and problems we faced in 2016?  God graciously used a scripture to remind me of where my hope for a fresh start and real and lasting change comes from.  It doesn't come from resolutions to be better and try harder.  It doesn't come from starting a new calendar planner and determining to be more organized and a better steward of my time.  It doesn't come from joining a gym and going on a juice detox diet. It doesn't come from decluttering the house and determining to embrace minimalism.  I've tried many of those things, and I bet many of you have as well.  What I have found that helps me not to lie down and give up, is staying connected to hope, to the Source of hope and staying connected to the Source of patient endurance, that steadfast perseverance that helps us to not give up. 

 "For whatever was thus written in former days was written for our instruction, that by [our steadfast and patient] endurance and the encouragement [drawn] from the Scriptures we might hold fast to and cherish hope.Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus," Romans 15:4-5

In the Old Testament, the word for hope is related to the word for cord.  Here in Romans 15, we are reminded to hold fast to that cord of hope.  One way this passage indicates that we do that is to draw encouragement from the scriptures.  Just as healthy food is necessary to properly fuel your physical body, the Word of God is the fuel needed to keep hope alive and strong in you.  I love that this verse also promises us that God will give us the power of patient endurance and will supply us with encouragement.  Four days into the new year and I already need some of that patient endurance and encouragement in order to keep pressing on.  Thank God that He has a never ending supply for us to draw from!  I don't want to be a quitter, and I bet you don't want to either.  Next year at this time, I want to look at 2017 with satisfaction that I didn't give up and that I saw real growth and progress in my life. Now, let's do this!

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27 comments:

  1. Hi Elizabeth, thank you for the word HOPE! All the best ideas and resolution need patience and perseverance.
    Wishing you the very best this New Year. Very glad you had happy distractions during the holidays 😂
    Many Blessings to you

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    1. God bless you richly in 2017, too! Thank you for your kind encouragement!

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  2. Hi Elizabeth. Visiting from Lyli's place. Yes, it was weird for me too to have both Christmas and New Year's fall on Sunday. (Especially as a pastor's wife, trying to balance church and family. Grace, Lord!) And I love your verse from Romans. Yes, let's hold on to that chord of hope.

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    1. I'm a pastor's wife, too, so I know you understand the challenges unique to our calling.

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  3. Elizabeth, I love the resolve I hear in your voice.
    Me, too.
    I have been recycling the same goals and excusing myself over the same sins for far too long.
    Thanks for these solid words to hope.

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  4. The word HOPE, taught me so much last year. Great message and encouragement!

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and taking time to comment!

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  5. Elizabeth, a wonderful post and word. I love that you sound determined not to cycle around once again. Joining you in that resolve as well! So grateful to have stopped here this morning!

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    1. Thanks so much, Joanne. God bless and strengthen you in 2017!

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  6. Thank you, Elizabeth. So encouraging. Hold onto Hope. Love it.

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    1. Thank you, too, Julie for always blessing me.

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  7. Hey Elizaeth, I so resonate with you about the craziness of this holiday season and it all falling on Sunday. We had 2 Christmas eve services and a Sunday morning services as well so it was very full and at the same time rewarding. It does however make for a discombobulated schedule and a throwing off of anything regular and normal. We took our oldest daughter to the airport yesterday to fly back for her next semester in college and so now our household feels some what back to normal. I put away the tree yesterday but now the other furniture needs to move back to normal. It's all come back... slowly but completely.
    Your post encouraged me this morning because "persevere" is my word for the year and I keep seeing how God is continuing to remind and bring forward that word and working it in me. Thanks for your encouraging words and I look forward to reading more from you. (This is my first time here.) Stopping by from #TellHisStory - I'm your neighbor this week. :)

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    1. I'm so glad to have "met" you through the link up! God bless you as you see all of the good promises your word for the year has in the Bible!

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  8. Patient endurance . . . yes, Lord.

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    1. Endurance is such an important concept in the Word. I didn't realize how important until that was my word in 2015 and I delved into all that the Bible had to say about it. So powerful and full of promises for those who endure and persevere!

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  9. I agree that this season was discombobulating with the Sunday holidays. And this week has seemed weird too as a result. But I love new beginnings as well! We have many reasons to remain hopeful. Thanks for sharing this, Elizabeth. Happy New Year to you!

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    1. Happy and blessed New Year to you, too, Lisa!

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  10. It's so easy to just continue in the same old routines of compromise without even realizing it. However, we have to remember that it's not up to us to make changes on our own. We definitely need to be committed and persevere and not give up, but we also must rely on God to do the work IN us. I'm starting 2017 in Ps 46:10... before I work at anything to Be still and Know He is God. thanks for your post

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    1. My word for this year is ABIDE. I agree with you! The key is to stay connected to our Source of life, hope, peace, perseverance...everything we need to overcome in 2017!

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  11. I'm grateful that we have hope....especially when discouragement is trying to kickbomb us and steal that hope. Hope is a cling-to lifeline.

    And new beginnings are always available! That makes me glad too.

    Wishing you the best in 2017!

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    1. Here's to clinging tightly to hope in 2017!

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  12. "In the Old Testament, the word for hope is related to the word for cord." I don't remembering hearing that before, so I did some research and found this. I thought it might be encouraging to you, too. It's from Grace in Torah (which I have never seen before, either.) https://graceintorah.net/2013/10/26/tikvah-hope/

    For thou art my hope (tikvah), O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth. (Ps. 71:5)

    "We typically think of hope as a feeling that something desirable is likely to happen. Unlike a wish or longing, hope implies expectation of obtaining what is desired. In Hebrew, hope is the word tikvah (teek-VAH). Strong’s defines it as a cord, expectation, and hope. It comes from the Hebrew root kavah meaning to bind together, collect; to expect: – tarry, wait (for, on, upon)."

    "Did you notice the concrete idea of a woven cord? While hope in English is abstract, hope in Hebrew provides us with a strong visual. A bound cord, rope, or thread cannot only be seen with our eyes, but it is something we can grasp hold of with our hands. In other words, hope is something real enough that we can cling to it. Hope is not something out of our reach."

    Thank you for your encouragement, Elizabeth! God's blessings in this new year.

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  13. This really spoke to my ❤! I feel it's divine timing as well especially with my word for 2017...Hope. Here is an amazing God thing, there was an instagram post the other day that she spoke about Hope is her word, she went on to explain how God sends her rope to hang onto her hope with. 😇

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    1. I love the way God is confirming His word to you!

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  14. By the way, I shared a link to this post on my Facebook page. :-)

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