I don’t mind telling you that my heart is still a little sad that the whole holiday season is over. The months of October, November and December are filled with such excitement and anticipation that it’s always just a bit of a let down when it’s all over with. However, I always find the prospect of a brand new year so refreshing. I love starting a new year because it puts everyone on the same playing field; it levels us all out. A new year represents a clean slate and a fresh start.
Shawn and I aren’t ones to make resolutions because we feel that often times, resolutions unfortunately turn into dissolutions, despite the best intentions. Something we have decided to do come each new year, is sit down and talk about what we feel the Lord has sewn into our hearts for the upcoming year. We have “resolved” to make our hearts available for things that will last a lifetime, rather than fizzle out after a month or so.
As I’ve been seeking the Lord and praying about what He wants to come from us and our lives, I have felt my heart pull to three different areas in my life:
– Seeing People Through His Eyes
A prayer of mine for many years now has been that God would help me see the world through His Eyes and love the world through His Heart. If ever there were a long term process in my walk with the Lord, this is it. It’s not easy for most of us to see all people as the precious gems that they are. And I do mean all people. It takes forgiveness and humility, two things none of us come by easily.
But several weeks ago, the Lord gave me a little exercise to try to really help me learn how to see people the way He sees us. I have begun looking for one mark of beauty in each individual that my eyes fall upon. I don’t mean “oh, cute shoes!”, or “he’s in great shape”. No, I mean something like finding that sparkle of joy in someone’s eyes amidst their mundane job, or the warmth in someone’s smile regardless of the battle they may be facing. I have been able to find beauty in every single person, because there is beauty in every single person. I’m able to get a glimpse of what God sees when He looks at each of us and in turn, I have just completely fallen in love with people. I’m crying as I write this. It’s that kind of love, the love of God who looks to a fallen world and sees beauty in all of His creations, that will change the world. Can you imagine?
-Being A Better Steward
Something else that Shawn and I really want to overcome this year is our tendency towards poor stewardship. Truthfully, since being married, we’ve lived quite selfishly. We don’t intend to live that way, but it comes naturally. We spend our money on ourselves, buying things we don’t need, being wasteful with what we’ve been given. We are selfish with our time, our resources, etc. Even our eating and fitness habits are totally selfish. As you guys know, I read Interrupted and 7 by Jen Hatmaker earlier this year and it turned my world inside out and upside down. I became so much more aware of my own selfishness and wastefulness. Shawn and I have countless talks about these subjects and we find our hearts are both so unsettled.
We have narrowed down some areas in our lives that we can target this year and unravel our selfish nature. We have been given everything we need and so much more, so now it’s our turn to take our excess and use it to meet the needs of other desperate souls. Our spending will now be redirected into things like helping fund a well through our charity:water campaigns, becoming more generous tippers everywhere, shopping with purpose at companies with a conscious so that our money benefits something so much bigger than ourselves. We will be more generous and willing with our time, becoming more involved at church, making time for others when they need us. We will fill our bodies with the colorful, natural, nutrient soaked foods that God so generously put on this earth to give us strength and live longer lives so that we can be a blessing to more people. It’s all connected. We have even committed to continuing to be a one vehicle household for as long as absolutely possible, which not only helps us cut down cost and be better stewards with our money, but is so much better for the planet. We have committed to recycling and eventually gardening and composting so that we may do our part in preserving this beautiful planet that has been given to us.
Life becomes the most beautiful, blessed thing when it is lived for people and things outside of ourselves.
–Listening More, Talking Less
My closest friends know how much I just love “giving advice”, albiet unsolicited more often than not. For the most part, when I shoot off at the mouth, spewing my two cents every which way, it’s truly with the best intentions. I just want the best for the people in my life. My friends are always gracious and welcoming, but I have begun to notice moments when a look of weariness washes over them as I prattle on. I was discussing this with my sweet husband one night and I said “Maybe I should work on listening more, being more supportive without words all the time.” His mouth said “It might not be a bad idea,” but his eyes said “YES, LORD, YES!” This is probably going to be the biggest challenge for me this year. I love words. I love to talk. I love to share my opinion and I love to share it loudly. But my sweet friends deserve so much more than a bullhorn in their face every time I think I know what’s best. They have all been pillars for me in one way or another and I aim to be the sturdiest of pillars for them in return.
I want to encourage you to be, well, encouraged by the new year! Don’t get hung up on the mistakes or pitfalls of last year. Those are gone, and it’s only fresh, new, mercy filled days ahead! I’m really looking forward to 2014 and all that it has in store for us. Last year was a year of great adventure, and I have the feeling it will only get bigger from here.
[Also, below I have listed several of the shop with purpose companies that my heart bleeds with if you want to check them out. They are all such amazing organizations and I am privileged to be a part.]
Happy New Year!
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
Shops with Purpose: