Happy 2014 to you all! I passed the true test of every new year by actually writing the correct date on important paperwork today. Huzzah! (Unlike that one time while teaching when I started to write the date on the board with “199-” and then slowly erased in shame.)
We rang in the new year with a small group of really fun people, playing drawing games and an obligatory match of Apples to Apples, chatting a lot and laughing even more. Just before midnight we hiked out into the dark, armed with glow sticks and torches (…flashlights… although real torches would have been way cooler) and grand plans for the crucial countdown.
Our friend, Emily, acquired celebratory floating paper lanterns (ya know, the kind from Tangled). We hoped to ring in the New Year watching them float away, their glow speckling the sky above our beloved town, a clear analogy of the glowing hope of the upcoming year and our ol’ troubles leaving town. But, you’ve probably noticed my word choice implies a bit of a let down. Yeah, they didn’t work. The typical blustery, damp, British weather wasn’t in the festive mood and it didn’t cooperate. The lanterns didn’t celebrate like most people do on New Years… they didn’t get lit. (Ba dump chhh! That was a stretch… sorry.)
Instead, we counted down, huddled together, and popped confetti poppers. We were surrounded by an intimate, cozy darkness with flashes of fireworks on the horizon. We said goodbye to 2013 – along with it’s struggles and joys – and headed back indoors. Auld lang syne. Now to begin another lap around the sun.
Then, there was New Years Day. January 1. Always a strange holiday in my mind. A national holiday to recover. To gather your wits and organize yourself enough to get through the next 364 days. To ponder life. (OR to sleep in, laze around in your pajamas, drink coffee, and WATCH SHERLOCK.) I did reflect a little at least. Right after Christmas I read a great blog post from SheLovesMagazine about oneword365, revolving around the general idea of simplifying new year’s resolutions to one main idea. I love that. Yes. Just one word. It will keep me focused, provide a base for other goals, my poor memory can retain it… Yes. Let’s do it. Okay, now what word?
For a few days I ruminated on a few. Simplify. Nah, just reminds me of “Semper Fi” which leads me down the rabbit hole of movie quotes. Health. I’ve had enough of worrying about my health, plus I have doctors orders not to work out too hard. I actually have an excuse to not make the “work out more” resolution!
So what did I decide upon? Let me preface it with this… I kept ruling out option after option, but then it became quite clear to me. A few sermons I heard echoed this general idea and I felt myself naturally drawn to do the opposite, so I thought it a good choice. I cheated a bit though; it’s not an adjective and it really should have another word in front of it. I chose “(Be) present.”
I don’t know about you, but my thoughts often wander to to-do lists. I forget to enjoy the “now.” Sometimes an urgency takes over rushing me to the next. I sometimes don’t relax well… “What should I do after this?” But I want to be present and enjoy as much as possible of: chats over cups of tea, time reading on the couch with Samuel, walking and stretching my legs while Toby stretches all four of his, time praying to and praising God, gaining not just knowledge but wisdom. I want my mind focused on HIS will for me. His plan. Not my schedule.
One of my favorite parts of a new year is picking out my new day planner. That handy leatherbound book that will fill with appointment reminders, deadlines, and holidays. But this year I want it to hold less weight. I want to have a mindset of “now” and a flexibility that allows me to enjoy it. That calendar will remain only a little paper-filled book instead of a weight filling my mind.
I heard an excellent sermon lately from Rob Turner at Apex Community (from December 8th, 2013) on the topic of Entitlement. The entire sermon was convicting and thought-provoking, but one part truly hit home for me. He talked about how the meaning of Hebrews 12:1-2 tends to get warped. We take the “running the race” analogy the wrong way. He said that we set up miniature finish lines to mark our progress throughout life. I finished high school! I got married! I got that job! I finally took that trip! But this mindset causes us to always focus on the next finish line. For the last few months I’ve been focusing on moving to England, then having surgery, then starting grad school. With that mindset we’re always running a race or training for the next. But the finish line mentioned in this verse is not one of this world. Are we laying aside every weight as the verse says? Are we pressing on with joy in our day-to-day life as we serve God? The little accomplishments and tasks that mark our days are not what Paul was speaking of. We are daily running. Daily pressing on. No finish line tape to tear through yet… So, we must daily refocus our priorities. Daily recenter on Christ.
This year I will be present. Present with God. Present with friends. Present with family. Present in my life.
Happy New Year!