February is here, and with it cold days and surprisingly some warm days that feel like spring is bursting at the seams (although Punxsutawney Phil would have us believe otherwise).  Every January I write down goals, dreams, decisions, plans…A list of to do’s that I would like to check off in the year ahead. I’ve always been a dreamer, a planner, a list-maker. Recently I found a folder filled with some of these from years past (and I made these lists not just in January, but throughout the months of each year). I had a good smile with Jamie, looking back on the dreams of my youth, as it was amazing to see how the Lord had so specifically fulfilled many of these dreams and goals, and how He had redirected others…and then still some we just wait and see. 

This January I did jot down a few items of which I want to accomplish in 2017, but didn’t have too much time on my hands to think about it as I was focusing on our newborn baby, not yet one month old when the new year rolled in!

Yes, our Joseph Zion was born on December 7th, and his little life has blessed and changed ours forever. Life is a gift, a miracle, and his especially is a miracle to us as we were told by countless doctors to never expect biological children due to Jamie’s cancer treatment. We have learned to never say never with the Lord. We’ve also learned to not make definite plans- well that isn’t to say that making plans is all bad (I still make lists every day of what to do, and our calendar is still filled with appointments), but we have come to realize that we just need to be ready when the Lord changes those plans! His plan is perfect and His timing divine beyond comprehension. 

So yes, for the first time in my life I am a “stay-at-home mom” and this season has been a beautiful (and exhausting) adjustment as all moms out there know!  As far as human happiness goes, I don’t believe my heart has ever been more full. My Jamie and my Joey bring me so much joy each day. And yet I’ve had to re-shift my focus from “me” to “we” to “us three”. 

Lately I’ve had conversations and emails with friends that have reminded me of the very real gift of the seasons in life. I’ve been thinking a lot about life’s purpose and eternity. I’ve been thinking about the incredible miracle of birth and the journey of life and the process of death. I’ve been thinking about earth and heaven and all God’s promises in between! I’ve been thinking about how one cannot “do it all” in a lifetime, let alone in one year or one month or one day! I’ve been allowing the pressures I put on myself to be released, and to focus more on living today fully than on accomplishing everything I feel I need to in order to “prove myself” to the world, to God, or to me personally. God doesn’t need us to prove ourselves- He’s proven His plan for us through His perfect grace. 

Ecclesiastes 3 verses 1-12 run through my mind frequently and I’d like to share Solomon’s wisdom here with you:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. 

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.”

I could go on and on about life’s seasons, letting go of demands and expectations we place upon ourselves, and surrendering to God’s perfect plan for our lives. But for the sake of brevity (which I’ve already failed in this blog), I’ll leave you with a list that God placed on my heart just a few days ago- a list of actions and attitudes I believe He spoke to me to challenge me this year. This is a season where I want these things to be of utmost importance. I feel that if I get these right, then all else will fall into place. And when I don’t get these right today, then I will fall upon His grace and wake up to a new day where His mercies are ever abundant and refreshing! So here goes my list for 2017:

Joyful joyful! Always always!
Glorify God
Love deeply
Live on purpose
Share the Gospel with passion
Live generously
Live with contentment
Be in the moment
Be kind
Do not be afraid, look to Jesus
Take time for people
Find the blessing in every circumstance
Laugh every day
Listen intentionally
Smile on purpose
Intercede on behalf of others
Entrench myself in God’s Word
Make melodies
Don’t forget our story

(Photo by Christy Hassell)