This is a rather belated New Year's post, but I've been thinking about it for a while so I thought I would still go ahead and post it.

For 2016 I chose to think on the word "Faithfulness", to try to keep in front of me how the Lord has been faithful to me and what I have in front of me to be faithful with. As I look back on my thoughts from last January I am humbled by the abundant grace and kindness the Lord has shown to me. To be honest, I entered 2016 with a predominant feeling of dread. How, I wondered, was I to soldier on through the limitations and difficulties of the life God has given me? I wasn't finding much to anticipate with any sense of joy, but I knew that the Lord would lead me and give me enough to survive whatever He had in store.

And He was faithful.

Faithful in the midst of a crazy work schedule + class + regular pain from a year-long dental issue that ended in oral surgery = more exhaustion than I've ever had to walk through, faithful through some sad goodbyes as dear friends moved on to other corners of the world, faithful through a hard and painful year of camp prep, faithful through a beautiful week of with my young Rez friends where I got to witness God's work in ways I never have before, faithful through blessed transitions into life with new roommates and a new job and a wonderful man who I started dating in October.

How like the Lord to end a year that began with dread in a season of abundant joy.

As I look on this year, I want to be grateful, I want to continue to rest in His faithfulness, and I want to grow in awareness of the ways I am alive in Him. I am alive in the vine even though sometimes my ideas of what that ought to look like are a little off base.  So I chose the word "Fruitfulness" to think about for 2017. I want to be thoughtful about what it means to thrive, to live fully in both sorrow and gladness. I want to be rooted more deeply in dependence on Him through His word, to be freer in service, joy, and grief. As I think about what kind of fruit I am bearing, I want to be reminded that I will fail at growth if I think I can do my own self-improvement projects with my life.  Yet because I have been grafted into the vine, I ought to be watching for good fruit in hope. Anywhere I see it I hope to respond more and more in thankfulness, and when I don't see it I want to keep my eyes open to where the Lord might be pruning me, to cry out to Him for help.  I want to grow in dependence and gratitude.

Galatians 5:22-23 says,"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." I want to grow in all of these things, but a couple things stand out to me. As I think on these things, I realize that they are things that, in our fallen sinful state, feel foreign and unnatural to us. And yet because we are human and bear the image of our Creator God, they are things that bring such satisfaction. These are definitions of what it means to thrive. See, I have a natural desire to hide from others, to ignore difficult things, to close myself off in an illogical attempt at self-protection or to try to please others in order to feel good about myself. But these reactions don't help me, they hurt me.  To do the hard obediences is to spring up alive and become more and to have purer, deeper sorrow and fuller, more abundant joy.

Lord, You are holy God
You have set Your love on me
You have bought me with the blood of the Lamb
I need You
apart from You I am dead, cold, dry
but grafted into You
born anew
I live, love, thrive
Would You give me eyes to see good
joy in encouragement
Softness to grieve and hate with 
fullness, gentleness, faithfulness, righteousness.
Slow me to see hearts
Strengthen me to be peaceful, to be kind
Give me a little gladness here and there for the hope to continue steadfast
 Teach me to lay down my life as I have been loved first.

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Sometimes I am melodramatic... Bear with me. My favorite thing is finding hope in hard places. If you enjoyed something (or not) I would love to hear from you! You can make me very happy by leaving a comment :)


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