The Growth Journey

6 Tips for Finishing 2016 Well

Out with the Old I say.

The old has gone, the new is here!

I remember being a new Christian and feeling like the years before I knew Christ were a waste. I was ashamed and certain that my previous living didn’t count for anything positive and life giving. I tend to think in terms of what I have to show for where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing.

I am tempted to have the same attitude as I prepare to say goodbye to 2016. But then these words come to mind:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the old has gone, the new is here {2 Corinthians 5:17}.

Christ came to offer me new life. And it was new! New perspective. New thoughts. New questions. This new perspective was calling me to leave the old behind and embrace the new. It took time to learn how to graciously accept the invitation. As I did, I also began to see that the old that brings us, you and I, into the new. It’s all a part of THE JOURNEY. Everything i have walked through in 2016 has brought me to the moment I am living right now.

So, rather than crossing the old off as useless, I choose to believe there is value in it.

Maybe you’ve had a hard time looking back on this past year and seeing any value. Perhaps you’ve struggled to get your head above water again. Maybe you set goals for yourself and then didn’t meet them.

Let’s look back over 2016 together and set our hearts and minds on these thoughts:

1}Give thanks for the circumstances that brought you to today.

      I give thanks that after a rough two years I was able to begin slowly engaging again in      the things I love.

Writing a blog post here and there is a far cry from not being able to find the words.

2}Believe that what you’ve learned through the ups & downs adds value to the journey.

      I have to believe it. I am a processor. Everything counts.

What I am learning today

will make me better for tomorrow.

3}Note how your perspective has changed through the circumstances of 2016.

     I’ve gained much more hope in this past 364 days. Gaining hope changes vision.

Gaining hope brings peace. Experiencing peace makes room for vision.

4}Celebrate what you’ve gained along the road winding to the end of this year.

      There were times in my period of darkness that I wondered if the light would ever shine again. I wondered, after trying so hard to draw back the curtains & pull the up the shades, if maybe this would forever be my new normal.

The winding road of 2016 took me to the places where the sun shined beautifully through the dense fog and danced through the tree branches inviting me to come and bask.

5}Choose what you wish to carry over to 2017 & continue to focus forward on.

I choose to keep walking, remembering to bask in the Son who has given me the NEW.

I choose to continue following what I believe He has put in my heart to do – to accept the invitation to have a part in – Cultivating Real Relationship with God and with one another.  

6}GO! Focus forward – not backward as you set your sights to what is possible in 2017!

Retreats! Mentor Coaching. Gospel Conversation Coaching. Real Relationship Workshops!

W R I T I N G.

Just to name a few thoughts.

If you share how you’re choosing to finish well I’ll cheer you on from where I sit. Won’t you please take a few minutes to think through and share your thoughts?

Win a PRIZE! 1} Share your response. 2} Share this post on your facebook page.

The 1st person to do both will win this green crossbody clutch. 

The 6th person to do both will win this grey felt reversible shoulder bag. 

I can’t wait to hear how you will choose to finish well!

Whose attractive image do you want to reflect?

Sitting in church on a Sunday morning listening to the message I was stopped by that feeling rising within me. I’m talking with you, my daughter…will you listen?

It’s every little girls dream to have her daddy walk her down the aisle to her waiting fiancé. Right? I’m not alone in this, am I?

photo

Awwww

I know.

You can tell I am his daughter – right? Daddy’s girl.

Same big brown eyes.

Same head full of thick dark hair.

It doesn’t take much to be able to tell I am his daughter. I reflect many of his characteristics.

My dream came true the day he walked me down the aisle to my waiting fiancé.

The picture doesn’t tell the whole story though. What you can’t see from looking at this photo is that he walked out of my life shortly after the courts took us from his home when I was ten years old. He walked out again after walking me down the aisle.

You can’t see that no matter what I desired, he would not pursue me as his daughter. I’m sure he is a good man. But chose not to pursue a relationship with me.

Why wouldn’t he choose relationship with me? 

I asked – when my daughter was 3 months old. I made a trip to ask him to be involved in her life and in mine. He said his priorities had been messed up. Maybe he wanted to – but didn’t seek me out. About three years later I received a call from him but by then I was angry. Heartache is real and grief has a progression of emotions that takes on a life of its own.

Years later in a handwritten, snail mail delivered note I would ask his forgiveness for my anger and the range of emotions I felt towards him over the years. I unexpectedly got a response from him. “Let’s try again.” Of course I want to try again. It’s the longing of my little girl heart & my big girl heart too.

He never followed through with pursuing a relationship with me…his daughter.

A heartache I have carried most of my life.

I wonder if you have carried that same heartache.

Maybe different circumstances than mine – But your heartache has been very real.

3 things that stood our for me as I sat in the chair – absent from the sermon:

1 – God has not left us fatherless. He himself is a Father to the Fatherless. {Psalm 68:5}

2 – God Knew us before He formed us {Psalm 139}

3 – God Chose us {Ephesians 1:4}

As I leaned in to pay attention to the thoughts flowing through my mind, the words came one by one.

Though I have long desired to be loved by the one whose image I clearly reflect, God has not forgotten me. His love and care for me is as real as my desire for a daddy. He knows me and he has not left me alone or without a father. A daddy. It’s one thing to read these words and quite another thing to let them sink into who I am and how I view myself.

My Father. Who knew me. Who is my strong tower. Who is my safe place. He is the one whose image I want to reflect. I want you to look at me and see a glimpse of the reflection of my father, God. Because I know Him, because I’ve spent time with him, because the more I do, the more I reflect His image – without great effort.

I think of  the photo of JFK – his son playing at his feet in the Oval Office. As the son of the president he had access unearned. I think in pictures like this one.

God knew me before He formed me in my mothers womb. He granted me access unearned.

I was already a Daddy’s Girl.

His Girl Not because of anything I did. And He didn’t leave because of anything I did wrong or could have done better. Nothing brings me more peace than this. Nothing helps me settle my anxious heart more than this.

My Dad – I may have his eyes, I may have his hair. But today I can say I reflect something much more beautiful than my earthly Father.

I hope as you look at me you see a glimpse of the resemblance of my Heavenly Father who has loved me since before I took my first breath.

But more than that, if you have faced heartache from not being chosen, from a father walking out of your life, or maybe a father who had stayed but not been present, there is a Holy God who is as close as your breath who made you in His image and longs for you to know just that. I hope as you stand in front of a mirror after reading my words, YOU see in yourself a glimpse of who God is just by the very fact that He created you.

He is your Father. He knows you better than you could ever imagine, your thoughts, your heartaches, your joys, your desires.

And He is pursuing us, you and I. He has and will continue to. He loves you more than you will ever know. Will you sit with these thoughts for a bit to consider whose attractive image you want to reflect?