Well, here you are. A new year. If I say that I am so glad that 2017 is over, that would be very true, but 2017 also brought some great memories.
A trip to Europe where memories that will last a lifetime were created. What a blessing to see the beautiful world and spend three weeks with my sweet, grown up girl.
Then a trip to St. Thomas where toes in the sand and long breakfasts by the sea with my sweet, second girlie will forever be remembered.
To a high school graduation and now the babies are all grown. Wow – where did that time go?
Then to the now most famous 3 week trip visiting Wheeling, WV and Tennessee, but making that most famous of detour routes through Cincinnati. Just point the car south, Nikki. Oh yes. It is a funny story for another post that we will call “Cincinnati and Cake Pops.”
And then July. July can just disappear for the Chaplains. Too much hurt in that month. Too many bad memories, except for this year.
This past July marked the 75th birthday of my dad. The entire family gathered to celebrate with him. To celebrate a great man. To celebrate the one who has loved my mom for over 54 years. The one who raised three kids working 25 years at a Goodyear Tire plant and he worked almost all those years on the night shift. Yes. He is a great man. Oh – and played in a band to earn extra for us, remember. Simply blessed we are.
Then off to college for the youngest and a great fall of fun, family memories. Let’s Go Mountaineers! Let’s Go Dukes!
Then, on December 31st, in the cute little town of Bridgeport, Ohio, I was quite fortunate to attend church. Why was I there, you may ask. Well, I had the wonderful joy of watching my little grand doggy, Olive. Oh, is she a sweetie. Her mommy was on a trip with her dad and I went to keep the baby. It was so fun!
Well, I went to Brooke’s church on that Sunday and boy was I blessed. The message was just wonderful . The pastors talked about how to say goodbye to the old, hello to the new, and five ways to make 2018 the best year yet and I thought, “Yes!” this is what I want for 2018. I want to embrace 2018 and live it to the fullest. I want to be purposeful in what I do. I want to make this the year that I make changes for the good and take chances on the good things that God has to offer.
So, here you are 2018 and I am glad that you have arrived. God has brought us to a new year. God has granted another year to live life blessing others and blessing him. 2018 is a gift. A gift.
1. Prioritize People
If you are anything like me, I love people. I love being around people and I just thrive in serving people. But, you know what? It’s time that I prioritize people in my life. I need to get busier pouring into the people who pour into me and stop wasting time on the people who don’t. It doesn’t make them bad people. But, you know something. Friendship is a two-way street. It cannot and should not be a one-way relationship. That gets old. That gets tiring. And honestly, for now, those people aren’t your people. Find a friend that meets you halfway. Find a friend who values your friendship and prioritize that friendship.
And while you are doing that, prioritize your family. Make time to make memories together. Believe me. The time passes much too quickly and you will want those memories to treasure forever.
And lastly and most importantly, prioritize God. He is the best friend you will ever, ever have. He knows you the best. Loves you the most. And values your uniqueness the best. Spend time with him. You won’t regret those chosen moments. They will change you.
2. Forgive Someone
Oh sure, easier said than done. I get that. This one hit me hard. Like right between the eyes. Is there someone in your life, my life that we need to forgive? You know, forgive them for the hurt they caused you. You know, forgive the ones who hurt someone you love. And, you know, the ones who never said, “I’m sorry”. Yes, those ones.
This one hit me hard because I remember clearly having a poignant conversation with a friend in the spring of 2017 about this exact subject. I had been wrestling with God over forgiveness for someone who hurt my daughter. I have to be honest. There is nothing that I struggle with more in my life than working to forgive someone who hurts my girls. The hurt that comes from watching your children in such anguish is almost unbearable.
But, you know what? In that conversation with my friend, I told her that I knew that God was telling me that it was time to forgive him. It was time. Put down the gauntlet, Nikki, and let it go. It was hard. I wanted to hold onto to that gauntlet forever, but God was saying, “No”. He was saying, “Give grace, release, and start living fully again.”
Matthew 6:14 –
“For if you forgive others their trespasses,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
You see without forgiveness to others, three things happen:
A. You have no power.
You simply have no power because you asked God to forgive you of your sins and the hurt that you caused him and he did. Then you decide to not offer forgiveness to someone else. How do we ask God to forgive us and we simply do not offer forgiveness to others? Yep – power squashed.
B. You become hardened.
Have you ever experienced someone with a hardened heart? I have. It’s ugly and scary. Remember when Moses visited Pharaoh and asked him to free the Israelites? The Bible tells us that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and because his heart was hardened he lost all rationale and ultimately paid the highest price – the loss of his son. Don’t let the lack of forgiving someone who hurt you be your stumbling block to creating a hardened heart. God wants our hearts wide open and open to others. Let go. Let God.
C. You poison yourself and others.
When you have unforgiveness in your heart, it’s like poisoning yourself from the inside – out. You simply cannot experience God’s fullness and goodness because you are carrying sin in your heart. Don’t do this! Let go. Let God. And experience the fullness of God again and the fullness of his daily blessings.
Believe me. Your heart will feel lighter and you will be the happy person God intended you to be again. Do it! Forgive them and get back to living that blessed life he has in mind. 🙂
3. Do NOT Live in the Past
There’s a great analogy to make this point clear. Why is the windshield of a car so big and the rearview mirror so small? The windshield is big because it allows you to look forward to what is ahead of you and what is coming. The rearview mirror is small because it allows you to simply glance at what you just passed. The rearview mirror does not show where you are going. It shows only where you have been and it is small in comparison to what’s ahead.
The windshield is the Present or even the Future. We are meant to Look forward to what is ahead. God is already there and has great plans for you. The rearview mirror is the past. Simply glance at the past, leave it in the past, and put your eyes on what’s ahead. Your best days and mine are ahead of us. Ahead – not behind.
4. Decide that you ARE Valuable
The Bible tells us that we are worth more than rubies. God has always been in the business of taking nobodies and making them into somebodies. Think David. Think Moses. Think Esther. These people were used by God in mighty ways. They didn’t believe that they had what it takes. They often didn’t believe that they had value, but God knew they did. And at the right time, God used them in great and mighty ways.
That’s us. We are made in God’s image too. We have great value to him too. In fact, he values us so highly that he would allow his only son to take on our sin and die on a cross to take it all away. In God’s eyes, we are priceless. Priceless.
And here’s something to never forget as well. Just because someone in your life might have missed your value does NOT mean you have no value. You are simply, utterly, completely VALUABLE to our father and to others around you. That person missed it. They missed the real you. And that’s okay because God whispers to you that you are his and he will surround you with the ones who see your value as he does – priceless beyond compare.
Proverbs 3:15 –
“She is more precious than rubies;”
5. Take Some Chances
Remember the story of when Peter walks on the water to Jesus? The disciples see Jesus walking on the water and Peter gets out of the boat to walk to him. In the scariness of the storm, Peter begins to sink. Immediately, Jesus took hold of him. Immediately. Jesus didn’t hesitate. He immediately took hold of him.
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.”
Many people criticize Peter for becoming afraid while out there. But, here’s the thing – Peter had enough faith to get out there. Don’t miss that! He is the only one in the boat that had enough faith to get out of the boat.
What boat are you in? What dreams do you have, but you just haven’t been brave enough yet to get out of the boat? Get out of the Boat! Be a risk taker! If God has called you to do something big or small, take the chance and do it.
I know, I know. It is scary. It is. We are all creatures of comfort. We like the known because it’s just that – known. But what if your heart is calling you to go out past the known? Heroes of the Bible knew that feeling full well.
David was just a boy when he defeated Goliath. He was just tired of Goliath harassing and killing his people, so he became a risk taker and went out into the unknown. He knew God would be with him and he defeated the giant. Just a boy taking a risk and God met him right there. God will do the same for you. The same for me.
Lastly, in the sermon, the pastor said this and it hit me hard, “What is the cost of not following your heart? The cost is spending the rest of your life wishing that you had.” Wow! I don’t want that. I bet you don’t either.
So, what do we do in 2018?
We prioritize people and make memories with people that bless us.
We offer forgiveness. Not because that other person needs it, but simply because our heart needs it.
We look to the future and stop living in the past. Put the past behind. Remember, great days are ahead. I didn’t say perfect days, but great days are ahead.
We decide that the God of the universe calls us priceless and this is the year that we simply believe him.
We get out of the boat and grab hold of the dream that God has placed in us and we become the risk takers that history will talk about.
So, welcome 2018!!! We’re glad you’re here and we’re claiming victory in Jesus this year!
All tips from a sermon at TE Church –
The Experience Church – Bridgeport, Ohio
Bible Verses – Open Bible.com