Happy New Year

Posted on January 1, 2015

Joy & Little Snow DayHappy New Year!!

Last night my family and I were gathered around the fireplace. We roasted marshmallows and made s’mores as we talked about what “a new year” meant. After we had our dinner, our dessert, and counted down, my husband passed out some sparkling cider for the girls and I.

We spoke out loud what each of our family vision statements would be for this year. For the little kids, the concept is still being understood, and yet, they had remarkable insights. Here are some of their ideas: (age range 7y, 4y, 2y)

  • We can shine God’s light and love to others.
  • We can use what we have to help others.
  • We can stay together.

That could change not just a family, but the world, right!?

We added some adult vision statements of our own, and even though they may not grasp all of what we discussed, they did grasp the love and the meaning behind it.

Knowing that NOTHING we can do will ever compare to what God’s love can do in our lives, we made a huge family hug and then each prayed out loud, just voicing our love, and thanking God for our lives.

(Remind you, this is the same family who just was in the grocery store that same day where one person had a meltdown, and another person was grumpy, and another person was frustrated. Keeping it real people!! We don’t pray together because we are perfect, we pray together because we are being constantly changed and for that we will always have a reason to say THANK YOU. Just want to insert that in for the family who has never prayed together before 🙂

OK, ANYWAYS, we finished the prayer and hug and then my husband passed out the sparkling cider. Everyone held up their glass and as the clock counted down we clinked them together and everybody shouted “CHEERS!”

My littlest, her eyes lit up like a flickering candle, grabbed her cider cup and with every ounce of enthusiasm- from the bottom of her toes to the top of her curly hair- shouted, “CHOOSE!! CHOOSE!! CHOOSE!!” As she clinked her glass against all of ours.

She had no idea what “cheers” meant, and “choose” was the next closest word she knew. So she shouted it over and over, with cider in hand, “CHOOSE!! CHOOSE!! CHOOSE!!” Clinking her sparkly drink and giggling from her belly with an innocent strength.

We all laughed hysterically and then the quiet of my heart prompted me.

I often remember the Bible verse that says “from the mouths of infants you ordain praise” (Psalm 8:2), and this moment was no exception.

We had all just voiced our family vision statements. Millions around the world participate in the time honored New Year’s Tradition of making resolutions, lifestyle changes, or goals for a year. If we compiled all the lists of all the people doing this it could be a great place to start improving our human existence. And yet, every list of every year that I had made throughout my life, did not really change anything very much. I kept going through the same motions, the same patterns, the same feelings and speed bumps.

But one day I made a choice. As my daughter gleefully shouted out with every ounce of her joy, “CHOOSE!” I remembered a choice that I had made. About 12 years ago. A choice that actually changed my life. It was not a goal for me to accomplish, or a check off list to do. It was not a plan. It was not a resolution. And yet that one choice has provided more transformation into my life than any resolution I have ever made. I made this choice:

“God, I choose you. I don’t understand you. I don’t even understand me. But I make the choice to give you my heart, everything that I am, and to trust you with my life.” That was the start of something beautiful.

It’s not about religion. It’s not about resolutions. It’s not about a check list of things to do or not do to. It’s about a relationship. Choosing not to live for my selfish motivations, but for God’s transformation of love in my life.

There are enough things in this world that can drag us down. There are more than enough reasons for darkness, sadness, and despair to overcome us. There are so many reasons we all have to NOT believe in God’s love. And yet, after opening my heart, and making my choice- that one choice has now been more than enough for me.

I want to thank God tonight for all the love and blessings that have been poured into my life since I made that choice. I cannot begin to share in one moment how much better my life is since that day 12 years ago. It’s interesting really. I never would have known that admitting my cup was empty and asking for it to be filled, could give me more refreshing transformation, then decades of a cup presumed to be full. 

Thank you to my Little heart who raised her cup and shouted “CHOOSE!” for reminding me of that one choice that I and so many others have made. As Christians, that choice is not a resolution for a happy new year, but it is the start of a transformation into a happy new life.

Joy & Little Snow Day

Happy New Year!! CHOOSE!!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new!” 2 Cor. 5:17

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Author Joy Brownlee. Written and Photography copyrights
to Joy Brownlee @ ibelieveinjoy.com for the photos bearing Joy's watermark.

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