Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Looking Back As We Forge Ahead

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’ And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Revelation 21:1-5
"The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year...but that we should have a new soul." G.K. Chesterton

Newness...renewal...beginning anew. For some the past year has brought much heartache. For others it was a joyous time. For most of us, it was a mixed bag of tricks, as much of life is, with its valleys and peaks, laughter and tears. We lost some loved ones, and welcomed some to the world. We fought and we loved. Some dreams we dared while others we released, if only for now. We watched with wonder as the children grew, and we sighed with exasperation at the frustration of the growing pains. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Now we are fresh into a new year which holds every possibility. We have great opportunities to take what we have gained in the past year and grow from it, to let go of what we have lost and move beyond our pain. We have the opportunity to brush ourselves off, however we have fallen, and begin again. True, we have this chance every day, but the ritual of the start of a new calendar year brings with it the momentum to make good on the opportunity laid at our doorstep, to seize the day...or year. 

As we closed out 2013, the inaugural year for The Pitter Patter Diaries (though some form of a blog has existed longer), I've been looking back through the archives. There are many favorite posts, and some that I deleted in retrospect because they seemed foolish. In writing, in sharing our lives and our journey, I have most certainly learned volumes about myself, about the Lord, about motherhood, and about love...oh, and about fashion. Let's not forget fashion. Thanks to a couple friends, 2013 was the year I dared with more sparkle and bolder jewelry. 

Back to the other lessons, though, here are a few of my favorite posts that will continue to be food for thought as we dive into the days, months and year ahead.

1) Love Must Come First: I wrote this specifically as the battle over same-sex marriage took the forefront o my newsfeed. As I reflected on these words more recently, I realized that I left out the missive of St. Paul - if we have not love, we are but a clanging symbol. In the example of Pope Francis, I see most of all a return to this simple missive. All the Truth, all the moral certitude, all the right ways of being...they mean nothing and are nothing to someone who does not know the love of God. If we cannot first bring them that love, be that love and create an encounter with Love Himself, ain't nothin' in our arsenal gonna change a wayward man, woman or child. To know in the depths of my soul that my Savior loved me enough to die, to know that tangible and unconditional love was shown regardless of my sin and my brokenness, that keeps me striving to be better. Not a set of rules, not the catechism, not liturgical norms - love. The living, breathing Word of God, Bread of Life, Emmanuel - encountering His love and forgiveness and mercy...his unbelievable mercy that greets me every.single.time I fall and especially when I think I have fallen completely out of reach...THAT, my friends is what changes a soul. 

2) Living Life With an Eye on What Is: I listed this as one of the "mosts" posts of 2013. It is also one of my personal favorites because it reminds me that the world is full of false whispers. The devil loves to lure us in with his sweet, and more often not-so-sweet, nothings. As I re-read these words, I am always shocked at how badly I filter those whispers. I am quicker to recognize them now, but the bad is still easier to believe. We know, though, that what God creates is good, so we have to keep fighting against those whispers of darkness. We have to attune our ears to discern what is gentle and loving correction and what is a nasty lie. God's voice never questions our belovedness. God's voice never attacks our self-worth. God's voice never demeans our beauty or distorts it source. Here's to a year of hearing God's voice!

3) Ten Things I Never Want My Children to Hear: Taming the tongue is always a good habit. Re-reading this just convicts my heart about curbing some bad habits. I want these little minions to always be confident about who they are and whose they are, so I'd better work a little harder to make sure everything we do and say lends to that knowledge. 

4) Not So Random Acts of Kindness: Sometimes, in my book, semantics are everything. While we show random people kindness, in my view of things, our kindness is never random if we claim kinship with Christ. As the Auld song goes, "We'll take a cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne..."

5) 13 Things I Want to Teach My Children: It's always easier to think of the things you don't want to do, but in parenting as in all of life, much of what I pass on I must be intentional about creating. This list needs to go somewhere visible so I don't forget it when life's pace gets a little chaotic.

6) Love in the Time of Tolerance: If we are to show love in all things, we have to be clear on what authentic love is in a time when the word has been so terribly cheapened. Love is a verb, and it isn't an easy call. That selfless love that led Jesus to pour out his life for our sake is the love we are called to emulate - no flowers and chocolate for that...

7) Life is Like a Bowl of Oatmeal: I tagged this as my favorite post of the year in my "posts with the mosts" post (how many times can I write post?). As I head into the new year, I hope I remember that good things are worth waiting (and working) for - it's not InstaLife after all. 

8) 17 Ways to Honor Your Husband: It is so easy to get lost in the little children and leave the Hubs to settle for the scraps that are left. I don't know about you, but my Hubbers works very hard most of the year (he is a teacher so I call shenanigans on summer vacation). I LOVE how smitten Hallie is with her husband and how intentional she is to keep that romance and deep love at the center of her vocation. This is just a short list to help me do the same, because again, he gets the leftovers otherwise. 

9) Setting Beauty Free: Inspired by Verily Magazine and some flack they've gotten as well as my own issues with body image. I have to constantly remind myself that beauty is not a set of statistics or even a certain "look" - what God creates is inherently beautiful, so God don't make ugly. 

10) Fighting the Funk: I must stay smart in this new year and just give into the fact that the funk is going to happen. I've made myself a handy little list of things to remember when I start to dwell in the darker spaces of my head, provided I recognize that is where I am. One of the dangers of spending too much time on the web and in social media is the pitfall of only seeing everyone's highlight reel. I know I like to always put my best face/home/heart forward, but in the interest of authenticity, I think we have to all be more transparent. While writing sometimes falls by the wayside in the midst of a funky spell, it's important for me to share those spells because I know others struggle too. Life isn't always beautiful. It's often times a mess, much like our house, but it is a beautiful mess. Here's hoping we can share more of our hearts, our lives, our homes and our faith with an authentic spirit in 2014 (this doesn't mean I want to see anyone's dirty laundry, of course!).

Happy New Year to all of you from Casa McCormick!

The LORD bless you and keep you!The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!
Numbers 6:24-26

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