Don’t Miss These 4 Things When the New Year Brings Your Family a Fresh Start

The Christmas lights are down and the  bins have been put back up in storage. The tree is ready to go out to the street for pick up and most of the holiday food has been consumed!! Kids heading to California, New York, Nashville, Florida and Ethiopia. We have made 3 trips to the airport and have 3 more to go before everyone is where they need to be to start the new year!!  The good byes are hard, our  time together was so sweet, and it is unbelievable that Christmas is over and it is time to start again. I realize you may not have as many moving parts or the same kinds of changes but with a fresh start also comes the sadness of what we are leaving behind.
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Even though,  I love fresh starts!! I love them personally, for our family, our ministry, our community and our world. Only 4 days into January and we have already  had new decisions and changes that are defining for our family. We also have more unknown changes  coming that we are gearing up for.  What are you looking forward to with a fresh start to 2015? Don’t miss four important things when you consider your family’s fresh starts.
1)  A fresh start with what is really important in life. I am reading about minimalist living and what strikes me the most is that with less stuff to manage, we have more time for relationships with those who are important to us i.e. our spouse, our children, those we serve and taking care of ourselves.  And of course the most important relationship, our relationship with Jesus, which overflows into all of the above relationships and that is how God intends for us to live.  It is the way to contentment in whatever our circumstance may be. It allows God to use us to further His kingdom the way He sees fit!! As David and I get older, our vision becomes clearer in this area of what is really important. We are talking a lot about finishing well and David will  blog about that later this week. Please don’t let the urgent crowd out what is important in life!!
2) A fresh start with our goals. Whether it is a spiritual goal i.e. reading through the Bible in a year or memorizing scripture, or a health goal or a relationship goal, we have a chance to start again. To strive to either be more successful than last year or continue living in a way that gives us a sense of growth, health and passion.  I’m not talking about New Year’s resolutions, but solid heartfelt goals. Try to be characterized by how you work at living them out. Trust in the Lord and in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Don’t set yourself up for failure with goal setting. Start with some attainable quick wins and then work into goals that are challenging and worthwhile. Read through your goals often to remember your commitments to yourself and others. Help others in your family to meet their goals. Goals are a ways to measure growth, but they are also a great reminder of God’s goodness, mercy and grace in our lives.
3)  A fresh start brings a chance to take a quick look back at 2014 and see God’s hand in our lives. No matter what you have been through, how bad it has been, or how great it has been, a quick look back before moving on reminds us of the way God has moved in our life and our family’s life. We have been incredibly blessed and we have walked through some hard things this year personally and with others. There have been tears, anger, frustration, hopelessness, unforgiveness, bitterness and not trusting those that are closest to us.  Even through all these journeys, God has been with us. He has allowed us to see things we may not have seen otherwise. We have learned more about His character and we have a deep sense of His presence and nearness. Even if He does not answer the way we want or when we want, there is something learned in those situations. We have learned we are all part of God’s  big story and we all have a part to tell about what He is doing in us and around us.
4)  A fresh start allows us to get really excited about the possibilities for 2015!! Believe the best about those closest to you. Make sure you are clear with those that you may not be clear with. In other words forgive or seek forgiveness if needed.  Get organized, get ready, be available to all the Lord may have for you. Even if you are facing hard things this year, believe the Lord will grow and change you in ways  you could never have imagined. There are things you may not even be aware of coming your way. Instead of  worrying about the unknown, stay deeply connected to the One whom there is no unknown. There are times I know I spend more time worrying than being excited about the journey I am on. In those moments I can miss what the Lord is trying to teach me and grow in me. Let’s all try to be faithful to God’s plan for our lives, whatever that means. With eternity as a priority, I want to live excited about Christ and all He has for His followers this year!!
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Christmas breakfast – before they all began to scatter!
Please know I’m not trying to over simplify the start of a new year. I know we all can get stuck year after year, but it does not have to continue!! Step out, step up, and  step away… seek help, or a mentor, or a friend or Jesus in ways you never have before!! May 2015 be more than you have ever dreamed or imagined!! May the Lord bless you and keep you,