My Christmas tree is still standing in the corner of my living room, and it is very possible that it will be there when you read this. Our family is not one that decorates for Christmas as soon as the Thanksgiving dishes are done and before the leftovers are gone. Years ago, one of our children asked us to wait until after their birthday before we set up our tree- meaning that I have not had my fill of enjoying the lights and special family ornaments by January 1 or even the weekend after.
Over time I have come to identify the week following New Years, when many of us take a break from extra activities and evening obligations before resuming our “normal” routines, as almost an “at home” spiritual retreat. I have more time set aside to “be” with God. Although I have had years when the post-Christmas week was full of Christmas afterglow and heartfelt peace on Earth and goodwill for mankind, recent years and, this one in particular, has seen a new “normal” settle in. This year, in the midst of praise and rejoicing, I mourned the loss of a very special friend, which was hard. I also asked God to do some examining of my heart, which meant God and I shared some difficult, honest conversations that included some hard-to-hear responses and firm redirection to match my heart with His and put me more in step with Him.
Whenever I took the opportunity to be vulnerable during this season, God demonstrated, again, that He is trustworthy with the topics that I often try to avoid or hide from. Vulnerability is a critical component in any intimate and growing relationship and my “retreat week” has encouraged me to step back into “normal weeks” with renewed awareness that it is important (crucial) for me to fit weekly Bible Study into my schedule. He also reminded me that he has made me passionate about Safe Families for Children, with a purpose that also requires prioritizing, and has stirred anticipation to get away to meet with Him again! He answered my desire to know him deeper, love him more, and be reminded how deeply He loves me.
We often look at the beginning of a new year as opportunity for positive change and new or renewed habits and priorities, despite past efforts and failures. I’d like to invite you to spend some personal time with God asking how He is calling you to have a deeper relationship with Him, not as a list of chores or resolutions based on your successful participation, but rather trusting that He has covered all your failed efforts and failures to make an effort because He loves you deeply!
Also, in the event that this would be helpful to you as well (for you ladies out there), I wanted to let you know it's not too late to join our Tuesday Women’s Bible studies. We will be studying The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ both Tuesday mornings and evenings. And because God has stirred up my passion for Safe Families for Children (SFFC), if I run into you, I’d love to take a few minutes of your time to share how this organization is partnering with DHS to help families in crisis. It’s amazing, and our faith community is going to increasingly be on mission with SFFC in our city. Finally, if you are looking for other ways to grow and serve, you can check out our church website, www.pdxchurch.org, for a comprehensive list of opportunities.