Addy Grace Burtis wishes you a Happy New Year! I mean, have you ever? Yes, I bought her a tutu. I knew it was a good decision when my 22 year old co-worker saw her and responded, "Suddenly I feel like I need to wear a tutu." Yes.
Did you have as beautiful a December as we did here in Speculator, NY? Lots of white, piles of snow, frozen everything. Perfect. The exact opposite of December 2015. I couldn't be more thankful.
I hope you had a sweet, meaningful Christmas season as well.
All of our people were home with us and have since departed. But not before our annual after-Christmas family talk. It used to be centered around this box, given to us many years ago.For at least a dozen Christmases, all five of us wrote down on a piece of paper a gift we planned to give Jesus that year and put it in the box. It's fun to read them years later.
I promise not to tease my sister anymore.
I promise not to freak out at my brothers.
I want to pray everyday.
I will read the Bible through this year.
I will try to obey my parents.
I want to share my faith more.
And so many others....
Now that our littles are grown, we've modified this tradition a bit. Based on conversations with friends who inspire, Scott and I challenged ourselves and our kids on Thanksgiving to show up at Christmas ready to name and pursue specific spiritual disciplines in 2017. Our birthday gift to Jesus.
To get us thinking, a few examples I'd heard from others:
The spiritual discipline of not having to have the last word.
The spiritual discipline of arriving early.
The spiritual discipline of a daily quiet time.
The spiritual discipline of underspending.
(I started one early and daily through Advent, just to get into the groove - the spiritual discipline of hand writing a note to someone who matters to me. Specifically, those whom I haven't been in contact with in a while.)
I fully enjoyed remembering and telling each recipient what they've added to my life. Then I prayed and wrote what I was praying for each so they could know. Result? Fixed my mind on others through the entire month. Not to mention, I later learned, God would have many receive the note on a day when they particularly needed to know He was aware of them. He is so good!
You may have noticed that almost none of the list above are spiritual at first glance, but I'm a firm believer that if we attempt anything with the intent to find God and display His reflection, it becomes spiritual.
All six kids agreed to participate. Fast forward to New Years night, our last together for awhile, the great reveal.
We didn't want this to be a private thing, but rather a family gesture that we could pursue collectively, agreeing to check in on each other.
The conversation started slowly, but ten minutes in and the kids were naming healthy behaviors faster than I could write them down. (We all know if we don't write down a resolution/goal, we'll forget it two weeks in. Am I right?)
I love what they want to work on, weaknesses they struggle with perhaps. I marvelled at their honesty and vulnerability. I'm inspired by them.
Are you curious? Ok, you twisted my arm, here are a few:
The spiritual discipline of talking to Jesus before I talk to any other person when I'm hurt or upset.
The spiritual discipline of giving everyone the benefit of the doubt.
The spiritual discipline of not judging or assuming the worst.
The spiritual discipline of offering grace to everyone, especially those closest.
The spiritual discipline of reading books that will help my faith grow.
The spiritual discipline of not always putting my headphones in, but embracing the sounds or silence around me.
The spiritual discipline of journaling thanks.
Next, I read a little something that flowed from my pen into my journal earlier that morning as I considered the beginning of a new year.
Going into 2017, this I know for sure
Jesus loves me.
God is in control of everything that concerns me.
The Spirit is with me no matter what.
God's faithfulness and purpose will lead me.
Goodness and mercy will follow me.
In Him I already have everything I need.
I have nothing to fear.
I think it's good to write down what we know. To prepare our minds. Like every calendar year, many things happen to us - good, bad and ugly. I don't want to lose my footing in 2017.
A collective cracking up ended this holy moment as Addy Grace took to blowing raspberries while all our heads were still bowed and eyes still closed.
A baby changes everything you know.
P.S. Naturally, because I'm an annoying type-A woman (don't you feel sorry for them?), this happened and found their way into the suitcases.
Parents of grown or almost grown children, don't stop guiding or including your kids in your own spiritual pursuits. Their participation might surprise and delight you.