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new beginnings
And He Who is seated on the throne said, “See! I make all things new.”

~Revelation 21:5 AMP






2012 was a rough year for our family. Lots of change—some good, some bad. Because of this, my two oldest daughters (both adults) decided to usher in 2013 with matching tattoos to remind them this year would be one of new beginnings.
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Our family heritage is a mixture of German, Scottish, Welch, and Swedish, with the majority of it being German. So it was fitting that their tattoo, a balloon (which represents soaring), has a string scripted into the word “anfangen,” which means “to begin” in German.

“Begin” is an action word. A word that holds promise and newness. A word that says if you messed up you can start over. Dictionary.com defines “begin” this way:

  1. to proceed to perform the first or earliest part of some action; commence; start
  2. to come into existence; arise; originate:
  3. to proceed to perform the first or earliest part of
  4. to originate; be the originator of
  5. to succeed to the slightest extent in

To me, “begin” means no matter how rough today is, no matter what fire we walked through yesterday, no matter what storm we have to face tomorrow, God has a plan of new beginnings for our life—full of hope, forgiveness, and promise.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” ~Jeremiah 29:11

As you enter into this new year, remember God will never leave you nor forsake you. He will be there for you with GOOD plans—plans to prosper, not harm, you, plans to give you hope and a future. Plans for new beginnings.

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Lord, as I walk into this new year I ask that You walk with me. I ask that You help keep my eyes focused on You and not on present circumstances. I thank You for the grace You extend me and the new beginnings You present me with each day. Your love for me is great, O LORD, and Your compassion never fails. It is new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness!

 

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ugly_Christmas_sweaterFinally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.  ~Philippians 4:8-9 NIV




This year my adult children decided to add a new tradition to our family Christmas gathering: the wearing of an ugly Christmas sweater. Not just any ugly Christmas sweater, an embellished ugly Christmas sweater. Needless to say, I can’t post some of the ideas that floated by.

While I’m all for family traditions, I was a bit resistant to this new idea at first. After all, in the past it’s been us, not the kids, who have set the standards for family Christmas traditions. Yet the kids reminded me that it’s time for them to start adding their traditions to the mix.

Watching my children and grandchildren grow up and take over holiday traditions is bittersweet. It means learning how to let go of what was mine and allowing my grown up kids make it theirs, even if the tradition isn’t exactly the same. It means allowing them to make their own memories–memories that will, one day, be passed down to their children and children’s children. It means pondering the past in order to make room for the future.

Sometimes I wonder how God does it. Ponder the past to make room for the future, that is. He weaves a tapestry so intricate that every detail is planned out from beginning to end, leaving enough room to stay the same yet grow. Even during those times in our life when we feel we’ve worn an ugly Christmas sweater for more years than we’d like to admit, God, in His grace and goodness, is somehow able to turn that “ugly” sweater into something beautiful.

As you contemplate Christmas this year, as you reflect on traditions past and dream about traditions to come, remember no matter how things change, no matter if one year you find yourself wearing an ugly Christmas sweater, God is still there and has a wonderful plan for your life. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He will not let go of you. For He is a God of promise and hope.

LORD, help me let go as I pass the baton of tradition onto my children. Let me find joy in watching them make it theirs rather than resting in the sadness of knowing it’s no longer “mine.” Help me trust that You have tomorrow all taken care of and that Your plan is perfect and flawless. Teach me, O LORD, how to rest in today while pondering the beauty of yesterday and anticipating the hope of tomorrow. Your plans never fail, LORD. For 6,000 years ago when the world failed You, when the tradition You desired for man was stripped away by sin, even then You had a plan–a plan for redemption to come along 4,000 years later. A plan to start a new tradition while not forsaking the old. A plan that started with God coming to earth in the form of a baby…

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