New Beginnings, New Ideas

newbeginnings

My mother spent Christmas with Dennis and me. On Christmas Eve I drove to her cute little southern town to help her to my car, my hand on her elbow to steady her, with her little quilted overnight bag, purse and coat safely resting in the back seat. After locking up her house and securing her seat belt we made the return trip arriving just before dark.

Six weeks ago, on her 91st birthday, my mother fell in her tiled bathroom. She hit her head on the descent, and needed stitches just above her eyebrow. Though now mended, her sweet face was left covered with dark purple bruises for almost a month. Gratefully, she didn’t break any bones and is recovering well.

But she is feeling insecure. My father died in 2012, and she lives alone in their home. Understandably, she’s afraid she might fall again.

While her body is weakening, her mind is sharp. We talk about the weather, politics, family members, books she’s reading, and the Andy Griffith show that she watches with regularity. She works in her church’s food pantry, handing out bags of food for the homeless and poor on Monday mornings. On Tuesdays, she sits behind a desk in the church office and answers the phone.

Watching her age, reminds me of unchanging truths. Death is unavoidable. No matter how much we exercise, control our diet, use hand sanitizer, or lather on essential oils, death is certain.

I feel a growing sadness as I watch her losses accumulate. I also feel my own anxiety, knowing I’m a few decades behind on that same path.

Happily, however, I’m reminded of another unchanging truth. God delights in new beginnings. Restoration is and always has been His specialty. My mother’s constant pain in her back, her arthritis, her bad knee, and a multitude of other maladies I don’t know about because she rarely complains, will all be changed. Her failing, earthly body will be made new one day soon.

So it is with each of us as we face a new year.  We each walk simultaneously toward death and new beginnings.

God has already gone ahead of us into both heaven and 2017. What looks like a great unknown, a blank slate, a fresh start is known by Him. He is there. Jeremiah told us God knows the plans that He has for us (29:11).

Even more wonderful is God’s never-ending creativity in all He does. He doesn’t simply restore. He upgrades. All things become new.  He didn’t stop being creative when He rested on the seventh day in Eden. No, He’s endlessly, giving us new life, new ideas, new dreams for our souls.

As our team at Ever Thine Home looks ahead to 2017, we are asking God to call us forward down the path He wants us to walk. We want to be led by His Spirit to learn, create, and grow for His glory and His pleasure.

He certainly is growing me and I’m so very grateful! In September, I joined Dannah Gresh in a live Facebook discussion on prayer. Many of you watched and said you’d love more conversations on prayer. With that encouragement we decided to make prayer a new focus. Each Wednesday’s Ever His prayer post will be on how to pray.

Before you feel too excited to hear teaching from a valiant prayer warrior, my first reaction when my editor and friend, Tracy, suggested this was to explain that prayer isn’t my forte. In fact, I’ve felt like a failure in prayer, more than just about anything else in the Christian life.

Don’t worry. I’ll share many of these failures from my forty-five plus years of walking with Jesus, as will Janel who will continue to author Ever His prayers twice a month.  As we talked about this idea together as a team we reminded ourselves God doesn’t expect perfection of us before we can be of help to others.

We are praying God will stretch and teach all of us, you our faithful readers and us, in the stunning relationship we have with the eternal Creator God through prayer.

One truth I know is that growth in relationship with God always starts on the inside, with getting our own hearts right. So in January, we’ll start with you: the woman, wife, mom, sister, daughter, aunt, grandma. I’ll share lessons learned on how to pray for yourself and offer a sample prayer for you to practice. From there, we will move to prayers for our marriages, children, homes, neighborhoods and communities, and then to our world.

In July, we will move our focus from talking to God to listening to God. For several years I have been learning about the Holy Spirit—who He is and what He does. It seems that we believers are mostly ignorant of this person in the trinity. Sadly, we are missing the joy and delight of hearing His voice and knowing His intimate leading of us. Let’s learn together to hear and follow Him in the coming year.

Twice in the Bible God tells His chosen ones to eat the pages of a scroll on which was written His eternal Words of truth. Both times, these godly men experienced a sweet taste in their mouths. God’s Word isn’t just good for us like medicine, which often tastes bitter. It’s good for us like a tasty treat because the results of following God are pleasant and satisfying.

So in January we’ll offer a new feature called “A Spoonful of Sugar.”  Watch for one single verse posted each Saturday. It will be God’s word beautifully designed, by our very own Kristi, with a very short commentary. We’d like to offer you a bite-sized treat of God’s unchanging truth to nourish your soul at the end of each week.

As you begin the following new week, this verse can become a snack you share with your family. Post it in your kitchen to meditate on its sweetness all week. We will share some ideas for how to each sweet bite of scripture to your children too.

Remember my 91-year-old mother? She’s nervous to continue aging, but her hope is founded on the promise that God will one day restore her body. He will welcome her to a new home with Him forever.

I echo this same hope. God’s Word gives me the same sweet assurance. I’d love for you to hold to this hope too. Will you join me in 2017?

We’ll learn more about Him, discover a deeper relationship, and know a greater joy and fulfillment in following Him.

Welcome, 2017. We will step through this new threshold with hope because we know Jesus is beckoning us into the days He’s already prepared.

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35 thoughts on “New Beginnings, New Ideas”

  1. Barbara,

    Thank you for the post. Praise The Lord! He will never fail us, even as we fall.
    Looking forward to following the prayer lessons.
    Blessings and a Happy 2017,

    Angela Kerr

  2. To God be the glory. I have been back and forth about what devotions and study I should follow in 2017. I need this. Thank you Barbara for this. I struggle in the area of fervent prayer. My husband and I attended AWTR in November (king of Prussia) and since then I’ve been receiving your emails. They have truly been a blessing to me. I look forward to this journey and to strengthening my prayer life and walk with Christ.

  3. This is the first time I have ever read anything from you. I was looking at my email and I opened this one. I’am a christian, and have been for 43 years now. Thank you for the encouragement, I really needed it. I will be following your prayer group. God bless you. Delilah Blair

  4. That’s always a hard perspective to believe in. Death is one of those things that we as humans run from at all costs, but as Christians we must embrace as the gate into eternity with God.

  5. Thanks. I am so encouraged by your post today. I look forward to learning how to pray for myself. I look forward to learning how to teach my children to pray. This is such a timely teaching.

  6. I too want to step into this new year with”hope”. Thank you for your words of encouragement and i look forward to a focused year on prayer.

  7. Praise to our God!Thank you Barbara I am new to your site I just started getting your site sent to my phone and this is the first story so to speak and truly touched my heart I will be so looking forward to the new ones I receive

  8. Jeanette Mericle

    I am so excited to read what Ever Thine Home has planned for 2017! Everytime I read the next days post, I’m blessed abundantly. The Lord has called me out of a 15 year carreer to focus on homemaking. This has been a hard transition for me, but I’m reminded each time I read your post why homemaking is so critical. Thank you for doing what you do. I’m praying for all of you carrying this ministry into the world!

  9. I too look forward to your posts- it is exciting to know God has all things in control for 2017- we just need to trust in Him- I struggle with being a good prayer warrior so this will be good for me- thank you

  10. Thank-you for sharing this preparation, how it came about and the inspiration for a journey in reading God’s word and praying. God bless your mother and God bless this work as we will all be together in “New beginnings” ! – Pam Kromer

  11. Beautiful post. I hope to finish strong and faithful like your precious mom! Love ETH’s 2017 priorities! Look forward to joining in!

  12. Thank you , Barbara.
    This is an answer to prayer. My husband and I were new empty nesters when the house next door to my 88 year old father, (through what can only be described as divine circumstances) came up for sale. After prayer and discussion with my husband, Dad and siblings, the family purchased it. For ten months now I’ve been living 300 miles from husband and home. The plan is for him to join me, but the Lord hasn’t made that possible just yet.
    The separation,while very challenging, has deepened our walk with the Lord. I know your blog will be another avenue for Him to strengthen and encourage me as He demonstrates His power and gets the glory!
    I am praying for your mother. She is a true gem :-)
    Thank you for this blog, Barbara. It’s the only one I follow. The Lord definitely uses it for His glory. Praise Him!

  13. Marjorie Gillies

    thank you for your insightful words, so encouraging !
    Because of a spinal deformity when born they predicted that my mother who attained the height of 4’8″ down to 4″6″ in final years, would never live beyond 10 then 16 then never marry and have children because by then her hip overlapped her ribs 1 1/2″ and probably could never carry a child.
    She bore 5-8# babies and outlived 2 husbands entering heaven at the age of 80. A mighty gal that nourished us 5 to the fullest.
    Will share in prayer for your mother as she continues to nourish!

  14. My pastor’s wife’s mother also fell in her bathroom and blackened one eye. Ironic that your mother is experiencing the same pains. They worry that she will not be able to live in the little yellow condo apartments by herself much longer. Same worries from a different daughter in Indiana. You are not alone in your worries. I pray to God that he will heal her pains. You are certainly a blessing to her.

  15. Barbara,
    That message about aging parents certainly resonates with us too.. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this timely subject..
    Blessings in 2017.. Your adornments are still all around our house.. I gave many as gifts-keep on creating please..
    Susie in Conway

  16. Thank you for the encouragement that you give to us women, moms, wives, daughters, parents, Grandmothers. Looking forward to 2017 with you!! God bless you!!

  17. Thank you for sharing and being honest about your struggles with prayer. I actually was writing down goals for the new year this morning and wrote – woman of prayer. I pray, but something’s missing. Anxious to travel his path of prayer with you.

    Dawn – a fellow pilgrim.

  18. Like you, prayer is where I fail the most as a Believer. I’m so encouraged already that you are focusing on prayer this year. As a Pastor’s wife, I have many things to be praying for. I need this “Iron sharpening iron,” push. Thank you!!

  19. Oooo!!! I am so excited to focus on prayer!!!! I long to spend time with Him in prayer, yet often fall short. I am thankful that He is a God of restoration and new beginnings, as you wrote. I am looking forward to this journey. Thank you for all you do.

  20. Count me in! Can’t wait to learn more so my relationship with Jesus will become stronger and deeper. Your words this morning are just what I needed!

    God bless you and your ministry!

  21. Count me in. Your family story mirrors some things we too are walking through. Thank u 4 sharing. Will keep her in prayer, God bless her.

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