I love the New Year holiday. It feels like a fresh start and a time to reflect and set goals for me. This year I am late on getting the chance to really get alone with God, get deep into God’s Word (the Bible) and prayer, to journal and reflect on 2018, to set a spiritual focus/theme for 2019 and to consider new resolves to implement. I don’t just set my mind and resolves in January, but I really focus on them each year. I never have reached all my resolves perfectly, but I do see gains in my life for having set them.
I find it helpful to review the last year and realize what God has brought me through and helped me with. Some of the highlights of my 2018 were:
- Became a member of my new church in January and have been blessed and helped by getting to know and worship with my new church family.
- Got through more difficult, painful, expensive dental work (caused by Sjogren’s Syndrome) which finally concluded in September, including my first and hopefully my last dental implant and crown to fill the ugly gap in my front teeth, which so far, thank God, is successful. 15 months straight of horrendous dental work, with allergic reactions and much pain, was completed.
- A wonderful trip to the Big Island Hawaii with my husband, staying in Kona, in February.
- Caring for and hanging out with my granddaughters.
- Received a diagnosis of “autonomic nerve failure” / dysautonomia (caused by nerve damage from Sjogren’s Syndrome) which helps explain my dizziness, weakness, sick spells and other issues. It was expensive to obtain the diagnosis, and there is nothing much to do about it, but I proved that my own internet research is pretty accurate in self-diagnosis, which was affirming.
- Another wonderful trip with my husband to Seattle, Anacortes, and the San Juan Islands, staying in Friday Harbor, in June.
- Enjoyed a short trip exploring some of the coastal areas of the Olympic Peninsula, staying in Sequim, WA, in September.
- Took several day trips and short trips with my husband to various local spots-Astoria, Kalama and others. Explored and walked in many local parks. Blue Lake is a new favorite spot.
- Hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for family and extended family.
- Continued teaching private piano lessons to a few students.
- Continued being a full time homemaker/volunteer.
- I wrote a few blog posts.
- I utilized the gift of social media to help stay in touch with and encourage friends, and to keep my own online scrapbook of sorts.
- I made some slight gains and efforts in improving diet and exercise, but not nearly consistently enough.
- I continued daily devotions in the Bible and prayer by the grace of God.
- I focused on my theme of cooperating with God in my progressive sanctification process fairly consistently by the grace of God.
- I endured and trusted God through three new hard things that struck this year.
My focus last year was: To find out and execute how to be pleasing to God. In other words, cooperate more with God in obedience to His Word. This is a gradual process and not to be confused with my justification in Christ, which means all my sins are forgiven, and God already sees me as holy and is pleased with me. My studies on this topic were really beneficial, especially Jerry Bridges’ fine book, “Transforming Grace” which I highly recommend. Did I do perfectly on desiring to be personally holy and executing personal holiness? Of course not, but I believe there were many times when I chose to be obedient, took the high road, and chose behaviors and words that would make God smile instead of cringe. I prayed a lot over the course of 2018 for God to help me cooperate more. It also led me to pray this for others and for my church. Believers in Christ are called to make this pursuit of personal holiness a lifetime, day by day, pursuit so this will be an ongoing process for me for the rest of my earthly life. I received some criticism for focusing on this, being accused of too much self-introspection. But I believe God wants us to self-examine, look to Jesus’ perfect example, and keep praying and cooperating with Christ. Please pray for me and for the universal church. God’s grace will help us even as we cooperate and help ourselves (which is quite a paradox).
2018 was a good year and a gift from God. Anything good I was able to accomplish was by the grace of God, in the strength God provided, and all glory is due to Christ. Anything bad I did, I have fully repented of, and my forgiveness is secure. As a believer I simply cannot lose. I love that about God. I end the year (belatedly) amazed once again by the grace of God in choosing me to be a part of His eternal salvation plan. And I pray once again for everyone I know and love to find out how great and beautiful is this gracious Savior.