Happy New Year! We at “The Church Girl Writes” want to be the very first to wish you the best blessings that God can bestow up on you, that you will be healthy, wealthy, prosperous, and wisdom…

*record scratch*

Can we just stop the expected, placating niceties for a minute?

The truth is, 2018 could end up being the best or worst year of your life.

How do we begin to reconcile and accept all that God has purposed for us, no matter what the year holds? When it’s good or when it’s not-so-good, how do we walk in obedience? Can we trust Him even if the worst-case scenario plays out in front of us?

Taking inventory of the past and looking forward to the future. (Photo Credit: Kim Harris)

There are certain things I accept, even the not-so-good, because it’s just how God wanted them to be, even if they don’t seem to make sense.

I can accept that I have big ears, buck teeth and that, other than my sister, Anne, I am probably the smallest person in my mother’s entire extended family of Nordic giants. When we played volleyball when I was young, they made ME the volleyball. When we have family photos, we look like our cousins’ children’s small children.

(Where did those height genes GO for us, Dear Annie?)

The Elder cracks me up. #heehaw (Photo Credit: Kim Harris)

When I laugh, I laugh BIG, like a donkey braying. It has to do with the teeth and ears, I think.

I’m okay with it.

Sort of.

Well, when I think about it, have I really come to terms with my horizontal, physical or laughter shortcomings? I keep my hair long, wear four-inch heels almost everywhere I go, and try not to smile too big or laugh too loud in public…hmmm. #compensation?

Here’s another one: I identify as a Christian, yet, at times, I still act like a God-forsaking heathen, especially when it’s stressful, like around the holidays or my family. And who am I kidding? I’ve lost it far too many times as a parent, too.

(But that’s when I praise God for the Resurrection and repent, reconcile, rinse, and NOT repeat.)

Only God knows why He made me this way. But He did.

Then, there are certain things I don’t know if I’ll ever reconcile in my mind. These are usually on “best” and “worst” lists at the same time.

  • Being single-parented but not being a single parent.
  • The humiliating, horrific and fateful year at West Point Military Academy when I met The Elder. (Among the many insults and abuse I endured there, one of my first was when the barber DRY CUT my long hair–Whaaaaat? Yes, this is me making light of one of the worst years of my life.)
  • Why the Elder ever fell in love with me with mud on my face and uniform, the worst perm on short hair the world had ever seen (think: Jiffy Pop popcorn), and tears in my eyes as I was hazed as a plebe in Basic Training and throughout the school year.
  • How, when I was so far away from God, unsaved and unbaptized, on the brink of suicide at age 27 dealing with my past childhood abuse and abandonment issues and on the brink of ruining our marriage completely, the Lord kept my light from extinguishing and saw fit to keep me in this world to shine His Light for others. (The second worst year of my life–exhaling and praising Jesus for this one…the struggle was real…)
  • Having a baby two years later (after #infertility for ten) and finding life in Christ because of the life He allowed us to bring forth from my womb.
  • Adopting our daughter from Ethiopia and traveling to East Africa to meet her and her birth mother.

    My Ethiopian and her cute Swedish “Mor-mor”  (Photo Credit: B. Mackenzie)
  • Not growing up in faith or going to Bible college, yet working inside the Church at my dream job steeped in biblical research and helping with sermons for an incredible team of preachers.

With Christ, the best can come out of the worst circumstances. How?

We have to KNOW HIS CHARACTER, because we KNOW HIS WORD, and through it, we KNOW HIS SON. And sometimes, when I am hanging on by a thread of hope trying to find His good in all the bad that happens, when I am desperately searching for #JesusinEverything, it’s when I KNOW HIS PEOPLE that I am caught up in the great cloud of witnesses and when they encourage me to run the race marked out for me.

See, God is not only great, He is good, too. God is not only in control and all powerful, but He is merciful and kind as well. The Lord has been good to me, so very good to me, and this I see this most clearly birthed out of the suffering and pain of His Son–His grace, love and reconciliation at Calvary by the blood of Jesus.

The apostle, Peter, says this:

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4: 12-13)

No matter what kind of year 2017 was or how 2018 is going to treat us, we didn’t have to wait until #NYE2018 to make resolutions. With Jesus, every single day, every single second, is an opportunity.

It’s not the clock nor the calendar, nor anything else that can make a difference in our lives this year. We make an infinite number of choices every day: forgive or not forgive, release or hold on, include or exclude, reconcile or hold the grudge, love or hate, take or give, to offer or withhold…and the list goes on. But it is by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that we have the power to change our lives, our futures, and eternity now and forever.

It comes to down to one thing: Follow Jesus.

Live #fearlesslyauthentic to what you believe in 2018, Christ-Followers! Worship your King in honesty, with no holds barred! Be free to question and wonder and reconcile, searching the whole and complete counsel of Scripture, all of our doubts and hopes and fears.

Jesus is big enough.

He. Is. God.

Follow Him.