Move On 2020

This is the picture of a sign at Times Square in NYC, December 31, 2020. It’s how many feel about the tumultuous year we’ve experienced.  Please, just move on and go away!  We are tired of the drama and are ready for a new year.

It’s been a year fraught with difficulty and challenges. I don’t know if you were devastated by the year or only inconvenienced. Maybe you’re someone who thought COVID19 was a conspiracy drummed up to “throw” the US election or you may be one who accepted it simply as a virus to be avoided at all costs. Regardless of how you view the virus and this year, you will benefit by taking time to stop and reflect on lessons learned.

What has benefited you? Can you find the good? For example, I know of a family (parents with adult kids living in 4 different states) who have “zoomed” weekly and connected like they hadn’t in years of seeing each other only once or twice a year at a holiday. Another family, also spread across the country, do a virtual monthly “catch-up”, cousins, uncles, parents, grandkids all join the call. Together on the video chat they sing and pray; they laugh and tell funny stories. What a delight for them to join in and be connected in ways they didn’t before 2020.

What did you do this year you hadn’t before? Maybe you’ve taken up bread baking or propagating houseplants. If you have school aged kids at home, maybe you’ve brushed up on long-division. Sure, there’ve been tough parts, but it’s nice to remember some of the good as well. In what ways has God has shown his faithfulness to you? Have you walked more closely with him this year?

“…for a little while you have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire may be proved genuine…” I Peter 1:5-7

You’ve faced trials and difficulties. It’s important (and okay) to face these challenges and evaluate what you’ve accomplished. It may help to write out what made you sad or areas you hoped for that were not realized. Take time to remember people lost to the virus. Consider the loved ones you are missing deeply right now. It helps to acknowledge the pain you’ve walked through and give yourself a pat on the back of how you came through it.

But as the sign says, “Move On 2020”.  It’s time. Gauge how you did this past year in particular areas, and then make plans for a fresh start for 2021. Here are some areas to think about:

Spiritual walk with God – goals to grow, what to read, walk with others on similar path, allow help, keep as a priority.

Relationships – plans to deepen, forgiveness where needed, set priorities, start fresh, rekindle.

Finances – have a plan/work the plan, think about discontentment or greed, deal with bad habits, debt reduction, perhaps meet with financial expert.

Physical health – workout regimen (something new?), nutrition, regular checkups (medical, dental, vision).

Mental health – any issues with anger, bitterness, worry or depression? (Pursue help if needed). What books might be helpful?

Career or Education – what is end goal? Steps to reach this, new dreams, time management (not procrastinate, watch behaviors that distract such as social networking, tv, hobbies…)

The list isn’t conclusive, but simply a springboard to begin the thoughts. What matters is to take the time today or this week to write out ways you will move forward into a victorious new year. Make progress. This is the goal, not to attain perfection, just small steps forward.

This is one of my favorite quotes:

“A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today.” (Karen Lamb)

Time to move on.

Three Black Crows

From my favorite writing spot at my kitchen table, I hear an awful racket outside and see three large black crows have descended on our pecan trees. The tough green husks of the pecans are opening as the nuts ripen and the tree readies for winter. The crows are certainly excited about this “opening” which enables them to release the pecan shell from the husk, carry it with their beak to the ground, peck it open and revel in the sweet nut inside. What a feast! And what a racket! Not sure exactly if I should be doing something to put a stop to it? It suggests a whole new meaning to the word “scarecrow”, and I wonder if such a thing might work? Has anyone ever placed a scarecrow in a tree?

The trees are tall, I certainly can’t reach all the pecans. I mean, how many pecans can they eat? Yet, with all the racket, every crow across the county will be in my trees shortly. I honestly don’t know what to do about them. So, I sit here, bemused by their antics.

“Openings”. It’s worth considering a deeper dive. What openings lay before us, from which we might find benefit? Maybe a chance to share your personal faith with someone who is seeking? An opportunity to encourage or serve someone in a tough spot? What openings has God put in your life? Is there a chance to resolve a conflict or to forgive someone? Have a vital conversation? Is there a promotion opening at your job, could you apply? Is there a needed change, could you make a start? I’m convinced we have many opportunities regularly coming into our life, but they are easy to miss if we don’t pay attention or if we allow our fears to reign and hold us back.

I have a friend who frequently encourages me to “listen” for God, to hear his prompts and pay closer attention to his guidance in my life. Doing so requires me to be still, be silent and demands me to take time to wait, to allow him to work. Not always easy, yet the more I do this, the more I feel confident in my choices, and more ready to take advantage of the openings provided. And then what a sweet feast of security I enjoy – and what opportunities come my way!

How about you? What “openings” have been given to you today? Take a minute to consider them and the blessing that may come if you reach out to take ahold of it.