How many of us make New Year’s resolutions but fail to follow through? We resolve to lose weight and get healthy. We promise ourselves we’ll pay off debt and save money. We plan to give up habits detrimental to our well-being. Most of the time, most of us don’t accomplish what we yearn to do.
Why do we begin a New Year full of hope and promise, only to fall back on old habits and ways of thinking? Is it because we’re trying to accomplish our goals without the help of the One who has our best interests at heart?
Instead of resolutions, what if we made commitments? What would that look like for each of us? What if we saw ourselves through the eyes of God’s Holy Word? Would that make a difference?
Make spiritual growth a commitment
What if our first commitment was to grow spiritually? Would that lead to healthier physical and fiscal habits? Would we drop pounds and fatten our bank accounts so we were physically and fiscally able to help others?
Grumbling, I cracked the shell of another hard-boiled egg. Just like the others, it spidered into a web of tiny cracks, meaning I’d be dislodging tiny pieces of the shell while risking the tearing of the white part of the egg.
While making a dozen deviled eggs doesn’t bother me, I’d been asked to make three dozen for our large family Thanksgiving gathering. Attending would be in-laws, cousins and a host of aunts, uncles and grandparents.
My history with deviled eggs
I knew my history with making deviled eggs. They might taste good, but their appearance wouldn’t win a culinary beauty contest. Since this was the first time for me to attempt this many eggs, I looked on the Internet two days before Thanksgiving for instructions to make the hard-boiled eggs easier to peel. I’d heard of different methods but couldn’t recall any.
photo by Carol Round
Varying hues of red, gold and orange decorate my lawn. That’s why autumn is my favorite season. Watching the leaves change colors and drift to the ground is a reminder to count my blessings. If I couldn’t see, I would miss out on one of God’s gifts. I’m thankful for my eyesight.
Walking across my lawn, I hear the crackle of the shriveled brown oak leaves. While they’re not a thing of beauty, and the mess they create causes more work for me, they are a reminder of the blessings of hearing and an able body.
When I take a daily walk through my lakeside neighborhood, I continue to count my blessings. I love the scent of the neighbor’s burning leaves. I am thankful for the sense of smell.
Inhaling all God has to offer us in nature and being thankful each day for the simple things we often take for granted has made me more aware of how much He loves His children. When I stop by the cove near my house, I am in awe of the variety of birds He created. How could anyone not believe in a Creator God when viewing the diversity of wildlife, trees and flowers?
The sound of breaking glass made me cringe. I’d just broken my favorite pitcher because I was careless. I’d paid less than five dollars for it a yard sale. Its beauty had drawn me to part with my money.
Frustrated by my carelessness, I sighed as I cleaned up the mess of broken glass and spilled iced tea. When I cut my finger on a piece of the glass, I almost cried. I was tired. A lack of quality sleep the night before multiplied the incident into a disaster in my mind, until I reminded myself it was only a pitcher.
Later that day, I’d forgotten the pitcher, already tossed into the trash and ready for disposal. Then, I broke something else. I was digging in the dirt in preparation for some stepping stones in front of my backyard gate when I hit something solid. I bent down to remove several rocks and also encountered some tree roots. As I was hacking away at them with my shovel, I hit something else. Upon further examination, I realized I’d just severed my Internet line.
“Just great,” I thought. After cleaning up the mess, I called my Internet provider who informed me it would be the following Monday before it could be repaired. While I’d have to wait five days for the line to be fixed, the other bad news was the cost of the repair. I cringed when the company agent said, “It’ll be $149.”
“Oh well,” I said to myself, “there goes the three-day road trip I’d planned for the following week with my sister.”
photo by Carol Round
Summer flowers have died. Leaves are changing colors. Life goes on.
Seasons change in our lives. We experience cycles of trials and calm. Life goes on.
Many affected by the destruction of nature’s wrath this year are still struggling. But life goes on. Even then, we sometimes forget to recognize the extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary—and life goes on.
Sometimes we’re reminded of God’s extraordinary in the midst of our ordinary. A friend’s relative lost his home last spring in a Missouri tornado. Six months later, through the efforts of his small church family, he is almost ready to move into a newly constructed house. While funds for the construction have dwindled at times, leaving the crew wondering if they’d ever be able to complete the project, God has shown up in the midst of their uncertainty to reveal how much He cares for His children.
In a moment of divine intervention at an Arkansas baseball game, the leader of the construction crew met a stranger. During their conversation, he told her of the church’s efforts to finish the house. This woman was not just any stranger, but was from a neighboring Missouri town and was part of a church seeking to help tornado victims.
Today, I’m pressing on. It’s Friday morning. I’m in my usual spot facing my computer screen. I’ve prayed, “God, please give me the words to reach the people You want me to reach.”
When I began this journey, I had no idea I’d still be writing a weekly column almost 12 years later. I don’t share this out of pride but out of humility. While I’ve always loved writing and reading, my post-retirement plans from a 30-year teaching career didn’t include a weekly Christian column. But God had a better plan.
Recently, I was visiting with a fellow classmate. We both graduated from a rural Oklahoma high school in 1971. Like me, Duane doesn’t see retirement as a time to sit and rust.
When I speak to groups, I always share with them something I learned from a man who is still going strong in his 90s. When I first met Jack, he was in his late 70s. Because of my relocation to a new community, I was attending a different church and was changing my membership.
These people are not drowning today!” This thought entered Jessica Simmons’ mind when she watched as six members of a single family struggled after a powerful riptide had swept them away at a Panama City Beach.
Others had tried to reach the family in trouble, but each previous rescue attempt left more people stranded. A lifeguard was not on duty. A rescue boat had not yet arrived. People began to use boogie boards, surf boards and their arms and legs to attempt a rescue.
When someone shouted, “Form a human chain,” five people volunteered, followed by 10 more. Then dozens more joined as the rescue mission grew increasingly desperate. Simmons and her husband, Derek, swam past the 80 or so human link and headed for the stranded swimmers. The couple managed to reach the children first, passing them via the human chain toward the beach.
Nearly an hour later, through the efforts of the growing human chain, linked together with wrists, legs and arms, the last of the 10 stranded swimmers were rescued. One of the adults rescued said, “It actually showed me there are good people in this world.”
Whether all of the rescuers that day were believers or not, their selfless act should be an example to everyone. Through their unified actions, 10 people are still alive.