New Year, good-morning! Come and bring
Us days that smile and days that sing
Out from the drifts of swirling snow
That through the mirky midnight blow
And clutch with frosty hands and cling.
Hark! how the joy-bells chime and ring
Thy birth, and new hope set a-wing.
With hands outstretched you come; and so
New Year, good-morning!
– Alexander Maclean
My deepest conversations with Ari tend to happen in our walk-in closet. It’s a small space under the stairs, and, over time, two chairs somehow made their way in out of necessity. We often find ourselves there, tucked away from the ears of little ones, cozy in the hush of fabric around us. I had one such chat with Ari among the sweaters two nights ago.
In doing all of this end-of-year work of reflecting back, looking ahead, and setting new goals, sorrow grew without so much as a whisper of its presence. Grief sneaks up on me when I least expect it and comes out as feeling lonely, lacking a purpose, being bored, feeling like a failure in this new season of life, and, of course, missing Dad. Acknowledging what worked and what didn’t in the last year was, it turns out, a lot. I let the tears go with Ari there in our well-worn chairs. He reminded me, and as he does so well, that this had been an extraordinary and difficult year. I often need reminders as to why in the world I feel the way I feel. Oh yes, all of that happened – I somehow forgot! He told me to be easier on myself (I’m learning!) and have hope for the year ahead. I can’t lose my dad twice and transitioning my business this year can’t happen again either. I took comfort in that. There will be new challenges, but I learned and gained a new perspective in 2022. In the unexpected moments of sorrow that will inevitably creep up again, I trust I’ll grow stronger—and perhaps learn to see them coming.
Now you can see why the only place that came to mind for our prayer wall was in this closet. It’s the place of deep chats and denim. 🙂 I’m excited to have reminders of God’s faithfulness there as we experience whatever the year ahead brings.
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Here’s a quick look back at December before we move to the new year. My Mom came to be with us (my best Christmas gift and hers), the kids learned how to ice skate, Ari and I celebrated birthdays, I learned how to use my sewing machine thanks to Mom, and our more minimal Christmas was a joy. We all loved our handmade presents. Sarah made a funny book for Josh, Grace and Josh put together a Lego set for Sarah, Ari wrote poems for the kids, and I gave them the puppet theater I made over many weeks. My mom’s gift to us was wonderful meals each night she’s been here – a delight for all of us!
I tucked oranges in each of the kids’ stockings, a tradition from my grandfather’s family. Ari put a LaraBar in my stocking, a tradition from my Dad.
This is Ari opening the painting Josh made for him…
We used the Cultivate Advent scripture cards on our Christmas table and read them as we enjoyed my mom’s pot roast. I look forward to continuing this as a new Christmas meal tradition. Our sunny yellow cups were gifts from the Cultivate ladies several years ago. They aren’t available anymore, but they are the same cups used in this grapefruit candle, another favorite.
It was a meaningful and peaceful Christmas, just as Dad would have wanted us to enjoy together.
And now, onto the new year! Ah, January, I love thee. This is always a favorite month for starting new habits, trying new things, and refreshing my commitment to what matters most. I am SO excited about my 2023 PowerSheets goals and setting up a new Tending List.
My first monthly goal is to break down my 2023 goals, a.k.a. have a List-Making Fiesta! Maybe with some mariachi music, which I love. Here’s my list of lists (!) to make:
—A 2023 To-Do list. Various things don’t necessarily fit into my goals that need to get done. I’ve never made this list before, but I just started it today, and it has already cleared some mental space!
—A life skills for each kid list. I am excited about this and plan to ask various people in our lives for their input.
—Cooking skills to teach each kid list. They are at varying levels and with different interests. For example, Grace loves to bake, Josh loves allll the spices for savory food, and Sarah is learning motor control with making her breakfast on her own.
—Date ideas with Ari list.
—2023 trips list.
—Europe planning list.
—Books for Ari to read with the kids at night.
—Books for Ari and me to read together.
—Books to read for just me.
—Family devotional plan.
—Meal planning ideas for this season.
—Supplements for my best health list.
—Quiet time ideas list.
January also kicks off a new fitness plan. I am upping my weight training and doing a group coaching program, something I’ve never done before. I’m a little nervous but ready to push myself to get stronger.
Most importantly, I’m diving deeper into daily time in the Word. This will be a lot and take time and planning adjustments, but I’m prioritizing this and seeing where God leads me. I’ll use the In Every Season journals in the evenings, going through the entire Bible, and the Gospels Collection from Cultivate, walking through the Gospels alongside my New Testament reading plan this year. If I had to choose another word for the year besides “Healed,” I’d choose “Learn!” I hope to learn and grow my love for the Word.
This will be my first year using a paper planner for just me. We’ve used a planner for daily household items and the kids’ schedules in the past, but I’m grateful to use this to savor (and organize!) a new season of life for me, too, now. I’ll set it up a month at a time, trying different things as I go to notice God at work in my days and intentionally use the time I’ve been given.
None of the above will be done perfectly, and it doesn’t have to be! Most of all, I want to be present, generous, and faithful in this new year. I’m excited to see what the Lord has in store, and I’m grateful for right now. Happiest new year, friends!
Your turn! What are you focusing on this month? I’d love to hear.
It’s funny that you added the word Learn! I was thinking earlier this week that one list I want to make is all the things right now that I would like to learn. Anything and everything! Knowing of course we only have so much time to give and everything will never be possible.
Happy New Year! Love that you have Europe planning on your list. Yesterday I watched my favorite episode of Phil Rosenthal’s “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” when he and his family go to Italy (the DVD’s available at our local library) — the monologue at the end always brings me to tears. I asked my husband and kids if they’d like to go to Italy one day and they were all like “meh” :).
This month is mostly focused on seeing where my baseline is–making a new set snowball, keeping my same exercise routine, etc., so that I can see how things are going already and then plan how best to move forward!
Happy New Year Lara! Love your goals and reading about your December and Christmas memories. Sounds just what you needed and your family too! You are so good at reminding us to be kind to ourselves so returning it back to you also. Much love and hugs ❤️❤️