The Year of Not Yet

In true form, I am still reflecting on what-would-be resolutions this far into January. And I love it. I love coming back to my worksheets and planner and journal, cutting out things that aren’t priorities and adding things that have been needed, such as consistent Bible reading, studying, praying, and focusing on others. This afternoon, I pulled out my two favorite “new year” blog printouts: Beth Moore’s “Glancing Back Before We Move Forward,” and Tara-Leigh Cobble’s “The Ten.”

I wanted to share them with you, in part. First, Beth’s blog post on December 31, 2011:

“Spend a little time while today with Jesus begin very intentional about your last year. The changes. The ups. The downs. The hopes. The disappointments. The inconceivable grace of God. Something He brought you through that you were sure you couldn’t survive. Or something that has yet to come to resolution and what He has done even in the midst of the wait. Philippians 1:6 says that God will complete the work He started in us when He first saved us. That means for our whole lives long, change will be part of the agenda. Are we still changing? Are we still growing? Is there any evidence of growth over our last year?  These are important questions to ask ourselves before we get up tomorrow morning, put {2014} behind us (which is appropriate!) and embrace God’s goodness and grace toward {2015).  If you’re game, after spending those moments with God in reflection, write a comment to this post today using 3 words that have characterized {2014} for you. Tell us something that happened in your heart this year. I know that some of you have had a grueling 12 months and I don’t want you to have to fake it for our sakes, but please consider and express ways God has also shown His faithfulness to you. He’s good even when a season has been anything but.

I have had a hard time picking my 3 words to describe last year.

Last year, in some ways, was preventive. When you dare to dream, those dreams often get crushed. In many ways, I stopped hoping. Someone texted me last week and told me that he felt like he was supposed to tell me not to give up on my dreams. And you know? I realized that I didn’t have any. I had goals. I had passions. But dreaming? I was done with it. Our house was never built. My career promises never came to fruition. I lost people close to me. I believed for restoration for my family that didn’t come. I hoped for things in my marriage that didn’t happen. I was begging to see what God was doing. Even a glimpse would’ve been nice. But, in hindsight, God was preventing me from doing things I would later regret. He is so gracious.

In some ways, last year was paradoxical. When I held onto things, they seeped through my hands. When I tried to let things go, they stuck around. When I dreamed, my dreams got dumped. And, likewise, when I surrendered, I saw miracles happen. We stayed in our rental, and we love it better than the house we would have built. We sold the property we were going to build on and made a little bit of money, all the while thrilling the buyers, who had wanted to buy it when we did, but weren’t able to bid. When I prayed, my situation didn’t change, but I sure did. When I set out to make money, sitting jobs were canceled and people did me wrong and took advantage of me. But yet, when I stopped trying to make it happen and focused more on how what we had could benefit the Kingdom, jobs and money started coming out of nowhere. When I stopped forcing my husband into situations where I hoped he would feel comfortable, the Lord gave us an opportunity I thought he was sure to hate, and yet he has thrived in it. When I gave up on reconciled relationships, the Lord graciously mended them.

Over all, 2014 was parenthetical. And I knew it. The entire year, I felt like I was on the verge of something. It was a year of not yet. Waiting for the Lord to show up and work. Waiting for prayers to get answered. Waiting for a breakthrough. Learning to trust when I couldn’t see. Learning what walking by faith meant. The Lord renewed my hopes and dreams during this time. Not by fulfilling them or even giving me dreams, but by giving me permission to let HIM dream for me. His plans for us are better than we could ever plan for ourselves. In 2014, He allowed me to rest, to learn confidence in my identity as His child, to get filled up. For what, I didn’t know. And I still don’t have a complete picture. But that’s okay. Because we already know that He will complete the good work He started.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to reflect on last year. I often get strength from reflecting on the past and recognizing what God has done.

And as we move forward, this, from Tara-Leigh, on January 1, 2010:

“So when I woke in darkness on the first new mercies of this year, I asked Him, “What now?”

He took my hand, put my fingers to His lips, and quietly spoke Psalm 62:1-2 to me.
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from Him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.”

Then He repeated Himself, the way He does when He means business:
Two hours after He led me to those words, I found a tiny scrap of paper someone had written them on.

And so my New Year’s Resolution, if you can call it that, is to learn to wait for Him alone. I don’t know yet how to learn this, but I know that I have a patient, loving teacher.

I step into The Ten, lighter for lack of fear, heavier for weight of hope.

“All the waiting that I’ve done, all the waiting yet to do.” “

Sometimes, resolutions aren’t specific actions with hugely measurable results. Sometimes, they are quiet, unseen, unnoticed, powerful things that could silently change your life. So, amid your “try a new diet” and “clean the house weekly” and “be more social” resolutions, maybe add something quiet on there. Something like, “memorize a passage every month” or “pray for 10 minutes each day” or “write out three blessings every day” or “read at least two verses each morning” or “send one Scripture each day to a friend.”

Consider asking the Lord for a word and a verse this year. My word for 2015 is steadfast. Psalm 42:8 says, “By day the Lord commands His steadfast love, and at night His song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.”  Every day, I want to remember His love for me. I want my life to sing to Him and to glorify Him. And I want to continue steadfastly doing the things I know I should be doing, even if I don’t see immediate results.

His promise remains and He will be faithful. 

I resolve to believe that.

Holiday Recap

Confession: I really wanted to boycott Christmas this year.

If it weren’t for the fact that it was Jesus’ birthday and all, I wouldn’t even feel sacrilegious at all about it. 2014 flew by faster than any year before (in my lifetime), and it’s just not okay with me. Also, my friend Elisabeth and I made the trek to Pennsylvania at Thanksgiving (which I haven’t done in 16 years), and so that felt like Christmas. (Elisabeth says what we experienced can be referred to as “ThanksMas”. On the way back we were staring at Gingerbread Coffee signs like, “What’s up with that? Don’t they know Christmas is over?”) Needless to say, we spent December being tormented, as it were, by dementia of the worst kind because we were so sure it was January already and yet everyone kept insisting on buying presents like they were going out of style.

Did I mention that I work retail? Yes. And it was “January”.  And yet I was being trampled by the holiday crowd. These do not mix.

By December 15, I was in dyre need of some Christmas spirit. As in, I was getting MAD because everyone else was enjoying Christmas and I was left out. Like I was trapped in a time warp and the world was moving on without me.

NOT a good feeling, in case you were wondering.

God, as usual, came to the rescue. I can’t say that I was ever in traditional holiday spirits, but I did accelerate in joy due to a few key things that got me in the spirit. I thought I would share them with the helpless soul, who, like me, may need to remember them for a time when they could use an ounce of Christmas spirit.

1. Christmas tree shopping

One tradition I have never been part of is the cutting down of the perfect Christmas tree for the Daryl Hilsher household. They make a morning of it and go to the Oregon Dairy and eat breakfast. I almost did a jig when I saw that chocolate milk had unlimited refills at the breakfast bar, and I came close to asking the waitress to set a pitcher of it on our table next to the coffeepot.

Then, out into the freezing cold we went. We went to a FOR REAL Christmas tree farm and got to pick out the “perfect” tree and cut it down. The boys all shared the saw and took turns trying to fell the tree. It was quite fun, complete with a hayride to and from the tree field and a trip to the sidehouse to get some hot cider, which we consumed immediately, to the chagrin of our tongues.

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When we returned to Tennessee, my man and I went out in search of our perfect tree. (We did not go to a FOR REAL Christmas tree farm.) When you go to a friend’s farm, you are at the mercies of the tree. So, this is my Charlie Brown tree. I nearly cried when we brought it home, but after a touch of burlap and some presents underneath, I was quite pleased. Also, it managed to keep my Christmas stress down due to the fact that the branches could only hold 3 ounces each. So my tree was complete with 10 lightweight balls and a string of lights. Bingo.

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We went for a “Christmas-y” lunch with some friends at the local General Morgan Inn, and had our picture taken in front of a REAL tree. Bingo, again. (Of course I’m kidding… this is really our house.)

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As if Christmas wasn’t busy enough, I decided to invite a friend over for breakfast. She came bearing these beautiful packages. That wreath might never get packed away, just in case you’re coming to my house in the next six months. It may still be up. You’ve been warned.

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I met with my mentor at Catalyst Coffee Company and we shared these gifts over a lovely cup of spiced apple cider. She sympathetically listened to my Christmas woes. She made me laugh. And she pointed me to the Prince of Peace. She is almost like having my grandmother in town. I am assured that when they meet, they will be fast friends. (They might not even like me anymore.)

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I went to my nephew Michael’s Christmas program, and I loved watching the wee ones wave their arms and yell at the top of their lungs. If only I could be a kid again! Then maybe my Christmas spirit would come back.

(One song they failed to sing was my mantra for 2014:

Where are you, Christmas?? Why can’t I find you??)

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I also hosted a Christmas sock exchange at my house and that made me feel quite festive. We had a grand time together, eating and well, exchanging socks. Christmas-y ones. My niece Kayla and her grandma even ended up with the same pair of reindeer fuzzies! Neither of them seemed to mind. The evening digressed as my aunt and I concluded with our duet rendition of Elvis’s “Blue Christmas.” IMG_4794

You should be glad you weren’t there.

IMG_5106We welcomed Kate into the world (my cousin/niece) at the end of December, and there’s nothing like a baby to get you in some spirit! As Faith Hill says, a baby changes everything. We THINK she is the last of the Mohicans on the Hilsher side of the family (translation: the last grand young’n.)

Christmas Day presented a fun day for us all! We laughed a lot. And we loved the little beards that my aunt Brandy gave to all the guys!

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(I can hear it now, “Ya’ll need to start workin’ on those great grandchildren!” Gimme time, boys. Too busy enjoying all the other babies!)

New Year’s Day, I had some family over for a last minute brunch. This is our first year doing this, but we might make it a tradition! My Poppy forgot about it and ate breakfast before he came. When he asked for a raincheck, I said, “Sure! But you’ll have to wait until next year.”

That evening, my brother and his family and Brandon and I traipsed to Bass Pro Shop and we still aren’t sure why we did that. All I know is, shopping wears a girl out.

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This past weekend, I went with my mentor and sweet friend Debbie on our first post-Christmas shopping trip and we had a BLAST! We initiated the trip because we are both enamored with flocked Christmas trees and hoped to get one on clearance. Alas, we did not, but we DID find enough other good stuff to make up for it.

We had our last and final Christmas with my mom and brothers and sister this past Sunday. (We like to stretch celebrations out.) I was prepared for the event. Everyone was threatened within an inch of their life if they didn’t take a plate. I HAD to get those sweets out of my house.

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If they wanted gifts, they all had to eat a piece. They all obliged and not a piece was left untouched. This was Lacey’s first Christmas, and she was enamored with the wrapping paper.

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It felt fitting to take a group picture of all the ladies together, especially with my sister Caitlyn beginning her college adventure this coming week!

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It happened to be my half-birthday, but nobody remembered it. I’m still kind of sore about it.

Welp, that’s the end of my holiday recap! It’s hard to believe we stood in line for a roller coaster for 364 days only to have it only last a few hours. But I hope those few hours were meaningful to you and yours.

Thank you for your support, friendships, prayers, and feedback this past year. Here’s to a wonderful 2015!