I love the catastrophe that is my kitchen during the holiday season. My post-Christmas counters are packed with half-empty San Pellegrino bottles, Rubbermaid containers filled with breakfast cookies and dried out gingerbread houses stuck to cardboard foundations. My cabinets hold fresh containers of ginger, cream of tartar, nutmeg and sprinkles as evidence of a season most fully enjoyed.
I learned a few new things this holiday season. Number one, mashing potatoes with a food mill produces the most perfect and glorious potato; and two, watching the delight of my toddler grandchild decorate Christmas cookies with a chubby handful of sprinkles is a cuteness from which I will never recover.
As is my custom, I spend the last few days of December shuffling around my kitchen in slow-motion pajama’d reflection.
2017 has been a year, hasn’t it?
This picture of my niece says it all. It’s my absolute favorite image from this year. Someone thought tiny, round Velcro balls that “stick to each other and build like no other” were a good earthly idea for kids. My niece proved otherwise. What a glorious, jaw-dropping mess.
As a whole, I’ve not seen a more volatile and fractured chaotic atmosphere in all my years. I’ve watched as loved ones experienced the heart-stopping joys of holding newborn babes while enduring grief and bitter losses. I’ve experienced my own deeply personal disappointments mixed with exquisite gain and have learned firsthand how disappointment can be as sticky as the eggwhitepowderedsugarcreamoftartar gingerbread glue I whipped up for mortar a few days ago. For some of us, 2017 just came really, really hard.
At the intersection of excruciating heartache and beautiful, joyous grace, I discovered and re-discovered the hope found Jesus alone. In contrast to the ugly underbelly of mean, my gaze was lifted by the beauty of His daily presence. Once again I discovered the answer to the pain and grave injustices of this life is found in Jesus alone. In the midst of every broken situation and sorrow and there is certain hope.
The hope of Jesus brings life and joy and rest and peace for this beautiful, broken life.
2017 reminded me that I still have much to learn, and I’m paying attention like never before. In the coming days, I’ll face a New Year with renewed prayer, attempted clean-eating and expectancy. I will likely post something about Isaiah 43:19, because I don’t even actually know how to welcome a New Year without that verse.
The truth is, I love new beginnings. I love a full-stop end and fresh start.
I want to be deliberate as I give myself to live and love well. I want to be found faithful and fruitful.
As this year comes to an end, my hope remains secure and here’s why: My hope is not based on my ability to muster up strength and power enough with great determination and positivity. My hope is not about pixie-dusted wishful thinking and blind optimism, even though I shall always love pinning myself a good old pair of bedazzled Tink wings on tiny shoulders. My hope rests in Jesus alone and Jesus enough. My hope rests in the One who offers hope for all our brokenhearted, disappointed and weary moments.
All our hope is in Jesus.
May the work of Jesus continue to unfold in our lives in 2018. May we take time to listen and truly hear. May we live unhurried, attentive lives. May we set the tone in confusing atmospheres and serve others with peace, trust and assurance. May we walk each day remembering that kindness and consideration of one another matter. May we extend peace and goodwill and grace-giving forgiveness when bent over from cruel gut-punches. May we resolve to remain open-hearted and tender to His voice.
Knowing this fractured, broken world entire isn’t going to be fully fixed until His Kingdom comes and all things renewed, I welcome the beauty of this side, knowing He is ever at work in us and through us. Each day He invites us to participate anew in the Spirit’s work on earth and in our hearts.
So, as I say goodbye to 2017 and hello to the newness found in 2018, here’s what I have to offer: Jesus. That’s all I’ve got. My hope remains secure. My hope remains in the living hope of Jesus who is with us every single day, summoning us to His nearness.
I just might even clean this catastrophe of a kitchen. In a few days, I will be forced to say goodbye to the dried up, broken gingerbread crumbs. I’ll say goodbye to the cartons of egg nog and Costco pumpkin pies. I’ll dial back my butter-only shelf in the refrigerator.
Here’s to a beautiful New Year, dear friends! Let us place all our hope upon hope in Jesus alone and, if you’re a little bit like me, we should probably start making salads again.