New Year

 
 

A Recap of 2016 and a Preview of 2017: A Testimony of the Faithfulness of God

I’ll be honest, I’m not the type of person to make a New Year’s Resolution list. Usually, with some prodding from my Mom, I churn out 3 to 5 vague goals I hope to accomplish in the future. I’m 99% sure my resolutions for the year 2016 were something along the lines of:

  1. Start running
  2. Lose weight
  3. Be healthier
  4. Love Jesus more
  5. Read my Bible everyday

I had noble ambitions, to be sure. Awfully shallow, noble ambitions. What is it about goal-setting that I never fully embrace? Maybe I feel it infringes upon my go-with-the-flow attitude. I just want to LIVE another year of my life. I want to make a difference. I want to be able to look back and I know that I spent my time wisely, and I furthered the kingdom of God. I want to have memories to hold onto forever, both good ones and bad ones. I want to soak up every moment. To make every breath count for something. To live a life filled with purpose and inspiration. To seize every opportunity to be grateful, to laugh, to find a new friend, to revel in the vivid colors of a sunset, to watch the sunlight through the trees, to hear the echo of bird calls over the mountains, to be captivated by emotion, to be changed by conversations. I want more than just goals. Just things to work towards. I want to live a life of more. Never just going through the motions, never just trying to make it through another day. I want my years to be characterized by abiding in Christ, and allowing him to make my life worth something more. Greater than just the ordinary. Bigger than mundane. Every second of every day, I want to hold tightly to the promise that God has a plan for my life, a plan to prosper and not to harm, a plan to give me hope and a future. If He is for me, who can be against me?

Though my resolutions for 2016 might have been shallow, God still managed to accomplish amazing things through me this year. I’ve been reminded time and time again of His unfailing grace and His thoughts that are higher and deeper than mine could ever be. He took this humorously weak list, and did something incredible. It mirrors what He did in my life this past year. He took me, humorously weak, and used my life to do something incredible. Something that can only be explained by God. He deserves all of the glory.

I actually did start running this year. I made it through about 3 weeks of running at the beginning of January before I injured both hamstrings and had to stop. As the summer progressed, my goal became to run a mile. In all of my life, I’ve never run a mile without stopping. But summer is a difficult time to run in South Georgia, and I stopped just short of finishing half a mile without stopping.

I started college at the University of North Georgia in the Fall, and after realizing I had to hike to my dorm every day, set out to reverse the common phrase “Freshman 15”. I went to the gym, but that lasted about a week before my time table was filled with more important matters. I went back intermittently during the semester, and I tried to eat in a somewhat healthy manner, but I wasn’t sure how much difference it would really make. I could feel myself losing weight, but with no scale, I wasn’t sure how I was actually progressing. When I finally made it back home for Christmas break and stepped on the scale, I was shocked. I had lost 12 lbs. total. But God had something even better in mind. On December 23, 2016, I completed my first full mile run.

Losing weight and exercising has been on my resolutions list for close to 4 or 5 years now. It was something I could never seem to do. In fact, I only seemed to gain weight. The summer of Sophomore year of high school, I weighed over 150 lbs. This made it nearly impossible for me to run without causing severe pain to my feet. It was a Catch-22. I couldn’t lose weight to exercise and I couldn’t exercise to lose weight. January of 2016 it finally dawned on me. I was exercising and counting calories and staring at the numbers on the scale because I was insecure. Because I wanted to impress other people. Everything I did, I did out of a feeling of inferiority and a growing desire to be accepted. It never got me anywhere. For a while, I tried to tell myself I was doing it because it was the right thing to do. Because my body is a temple, and I need to glorify God. That’s true, but even though I knew it was true, I didn’t live like I believed it was true. Until this year. This year, from the very first moment my brand new running shoes hit the asphalt, I surrendered my journey to God. It was difficult. But it was worth it. There were times I thought about giving up, times I did give up. But God never gave up on me. And I am a living testimony of how powerful the God I serve is. He broke down the lies I believed about myself. I learned on a deeper level that the way I look to God matters so much more than the way I look to anyone else. He used the painful process of getting the most un-athletic, out of shape girl to exercise as a metaphor for my spiritual life. As I grew in physical strength, I saw how he was growing me in spiritual strength as well. It was hard. As with running, there were times I wanted to give up, and times I did give up. But He never gave up on me. He remained faithful. He remains faithful.

I’d love to say I read my Bible every day this year, but that’s not true. A majority of the days this year, I did pick up my Bible and read, but not every day. But I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that I came to love Jesus more this year than I did the last. I faced a lot of new challenges to my faith. Things I was forced to trust God with. It was somewhat painful to realize that the things I thought I had entrusted to God; I had really kept to myself. But that’s what real worship is all about, surrendering everything you have to God. Even when it’s hard. Even when you’d prefer to hang on to some dreams. But I learned that I must die to those dreams. I must sacrifice them on the altar and present them as an offering to God and believe that God is good. If those dreams are meant to be resurrected, they will be. If not, God has something unbelievably better in mind, and who I am to choose something I may think is good over the very best that God has for me. He knows me better than I know myself.

This year, I’ve decided to make real resolutions. Yes, I want to lose weight. Yes, I want to be healthier. I’ve still got a ways to go. But I know that I am able to honor God because He gives me the strength to fight temptation and to continue pressing on, even when I may be weak. I’ve been reminded of his steadfast love and continual faithfulness this year, and I know that this will be present every day of my life. He will still be faithful to me.

So, without further ado, I present 17 New Year’s Resolutions for the year 2017!

  1. Love Jesus more than I did the day before.
  2. Be motivated by love for Jesus, not obligation or a desire to impress others.
  3. Worship God.
  4. Make time for Bible Study and fight to keep that time, amid the pressures of life. Look forward to hearing what He has to say.
  5. Cultivate a spirit of peace, joy, and contentment- in ALL circumstances.
  6. Remain confident of God’s love and provision, even during difficult times.
  7. Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  8. Follow His leading, no matter where He leads.
  9. Give every problem and crisis to Him and trust that everything will work out for my good and his glory.
  10. Focus on building the kingdom of God, not my kingdom. See the eternal, not the finite. Invest in what is everlasting, not in what is perishable. This includes investing my time. Be a good steward of the time I have been given.
  11. Spread the Gospel!
  12. Make lifestyle choices that honor God, and stick to them, even when it gets hard.
  13. Continue running the race that has been set out before me, both physically and spiritually. Find my strength in Christ alone.
  14. Become a prayer warrior and fight for the Body of Christ.
  15. Encourage and challenge others in their walk with Christ.
  16. Learn how to be a better leader.
  17. Choose faith over fear.

I am confident that the best is yet to come. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me in 2017. Here’s to the future, full of confidence knowing that the one who walks beside me has already been there before me. I’ll see you next year! 🙂

-Mackenzie

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Faith, God, life, New Year | 3 Comments
 
 

7 Things I Learned in 2014

This year has been incredibly busy. I could almost say that 2014 has been one of the busiest years of my life. This summer was packed full to perfection with an amazing vacation to the North Carolina Mountains, Williamsburg, Virginia, Washington D.C, and Baltimore, Maryland. This school year was packed with AP classes and time-consuming, tedious work. It’s a flimsy excuse for not sitting at the keyboard to post, even when I did have time, but I’m hoping that I will be able to start the New Year with a commitment to blog more (just one of my resolutions). But I didn’t log in just to tell you about how busy I’ve been, I wanted to share with you 7 important things I learned during the year 2014. There’s been ups and downs and through it all, I couldn’t be more amazed at how much I’ve grown spiritually this past year. Which leads me to the first thing I learned in 2014…

1. How to get in the Word…and stay there

I went to church every Sunday and Wednesday and I heard the Word, but often I wouldn’t take time out of my day to have a quiet time. I would usually take out my Bible and read a  huge chunk of scripture and then never read again for the rest of the month. But that changed in March of this year. After learning some context about the book of 2 Timothy, I dove in and committed to read my Bible everyday. I haven’t been perfect, but I have absolutely formed a habit of it, and I have seen the difference it has made. I notice a change in my faith, life and mood when I make the choice to read that day or not to read. That alone has been the defining point in my life this year.

2. My determination never gets me anywhere if it’s not something God wants to happen.

I can work hard. I can muster up enough determination to challenge a metaphorical Mt. Everest. I can try to tackle it. But in the end, it only takes me so far. There are always situations that are out of my control, and I have to accept that God’s plans are so much better and so far above my own. My determination should always be to bring glory to God, no matter what my circumstances are or what the outcome might be. God is ALWAYS in control. He is still sitting on his throne no matter what is happening in my life or in the world around me.

3. Savor the small things

This year I’ve gotten better at living in the moment and finding wonder and reasons to worship God in the things that could be overlooked. It means that I am not so focused on the future that I forget to look around and see what’s now. Because my “now” is a painful, complicated, beautiful work of God’s heart, and there are so many things he uses to get my attention so that I can become even more brilliant. And this year I’ve barely scratched the surface of seeing those things like they’re meant to be seen.

4. Fear is temporary when God is involved

No matter who you are or how old you may be, there is always some type of fear that plagues each and every one of us. My approach at the beginning of this year was simply to power through them. To face them. Show them who’s boss. To wrangle them into submission. In case you’re thinking of doing the same, I have a warning- that doesn’t work. I tried to. I wanted them to go away. And at the beginning of the school year, I spent some time in prayer. And Jesus told me where the problem was. The fear in my life was never something I could handle, power through or beat into submission. It was something that had to be placed in God’s hands and left there. Fear had to be given to God every single day. And there were times when a paralyzingly spirit of fear was fervently prayed out of me by people who care about me, and that was when I found myself free to accomplish each and every action God was calling me to take. Because when God is the center of my life, fear has no room to stay.

5. When I wake up committed to follow God each day, I will follow His Will for my life

Slowly but surely, I find myself on the path he wants me to walk when I give him my simple obedience day after day. “Be holy as I am holy” is what God asks of me, it’s his will for my life, and I become more like him when I wake up surrendered to whatever he might call me to do that day. I give up my own dreams and my own will and I align my will with God’s- that’s when I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

6. A change in procrastination and priorities gets more done

I’ve proved this to be true in my own life , especially as it relates to school. When school gets busy, I am tempted to let God take a backseat to my exhaustion and the growing amounts of him work I have, most of it could have been done earlier, if I hadn’t procrastinated. This year, I’ve proven the statement “When God is your top priority, everything else falls into place.” When God was my priority, things did flow smoothly, even in the midst of chaos. And, when God wasn’t my priority, even when things weren’t too tough, the schedule I was juggling seemed to fall apart. Procrastination is still a sin that needs works in my life, but I am confident that in the next year Jesus and I can straighten some of my laziness out of me. But this year has been a wake-up call to me regarding my procrastination, and next year, hopefully I’ll get more done. And finish everything all the way and to the very best of my ability.

7. I’m never meant to be center stage

I mean this in a spiritual context, because another thing I wanted to work on this past year was my humbleness…or lack of humbleness. Through different events, God has shown me that he is to be the one thing people notice about me. With my abilities or talents, I am meant to glorify him and put attention on him, not myself. And most importantly, it’s not about me, it’s all about him. There’s nothing that’s worth seeing if I’m the center of attention.

Take some time to think about what God has taught you over this past year and get ready to celebrate the new one. Here we come 2015!!

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Categories: Bible, Change, christianity, New Year | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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