I had to restrain my squeals of delight when my husband declared, “Okay, I’m finally ready to get rid of that old TV that’s just been taking up space.”
I can’t tell you how overjoyed I was to hear Hank announce that he was finally willing to let this “dinosaur” go bye-bye!!
Thanksgiving and Christmas are fun times for our families, with our children and grandchildren around. But often, I feel twinges of sadness and depression after all the beautiful lights and decorations are put away. What now?
A new year brings opportunities for new beginnings, goal-setting and “winter cleaning”. Without something to work for or look forward to, we humans just can’t be happy. That’s the way we’re created. It is God’s design and blessing that we enjoy the things that we work for (and not have everything “handed to us” with no effort on our part). We try to live that truth and teach it to our children.
Even in the Garden of Eden before the fall of mankind due to sin and disobedience, Adam was busy. He was happy and productively engaged. He named all the animals and tended the gardens (with no sweat — at least not yet!) Life was even sweeter when God created Eve to be a companion – a wife – a helper. Now they could dream and work together.
“Let’s sell the pool table since no one plays it any more. I want to make that room into an office,” my husband continued.
“Are you sure, honey? Our kids come over once in a while, and play it — well, maybe every couple of months.”
“Yes, but I need an office every day, and that pool table just takes up a lot of space.”
Twice retired, Hank had just completed night classes to become a certified home inspector. We figured it would come in handy since we take care of rental properties, and would add a little income to his small retirement check. He had a goal, a plan, and he needed space to work. We had to give up something to gain something better.
I advertised the old pool table on Facebook (very cheap – to sell it quickly) and had it sold and picked up within 30 hours! (We’d acquired the table when a previous tenant abandoned it in a rent house we own.) The new family with young children was thrilled to get it, and we paid a small bill we had with the money — it was exactly the amount we needed!
When Hank pulled the old TV out of the alcove, we found photos and board game pieces that had fallen behind it. I was also finally able to get to some of my sewing fabrics, photographs and scrapbooking items I hadn’t touched in years.
Our 11-year-old daughter, Jaycie, got in on the excitement of something new. She decided that this new office was going to be her and Daddy’s “Secret Agent Office”, and asked if she could move her little child’s desk into the room, near her dad’s desk. She and our 18-year-old son, Jeffery, worked with Hank and I to sweep and damp mop the floor. It was fun to begin seeing empty, usable space we’d never had before!
Jaycie has also, in recent months, finally discovered the joy, peace, and sense of accomplishment that keeping a clean room feels like! (Her brother is not so convinced yet, ha-ha!) So, when she witnessed her dad and I getting rid of old things to make room for new things, she jumped to action.
She filled sacks full of old toys, stuffed animals and dolls, for us to pass down to grandchildren or give away. Some had belonged to her older siblings when they were young, so we will keep those most sentimental ones for their children one day. After all, how can one say “good-bye” to Pooh Bear, Piglet and Tigger??
We also passed down a wooden train set and a wooden block set to two sets of grandchildren this Christmas. We were thrilled and so were they! It brought back happy memories for our oldest daughter to see her sons building with the same blocks that she and her brothers played with. (We made sure to keep a few things here for when the grandchildren come to visit.)
“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” 1st Corinthians 13:11
A new year is also a great time to do some “inner house-cleaning”, as well. As I was researching and praying about what to write this month, I looked up a scripture that I’ve heard most of my life. It speaks of having a “vision”, or (as was described / preached to me), a dream, goal or a destiny to look and work toward. The verse (in the King James 21 version) says:
“Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18 (KJ21)
As I read other bible versions of this same scripture, however, I discovered a new (and probably the likely intended) meaning of this verse. The word “vision” meant a “prophetic word from God”, or “God’s instruction”. The idea is that, without God’s Word and His guidance in our lives, we will perish. And when we keep (follow and obey) His Word / instruction, we’ll be happy.
Compare these two other translations of Proverbs 29:18:
“Without revelation [vision], people run wild, but one who listens to instruction will be happy.” (HCSB)
“Where there is no message from God, people don’t control themselves. But blessed is the one who obeys wisdom’s instruction.” (NIRV)
They remind me of the instruction and promise of Proverbs 3: 5 – 6:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him [acknowledge Him] in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths [literally, ‘make your paths straight’]. (HCSB)
Psalm 37:23 tells us: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delighteth in his way.” (KJ21). The NIV translation describes it this way: “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him;”
I particularly love the New Living Translation of Psalm 37:23: “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.”
So, in this new year, I pray that I (and my readers, and my children) will more deeply commit their lives to God, so that we may experience the “abundant life” that He’s designed for us. As much as we want to give good things and plan a good life for our children, God wants that for us all the more!
So let’s clean out our earthly houses and make room for better things. Let’s clean out our spiritual houses (housed in an earthly body that we must also take care of!) and make room for true riches that won’t fade over time.
Forgive someone who’s wronged you. Show kindness… whether it’s returned or not.
Give to the poor, directly or through reputable ministries. (Just FYI: Donating through Wright Ministries/ Artists in Christian Testimony, International helps orphans in Zambia, India, and the USA; foster kids in Oklahoma, and helps at-risk families to stay together. We’re also sharing the love and hope of Jesus everywhere we go— in person, across the web, and via hundreds of radio stations.) DONATE here to partner with us in these various outreaches.
Help out a single parent or a widow/ widower you know. A meal and a friendly conversation go a long way! Sponsor a needy child – you’ll both be blessed! “When you give to the poor, it is like lending to the Lord, and the Lord will pay you back.” Proverbs 19:17 (GNT)
Volunteer with or donate to organizations that help children and families in need: C.A.S.A. (Court Appointed Special Advocates, advocating for children in foster care), Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, Baptist Disaster Relief, Samaritan’s Purse, so many others.
Ahh!!! Here’s my final photo for some inspiration, my “before and after” of the little dusty alcove that once housed the dinosaur television set:
Here’s wishing and praying for a productive, joyous, and truly blessed 2018 for you – and for each of us! (Leave a comment below of what YOUR 2018 goals are, and what you’re doing to make those dreams a reality. Inspire me!
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