We set our gaze to the days ahead with a thrill of hope, we have rejoiced, and we hold close the anticipation of what the brand new year may carry for us and for our family.  As we ease into the beginning, I cannot help but wish these days of us all gathered together would linger on as the holiday goodness ends, and the winter instead, is what lingers endless.  For some, the wounds of this past year are still fresh, and yet we will still find a resolve to risk hope, for our families and for ourselves.  Deep in our hearts we trust that the hope itself isn’t the collateral, that we understand, it is the flawed world we live in.  To hope is our greatest tool, sacred next movement, to hope is what we can do when it seems there is nothing more, and so as we open ourselves up to the possibilities within this new year, I offer this prayer with you in mind.  May it hold your heart with a gentle kindness today and in the days to come.  And dear mamas, may Jesus be near you and your families in 2018.

A Mama’s Prayer as the New Year Dawns

Walk closely with me dear God and settle my gait to match yours, as you grow my awareness to what awaits me in these days.   Keep me unbound by the chains of fear and the underlying hum of anxiety.  Help me to focus on the opportunity within the fresh start and not the anticipated worries.  Let me recall the countless times before you have not promised me instantaneous relief, but a constant kind companion, and let me greet each day knowing you will go before me and stay near.

As we extend out from the joyous season of Christmas, let me keep close how first showed yourself to us, humble and needy.  Allow the sweetness in remembering my own children as innocent babies, give meaning to the sacredness of your entry into our world.  Keep my ear to the heartbeat of the hurting around me, within my own walls and beyond.  Allow me to bravely show your hope, even in my small way, to add light to this bruised world.  Use me to write hope into my corner of it.  Stay with me when I grow weary.  And keep me from adding to the world’s pain, both across the oceans and across the kitchen table.

Gently remind me that the surest way to feel hope is to give hope, so let me not hold on so tightly and carefully as though it were only meant for me, but let me offer it up to my children, my husband, my sisters and friends, to allow them to see the beauty that lies within it, and the freedom that is offered for everyone.  For hope itself is not fragile, it is built on unbreakable love, and it never ends.

With you, everyone is in.  Let me extend grace and goodness to anyone who is new at anything.  I may be the expert of how to get things done and done right.  I may be able to multi-task like no other, but let me not be proud, instead let me, through my knowledge and experience, grow the confidence of others.  Remind me that being new at things, whether it is tying shoes, getting on the bus, or re-entering the workforce, all take courage and patience with both others and myself.  Place kind friends and hearts along the way in all of our new experiences this year.

Guide me in knowing that all of the un– within our social media driven lives speaks to the state of another’s heart, the unlike, unfriend, the exclusion, the cliques, keep me wise in seeing the motives of others and what drives their hearts.  For if I am rooted confidently in you, I can help my children understand that the un– is not a reflection of their worth.  For those who exclude are not of you.  For those who judge do not look to you.  For those who believe without asking, condemn without knowing, and listen to foolish gossip are being a conduit for hurt instead of an end.  Stay close to us and speak life and your truth into the deepest part of our hearts.

Let me find joy in not fitting in — remind me of the misfits and rebels you kept company with, the unlikely heroes you chose, and when I find myself on the outside of something let me consider it a blessing for you are saving me from something not meant for me or for my family.  In turn, let me keep my ear open to those you bring into my life and help me listen to the hard things they may have to say on your holy ground.

Create in me a heart to seek growth.  Allow the message, that you have placed on my heart, to grow and flourish in a world that may not understand or respect it.  Let me not measure it through the world’s lens but through yours, and guide me to help my children do the same.

Let me live joyfully for the joy of the Lord is my strength.  Help me to guard my joy and treasure it, for if my joy is stolen, then with it, my strength.  Continually expand the joy of my family and point us to you as our source.

I pray you bless our year and our lives with your goodness and help when our souls grow weary to seek peace and rest in you.  May your gentle nudge find us when we wander off course this year and always.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

a freebie for you… ANTHEM 2018 Worksheet

I have spent some time thinking about my word for this year, and for awhile now, I have carried the word ANTHEM.  I realized I am not looking for just a word, but an entire anthem — this year’s word along with a mashup of goals, a soundtrack, scripture verses, focused prayers, all good things to keep my heart and feet moving in hope this year.  So, I created an anthem worksheet for you.  Light your favorite candle and sip on some coffee or tea as you fill it out, it won’t take long, but it will be something you can refer back to for the months to come.  May it help you craft your most hopeful year yet!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13