Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Resolutions---love 'em or leave 'em?

Maybe it's just my personality type, but I hate making New Year's resolutions.  I feel like I'm not only reviewing an entire year's worth of failures but also setting myself up for even more failures in the next year when---not if---I fail to keep up my new New Year's resolutions.  So I'm faced with several options:  I can avoid making any resolutions thereby avoiding breaking any; I can skip the resolution-making and go straight to the self-recrimination; or I can decide to make small, doable changes so that I get to see progress without feeling like I'm overhauling my entire life (which may not be a bad idea.....).  Hmmm---I think I'll try the latter.  There's always time for options #1 and #2 later.....if I fail!  Lol!

As much as I HATE change, I realize that life is all about changing.  Can you imagine what we'd look like if we never changed hair styles or clothing styles?  (Some of us just need look in the mirror!)  What if we chose one boyfriend/girlfriend and never, ever changed that?  I can't see myself married to the first childhood crush I had.  That's just plain weird.  How about changing cars....or couches....or toothbrushes?  Change is inevitable.  Yes, I detest that statement too.  But, truly, change is necessary because change involves the most basic and blessed of God's gifts to mankind:  free will.  Change allows us to make mistakes (and I've made some doozies), learn from those mistakes (hopefully), and change our initial decision into something better.  Change is God's way of reminding us (1) we're not perfect, (2) we should keep striving to better ourselves, and (3) we need God's wisdom to make better choices.  This applies to every single aspect of our lives whether clothing, hair, devotions, child rearing, education, career, temper, worship, or even faith.  We should definitely always be searching the Scriptures to ensure our lives are in accordance with God's Word and, if they're not, then change.

You've heard the definition of insanity, right?  Insanity is continuing to do the same wrong thing over and over, yet expect different results.  If we want to become more like Christ, we have to read about Him and then follow His example---not just wish for it or "pray about it."  If we want to change our appearance, we need to shop for better clothes or shoes or change our hairstyle.  If we want to be healthier, we have to actually throw out the bad stuff and start buying/eating the good stuff.  We also have to stop making excuses for eating poorly, not exercising, and just sitting around.  If we want to be more patient or kind or less angry, we need to change our response to stressful situations.  This begins by deliberately biting back things that shouldn't be said and choosing not to take offense at things that are said to us.  Yeah, I know that's hard.  I "like" a lot of commentary on facebook that I would never actually say out loud to people!  If we want to be better, we must change.  I teach my children and my students:  We cannot change the way someone else is talking or acting; we can only change our response to them.  The first step is taking everything to God in prayer, but many people stop there.  The second step is to begin making those little changes to yourself and your behavior.  Once the initial changes are made, it's easier to build on that new, better foundation.

Enough preaching!  Ha!

2014 has been an interesting year for us.  I've shared many of our triumphs (and a few failures) with you in this blog, but, as I'm sure you can relate, some are too personal to share.  (That's a polite way of saying they're none of your business!)  However, we had a BIG blessing come our way just a month ago.  I had to wait to share this on the blog because we just told our kids about on Christmas Day.

About nine months or so after Dale's accident, his physical therapist told us about a foundation that might be interested in doing something for Dale and our family.  She had already called the Make-A-Wish Foundation but was told we wouldn't qualify for any wish-granting because Dale's condition wasn't terminal.  Praise the Lord!  But they referred her to the Sunshine Foundation, a non-profit organization that makes "dreams" come true for children who've been through a traumatic event, children who are living with a debilitating disease, or even abused children once they've been taken out of the abusive situation.  She asked me if I wanted her to submit Dale's name, and Chad and I agreed.  About four months later, we received a call from the Sunshine Foundation, stating that they would love to make Dale's "dream" come true!  We were so excited!!!  Dale had said he would love to go to Legoland and Disneyworld, and the very helpful people at the Sunshine Foundation gave us lots of information about how this would work and where we would stay, but they warned us it might take a year or so before the donations would be in place to make Dale's "dream" come true.  After all, there were a lot of children on the list before Dale!  (This was a little over a year after Dale's accident.)  So we waited......and waited......and waited.  Chad even called and was told that they were still getting donations together but that it was taking a bit longer than they had thought.  Basically, we gave up hope.  We had initially talked constantly about the trip and how fun it would be and how wonderful it was.  But, as time went by, we stopped thinking it could happen any day and began thinking it might happen some day.  And then we began thinking it might never happen, and that led to Dad and Mom helping the kids be thankful for what we already had---a brother who wasn't dead!---and be glad there were other families who got "dreams" because really they needed them more.  I mean, Dale was doing all right and we had so many blessings from God already.  You follow my thinking?

Two days before Thanksgiving, my cell phone rang in the middle of school.  It was on the charger, and I had to rush around my TA's desk to get to the plugged-in phone.  When I answered, Maryanne from the Sunshine Foundation was there, telling me that she had some dates to run by me from which to choose for Dale's dream!  I stood there, in the back of my classroom, students busy all around me, in shock!  I had stopped truly believing our turn would come and was now totally unprepared for the big event.  ***Side note:  isn't that how we view heaven and the rapture sometimes?  Like it's some "dream" that would be wonderful if it were true but not like we truly believe it could happen any moment!  Oh, may we not be caught unprepared for Jesus' return!***  I scribbled down the dates and data she was giving me---God bless her for her patience with me!---and thanked her over and over.  The look on my husband's face when I told him the news was glorious to see!  We put our heads together and chose the dates (April 16 - 22) and then decided to wait to tell the kids until Christmas.  We had to tell Chad's mom who lives in the Florida area because we'll get to see her when we go, and we told Amanda who is in California so she could get the time off and go with us.  It's been soooo hard not telling everybody until we got to tell our kids!  I had to tell my boss, the school principal, so I could get that time off; he walked out grinning at Katie like "I know something you don't know!"  Was that hard trying to pass that meeting off like we were just talking about school stuff!  We'll get more information in the next few weeks about our trip, but we are all so excited about finally getting to go.  Now to keep everyone's feet on the ground until April......

Dale has his next neurology appointment on January 5th.  This is not only the day we go back to school after Christmas break, but it is also the day before Dale's 16th birthday.  I remember sitting in the hospital room by his bedside and wondering if he would ever have another birthday.  Here he is 3 and 1/2 years later, God's living miracle!  We got Dale an 8-pound exercise ball as one of his Christmas presents; he's already been incorporating it into his supposed-to-be-daily exercise routine.  Sitting around for two weeks on break has not helped his stability!  Plus, he's excited about going on the trip and doesn't want to be limited by shakiness or weakness, so I think he'll be more willing to put some effort into exercising in the next few months.  Me too, for that matter!

God bless each of you in this brand new year.  Let's use this new time to reaffirm our trust in our Saviour, to put off the old man and put on the new, to show our love to God and each other, and to make better choices than we did this time last year.  Have a wonderful 2015!

II Corinthians 5: 17  "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:  old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."