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I love the fresh start that January often brings. Although…I am just feeling like I have recovered from our family flu fiasco and can take some time to reflect over the past year a little more intentionally. While January rolls in with new beginnings it often brings with it a slight heaviness for me. Four years ago in January my life was turned upside down as I learned my baby girl had cancer. It was a new start, but down a path I never would have expected. The heaviness reminds me that I have a choice as I live out this year…2013. I want to choose joy. A joy that only comes as I choose to remain close to the Lord.

Reflect with me a little. This past year I was trying really hard to be intentional with my kids to prepare their hearts for holidays and for the everyday. But I often found my own heart distracted and occupied with other things. I hate that. And as I have been looking back over the year I think what it often came down to was my choices. There were days when I chose to put other things before my relationship with God. (Something that I am sure will always be a temptation!) Things that weren’t necessarily “bad things” in themselves, but there were days that these things became idols as I placed them above God. Yuck. It is really hard for me to admit that. It is really hard to admit that I have idols in my life. But I do. And that is sin that I need to repent of…and have repented of. When I can make time for Instagram, reading my favorite blogs, decorating my house, crafting late at night, watching a movie, play dates, or talking on the phone to a friend but can’t seem to find time to fill my mind with God’s Word…I am placing those things above God. And it all goes back to the choices I am making on a daily basis.

Am I choosing to live close to the world or am I choosing to live close to God?

We have been studying Genesis in BSF and a recent lesson on Abram and Lot really convicted me.

“People know us by our character, and our character is revealed by the choices we make. Poor choices show weak character and lead to regrettable consequences. Wise choices reveal reliance on God and lead to the assurance of His presence as we live to honor Him…

…Lot chose to live close to the ways of the world; Abram chose to live by the ways of God…

…Lot chose the immediate gratification of being surrounded by the comforts of the world–well-watered land (13:10) cities filled with activity (13:12) and a place of prestige (19:1)…

…Abram chose peace (13:8), humility (13:9), and remaining close and faithful to the Lord (13:4, 14:22), preparing him to handle responsibly the Lord’s gifts (13:2)…

…Which type of character describes you–the strong character of humble, wise, God-fearing Abram or the weak character of foolish, self-gratifying, world-following Lot?” (BSF notes, Genesis Lesson 14)

I could give you a list of my goals for this year, but it is really all about my choices. I want to choose to live by the ways of God this year. I want to be steadfast in my obedience to Him. I want to choose peace and humility and remaining close to the Lord over following the world and gratifying my own desires. But I can only remain close to the Lord if I am connected to Him. And I can only be connected to Him by spending time in His life giving Word and in prayer.

The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. John 6:63

So, what kind of choices are you making as we plunge into the New Year. Are you more like Abram or Lot? What goals have you set to remain close to the Lord, to be diligent in spending time daily in His Word? I want to remain close to Him this year and be prepared to handle responsibly the Lord’s gifts in my life…especially those two little boys that I have the privilege of being mama to. How about you?

Here are a few resources in case you need a little guidance in reading your Bible:

Bible Reading Plans-Revive Our Hearts

How Not to Read Your Bible in 2013-The Gospel Coalition

Bible Reading Plans-NavPress

  • Samantha - Hi Jess!
    I struggled with the same thing last year and my number one goal for the year is to spend time with God. My paster spoke on this very topic the week after Christmas and how “we get too busy for God.” I was convicted to the core that I put God as my last priority and not the first. So far the first 8 days of the year have been successful and everything else in life just seems to go a bit smoother. I asked God to help me to remember to take time for him and last night he did. I was getting ready for bed and was struck that my day had gotten away from me and I needed to take some time for Him. Thanks for sharing your heart. It’s always a comfort to know other people struggle in the same area’s as you do!ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany J - I love this post as I am guilty as well. Of putting other stuff in front of my time with God. Thank you for the encouragement!ReplyCancel

  • Chelsa Knepp - I just read those same passages in Genesis this week! They really touched me as well. I want to be Abram and NOT like Lot. I’m really trying to dig into my Bible this year. Thanks for the encouragement!ReplyCancel

  • Colleen - Hi Jess, I’ve been following your blog for a while now, and I’ve never commented or “introduced” myself, but I want you to know that you have encouraged me on many occasions and today is no exception. I love how honest and transparent your posts are. I am also a SAHM striving to raise my kiddos to know and love the Lord. Your adorable boys are blessed to have you as their mom. Now I want to encourage you… what you may think of as “just a blog” are often words of life to those are reading it, so thank youReplyCancel

    Jess Reply:

    Colleen-Thanks for introducing yourself. πŸ™‚ And thanks so much for the encouragement!

    • Jess - Colleen-Thanks for introducing yourself. πŸ™‚ And thanks so much for the encouragement!ReplyCancel

  • Mary Ann - You asked the question: who will you be like? For me, I hope it is Abram, not Lot. I don’t want to look back and see that my life was wasted on stuff that didn’t matter. I want to look forward to new adventures and becoming a better person. Is it hard? Oh, yes. Every day is a challenge and every day brings successes and failures. But…in the end, the people we connect with, the lessons we learn and grow from, and the experiences we have, whether good or not so good, hopefully will help us grown and help us be closer to where we want to be. I lost my husband and both parents in 2008/2009 only 7 months apart. I thought my life had ended. But life always surprises us….my son got married and they had my little grandson in 2010. This little boy, this wonderful little creature, this amazing beautiful child saved me. He makes me want to be a better. He helps me focus on what is most important. He lets me know that life can be lived in the moment and that we don’t always have to look so far into the future to find joy. Yes, we need goals, we need to aspire to be better, we need to improve and stay close to the Lord. But we also need to think and become more like little children…more innocent, more forgiving, more joyful and in the moment. Now if only I could do that consistently!!! Thanks for inspiring us at the first of this new year. You are a wonderful example and truly someone who has endured trials and still finds purpose and joy in life. Thanks again.ReplyCancel

  • Susannah - Thanks so much for this. It’s so easy to put daily life ahead of God. We need to be making daily life completely revolve around God in every aspect.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - Thanks for these words~ encouraging and real. I have chosen the words sacrifice & legacy this year and I try to set goals through-out the year that will help me & my family focus on doing those two things. We have been blessed with three little men in our house and I have been studying them a lot, praying and seeking what God would have me do in their lives to help lead them to Him. I also want to be a more effective help-mate to my husband! I can only know how to do those things better if I am making the time to be with God first πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    Jess Reply:

    Melissa-Great words…you sound like a wonderful mama and wife!

    • Jess - Melissa-Great words…you sound like a wonderful mama and wife!ReplyCancel

  • Arianne - Thank You Jess for the encouragement and web links to reading through the Bible. I just printed two of them off and hope to dig in TODAY!! Been struggling too with the busyness of life and all I can say is the bigger the kids get the harder it is to maintain your walk of faith with our Lord!! So many distractions (or temptations should I say) to lure us away from our quiet time. Thank you again for sharing this!ReplyCancel

    Jess Reply:

    Arianne-You are so welcome. How is it going? I’m working hard to fight off those distractions…hope you are too! πŸ™‚

    • Jess - Arianne-You are so welcome. How is it going? I’m working hard to fight off those distractions…hope you are too! πŸ™‚ReplyCancel