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a new year, a never changing God


I love looking back on a year about to close. I love reflecting on the joys, knowing that the sorrows of the year are behind me (phew!) and praising God for all that He has done through it all. Some years I am relieved to say goodbye to and others I wish would linger a little longer. Like this year for instance…I like to refer to it as “the year of Jake”. We started the year announcing a new life that would be joining our family, God taught us a lot as we once again saw His faithfulness through a pregnancy scare, we welcomed Jake in the middle of the year, and after enjoying all those baby snuggles we ended the year by celebrating Jake’s first Christmas. While there definitely were ups and downs and I am hoping for a little more sleep in 2015, it doesn’t get much better than that. Praise God for a year full of so much life and joy!

Now it is time to look ahead. Honestly, I always kind of dread the start of a new year. All around me there is excitement and talk of fresh starts, resolutions, new goals, a hope-filled word, or dreaming big in the year ahead. But January and February tend to be months that I struggle through. It’s nothing horrible, just a lot of trudging through hard memories and grief that creep back in with the turn of the calendar year. The calendar finally turns to March, I make it through another birthday without my daughter, I see glimpses of Spring ahead, and I feel like I can breathe a little easier again. It’s so hard to explain. And I won’t try. I know there are some of you who will be experiencing new life and great joy in this new year and I am praising God along with you. But others of you are facing this new year dealing with a miscarriage and grieving the little life that should have been, or learning how to do life and move forward without someone you love and miss like crazy, or getting a diagnosis that is threatening to rock your world, or just pulling a lot of hurt and disappointment along with you from the year we just closed. My heart has been aching for you. It only takes a minute to look around and see that this year, this year of new beginnings, is already full of heartache for so many. And while I am not trying to put a downer on the newness that January brings I am reminded that there is so much uncertainty in this world. Thankfully we don’t have to dwell in that uncertainty or fear as we wonder what this new year will hold.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3-4

I love the verse in John because while it acknowledges the very real pain that most of us will face, that is not the end…praise God! Take heart! There is Someone who has overcome the world for us. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus has conquered sin and pain and death. We can look forward with anticipation because true hope and peace lie ahead because of Jesus. And while this year might be full of uncertainties this verse reminds me of an unchanging God who has overcome the world. Not a God that might overcome the world but a God who HAS overcome the world. Change is hard. Uncertainty is hard. But I am so thankful that I can sink my feet firm and secure in my unchanging God. The Rock eternal. True peace in this crazy world is found in Him alone.

I am right there with you setting goals and longing for growth as we start fresh, but I don’t want to try to “define” what this year is going to look like for me. Instead I want to dig deep into knowing the God who made me and knows me and seek to work alongside Him in His plans for my life. I want a steadfast mind that trusts in the Lord. More important that eating better, or learning a new skill, or whatever else…my first goal is to be in God’s Word daily, getting to know my Savior a little better this year. Finding my worth and security and peace in Him, not in what I can accomplish on my own. Allowing Him to guide me in the decisions and plans I make. And standing firm on the Rock when the troubles of this world threaten to knock me down.

Do you want to commit to dig deeper into God’s Word this year? I put together a little list of a few ways to do just that:

1. If you have been reading this blog very long you know my love for Bible Study Fellowship I have learned so much about how to study God’s Word from BSF. And my kids love it too! Their children’s program is fantastic. I can’t think of anything better than learning God’s Word alongside my kids. I know that my BSF group is taking new people in January. So, if you are looking for a Bible Study to start in the New Year check out the website to find a BSF near you and get started! We start up again on Wednesday…which reminds me that I am behind on my lesson!

2. There are some great Bible reading plans out there. I like the ones from The Navigators. How about reading through the Bible or reading through the New Testament this year? Check out the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan, Book-at-a-Time Bible Reading Plan, or the 5x5x5 Bible Reading Plan. I noticed that most of these plans are available on the Bible app which makes it really easy to keep track of your reading each day.

3. Speaking of reading through the Bible…remember the She Reads Truth Advent study I talked about last month? Well, She Reads Truth has come out with their own read through the Bible in a year plan. The Bible in a Year is free on the She Reads Truth app and you can keep track of your reading right on your phone. She Reads Truth also has other studies available to purchase for $1.99 if you are wanting to focus on studying one book of the Bible at a time. I have only done the Advent study but they all look so good!

4. If you are looking for a study to do on your own or maybe with a Bible study group I love the Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament Bible study series by Nancy Guthrie. This series does such a great job of showing you God’s plan from the beginning, woven all throughout the pages of Scripture. I have done the first two studies and was so thankful how they helped me move from seeing the Old Testament as a bunch of Sunday School stories to seeing that even the Old Testament is all about Jesus and God’s great rescue plan that started from the very beginning.

5. Do you think this all sounds great but you really don’t know where to start with reading your Bible or having a daily quiet time? I’ve been there too. Women of the Word and A Place of Quiet Rest have both been really helpful in guiding my quiet time and learning how to dig deep into God’s Word. I highly recommend them both!

Now, ideally I would have posted this before January 1…but obviously that didn’t happen. The good news is that it is never too late to commit to being in the Word. Start now!

And please tell me…how do you plan to go deeper in God’s Word this year?

  • Haley F - Perfect timing for this post! I literally spent 2 hours yesterday searching for a good mommy/women bible study book/guide after feeling convicted to get more intimate with the bible. After reading your post, I realized one of the books I added to my cart was the Women of the Word. I guess I know what I need to do now…

    purchase and start reading immediately!

    Thanks for the guidance and nudge!ReplyCancel

  • Jody - I totally get what you are saying. For me December is the month that is hard. Some years it is easier than others. This past one wasn’t.

    This year I’m planning to read the Bible everyday. Hopefully I’ll get through it all, but just developing the habit and the hunger is my true goal.ReplyCancel

  • Emily - I didn’t know that you went to BSF too! This is my fourth year and I love it!!! I’m always inviting new friends to come along and try it. Of course, those that actually come love it too! Someday if I’m blessed with children, I want them to be in the children’s classes too. I love volunteering in those classes and always learn so much from the kids!ReplyCancel

  • Keri - Hi Jess,

    I have been reading your blog for years, and your post really spoke to me. I just received a diagnosis that my healthy, happy 10 year old son has Tourette’s Syndrome. A diagnosis that rocked our world. I weep when I think about the hard road ahead of him.ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly - I love your blog and how your unwavering faith is always at the forefront. Thanks for all your Bible Study suggestions! I am wondering if you have any good resources for Bible Studies with kids? I’ve read the Beginner’s Bible countless times to my kids, and I have the Jesus Storybook Bible which I love, but think it’s a little wordy for my busy 1 year old. I would love to switch it up a little, but not really sure what resources to use. Help?ReplyCancel

  • Danielle - Beautiful post, Jess! And thank you for all of the great resources! I’m actually nearing the end of “The Bible in 90 Days” program. Although, honestly, it’s taken me longer than 90 days…chemo-brain makes it impossible some days to concentrate and/or comprehend. However, I have LOVED reading about Jesus’ healing power while experiencing it for myself! Prayers and love to your beautiful family! And continued prayers, especially for strength, during the next few months. Love, Danielle ps…Thank you for the beautiful Christmas card! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Mary Ann - My plan this year is to study the New Testament…His words, His life, His sacrifice for me and for all of us. I was talking to a friend at work. He asked me what I thought was an odd question: “How do you always stay so upbeat and happy?” I had a hard time answering. Part of it is who I am…happy, upbeat, positive but part of it is going through loss (my husband and both parents in 7 months in 2008/2009) but it’s more than that. I have a 4-year-old grandson. I try to look at life through his eyes and his life, which as your know is full of adventures, laughing, having fun. It’s hard for me comprehend losing a child but I still feel that sting at the loss of my husband. It’s not the same but it still gives me a little bit of understand on how hard these next few months are for you. My friend told me of some of his heartaches with his twin girls. He lost one twin at age 9 years. The other twin sister is living but also had great challenges in her young life. He then asked me to come to his office. He gave me two prints of the Savior. One is called “Compassionate Christ” and the other is called “Healing.” The originals were painted by his wife. The healing one is so beautiful. Christ is standing by the Sea of Galilee. He has his hands together, kind of cupped like you could put something in them. This man’s wife was inspired to paint this one because of a conversation she had with her daughter (the living twin). She told her daughter to think of each trial or hardship as a big rock. Then picture handing that rock to the Lord. If we do our best and do everything in our power to trust and love the Lord, then we can give our troubles to him…one rock at a time. He is afterall, the Rock of our Salvation. He can heal us like nothing or no one else can. I wish for you to have a wonderful year, seeing your boys grow and develop, having fun adventures, and that you are all healthy and happy. I love your photos and your words are always very wise. You have learned something so miraculous…how to empathize with the heartaches of others. You see beyond yourself and understand in a very real way that everyone has sorrow and heartache but you know there is a way to overcome and heal. Take care my young friend. My thoughts will be with you these next few months where Cora will of course be in the forefront of your thoughts. I hope sweet peace washes over you as you think of that lovely baby and how much she taught you and how much love you have for her. The love never ends.ReplyCancel

  • Ranee - Thanks for this many good options out there! I am really loving She Reads Truth…I started their studies last year and this year, decided to get the study pack to go along with them and am loving them so much…I would highly recommend them! Also, I loved reading this post and how you welcomed Baby Jake–we are expecting a new baby at our house too–due this July 27!! 🙂ReplyCancel