BUT losing my 29-year-old sister and her baby Oliver was a whole new level of devastation, pain, and even depression. A part of me just wanted the year to be over. "Please just let this year end already! No, wait!" Another part wanted to hold onto it and freeze time because the year 2016 held the most recent memories my sister and I had made together. It held the last moments I had with her. The reality that time was marching on without her in our lives sunk in deeper than ever as the new year approached.
How different this New Year's Eve was for us. Last year we were all together--celebrating as a family. I cherish the pictures from that night. One of the photos I captured was of Allison and her husband Carl sitting on my couch together. They were both wearing those goofy headbands with 2-0-1-6 written on them and she was flashing that stellar smile of hers.
This year there was no celebration. For the sake of the kids, we enjoyed our traditional meal of cheese fondue and even a chocolate fondue that Allison used to make. There was an early countdown for the kids before bedtime in which they gleefully danced and cheered to welcome in the new year. That was it. Our evening closed without the usual fanfare or festivities. This morning January 1, 2017, was staring me right in the face--a year my sister never got to see.
In sorting through all of these emotions, one thing has always remained clear. God walked with me through both the valleys and mountains of 2016, and his comfort, provision, peace, and love will continue with me throughout 2017.
I'm so thankful for a heavenly father who understands what my heart is feeling and knows my every thought. I'm so thankful for a God who I can come to in prayer. Even when our own words fail us, the Word tells us that the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. (Romans 8:26) Isn't that a comforting promise?! The Bible is filled with God's promises and encouragement. The 14 verses below are ones that have spoken to my heart during this season of life. They are ones that I'm focusing on and praying about as I enter into a brand new year. Would you like to pray with me?
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old is gone, the new is here!Lord, thank you for the promise of new beginnings! Thank you for the new life I have in you.
-2 Corinthians 5:17
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will never fail you nor abandon you.Lord, as I enter into a new year, it's comforting to know that you'll be there with me. You go before me. I don't know what lies ahead in the coming year. The future is never a surprise to you, though. And I know you'll be there with me through both the mountains and the valleys that lie ahead. Help me to enter this new year with boldness and assurance. I praise you because you have never and will never forsake me.
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.Lord, even through the wastelands of my life, I praise you for being there to renew, guide, and replenish.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.Lord, I'm thankful that even with all of my failings you are there to make me new. Give me a steadfast spirit to live boldly for you this year.
Be still, and know that I am God!Lord, life often gets so busy and chaotic. Help me to remember to take the time to pray and read your word. May I carve out quiet moments to just be still and be with you. May I remember that there are times when I simply need to trust that you're already working in my life rather than trying to fix or control the things going on around me. You are God and you are in control!
Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my teaching settle like dew. Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants.Lord, thank you for the promises, teachings, and encouragement found in your holy word. May those words replenish and nourish my spirit in the coming year.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.Lord, there are times when life seems unbearable, and it's hard to see the good in my circumstance. Let me never forget that you are continually working things together for my good.
From the end of the earth I will call to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.Lord, you are the great comforter. You are my sustainer and my provider. When life's burdens seem too heavy to bear and my heart is overwhelmed, thank you for always being there for me. You are my rock and my fortress through the storms of life.
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.Lord, thank you for this encouraging promise. When the storms rage and the waters rise, may I remember that you are with me. I don't know what this year has in store, but I do know that you will be there to sustain me.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.Lord, I want to strive to be joyful, hopeful, and patient during the good times and the hard times. It's also my desire to be faithful in always coming to you in prayer. Give me opportunities to be your hands and feet and show your love to those around me. May my home be a place filled with love and hospitality.
If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.Lord, it is my heart's desire to continually seek you. May I also seek your will in every area of my life this year.
- Jeremiah 29:13
For I hold you by your right hand--I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, 'Don't be afraid. I am here to help you.'Lord, there are times when my heart grows fearful. I become anxious about the future or the current circumstances in my life. Help me to always remember that you are with me and my family. You carry me into this new year and hold me in the very palm of your hand, and I praise you for that.
'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'Lord, this verse is a favorite for so many. (It was my sister's favorite verse.) Help me to always trust in your plan for my life even when the future seems bleak. Whether I'm in a time of rejoicing or in a time of grief, help me to remember that you are in control. You do have a plan for my life and a plan for a future with you in heaven.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.Lord, I have so many plans for this year. I commit those plans to you. May the things I do and accomplish this year be for your glory. Amen.
How can I pray for you today? Is there something you are facing this year? I'd love to pray with and for you! Feel free to send me a private message or leave a comment below with any prayer request. The Bible tells us that where two or more are gathered in His name, He is with us. (Matthew 18:20) Let's join together this year in prayer.
Happy New Year!