New Year's Preparations

“I’m not sure if I’m coming or going.” This is a statement people normally reserve for times of confusion and chaos or when they feel overwhelmed. But as I’m sitting here soaking up the last bit of sparkle from my Christmas tree before I take it all down and pack it away this afternoon, this sentiment feels especially appropriate. It is that strange time between Christmas and New Year’s when you can’t decide whether you should be feeling nostalgic and grateful for all the blessings of the last year or making plans and setting goals and resolutions for the year ahead.

Some of you church-going folks will testify with me when I say, “God is good… All the time…” And I’d be willing to bet, without even realizing it, you are saying (out loud) right now, “And all the time… GOD IS GOOD!” It’s not just a clever thing we say. We believe it one hundred percent because we live it. So, right now, I find myself much more comfortable with the idea of looking back in gratefulness to a God I have learned to trust than I am with trying to make plans.

I can’t be the only one who is a little weary of trying to set goals, schedule vacations, and plan for the future, right? It seems like everything I have tried to make happen in the last couple of years has inevitably had to be cancelled, changed, or set aside until another time because of COVID-19. We had a great trip to New York scheduled, complete with Broadway tickets and dreams of our favorite pizza place in Greenwich Village, when this all began. Our second son started college at Texas A&M in College Station in 2018. He graduated this month, but attended most of his college classes, sitting on his bed listening to lectures on his computer. It was not the Aggie experience he had always dreamed of. (It was still better than most other college students though, because... duh... it was the AGGIES! Gig-em!)

Something my husband has always told my boys, which I think is the best advice for this time in history, is “Don’t plan for your life. Instead, prepare for your life.” The older we get, the more I understand how out of control we really are. That could be a scary thought, if plans are all you have, but if you have made appropriate preparation, you will be ready, no matter what comes. These are some things we’ve tried to teach our four sons: 

  • Don’t decide what you want to be when you grow up. Prepare yourself to be useful and marketable, even in a world with changing needs and uncertainties.
  • Don’t decide to lose ten pounds. Prepare daily for a healthy body with good habits.
  • Don’t decide to find a wife. Prepare to be a good husband.
  • Don’t decide to buy something expensive. Prepare by saving for the future.
  • Don’t decide you are going to be a godly man. Prepare by studying and memorizing the Bible, spending time in prayer, and becoming intimately familiar with who Jesus is, so your life will mimic His as closely as possible.

Maybe preparation instead of planning is the advice we all need in this season of making resolutions. Maybe what we really need instead of “New Year’s Resolutions” is “New Year’s Preparations.” With new variants of this virus rolling out as fast as new iPhones, it may still be a while before we can make plans that will turn out the way we envisioned them. That doesn’t have to mean missing out is inevitable or that joy and peace can’t be found in our day-to-day lives. I refuse to wait until COVID is a thing of the past to live a life of value, and gratitude is always a key player in that type of life.

So, here’s my revolutionary idea... Instead of trying to get through this week of “limbo” between Christmas and New Year’s, when we can’t decide if looking back or looking forward is the most pressing need, let’s determine to live every week of 2022 doing both. Let’s spend every week being grateful for the blessings of the week before and preparing to be a blessing to others in the weeks ahead.

Happy New Year, Texarkana!


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