HAPPY NEW YEAR!
It is crazy to imagine that in the span of 24 hours, one year has ended and another year has officially begun. This new year is sure to be filled with the “unknowns” of tomorrow but also the wonderment of the many “possibilities” life has yet to present.
As I intentionally approach this new year, I confess to you that for far too long, I allowed myself to be pushed along by life. I just worked to make ends meet from one day to the next, but as you likewise may have experienced, those days turned into weeks, then months and in the blink of an eye another year is gone. Now mind you, that is not to say I did not have dreams, because I did. Nevertheless, with my goals I did not have the necessary plan in place to measure the progress or setbacks from the choices I made as I was prodded onward. It was easy and maybe even deceiving when I was young to look forward to the seemingly endless future, and believe there will always be plenty of time to accomplish all my aspirations. Oh, the value of hindsight! I am now older, and I realize that my days are truly numbered. I am profoundly aware each moment is too precious to waste. So, at a time when many boldly proclaim New Years resolutions that are rarely kept, I have decided, that before plunging headlong into this new year, I would take this occasion to look back at 2023 with a birds eye view.
He causes us to remember His wonderful works. How gracious and merciful is our Lord! Psalm 111
If you are reading my blogs, you hopefully have come to know two things about me; I love God and wildlife photography. Combining my love for God and my love for photography in a blog has been the most formidable endeavor I have done this past year. I am still not a writer, I am a talker. Talkers think faster than they can write and often use too many words to sound coherent on paper, or a computer. It makes me laugh at how many times I have to edit out all my extra ramblings. At the same time, I continue to be a work in progress. I have been learning to slow down and observe more…listening and looking for God stories. 2023 took me on some wonderful adventures but the priceless lessons I acquired are what I will carry with me into this new year.
The fun part about doing a fly over is you can quickly hit the highlights without having to re-live the difficult parts. Now that I am looking back, I am some what amused that 2023 started the same way it ended…I was sick. Note to self, make a different plan for starting 2024 “if only it was that easy”. We all can give an affirming nod that things don’t always go according to plans. Truthfully this can be said for most things in life, but be encourage and look for the fingerprints of God because I can testify that He never left your side even if things went awry.
The Lord will work out His plans for my life— for Your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for You made me. Psalms 138
Sometimes when you want to take flight you need a running start. One of my valuable lessons from this past year was confirming my identity in Jesus. As I observed a giant tortoise in the Galapagos islands, God reminded me once again that I no longer need to live in the muck and the mire of what has been done to me in my past or even chose to define my identity by my own failures. This is good for all of us to recall from time to time. On those occasions when life and the people around me can be hurtful, God has called me out from hiding away in my hard shell. I will trust in Him to go before me at all times. Furthermore, I will not listen as society tries to tell me I am a victim, because I am not. I am a VICTOR in Jesus and will live in the light of His truths.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.2 Corinthians 5
Upon review, I always come to the same conclusion. I think my most favorite place in the whole world to be is, Maui Hawaii in February. The humpback whales are there at that time. Could it be that they swim thousands of miles just to come celebrate my birthday with me? I like to think so. Many have told me that my love for the humpbacks borders on becoming an obsession. Umm, maybe that is possible, but the moment this magnificent giant surprisingly leaps out of the water towards heaven, you too might find yourself leaping upwards in delight right beside me, and with that better understand my passion. Actually, it is their story that has so truly inspired me. Hunted to the point of near extinction, with time — their remnant has slowly rebounded. Each year the humpback whales makes their voyage back to Maui. They come to mate and bring new life into this world. Even though these gentle giants exhibit the battle scars of life, they display their strength and resilience for all to see as they burst forth from the deep. Albeit, for me the most compelling part of their story, is their song. In spite of their many hardships they never stopped singing. All the humpbacks all over the world sing the same song and it is even more amazing to realize that the song changes every year. The first time I heard them sing I was in awe of the beauty of it. Reflecting on this past year I realize that I need to sing more in the good times and in the grueling times. Moreover, I do not need to hold back from bringing fresh songs into this new year.
He[God] has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord. Psalms 40
My time with the bald eagles last summer presented me with so many beneficial lessons, that I wrote two blogs about them. Even now trying to narrow those lessons down is so challenging. Nonetheless, I still find myself yearning to become more like the adult bald eagles with my everyday behaviors and choices — focused, determined, resolute, decisive, persistent, and unwavering. Even after the unthinkable calamity occurred with two adult bald eagles crashing into the frigid water below them, I will never forget God’s timely provision for the rescue of these two eagles. And I want to follow the example of these bald eagles in their near tragedy, because regardless of how any hardship may happened, the trauma of this event will remain behind them. What lay ahead for them, was resilient victorious flight! This next year I too will have the unexpected happen and possibly a calamity may occur, but with God beside me I hope to remain focused, determined, resolute, decisive, persistent, and resiliently victorious.
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. Psalms 46
Last, but not least, as I enter 2024 I want to “practice” living out continuous joy, just as I have observed it being lived out daily, right in front of me with God’s precious creatures. Remembering all of creation is declaring something or should I say SOMEONE greater than itself. From the buzzing of a bee, to the songs of the birds, to the roar of the lion, oh yes, and to the melody of the humpback whale — nature is pointing not to the creation but to the CREATOR Himself. God is the point of origin for this kind of joy. I need to continuously look around and behold His many God stories! His creation has embraced life so heartily that it overflows with a beautiful joyful noise. As expressed in creation, God desires to lead us also into His presence so we too can energetically grasp this undiluted joy. As I seek to walk in the footsteps of Jesus this new year, I desire for my life to fully be a reflection of His great pleasure and delight.
O Lord my God, You have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You[God] have no equal. If I tried to recite all Your wonderful deeds I would never come to the end of them. Psalms 40
So, as I take flight into this new year of 2024, I would like to start this year by giving to you my dear readers this prayer of blessing that comes straight from the heart of God.
‘May the Lord bless you [sustain you, and guard you]; and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you [with favor], and be gracious to you.[surrounding you with lovingkindness];
May the Lord show you His favor and give you His peace.’ [a tranquil heart and life].’ Numbers 6
From my heart to yours, may your 2024 be a year filled with the truths and blessings of God. May those truths strengthen you for tomorrows “unknowns” and the wonderment of the many “possibilities” life has yet to present. No matter what may cross our paths, may we all soar to new heights in this new year.
As we officially enter this new year, remember, always turn to the light of God’s truth. And as Jesus gave Himself to you, may you be encouraged to give yourself fully to Jesus throughout 2024.
I told You[God] my plans, and You answered. Now teach me Your decrees. Psalms 119