Is there anyone else out there just itching to take down Christmas?  I find myself eyeing the mantle, thinking of how long it will take me to undress and pack away the tree. Everything in me wants to grab stuff from here and there around the house, and haul it all upstairs to the big red bins. Grab those ancient fake deer in our front yard and pack them away in their boxes for another eleven months.  I'm ready to move on to the upcoming new year.

January 1 is my absolute, hands down favorite day of the year. Better than my birthday, anniversary, or Christmas. A whole white page on the calendar with nothing on it, and I'm not expected to do anything except watch the Rose Bowl parade in my pajamas.

For more years than I can remember, I've started the year with a new journal, with the first page being taken up with that year's Word of the Year and also at least several resolutions, if not twelve. Sometimes I do twelve. Well, make twelve, not actually do them. This past year, January 1, 2015 I resolved to read thru the Bible (check), attend a particular conference (check), invest in friendships (check), improve photography skills (fail), improve knitting skills (jury is still out), make two quilts (fail), read 15,000 pages (check) and clear out photos (dismal failure).

2015 was difficult in all sorts of ways, for me, for our family. We  had some really great things happen - new careers started, our family's church growing, babies thriving, a brace off for a grandkid, a brace on for a grandkid, my mother going into a nursing home (hard but a huge blessing), seeing dear friends, big birthday celebrations, etc. etc. But we also lost a family member unexpectedly, had to put mom in the nursing home, careers ended, people were scary sick, fingers semi-amputated, just the typical stuff families deal with. The truth is most of our family tree is ready to see 2015 go into the books.

I'm in the mood to finish up, cast off, set aside, and then thoughtfully, carefully pick up a few new things that are calling my name.

Being honest - I've rarely started the year praying and asking God to tell me what He wants from me, for me, this year. I'm better at diving in and making lists of what I want from the year. I have chosen DARE as my word of the year, (something I've done for at least the last five years), so we'll see what I feel like God is speaking to me, through scripture, through praying, through quiet walks with Lily, and how that word will play out in His plans. I'm not saying God does or doesn't care whether I DARE to improve my photography or knitting skills - maybe He does! Or maybe He has a bigger plan for me and that somehow fits into it?

I'm thinking He might want me to DARE to apologize, forgive, grow, get strong, learn, do the thing, explore, start, quit, accept, give away...... we'll see. I seriously doubt if God would ever direct any of us to 'lose ten pounds' - what has to be the most often picked resolution - but maybe He would nudge me to dare to get healthy, get strong, get my BMI to a good place. Jeremiah 29:11 tells me 'I know the plans I have for you....' That sounds to me like someone who knows what I should be writing on that first page of my journal, rather than the pithy stuff I would likely come up with. I just have to be still, be quiet, and listen. I know He's a good God,  gentle, loving and I can tell him my heart's desires for the year, and wait and see whether that's His best for me.

To get ready for the New Year, just around the corner, I'm going to begin to take down and put away the holiday stuff. I'm a little tired of the feel of so much all around me, (especially those half-eaten trays of cookies, etc. that scream my name every night around 10 pm) but the bigger truth is that I'm ready for a clean slate, a heart opened wide to whatever He might have for me. Rather than make resolutions, I'm going to ask what He'd have me DARE to be, to do.

If it has very little to do with organizing 40 years of family photos I'm okay with that.
How about you? Do you make resolutions? Have you made any? Do you ever keep any of them? Do you pick a word of the year and let it guide you? Your choices for the year? And when do you undecorate? More importantly, do you actually clean when you put all that holiday stuff away?

Sidenote: the only actual dare I've ever taken was from my oldest brother, Jerry, to eat an entire jalapeño pepper. Most miserable  night of my life and I've never done so again.


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