Tag Archives: New Year

Happy New Year! But wait…

So 2017 has come and gone. It’s the time for reflection and resolutions. I tend to prefer to reflect and forego the resolutions. And so instead of the traditional Christmas letter, here are my musings and thoughts on the past year, which was busy and full of changes both big and small.

Last January brought a season of job searching and interviewing as I continued to seek a change in career from full-time clinical work to a career in academia. God always proves himself faithful. (It is a mystery why I continue to doubt this truth when He proves it over and over.) By March I accepted an offer to continue to teach at Central College and I am currently in the first year of that three year contract.

With some added stability to my future, it seemed time to buy a house. God has been teaching me about being rooted and established in his love, now it was time to put down roots in a community I’ve been investing in for almost ten years already. And again, God proved faithful. And on September 1st I closed on and moved into a home more beautiful than I could have dreamt of on my own.

And the final big news of 2017 is I was able to launch a research project, my first since completing my dissertation in graduate school. I’m so excited to explore the relationship between mission trip participation and spiritual development. I’m collecting data now and so feel free to take my survey! It only takes 10-15 minutes to complete and anyone can participate. (Here’s the link! – https://centralpsychology.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_baBvP9N6aN5TjGB)  Not only is this a topic I’m passionate about, but I also get to share the findings with colleagues at a conference in April.

So that’s the Christmas card version – you know, the events of the last year made pretty and any low or challenging parts neatly and cleanly edited out. But that’s not reality, nor is it authentic. The reality is this past year was full of incredible highs and the accompanying lows. It was ripe with growth, and the expected growing pangs. There was celebrating exciting new beginnings and grieving the necessary endings. And it was all a blessing.

You see, it is so tempting to deny the painful and only focus on the Christmas card version of the past year. Or it can be equally tempting to become overwhelmed by the hard times the previous year held and simply write it off as a total loss and eagerly see the New Year as a chance to start over with a completely clean slate. But both of these approaches are incomplete. Life is lived forward but only understood when we look back. Accurate reflection requires holding and experiencing the tension of both the good and the bad, the victories and the disappointments, and joyful and the painful.

So the joy of a new job comes with the sadness of letting go of an old one. The conviction of pursuing a newfound calling comes with the doubts and fears of being able to succeed (and sometimes fearing God won’t come through – even though He always does)! The excitement of buying a new home comes with the disappointment of losing three previous houses to other offers. The relief of an accepted offer comes with the anxiety of actually spending the down payment money you’ve been saving for years (and have unknowingly been leaning on for a sense of security). The incredible outpouring of community that surrounds you on move in day can give way to loneliness when at the end of the day you return to a large home instead of a small apartment. And feeling like a competent adult can melt away before your very eyes when you can’t quite find a way to get your gutters clenaed out or you’re not entirely sure how to mow anymore because you haven’t done it since high school. And the spiritual growth and intimacy that results from pressing in during times of uncertainty eventually gives way to feeling distant from God and spiritually dry.

So whether 2017 was the best year of your life or one of the worst, it is important to reflect and embrace it in its entirety. To ignore or deny the good or the bad is inauthentic and incomplete. The truth is every year involves both – no year is simply one or the other. If 2017 was one of your best, don’t forget to acknowledge the darker moments that made the good moments shine that much brighter. And if it is a year you’d rather forget, then it is all the more important to spend time today and throughout this week reflecting on the hidden blessings and ways God brought you through. Fight the urge to simply forget and move on.

I gladly welcome 2018 and expect it to be a wonderful year. But I won’t completely say good bye to 2017 before properly reflecting on all it held and thanking God for every aspect of the past year. I hope you do the same and invite you to share any lessons learned or insights gained from the past year in the comments below. HAPPY NEW YEAR (and happy reflecting too)!


The Great Invasion of Christmas


The New Year is upon us and frankly, I’m not ready for it! I’m still celebrating Christmas. After four weeks of Advent – the preparing, the waiting, the anticipating (the rushing, the scrambling, the busyness), Christmas comes and seems to go in the blink of an eye. And I’m never quite ready to move on.

The good news is that I don’t have to. As cliché as it may sound, Christmas really does last all year. The simplicity of a baby’s birth shook the earth and changed the course of history. Peace on Earth and good will to men. Immanuel. God is with us! God has come to save us! However, not all were comforted by this great news. My pastor stated that the peaceful manger scene actually represents a holy invasion and the heavenly battle intensified that night.


Every year there seems to be one particular Christmas song that touches my heart causing emotions to swell and tears to flow. Each year a different song rises to the occasion and this year, “Glory in the Highest” by Chris Tomlin was the winner. I believe the reason this song found itself on repeat in my car is because it speaks to the earth shattering nature of Christmas. Despite its beautiful melody, there is great power behind the lyrics.

Apart from You there is no God, Light of the world, the bright and morning star. Your name will shine for all to see. You are the one, You are my glory.

And no one else could ever compare to You, Lord. All the earth together declares Glory in the Highest!


The miracle of Christmas is not just peace on earth, but that the battle has intensified. The King of King’s has invaded to reclaim the creation He loves so much. As the battle rages on, in the darkest of times, we live in the hope and the truth that the war has been won.

All the earth will sing Your praise, The moon and stars, the sun and rain, Every nation will proclaim, You are God and You will reign. Glory, glory, Hallelujah, Glory, glory to you, Lord!

What began in a manger and was finished on a cross, will come to fruition when Jesus returns not as a lowly baby, but as the victorious King of King’s. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord! Oh what a glorious day that will be!

Ready or not, the new year is upon us. It’s a time to look back and give thanks for the year’s blessings (or to be grateful for simply making it through) and it’s a time to look forward to the possibilities of the year to come. So as we pack up the ornaments and put away the Nativity sets and bring out the party hats and watch the ball drop, let’s not put away Christmas. Yes the war is won, but the battle rages on. Instead of setting personal resolutions, how about  committing to a holy resolve… resolve to join the battle by being the light of Jesus Christ throughout this new year.

As I look back at the first year of MND GMZ Ministries, I am profoundly grateful. What warms my heart most is you – my readers, cheerleaders, and prayer warriors. And as I look forward to the beginning of year two, I have VERY exciting news to announce! I have been invited to be the next speaker for the Staley Distinguished Scholar Lecture Series at Central College. The what? This is a program by the Thomas F. Staley Foundation seeking to bring speakers to campuses that can clearly communicate with students on topics of an evangelical nature. So SAVE THE DATES!

“Wounded: Finding healing in the midst of emotional pain” Sunday, February 8, at 9:00 pm at The Chapel at Central College

“Becoming Beloved” Monday, February 9, TBD at Cox-Snow Music Center at Central College

Hope to see you there!