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December 6, 2013 by Kara Nichols

Each year my parents pick a word that will be their theme in Bible study and lifestyle. It’s a really casual, but beautiful thing that I’ve admired. They’ve studied peace, love, joy, patience, gratitude and 2013 has been seek. They meditate on scriptures and talk about what they find in the Bible about their chosen word. The apple doesn’t far from the tree and while on the treadmill this afternoon I decided that I would carry on this tradition.

Looking back, the word that makes the most sense for 2013 is restore. A Bible passage calls to me: Deuteronomy 30:3-5

God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there and bring you back to the land your ancestors once possessed. It will be yours again. He will give you a good life and make you more numerous than your ancestors.

I’m so thankful to God that He has been restoring everything I lost and has compassion on me every step of the way. God is restoring my mental health, emotional health, physical health. I feel like I’m in the midst of a life makeover. Don’t get me wrong: not everything is perfect. But I’m a completely different person than I was four years ago. I won’t bother you with particulars but let’s just say that another verse applies to me and its Psalm 40:2 which says, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

In 2013, my year of restoration, I’ve lost 60 pounds (15 with Weight Watchers, 45 with TSFL/Medifast), read over 50 books, made new friends, got connected in a church again, had wonderful times with family, and experienced a deep sense of peace. I started writing more letters and in my journal, I’m reaching out to more people, and learning how to cook. I know some of my little victories seem trite but I believe God is setting me up for a future where all of these things will come in handy.

And speaking of the future. I’ve decided that 2014 is the year of restraint for me. It’s not a very sexy word. Synonyms are self-control and self-government. I’m choosing restraint because it’s something I desperately want and need in my life. in 2013 I learned restraint with my eating habits. Now I want to transfer that to other areas such as exercise, staying on a schedule, budgeting money and holding down a job. I’m approaching official New Year’s Resolutions status with this post and I’m not a fan of those. The Bible has plenty to say about self-control.

Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”

1 Corinthians 9:27: “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

2 Timothy 1:7: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

The best part about studying and trying to live out a life of restraint is that I don’t have to go it alone. My Heavenly Father will be right by my side. The Holy Spirit will be cheering me on and helping me make good decisions. And sweet Jesus, my bridegroom, will be there for me whether I succeed or fail because His love is unconditional.

Thank you Lord for this past season of restoration, and I pray you give me strength in the days to come. Give me the courage to live a life of restraint in everything but give me the grace to take it one day at a time and learn from my mistakes instead of giving up altogether.

Most of you probably don’t have any spare time to think about what 2014 will mean to you, but I hope you will take a few minutes to consider what God has done for you in 2013 and what you’d like the next year to be like.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and God bless.

Kara

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