Fearing Forward – The New Year

Some face a new year with much anticipation. Others face a new year with some fear and dread. As you look back over the last twelve months, maybe your life took some hits. Maybe your marriage is still reeling from things you could never have foreseen.

The following guest post by Connie Law Plummer will help you prepare for a new year with new uncertainties.

Generally, I am not in a hurry to put Christmas away.  To me the season passes so quickly that I savor the days after Christmas and enjoy reflecting. Gods love, His care, my blessings, my family, the year that is winding down; all of these fill my heart as I look at the lights on our tree   And usually, I am excited at the prospect of the new year and what it brings. But if I am honest, this year I am feeling something different, something akin to fear.

At what other time of year are we so aware of the passing of time than while we count down to midnight on December 31st?  This year I am keenly aware of all I did not know this time last year.  Though I knew we were adding a new grand baby to our family ranks, I did not know she would require specialists and surgery and emotional strain for all of us, in addition to the joy she brought.   I did not know that I would hurriedly pack a suitcase and make a middle of the night drive to stay with another grandchild in a town two hours away, while his sister was rushed to a major pediatric medical center in another city for emergency surgery.  I did not know that I would pretty much desert my husband for a while to help out at the hospital with the newborn while her mother tended her other daughter, the recipient of that surgery.

As I looked at the Christmas lights at the close of last year, I had no way of knowing that four close family members would step out of this life and into the next so unexpectedly and tragically.  Each death unrelated to the other, and three coming in rapid succession.   I didn’t know that a great deal of my year would be spent loving the people around me who were grieving so deeply.  I didn’t know.

And so, I look at the lights this year, and feel hesitant about stepping forward into next year, like my hesitancy is going to keep time from advancing.  If this year was so costly, how can I dive into another year and risk more pain? So I examine my choices.  Hide out, refuse to take down the tree, and refuse to acknowledge the New Year?   Will that stop anything?  Will that cure my fear?

After sorting through all of these thoughts, here is where I land.

  • When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. (Psalm 56:3)
  • Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
  • For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

So here we go………Happy New Year!

Connie Law Plummer

Encourage!

In my last post, Why So Serious, I talked about taking part in a funeral for a lady in our church. She had lived to be ninety-three and was married to the same man for seventy-two years. A mere two weeks after her funeral, we were holding another funeral for her ninety-four year old husband, who died just nine days after her.

Read moreEncourage!

Why So Serious?

I recently took part in a funeral for a lady in our church who died at the age of ninety-three. Living to the age of ninety-three is remarkable in and of itself, but what was even more remarkable was that she and her husband (who is ninety-four years old) had been married for seventy-two years! As a marriage counselor, that makes these two my heroes!

What is it that helps a marriage stay together for seventy-two years?

Read moreWhy So Serious?

Glory Days

Glory days are defined as “times in the past that are regarded as being better than the present.”

Glory days can be that winning pass of the high school championship, that time we were big on campus and had the hot date, or that carefree summer we spent at the beach with friends. Whatever they may be, we all have glory days in the past that seem better than the present.

As a married couple, you have glory days. Maybe it was when you were dating and everything was fresh and new. Maybe it was the excitement of your wedding day. Maybe it was the early days of marriage when hope and passion were always high.

But what if those glory days now seem like a distant memory? What if those glory days have been replaced with marital conflict, parenting demands, financial pressure, and work stress. What if the days of passion have changed from “I can’t beat them off with a stick” to “I want to beat them up with a stick?”

Read moreGlory Days

What Does a Ham Have to Do With Marriage?

At the beginning of every year, we look at things we can do to make the new year better. But when it comes to marriage, what you do now will not only effect the new year, but generations to come.

There’s a story about a young wife who always cut off the end of the ham before she baked it. When her husband asked why she did this, she responded, “I don’t know. My mom always did it.” This made the husband curious, so he went to his mother-in-law and asked her why she cut off the end of a ham before baking it. His mother-in-law replied, “I don’t know. It’s something my mother always did when baking a ham.” The mystery went unresolved for some time, until one day the young couple were visiting the wife’s grandmother.

Read moreWhat Does a Ham Have to Do With Marriage?

Genesis 5 – Will You Stand Out?

Reading through a family tree can be a little dull. “Your great, great, great grandfather Joe Smith was born in Kentucky. He grew up and worked in the coal mines. He met a lady named Ann Jones. They married and had three kids. One of those kids was named Ben. Ben grew up and worked…”
But occasionally, there’s an ancestor who stands out. There’s something about their character or conduct that makes them rise above the drone of names, and you’re struck by the impact they had on the family…and eventually you.
Genesis chapter five gives us the family lineage of Noah. Like most family trees, it can be a little dull to read. There’s the name of someone you don’t know. You find out how long they lived before they had a child, and how long they lived after that child. Then they die and the pattern starts all over again with the child.
But in the middle of all the names, one person stands out. His name is Enoch. There’s something different about Enoch. Twice in four verses, we’re told Enoch “walked with God.” (This phrase is not used with the others names in the lineage.) Then it doesn’t say that Enoch died, like everyone else. Instead, we’re told “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” – Genesis 5:24 ESV.
Then the lineage goes on as usual, until you get to Noah. Noah stands out. He is described as “one who will bring relief.” He (like Enoch) is also described as someone who “walked with God.” – Genesis 6:9.
Perhaps there’s a connection between Enoch standing out and Noah standing out.
When your descendants review their family tree, will you stand out above the drone of names as someone who walked with God? Will your life impact future generation to stand out for God?
Bret Legg is the Teaching and Counseling Pastor at Warren Baptist Church in Augusta, GA.

The Power of a Few Seconds

Sometime back I was listening to a news report about a school shooting when I heard the newscaster say, “It only took 80 seconds for a high school senior to enter the high school, shoot a fellow student and then kill himself.” 80 seconds! Less than a minute and a half! That’s all it took to take two lives, irreversibly devastate two families, and traumatize a school and community forever. Just 80 seconds!

Listening to this story, I was struck by the power of a few seconds and I began to think of other situations effected by the power of a few seconds. A few seconds of distraction behind the wheel. A few seconds of inattention to a safety valve. A few seconds of leaving a child unattended by a swimming pool. There is power in a few seconds.

The same is true for marriage. A few seconds can make all the difference.

Read moreThe Power of a Few Seconds

How to Improve Your Marriage Pictures

We’ve all had our share of bad photos. Think back to your fashion-questionable high school days, or those family portraits that looked more like the Adams Family than a happy family. It’s safe to say we all have pictures we would like to delete from the archives.

The other day, I came across The 50 Weirdest Engagement Portraits Of All Time. It’s just what it says…50 very weird engagement photos. They are painful to look at and they leave you asking, “What were they thinking?”

All this got me wondering, “What would pictures of my marriage look like over the years?”

Read moreHow to Improve Your Marriage Pictures

What Makes a Good Marriage Story – Part 7: The Ending

(The posts in this series have been adapted from the “Relentless Love” marriage seminar, created and taught by David McKinley and Bret Legg at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, TX.)

In this series, we’ve talked about the things that go into making a good marriage story. We’ve talked about the author, the characters, the obstacles, the guide, and the action.

As we come to the end of this series (I can almost hear you cheering) it seems appropriate that we finish by talking about the ending of your marriage story.

Read moreWhat Makes a Good Marriage Story – Part 7: The Ending