Hello 2017!

First off, thank you to everyone who gave me so much love on my Dear 2016 post. I feel so blessed by receiving such positive feedback and so much support already! So, thank you all.

Now, on to the purpose of this post! Since my “Dear 2016” post went up after the New Year but was still centered on 2016, I think this post officially marks 2017! Woo! So here are some encouraging words from my heart about this new year as well as some pictures of a snowy day here in VA!

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So a topic of recent discussion is New Year’s resolutions! There are always differing opinions on this topic which sometimes results in two extremes. Some people idolize the turn of the year and vow to recreate themselves and change their life! This outlook often includes a full workout plan, a new diet, constant Facebook updates, and intense guilt once the second week of January hits. These people often set standards for themselves that are nearly impossible, resulting in all hope being lost until next January.

And then, other people dislike the entire idea of New Year’s resolutions. Whether this dislike stemmed from personal failure or the recognition that people always have the opportunity to change, these people treat January 1st like just another day.

And truly, both opinions hold truth.

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But honestly, isn’t there something refreshing about people throughout the whole world seeking a fresh start? Isn’t it encouraging that people are self evaluating their lives and aiming to improve upon them? It’s a topic of debate, to say the least, but the idea of New Year’s resolutions has always stirred my heart.

My perspective on New Year’s resolutions fluctuates depending on the goal in mind and the purpose for setting them. If the purpose for a resolution is for self improvement and creating a healthy lifestyle, I am all for it. If the purpose for a resolution is to help you grow closer in your relationships and strengthen your connections to people and to God, I am all for it. If the purpose for a resolution is to pursue hobbies and a lifestyle that you love, I am all for it. If the purpose of a resolution is to “feel better” physically, emotionally, or mentally, I am all for it.

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Yet, if the purpose for a resolution is to “look better” in appearance, I am not for it. No, I’m not saying that fitness goals are wrong, but treating a New Year’s resolution like an idolized weight loss plan is not healthy and empowering. If the purpose for a resolution is just to make somebody else happy, I am not for it. If the purpose for a resolution incites that “this is my only chance for a fresh start”, I am not for it.

Seeing the New Year as a new opportunity and a “fresh start” is awesome, but not when it is seen as your only hope. Setting goals and motivating yourself in the beginning of a new year is a great way to open a new chapter, but not if you don’t recognize that the same opportunity was awaiting you all year long.

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See, the problem that often comes with setting New Year’s resolutions is the denial that: 1) you, your life, and your efforts were sufficient last year
2) you were worth loving last year and
3) you held the power to create change in your life last year.

Seeing January 1st as the only time that you can actually change is false. As pessimistic as it sounds, we are not promised tomorrow. So waiting for January 1st to come before you set personal goals is a shallow way of living.

God constantly and openly invites you into a relationship of love all year long. Not only in January.

He constantly offers you a chance to change your life by following Him and living according to His desires for you. He constantly reminds you that you, as you were last year and as you are right now, are fearfully and wonderfully made in His likeness.

Despising the size of your thighs is despising a masterpiece created by God. Despising the season of life you are in is despising the journey that God has ordained. Despising the failures and the mess-ups of 2016 is despising the brokenness that is what leads us to the Father.

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And so, my friends, I remind you. You do not have to wait.
You do not need to wait until the calendar flips over to kick start your life by pursuing a relationship with Him.
You do not need to wait until the calendar flips over to reach those fitness goals that you are dreaming about.
You do not need to wait until the calendar flips over to muster up the courage to pursue a life you love.
You do not need to wait until the calendar flips over to grow closer to the people you love.
You do not need to wait until the calendar flips over to challenge yourself spiritually.
You do not need to wait until the Calendar flips over to learn how to love yourself and the life that you are living.
You do not have to wait.

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With that in mind, I encourage you to evaluate yourself now that 2017 has begun. What do you feel you were lacking last year that you can now pursue with arms open wide? How can you show love to yourself this year and improve your lifestyle? How can you strengthen your faith and step out towards a new and exciting journey?
Remember that these questions are for anyone, at any time of the year.
Forgive yourself and others so that you can turn the page into this next adventure.  Challenge yourself to continually seek out an intentional and joyful life. Recognize the improvements that can be made, but show love to yourself and your life right now. Reach for the hand that Jesus is offering to you all 365 days of the year, and go forth towards a more intimate relationship with Him.
Push yourself deeper, pull others closer, and run a little harder into 2017.

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Wishing you all a happy new year, and praying that you each understand that this chapter is what you make of it.
xx Gail

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