Happy new year to you, beloved community! I hope this weekly note finds you well, or if not well, in the midst of seeking wholeness and restoration of you and your family in 2018. The days of post-Christmas holidays were so nice for my family, as we gathered with both sides for several days each of warm fellowship and gratitude. Lived in a different pace and rhythm (several times, we all stayed in our PJs from dawn to dusk!), these days opened up space for reflection on this past year and renewal for the year ahead.

I began 2017 shortly after the birth of and maternity leave for my sweet Silas. Our family had grown beyond what we knew how to manage; Josh and I were learning how to be outnumbered by our little ones! My work was full, and with impending decisions about the church’s facilities, staffing, ministries, and future surely on the 2017 horizon, I was carrying some anxiety and fear. Our country’s bruising election had left gaping wounds among us, and proclaiming good news in the midst of it all was proving to be a weekly challenge. And as 2016 drew to a close, I realized — for the health of myself, my family, and my ministry, it was clear that I needed to do some real inner work in 2017.

Shoving to the back of my mind years past where resolutions I made in the early weeks of January had already fallen by the wayside in February, I committed myself to a year-long journey of health and wholeness in tangible ways. I began holding fast to my sabbath practice this year, setting up daily rhythms and cues — ones even as simple as using a certain coffee mug (my ‘sabbath mug’!) on only that morning — to orient me to a different way of being. I let “do less, better” shift my natural tendencies to say yes to everything, so that my ‘yes’s’ could be more intentional and meaningful. I gave careful attention to what I ate and drank, trying to fill my body with things that fuel and nourish it, not rob it of its potential. I began a regular practice of yoga, and made my prayer life more focused and faithful. I prioritized reading and started rising earlier each day so that Josh and I could share our first quiet moments of the day with each other, rather than just the last moments where kids and life and work had already depleted us. I asked God to illuminate how I could be a more faithful, creative follower of Christ this year.

I can assure you, I made many missteps in this year-long journey, moments of slipping back into old habits or comfortable, easy options. But I can also bear witness to the power of small changes, intentional commitments, and sustained practice over time to renewing one’s whole self. I can attest to the ways that God has lovingly and sometimes uncomfortably invited me into a deeper, more profound understanding of life and my part in it. I can proclaim with confidence that daily practice and regular attention to one’s commitments actually can shift even the longest-held habits. Through the power of the Christ in whom all things are made new, I enter into 2018 more sure of who and whose I am: beloved child of God, created from Love and for love.

No matter what 2018 may hold for you, my prayer for you and for us is that we can open ourselves to the God whose work in our lives is never done.

Together in the work of Love,
Pastor Emily

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