Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Late New Year's Post...

"Since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature-- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made..." ~Romans 1:20

New Year's celebrations are over, and people have moved on. Except for me, that is. I'm late, but, oh well, here's a New Year's post anyway:

Normally, we spend New Year's Eve at our snowy home in the high desert with one of my sisters and her family. We make good food to eat and tasty treats (my favorite New Year's treat is my sister's peanut butter-chocolate dessert) and play some games. And then, at the stroke of midnight, while all of the neighbors are shooting guns and making a racket, our gang bolts out the front door to race around the house barefoot in the snow. This is a whole bunch of fun, but last year, it was so frigid outside that the snow was a bit icy, and we all ended up with little micro-cuts on our lower legs (all the more fun, right?!).

After our race around the house, we'd pull out the envelope that held the predictions we all wrote last year. On New Year's Day, we each write a list of predictions for the upcoming year (even the kids do this), then we put them in an envelope, seal it, and read them aloud on the following New Year's Eve. We prognosticate about everything-- politics, celebrities, and each other. Some of these prediction lists are quite hilarious, notably the ones created by my 10-year-old niece, Nicole.

Since we are not in the high desert this winter but are at my mom's house on the Oregon coast, my sister's family came here for our New Year's celebration. Another sister came out to Mom's house from town with her husband and a married son and his wife.

Mom had the great idea to build a bonfire in the fire ring down by the lake in front of her house. So, we roasted hot dogs and then marshmallows for s'mores. And I can't imagine anything nicer than making s'mores over a campfire. Simply standing by a campfire makes me happy, and apparently, I'm not the only one who feels that way, because we were all outside by the fire for hours.

The evening was just beautiful. It had been raining hard for days, but on the afternoon of New Year's Eve, the air cleared, the wind disappeared, and it was so still that the water on the lake was like glass. Which meant that the kids and some of the adults ended up in the three boats (two rowboats and a paddle boat) on the lake in the dark (life-jackets on, of course) using flashlights or reading lights to see (or not). We could hear the boaters talking and laughing their way around the lake, and at least once, the entire gang burst into boisterous singing (in unison). We couldn't see them, but we could see their tiny lights in the distance, and we could clearly hear the singing.

We went inside before midnight, and when midnight came, we all toasted with sparkling cider. Then my sister made us toast again a minute or two later when a different clock in the house struck midnight. Then she tried to make us do it again when yet another clock reached midnight, but we ignored her this time. :-)

The morning of New Year's Day was stormy with lots of rain and wind. I doubt very many people think of going on a hike in that kind of weather, but that's what some of us did. Our New Year's Day hike was on a trail alongside a lake under a thick tree canopy. Surprise, surprise, in spite of the storm, it was mostly dry all along the path. Just a few sprinkles reached us, and the trail was also mostly wind-free. It was a pretty hike, and it's always refreshing and invigorating to do something active outdoors.

I'm not a person to make New Year's resolutions, but I did like the very simple focus of my devotionals on January 1, and I thought they offered a nice mindset for the coming year. The passage in one of the devotionals was Psalm 125:1,2:

"Those who trust in the Lord are like Mt. Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore."

I like that. My part is to simply trust, and God's part is to surround and keep me. And then I cannot be shaken. When I simply trust in the Lord (simple, yes, but not easy), I can rest in the fact that God is taking care of every situation in my life. I can leave it all with Him and walk in St. Teresa's pleasant encouragement (from another devotional reading):

"Walk cheerfully and freely in God's service."

That's exactly how I want to set my mind every day, and I think I won't complicate this with any more words. :-) Instead, I'll share a few photos from our New Year's Day hike. The picture quality below isn't great, but the photos at least give an idea of what some of the trail is like (this is a very different kind of hiking terrain than the trails we hike in the high desert).

To the members of my family who like me to post pictures of what we're all up to, here ya go, guys... :-) (These are also for anyone who reads here.)

My sister and her husband moving along the trail.

My sister, two of her kids, and my Mom (blurry people; oops).