New Beginnings


Do you notice that sometimes there are themes around you? I do. Every once in a while, many things around me (or even in me) will work in apparent concert toward some consistent message, idea, or theme.

Lately, I am being pretty often reminded that life is full of new beginnings.

And also that it is not.

For example, each day is a new start, each year—happy new year to you, reader!—and many other instances on the calendar or the clock provide us with a fresh beginning.

Today I marveled at sleep. Each night (for most) we shut down to regenerate. Our energy (and even our heart and mind) is replenished by an end of one day, and a preparation for the beginning of the next. Even within sleep there are cycles that our bodies go through, giving us the most effective, helpful rest to replenish us. Incredible.

A new home, a new business, even paying off debt and gaining new financial freedom—even in our own creations we find the recurring theme of a fresh start.

Some new beginnings are thrust upon us, contrary to anything we may have chosen, by accident, illness, or the will of others. Life can change in a moment—and never go back to how it was.

There are so many new beginnings, it seems to me that it is an essential part of God’s design.

Certainly not the suffering, or any evil, or the pain and brokenness of a fallen world, of the fallen us. But with so many examples around us of cycles of fresh starts and new beginnings, it must be a truth our Designer wants us to see.

Recently I have been noticing that I am no longer young. I don’t feel old, and I realize that compared to many, I do not qualify as aged. (I just spent time with my nearly-nonagenarian grandparents. They probably think I’m silly to talk about “not being young”.)

One recurring scene that reminds me that time has passed is young families. At the store, in photos of friends on social networking sites, at the public library—everywhere I see what I once was. I was them. My young wife and I, along with our younger (and fewer) children. We were those confident-yet-bewildered brand-new adults, feeling our way into what would become our life.

Sometimes—more often than you might think—I wish we could go back. I don’t want to really go back; who would? But I do wonder what it would be like to enjoy that newness again while keeping all the wisdom life has taught me through the experiences we’ve had since.

That is not the way of things.

Life always moves forward. We can’t—and shouldn’t—go back. And so God gives us new beginnings. Each day, each month, each year. And sometimes the new beginning happens at a moment of our choosing. When we choose to accept his new mercy this morning.

Those may sound like “just words” to you. When life thrusts a new beginning upon us, unwelcome, and unchangeable… we don’t want words. We want what we’ve lost. We want to undo the change.

I think God has reminders placed all around us—really, everywhere—that we would know that life moves forward, and he moves with us.

Maybe each time we remember that (and believe it), that is another new beginning. Which means we are perfectly, exactly where we’re meant to be.

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends![a]
His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
Lamentations 3:22-23


Lake Tahoe - Calm Water

It’s amazing what a little ‘R & R’ can do for a body.

And I don’t just mean one’s physical body.

For a good while now I’ve been feeling as though I am running on empty—nearly all the time, every day. That’s obviously not a great way to exist (nor, even more obviously, to thrive) and thus I have endeavored to adjust my daily schedule, plan for downtime, and just attempt to find any solution to the constant feeling of at-wits-end.

On Sunday morning, Jen had a plan. She offered to let me have a relaxing day—alone—to read, write, do whatever I wanted to do, free of any responsibilities that I might normally have. I hesitated only briefly, and then gratefully accepted her offer. She did, after all, offer… and, although she doesn’t prefer taking trips out (especially all day) with all six kids, she was in possession this day of a definitive plan. That always helps.

And so, I helped prepare the troops for departure, and then waved goodbye in the late morning hours, looking forward to whatever my quiet day might bring.

I’d like to say that I plopped right down in my favorite reading chair and spent the next many hours devouring one or more of my currently in-progress books, stopping only to empty my bladder or refill my cup of tea—but that’s not exactly what happened.

I started a load of laundry, then I went through my inbox, knowing there were a few messages to tend to. I did few maintenance tasks for my blog’s Facebook and (new) Twitter accounts, and I finally did sit down with a book.

But then I was a bit hungry after not much reading, so… I went and switched the laundry, starting a new load, prepared a small lunch, and after finishing that, headed back to my reading chair.

After that, when I tried to refill my mug, I noticed that my water was all gone—so, back downstairs to refill the large bottle on my water dispenser (which meant I also had a chance to stick in another load of laundry)… and this time I was actually quickly back into the world of my selected current read.

And then I noticed it.

You know when your phone’s battery is completely drained, and it even shuts down to preserve itself until you can connect it to a power source, and then it actually take a while before it can even come back online to show you that you have almost no battery power?

I think I was kind of like that.

So even though I wasn’t doing a very good job of only resting, I was alone, and quiet.

And it was working.

The funniest thing that I noticed was, after finishing up another chapter, my mind wandered—happily this time—to thoughts of tending to our garden, or mowing our yard while listening to an episode of a podcast I enjoy.

I even sat down at the piano and began playing a new song, apparently flowing from the energy that had been renewed in me.

I was back online, and my battery indicator had finally entered the green stage.

And I remembered the several times that the gospel writers mentioned Jesus’ habit of slipping away to be alone, to recharge:

But Jesus would often go to some place where he could be alone and pray. Luke 5:16 CEV

Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowd… Mark 7:17

With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night. Matthew 14:23 MSG

If Jesus knew the value of being alone—and especially with the purpose of reconnecting with Father—how silly of us to not make this a priority in our lives, too.

Sometimes it’s so hard, though. Being the parent of many children is certainly one of those times. They need you, as does your spouse. And it’s a joy to serve them.

But you aren’t you when you’re worn out, tired, not rested—when you’ve not taken intentional time to rest and be quiet.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

I have been rising early to go for a two-mile walk four or five days per week. That’s a half hour or so, usually, of quiet, alone time. And I am mostly “alone” when I am working, but there are other demands on me there, obviously.

One might say my easily recognized rejuvenation in just a few hours of quiet today reveals that in order to be more “me”… quiet and alone need to be on my schedule at some point.

And with God’s help—and Jen’s—so shall it be. 🙂