Ahhh—Christmas is over for another year! As much as we love Christmas, I know most women are probably breathing a sigh of relief. We can finally sit down and relax after weeks of shopping, baking, decorating, wrapping and partying. I was exhausted, and per my husband’s orders, have barely moved now for two days!
All that sitting has given me time to reflect on some of the fun times we had. Christmas Eve is the big event in our family, when my mother and all my siblings and their families gather together to celebrate. My two girls and their families (17 in all) and one niece and her family (another 5) could not be there—but we still had 29 of us—a nice big crowd! We had an amazing array of goodies—umpteen appetizers, cookies, candy, pizza… Santa made a “surprise” visit for the little ones with a present for each of them from his sack. (Robbie got a big cow bell—he was thrilled; the rest of the family not so much!) Of course there were gifts for all under the tree. And then there was the infamous annual photo shoot of each family, and my mom and her children and grandchildren.
The photo shoot. My least favorite part of the evening. Oh, it’s fun to watch the children as we try to get them to smile—or at least stay in one place, keep their fingers out of their mouths or noses and look at the camera. It is nice, too, to see how some of them are growing up into fine young adults. I hate having my picture taken, though, so I would just as soon skip that activity. This year my sister introduced something to the photo shoot that has had me chuckling ever since.
Her family was up first. Cheree stood there proudly with her two sons, daughter-in-law and three
randchildren, hand on her hip, elbow pointed toward the camera and smiled. “This is my skinny elbow!” she proclaimed as we laughed at her pose. “My friend told me to do the skinny elbow, and you’ll look skinnier in the pictures!”
“Oh, boy!” the rest of us ladies chortled. “We’re going to have to do the skinny elbow now, too!” And most of us did, laughing as we posed. Whether or not we actually looked skinnier remains to be seen since I haven’t seen the pictures yet, but I sure would like to think we did! Even my 85 year old mother wanted to get in on the act, but she was sitting surrounded by her children and grandchildren with no room to do the skinny elbow. “Not fair!” she laughed.
I sure would love to have skinny—anything! Waist, hips, thigh, bu—well, you get the idea. Why, just this morning I was thrilled to inform my husband that I had a skinny foot! (My right foot has been swollen ever since I injured it on the first of November, and it got even worse this week when I was so busy getting ready for Christmas. Bob made me sit with it propped up since Christmas night and it has helped tremendously.)
Most of us would like to be at least a little skinnier than we are—and there are a lot us who would love to be a lot skinnier! I used to want to lose weight so that I would look better—now at my age I just want to be healthier. Did you know the #1 New Year’s Resolution in this country is to lose weight? No surprise, huh? More people join gyms and/or weight loss organizations such as Weight Watchers, buy self-help books, and try all manner of tips and fads to get fit and healthy in the New Year than any other time of the year. Each year about one third of Americans vow to lose weight/get healthy/get physically fit in some way, and about 75% of those people have stuck to their resolution one week later. Less than one half (46%) are still working on that goal six months later.
The noun resolution has its stem in the adjective resolute, meaning “firmly resolved or determined; set in purpose or opinion; characterized by firmness and determination; firm, steadfast, fixed, unwavering, undaunted.” Many people blithely make a list of New Year’s Resolutions, but without the “firm, steadfast, determined resolve” it takes to stick to them, that list is not worth the paper it’s written on.
People began making New Year’s resolutions back in the ancient days of the Babylonians. Three thousand years later we still strive to make plans and set goals to improve ourselves and be happier in the upcoming year. And three thousand years later we still break them as easily as we make them.
We Christians, however, have help accessible to us if we would just avail ourselves of it. When God is involved in whatever we do, we can succeed. First of all, we ought to ask, are these plans and goals God’s will for my life? Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” What is the motivation—do I want to lose weight to be beautiful or to be healthier? Is this desire God-honoring or self-honoring? Do I want to glorify the temple of the Holy Ghost or glorify myself? “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (I Corinthians 6:19, 20)
After the Why? we should ask the How? Whatever God calls us to do, He will provide the wherewithal to do it. (I Thessalonians 5:24) He has promised His strength—“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) We do not need to rely on our own strength or willpower when we are trusting completely on Him and yielded to accomplishing His will.
He will give us the strength and determination to accomplish what He has set before us. Daniel was an example to us of a godly young man who had the determination to do God’s will. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” (Daniel 1:8) We need determination and a commitment to fulfill whatever God asks of us. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” (Colossians 3:23) When we do this, He promises victory. “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” (Psalm 37:5, 6)
The Bible says, “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.” (Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5) Think of a resolution as a vow to yourself—and to God. Better not to make the resolution at all, than to make it and break it. Better yet—make it and reach that goal!