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A new year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.

– unknown

Somehow, mysteriously, we have reached the last few days of 2021.

In many ways, this was a tougher year than 2020, the year everyone loved to hate. We've seen a lot of suffering and pain, we've seen division in countries and families and churches, we've seen wars and natural disasters. . . but we've also seen resilience. We've seen people refuse to give in to despair and bitterness and conflict. We've seen people put the needs of others above their own. A lot of us have been able to see that our priorities were out of order and have shuffled them around. 

This past Christmas weekend held a mixed bag of emotions for me. My mind was a jumble of thoughts about my family, my church, my job, my friends, my future. Happiness. Worry. Excitement. Nervousness. Disappointment. Hope.

What! You too? 

In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis wrote: "Friendship. . .is born at the moment when one man says to another 'What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .'" I love that. It's easy to think we're traveling this rocky road alone when the way is dark. If we would only reach out our hands, we'd find other searching hands ready to walk with us. 

I wish I could promise you that 2022 will be pain-free, but I can't. And I wouldn't want to. If we never experienced pain, we wouldn't need each other. Independence has its merits, but it doesn't hold a candle to the give-and-take of friendship. So my wish for you for 2022 is that you stretch your hand out more often and grab onto someone else's. Give. And take.


P.S. I meant to remind you last week about the December Question of the Month & Giveaway. Click here to tell me what your word for 2022 is (if you have decided on one). I'll randomly choose a winner on December 31 and make a hand-lettered bookmark with that person's word choice to keep handy throughout the year. As usual, if you share this newsletter with friends, you get your name entered twice.


MOVIE: A while back, a friend recommended The Biggest Little Farm to me but I didn't have Netflix at the time. I finally watched it last week and it was just wonderful! It's a documentary about a couple in California who took a huge risk in buying 200 acres of barren farmland. The film follows their eight-year quest to "harvest in harmony with nature." It's sometimes breathtaking, sometimes heartbreaking, and totally inspiring! (Plus, Emma the pig and the little black-headed lambs are adorable.) :) If you click on the link above, look for the little white box with three black lines in the top left of your screen for the pull-down menu.

When you get dressed every morning, I assume you open your closet or drawers, look at what you have, and decide what you’re going to wear. Whether you laid your clothes out the night before or throw them on in a mad dash before going out,  whether you wear the same uniform every day or mix up your styles, you choose your outfit.

How much time do you spend every morning deciding what qualities and character traits you are going to adorn yourself with? How much thought do you put into what people see and experience three seconds after they notice your clothes and hair?

Colossians 3:12 says, "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

It really doesn’t matter how sharp your suit is or how darling your dress is if you forget these "garments" at home:

  1. COMPASSION – sympathetic concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others (see also Zechariah 7:9)
  2. KINDNESS – the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate (see also Job 6:14)
  3. HUMILITY – a modest or low view of one’s own importance (see also Proverbs 22:4)
  4. GENTLENESS – the quality of being kind, tender, or mild-mannered (see also Philippians 4:5)
  5. PATIENCE – the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset (see also Proverbs 19:11)

No amount of fashion sense can make up for a heart focused on pleasing and glorifying itself. Not even the most stunning outfit or perfectly applied make-up can cover up a selfish, prideful, and arrogant character.

Conversely, it really doesn’t matter if your blouse is 10 years old or your jeans don’t turn heads if you are clothed with the five qualities listed above. Few people will care about how you look on the outside when your kind words and gentle nature make them feel respected and safe.

Since this is an important principle, I’ve created a poster that I welcome you to print out and hang somewhere (perhaps inside your medicine cabinet or on your bedroom mirror) as a handy visual reminder. Just click on the image to open the file. 

I wish you a blessed, joy-filled, and peaceful new year. If you were planning a makeover in 2022, don’t forget to dress the “new you” with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Happy new you!

whimsy & wisdom from the world wide web

Here's a relaxing and simple "game" with beautiful graphics that allows you to build your own town in the middle of a vast body of water, starting with the foundation and then moving laterally and upward. Be warned: You can lose track of time trying out all the colours and variations! Here's an example I created in just a few minutes.

The first time I read the entire Bible from beginning to end in one year was in 2020. I plan to do it again this year and will be following this guide. If you'd like to do the same, you can easily print this out and tuck it into your Bible.

Here's a short meditation by Joni Eareckson Tada (if you're not familiar with her, I encourage you to explore the rest of the website) about embracing simplicity after the busyness of the holidays.

AGELAST

(n) a person who never laughs

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.


– Emily Dickinson

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