Happy New Year! Yes, this is the first post of 2017 on my blog. I am SO behind!

I have to admit.....I've been a terrible blogger recently! Sorry! Many of you out there are probably wondering what life-altering experience I must be going through to basically drop off the face of the earth! Well, some of you may have guessed it's because I'm pregnant. You would be correct! God is so good!

The last several months have been interesting while I've navigated life with a toddler, running a business at home, and dealing with lots of fatigue and nausea this round. Thankfully, baby and I are super healthy, so we really can't complain! Pregnancy is a truly miraculous event and I don't take it for granted. Also, MAJOR props to my super hero husband who has been a huge Godsend! (I married UP!)

It's been quite a whirlwind with all that has been going on; not only within our domestic church, but in the world all around us. Some of us may be coming into 2017 with anger, caution, fear, and dread. Many of us are ecstatic and hopeful. Many of us are still licking wounds or are working through regret over things said during a brutal election season. Whichever emotion best describes you and regardless of who you voted for, I would say that most of us have some level of fear and dread in our hearts with all the unknowns and negative events that are happening in the world these days.

As I begin 2017 here at The Purified Palate, I want this first post to be simple. To everyone reading this is: Be still and know that He is God. He reigns and no government, politician, world leader, or global crisis can ever take His place or change this. *sigh of relief*. Thank God. But easier said than done, amiright? Are we truly living with this knowledge? Are we embracing it? Or are our words and actions toward our neighbor and our circumstances showing otherwise? I'm totally guilty of commiserating in this fear and dread. Anyone else? Misery really does love company. You know who else loves misery and gets way too much of it these days? I'll let you take a wild guess. 

This past year especially, I've really struggled with learning not to focus on what other people think. At the root of all our hearts, I think we desperately want to be known and loved for who we are. In today's world, it's heartbreaking to see such conditional love and how people are so selective and controlling over their relationships; simply based on whether they're in agreement with that person's views and values. I've actually heard people say, "Nah. I'd rather not hang out with that person. I'm sure they'll start talking about the election and such-and-such candidate." 

Growing up, my parents encouraged openness toward others and, even if we disagreed, to always listen and be respectful. I treasure the vulnerability and diversity that comes with open dialogue with people across all idealogies. I have always felt it was a huge compliment when people feel they can open up and share such an intimate piece of themselves; even if we are polar opposites in beliefs.  It is so rare to be a part of open and respectful dialogue, and to experience such unconditional love by our peers these days. Nothing hurts me more than when a loved one or acquaintance assumes terrible things of me or is mis-interpreting my intentions, yet they've made no effort to seek understanding or to actually get to know who I am; and this includes what I'm passionate about, my religion, my politics, etc. This doesn't include the current weather conditions or how my day was. I'm not perfect at this, but knowing how much it hurts to be "loved" in such a superficial and conditional way, I'm going to double my efforts to seek understanding of others before jumping to conclusions or assuming the worst. I'm going to sacrifice my own comfort in order to be more vulnerable and let the other person feel more intimately loved for who they are and what drives them and gives them meaning in this life we share. Surrendering my life and my relationships to Christ means I won't always be comfortable in conversation, but I know that this discomfort is sanctifying me, and this discomfort is giving the other person a glimpse at Christ. I've also grown closer to accepting that at the end of the day, I can't control other's opinions of me and this is something I also need to surrender to Christ. 

My very wise brother, who's going to be ordained this summer as a Jesuit priest, reminded me once that living with such fear and anxiety is very contradictory to who we are as Christians. How will our faith and joy in Christ ever look attractive to others and how will we ever exude warmth and openness to our brothers and sisters, if we live in fear and dread, close ourselves off to the world out of this fear, and make decisions that are controlling and rooted in fear and dread; rather than out of love and joy in knowing He is King; over our world, our lives, and our salvation?

With these things in mind, I decided that when I made out my list of New Year's resolutions, I would also be choosing a theme to focus on: Joyful Abandonment in Christ. I can make as many resolutions and to-do lists as I want, but if I don't have joy rooted in Him and if I don't surrender it all to Him, then nothing else matters. No matter where I live in the world, if I don't surrender my life to Him, I will never feel true freedom. I forget this way too often. I desperately want to be filled with this fruit-of-the-holy-spirit-type joy, and nothing robs me of it more than trying to control my own life out of fear and dread, and getting in my own way of surrendering it all to Him. I also want to be less fearful when it comes to vulnerability and getting uncomfortable in my relationships with others. Fear robs us of the richness and fruit of relationships, and if I surrender them to Christ as well, I pray it makes me a more Christ-like and loving presence in their lives. I pray this vulnerability brings me closer to Christ, too. This reminds me of a great quote by one of my favorite authors and philosophers:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Love

What is your "theme" for the year? What did you learn from 2016? Please share in the comments or on our facebook page!

I wish you and all your loved ones a beautiful, bright, and blessed new year full of joyful abandonment in Christ!