In the Deep South we have a tradition on New Year’s Day. For lunch or dinner it is customary to eat black-eyed peas and collard greens. My grandmother said that the black-eyed peas represented coins and the collard greens represented money, and she cooked them every January 1st. I always told her to eat some for me and maybe I would have lots of money, although I didn’t care for black-eyed peas or collard greens. But they were a given at her house on January 1st. It’s a southern tradition after all. And we all know you don’t mess with southern traditions or those who adhere to them (at least you know that if you’re southern!).
After I was old enough to leave home, I actually went far away. To college. To work. To get married. I didn’t live in the Deep South for quite some time. I married a Northern boy and he didn’t even know what collard greens were, so they weren’t high on my priority list for New Year’s. But no matter where I was in the world, I usually talked to Grandmother on New Year’s Day and she would ask me if I ate my peas and collards. I would laugh. “Not this year, Grandmother. I thought you would eat some for me.”
I did move back to the Deep South in 2002. I had a 15 month old little boy and was pregnant with our first of four daughters. My first daughter was born in mid-December of that year, and I remember so clearly my grandmother meeting her a few days before Christmas. She held her and talked to her and kissed her. It was their only meeting. My grandmother got sick on Christmas day and went into the hospital. I never heard her voice again. She passed away on New Year’s Day 2003.
Every New Year’s Day since then, I eat beans and collards. I eat them not because I believe they will make me rich. I eat them because I loved my Grandmother and she’s a hero to me. 2014 rolled in just 2 days ago and I was thinking of her as I cooked my beans and collards. I was wondering if she would laugh at me cooking beans and collards. Secretly, I was hoping she would be proud of me. She had a big farm table in her kitchen and for this Christmas my Mama gave me the tablecloth my Grandmother used on that table. I laid it out on MY big table for New Year’s lunch. It was perfect. Until the beans burned.
There’s nothing like smoke billowing from your kitchen to jar you back into the moment. Here’s a little hint: when you turn the burner down to low while cooking beans, and you walk into the other room to fold some laundry, make sure you turn the right burner down.
But isn’t that just the way life is? Sometimes no matter how hard we try, or how perfect we want it to be, or how much we want to do something for someone else, we just can’t get it right. You know what I mean don’t you? When your best plans go up in smoke (sometimes LITERALLY!).
Well friends, you’re in luck. It’s a New Year. A clean slate. But here’s something even better. You don’t ever have to wait until a New Year for a clean slate. Hear what the prophet, Jeremiah, declared in millennia past…..and it’s still true on this day. It’s true every day: “…my soul is downcast within me. YET this I call to mind and THEREFORE I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions NEVER fail. They are new EVERY morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:20-23
There’s your foundation for 2014. No matter what happens. No matter what plans fail. No matter how you fail. No matter what goes up in smoke, God’s love for you is great and without fail. His compassion and mercy and grace toward you will never fail. Every morning it starts brand new and never, ever runs out.
I don’t know what you need in 2014. A fresh start? A clean slate? Maybe the list is long. But God’s grace and love, we all need that. If you have a relationship with God, then you have it. And with it, you can handle anything else that comes your way. If you don’t have a personal, alive, growing relationship with God, then I would love to invite you to start this New Year with Him. A real clean slate. Totally and completely forgiven of anything in your past that you regret, and a promising, bright hope for your future. Please take a moment to click on the link at the bottom of this Post-it Note and learn how God can give you a clean slate today.
Blessings to you all. May 2014 bring you closer to the God who made us. The One who has gone to great lengths to demonstrate His amazing grace……….right here in our real world.
PS – Check out the new Facebook page “Grace in the Real World”. You can “like” it and start following the “Post-it Notes”. If you want to get notifications when new blog posts are published click on “Like” on the page and then right click on “like” for a drop down box that will allow you to get notifications. And if you have any questions on how to have a relationship with God, or personal questions/comments, please email me at GraceInTheRealWorld@hotmail.com
To learn how to have a relationship with God, watch this video: “The Cross” with Billy Graham. May this New Year lead you into a new life.