Tag: new year

One Word 2017

I’m pretty type A. I like goals. I like lists. I especially like crossing things off my lists.

But for the past few New Years, instead of focusing on goals or resolutions, I’ve prayerfully chosen One Word that is both aspirational in a way, and also helps me to focus on the work of God in my life.

“Our lives move in the direction of our strongest thoughts.” Craig Groeschel

As I choose One Word each year I look back over where God has brought me, what I think He’s been birthing in me, and what lies ahead (as much as I know).

What of God’s character have I counted on?

What does God want to teach me?

What do I need more of?

What should I remember?

What do I want to learn more about?

As I look back over the trajectory of 2016 there was movement from discouraged and uncertain to stronger in Jesus. I feel grounded, equipped, empowered as I head into 2017 and I want to continue to learn more about the strength that comes only from God and isn’t blown about or vulnerable to the recognition or disapproval of others.

As I wrote yesterday, I preached on Joshua Sunday and was reminded of Joshua 1:9

“Haven’t I commanded you be strong and courageous? Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you may go.”

So I look forward to 2017 embracing my One Word – Strong.

What about you? Have you chosen a word for 2017?

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A Faith that Carries Out

It’s New Year’s Day weekend and everyone in ministry is very tired. Every parent is tired. Every salesperson is tired. Maybe everyone everywhere is a little tired and ready to get back to a predictable routine. We love the sparkle and special of the Christmas season, but we’re ready to cross over into 2017.

Even if we may feel a little bit like this:

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Sunday I had the privilege of preaching at our church and I loved diving into the story of Joshua leading the Israelites across the Jordan river in Joshua 1-4.

We all have Jordan moments and we’re all at a crossing of sorts as we go into 2017. There is lots to learn from Joshua in this account, but one thing l thought I’d share with you is from Joshua 4:2

When the whole nation was finally across, God spoke to Joshua: “Select twelve men from the people, a man from each tribe, and tell them, ‘From right here, the middle of the Jordan where the feet of the priests are standing firm, take twelve stones. Carry them across with you and set them down in the place where you camp tonight.’”

After they have prepared,

after the Ark, representing the presence of the Lord has gone ahead

after the waters of the Jordan have been pulled back,

after the Israelites have crossed over,

God sends them back to carry out 12 stones. He has them pile those 12 stones as a memorial – a faith that points back to God’s faithfulness.

Think about what you are carrying out of 2016. 

Think back over each month. What might God want you to go back and remember to take out?

Resilience? Trust? Patience? Strength?

Are there experiences that could be millstones that God wants to make into stepping stones?

Are there things that could be stumbling blocks that God wants to make into building blocks?

Are there things you may have a tendency to trip over that God wants you to triumph over with His help?

Maybe talk to Him about all these stones. And embrace a faith that carries out.

What’s Next Papa? part 1

A few weeks ago a reader posted Romans 8:15 in the blog comments:

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I love this Message rendition and it’s been playing on repeat in my brain since I read it.

It’s a good verse to reflect on in this in-between time. The now and not yet. You know what I mean.

  • You’ve now eaten your weight in Christmas cookies, but have not yet started your diet yet.
  • You’ve now stretched your credit cards, but have not yet started your new budget discipline because, HELLO! there are all the great sales going on.
  • You’ve now opened your presents, but the tree is still up and you have not yet cleaned your house.

We’ve celebrated Christmas, but it’s not New Years yet.

It’s a great time to look backward, for God-sightings, and forward with the assurance that He is with us and has good plans for our future.

We pray along with the psalmists:

Ps. 139: 23, 24 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.

Ps. 90: 12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

In the week between Christmas and New Years we want to ask, “What’s next, Papa?” But before we ask what’s next, we need to ask where we’ve been and where we are now.  Continue reading

The One Word that Might Change Your 2013

I’ve been reading and listening to boat loads of advice in the past two weeks on resolutions, goals, and all things to make the 2013 me stronger, more successful, and more godly (all with a flatter tummy of course).

You too?  Feeling a little overwhelmed?

Some advocate shorter term goals and then evaluation and refinement, instead of setting big year-long goals.  I like that.

Others suggest making a “stop” list.  Yeah, I like that too.

And others admonish us to start and end our goal-setting with prayer.  Yep.  Good word.

But the newish “in” thing seems to be choosing ONE WORD for the year.

Trashing a list of resolutions and instead focusing on one word, one word to live into with God for the year.

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What Do You Do New Year’s Eve Morning?

New Year’s Eve morning is a quiet one at Starbucks.  We’re reading backwards.

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Every year, during the week between Christmas and New Year’s day, my husband John and I make a practice of reading back over our journals from the past year.  As we do we try to pay attention to themes that God might be impressing on us.  We look for holy moments of His faithfulness to be thankful for, and answered prayer.  We try to read between the lines for blind spots we may be missing.

This is kind of like doing a yearly Examen.  Looking for the activity of God.  I’ve shared before that I’m spiritually ADD.  If I don’t make a discipline of paying attention, I’m like the spacey traveler who perpetually makes a wrong turn and all of a sudden looks around wondering how they got where they are.

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How to Build an Airplane

I have a friend who is building an airplane.  Seriously.  Not a model.  A real, live, take-off-and-land-in-a-different-state airplane.

She sent pictures in her Christmas letter and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  It makes me think of those pictures you see of Rosie the Riveter from World War 2 posters.

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Well, I’d like to build an “airplane” this New Year.  Sound impossible?  Yep, sounds that way to me too.

I love big hairy audacious goals.  I love the idea of going after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention.  I don’t want to let fear dictate my decisions.  I want to take a flying leap of faith.  But that doesn’t mean flying blind.

So I’ve been thinking my New Year’s resolutions and about what Gayle is doing to reach her remarkable goal.

She has a team.  She’s not doing it alone.  She has professionals coaching, guiding directing her.  Her family members are putting in hours of work by her side also.  So ask yourself, “Who’s on my team?  Who are the people who can advise me, give feedback, teach me?” and then go ask them for help!

She has a plan.  And the plan isn’t just “build a plane today”.  Ask, “What are the smaller steps that are going to help me reach this big goal?  How can I break an airplane down into parts?”

If your goal is to lose weight, what are the daily habits that are going to set you up for success?  If your goal is to write a book, how many words are you going to discipline yourself to write each day?

She has a work ethic. Gayle’s plane is being built in a hangar in Oregon and she’s required to put in a certain number of hours of work over a year’s time.  This is not a Bewitched-twitch-your-nose-and-get-it-done kind of deal.

What are the excuses that keep you from setting the alarm an hour early?  I love what Jon Acuff writes…”Sucker punch Monday morning and start your day before fear has a chance to find you.”

Another friend of mine likes to say, “Work like it depends on you.  Pray like it depends on God.”  Building a plane may not sound like a very “spiritual” endeavor, but how sad if we leave God out of any equation.  And how exciting if we set kingdom goals that we can see clearly will honor God, feed the hungry, encourage the brokenhearted, bring justice…

So anyway, that’s what I’m thinking about this morning.  What airplane are you hoping to build in the New Year?  Or what airplane are you afraid to tackle?

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Wile E. Coyote and Fixing January

If you’re on a New Year high, victory dancing your way through January with the Rocky theme song playing in the background, high-fiving your co-workers as you check off New Year’s resolutions left and right, and trying to hide the corner of your Superman cape under your street clothes, this post is not for you.  Stop reading now.

I do think there are people who fit the above description.  And right now, in gloomy Minnesota where there is still only gray and soot and no snow, I really envy you.  But I also think that for many people there is a trajectory up and to the right from October through January 1st, and then…It gets ugly.

It goes like this:

September – “bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils”, the smell of woodsmoke and new text books

October – Autumnal pumpkinny delight, a cornicopia of color, cute kids in cowboy costumes and caramel corn (for Pete’s sake!)

November – Over the river and through the woods Americana… Family football, Thanksgiving, and turkey sandwiches

December – Anticipation and Celebration.  Twinkle lights and Jesus.  Need I say more?

January 1st – Parties, broom ball, resolutions and new beginnings

But then like Wile E. Coyote, being chased by Road Runner, we scamper lickety split straight off the cliff into thin air.  We hang there, the first week of January, look over our shoulder to the firm ground of December, and proceed to plummet into the abyss that is 2012.

Reality sets in.  You realize you actually have to DO something if you want to accomplish the resolutions you optimistically committed to and there’s an interminable winter ahead where a 3 hour football game at the end of the month is about the only mildly bright spot til…well, til Mother’s Day if you live in Minnesota.  It’s all you can do to limp along.

All that to say I’ve been a cranky pants and I’ve been trying figure out what spiritual practices might help me be more Jesusy in January (and the following 3 months if I’m honest).  I have a couple ideas but I’d be delighted to hear yours too.

My first idea is to switch the order of holidays.  October, November and December are hogging all the best holidays and what is January left with?  MLK’s birthday??  I say we move Thanksgiving to January.

Not exactly.  But kind of.  I remember hearing about a couple who was having marriage trouble and went to a counselor.  He told them to go home and all he wanted them to do was affirm 10 things about the other every day for a month.  Then come back.

“Thank you for ….”  “I like the way you…”

The couple did it, came back and had fallen in love all over again.  Problem solved. (Oh that all marital issues were that easy, eh?)

When I was teaching school we called that “self-fulfilling prophecy.”  Tell a kid enough times that he’s responsible and he’ll rise to your expectations and be responsible.

So here’s my thinking… January and I have not been on speaking terms exactly, and I’m thinking, what if I (and you, if you want) tried the practice of gratitude.  Infusing our day with as many shout outs of “Thank you!” and “Way to go!” and “Yea God!” as possible.  Has to be genuine, but you know my love of competition so I’m gonna make it a game to see if I can make January seem like November – a month of Thanksgiving.

Today I’m thankful for Katy and Maggie who always make me laugh, a body healthy enough to run this morning, my daily mocha from barista Corey, a husband who’s my favorite person in the world, and new friends coming for dinner.  What are you thankful for?

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