What’s Next Papa? part 1

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


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. 

About 5 yrs ago my cell phone rang while John & I were out at dinner.

Daughter (driving home from college out west): “Uh, I think I may be in the wrong state. I might be in Kansas instead of Nebraska. Can you talk me in?”

This was not unprecedented. I once was driving from Galena, ILLINOIS, to Chicago, ILLINOIS (which is basically a straight, short line) and ended up in…wait for it…yep, Janesville, WISCONSIN.

Imagine you’re me on the other end of the phone with a lost child or friend. What’s the first question you ask when they want to know their next step?

You ask: “WHERE ARE YOU NOW?” Right??

They say: “I’m not sure.”

You say: “Look behind you, look around you.What do you see? What are some of the landmarks?”

And you pray they don’t say they see a Starbucks or a Target since that could describe any corner in America.

Before we say, “What’s next Papa?” to our heavenly father, it would be a good idea for us to look back and around at where we are now – look for landmarks that make up the environment of our souls.

Think back over 2015. (These questions are also an Examen you can do at the end of each day)

  • What were the marking moments – the experiences that changed you?
  • What was life-giving? When were you in your “sweet spot”?
  • Where did you see God at work – shaping, redeeming, prompting you?
  • What is the state of your relationships with colleagues, friends, family?
  • What is your relationship with God like right now?

For me, walking with my brother and family through cancer and to eternal life marks this year and affects my answer to all those questions. It was a terrible but sacred privilege at the same time. I drew closer to God and to my family. I saw God’s good work and love in so many ways in spite of the horrible loss.


I think about a vacation family tradition we have as I look back on 2016.

At end of each day as we gather around table for dinner we each share our “word of the day”. The idea is to come up with One Word to capture our experience for the day. It could be an adjective like “frustrated”, or a noun like “adventure”.

As I think back over this past year, it may seem strange, but the One Word that I think of is LIFE.

It was a year of choosing life in every way –

life-giving final conversations,

eternal life for my brother,

glimpses of life after death as we see God redeeming even this for good.

What about you? Is there one word that would characterize your 2015?

Also, if you could write a letter to the you from one year ago, preparing yourself for 2015, what would you say?


  1. I love how you acknowledge the importance of looking around to see what you see. In a sense, to orient Something I do and have others do often. When we have pain in our past sometimes we can get stuck there and forget where we actually are. 2015 was full of Freedom for me and I’m thinking 2016 will be all about enJOYment. Grateful for your voice!

  2. Beautiful. Thank you. A New Year always feels a little ominous. Going into it with these thoughts in mind is helpful indeed. Blessings to you!

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