Friday, January 15, 2021

Fresh for the Journey

 


I’ve always loved Lamentations 3:22-23 which talks about fresh grace every morning. I claim that promise for myself and my loved ones.
 
But I’m excited to report I’ve found something else that can be fresh: Me!
 
Psalm 92:12-14 Amplified Bible
The righteous will flourish like the date palm [long-lived, upright and useful];
They will grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic and stable].
Planted in the house of the Lord,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.
[Growing in grace] they will still thrive and bear fruit and prosper in old age;
They will flourish and be vital and fresh [rich in trust and love and contentment]
 
If I’m in right standing with the Lord, and I’m planted in His house, dwelling in His courts, I can be flourishing, vital and prosperous even in my old age.
 
It’s not too late to be productive!
 
I will still be fruitful which is great news for my writing life.
 
The key, as always, is sticking as close to the Lord as I can.
 
I don’t know about other writers. I just know the writing I’m called to do – encouraging others – starts with being encouraged myself. I find that encouragement in His Presence, in His Word, and in His House.
 
What about you? Do you want to be fresh and flourishing even years later?

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Oh, by the way ... here's a couple more scriptures on "fresh," which I love.

Psalm 92:10 The Passion Translation
Your anointing has made me strong and mighty.
You’ve empowered my life for triumph
by pouring fresh oil over me.

Isaiah 29:19 New Living Translation
The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord. 
The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

Lamentations 3:22-23 New English Translation
The Lord’s loyal kindness never ceases;
his compassions never end.
They are fresh every morning;
your faithfulness is abundant!


 

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I'm sharing this post at Five Minute Friday (where today writers are writing 5 minutes on the word, "fresh"

Monday, January 4, 2021

Hello, 2021!





After a lollapalooza  of a year like 2020, it's time to choose a focus for 2021.

Read all about my choices for 2012-2018 here: Examing My One Word(s)




In January of 2019, I chose "consistent," as my One Word of the Year; but I was in the thick of things - working madly on my trilogy, deep in a personal study of "hesed," while simultaneously tackling Daniel, then Nehemiah for my bible study class. I was consistent in work, that was for sure! I realized later I never wrote much about consistent again - didn't even create a graphic.

In January of 2020, I was getting tired. Although "rest" had been my 2016 One Word, I still had much more to learn. I chose "Sabbath" for 2020's One Word with the idea I was declaring Saturdays as days to stay home, rest and delight in God.



It's hilarious when I go back and read the opening paragraph to my Hello, 2020! post.

My friends, we are starting not only a new year but a new decade. I feel very excited about it as I feel it will be a momentous year, not just personally but for everyone.

Little did I know. Little. Did. I. Know.

(And no, my spiritual gifting is not prophecy.)

And so, here we are, having all the feels about sheltering-in-place, shell-shocked from all the media bombshells, bewildered about ballots and whether we can trust elections ... well, it's a lot.

What each of us can control is where we put our focus. I'm choosing to put my focus on a very biblical principle:  "Seek."

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

I do not know what 2021 holds. No one does. But if we seek God first, what we need will be provided.

Have you chosen your focus for 2021? I'd love to know! Leave a comment and share! 

I pray each one reading this will feel a yearning to be ever closer to Our Lord in the coming year. If you don't know Jesus, please read here to find out how to meet Him.

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And so, this post ends my 3-part series of end of the year posts, Remember, Reflect and Revive. Part 1 can be found here, and Part 2, here.

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I'm sharing this post at Inspire Me Monday 

Goodbye, 2020

 


Welcome back to part 2 of my end-of-the-year series, Remember, Reflect and Revive.

Today, I'm looking at which of my 2020 posts resonated with my readers.

Let's get right to listing the most popular and the most viewed posts of 2020, then I will share my conclusion of my writing year with you:

In January, I wrote about Starting out the New Year Right and 5 Bright Spots, which included my personal favorite story of Brody dancing on a picnic table.

February slid in with my joining the #Write28Days challenge a little late. I kicked off my series, "Walk the Walk." Here are a couple of highlights:  5 Examples of Goodness and Numerous Blessings - Here's 5.

My series ended in March with Increase - Blessed in 5 More Ways and I examined the good things March had to offer in March: Good Things.

And then the pandemic hit ...

In April I shared my thoughts in the posts, When It Looks Scary and In the Midst of COVID-19.

Have we really been talking about Co-Co Ro-Ro since April???

My most viewed post of 2020 was in May, What I Learned During COVID. (And I hadn't even gotten the virus yet!) But May yielded some good things, too. I finished the first draft of my whole entire trilogy and we srarted back to church after being shut down almost 2 months. You can read about that in Wrap Up the Week With Joy.

In June, one post struck a chord with my readers more than the others: Counting Blessings in the Midst of Crazy.

July's post, Thankful List, was the most read and received the most comments of the month.

In August, I examined What Is Stopping My Progress? and it also was the most read post and received the most feedback.

September's most viewed post was actually a look back at August, Wrapping Up the Month and I got good response from the post, I'm a Church Fan.

In October, I actually contracted COVID-19, so I naturally wrote about it, Positive in a Time of Covid.

November saw me reviving some of my Praise Posts. Number 30 ranked #1 with readers, Number 15 coming in second.

December's post was Above and Beyond where I share my tendencies to be "extra."

I believe you can see a trend in talking about coping with the virus and thankfulness for blessings for 2020 when you look at my posts for the year. I'm always going to be writing about thankfulness, but I hope there will be less words to say about COVID!

For me, my defining statement for 2020 was written in the post, I'm A Church Fan:

Here's the thing: I can't let my love of church and all the rhythms and practices of church life be greater than my love for the Master. Even when I have to worship online, I can still nestle at His feet and learn from Him. Sometimes ... you get more out of solitude and listening then you do in a crowd of people.

Yes, I'm a church fan, but I'm even more a fan of my friend Jesus.


What's your defining statement?

 

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I'm sharing this post at Inspire Me Monday 

Monday, December 28, 2020

Remember, Reflect and Revive - Part 1

As I do every year, I pause to remember and reflect before making plans for the next year.

This post is all about remembering 2020. My next post will list my top posts for 2020 and the lessons learned. The third post of the year will be about welcoming 2021.

I'm sure reams of material could be, and will be, written about 2020.




Here at the Journey, I can tell you some things that were different about 2020. First the good things:

1. I cut my hair and got new glasses. My plan was to totally transform in 2020 ... but then COVID hit, and somehow working on internal things took precedence.

2. When our church was closed during our time of sheltering at home during 'Rona 2020, I missed teaching my bible study so much, I created a weekly email called The Pit Stop - Fueling up on the Word to Slide into Your Weekend. My goal was to give my students, and any other friends who wanted to sign up, a devotional that shared the Word, and to challenge and encourage them during these crazy times. My dream is to expand these devotionals in 2021.

3. I was invited to speak for the first time at a Women's Conference outside my own church. I was totally honored and excited about it. The month of September was spent working on the message God gave me, "Breaking Down Walls." I felt a real peace about sharing everything God gave me for the ladies at that church. It was totally an experience that was a blessing to me.

4. In October, I was able to attend my first-ever Writer's Conference. It was so exciting to actually be around people with the same goals and dreams!

5. I finished writing my trilogy and have started the editing process. I'm so surprised it took me two years to write it. BUT I never would have believed my original idea would have evolved into the story it is now. (Turns out, as a writer, I'm a pants-er.) It's been a wild ride! I am so excited about sharing the story about all the characters I've created. I'm praying for guidance in my next steps (and for the series beyond).

The downside of 2020, of course, was the isolation and the disappointments regarding all the events that ended up being canceled.

For me personally, the months of October and November were especially difficult since I contracted COVID. I was never ill enough to be hospitalized, thank the Lord; but I did experience debilitating fatigue. I had never known a need for sleep like I experienced at this time. It actually was mid-December before I felt like myself again and experienced a return of enthusiasm and interest for life. 

I also have to give a shout out to my personnel committee at my full-time church who, on their own, for concern for our safety, let the staff decrease the hours they are in the church building without decreasing our pay. This made it possible for me to have time to heal. So wonderful God arranged this for me!

I feel I have the best of both worlds - getting to work outside the home and having a schedule to keep, and also working from home when things need extra attention. God is good!




It's easy to remember events of the past year, but remembering, while fun, does little for growth. Reflection on lessons learned is more helpful.

  • What did I learn from changing my look? It was very satisfying. I'm open for further changes.

  • Starting the Pit Stop devotional helped me realize there is more than one way to teach. What is important is sharing nuggets from the bible. There is more than one way to do it.

  • Speaking at a Women's Conference was so exhilarating and satisfying. It felt like another step towards my dream. However in this time of less and less in-person events, it is either a dream that will have to cool its heels; or else it may be a time to think outside the box.

  • The Writer's Conference was also a learning experience. I had hoped to make some authentic writer friendships; and initially I did reach out. However my overwhelming need for sleep since the conference hampered follow-up which actually is a weakness of mine. It's been revealed I still have to work at relationships. (*grin)

  • Another result of my extreme tiredness was the editing of my trilogy. I discovered it had been on the back-burner so long, it was simmering. I'm excited to say this weekend I dove in again and revived my enthusiasm for my series. 




I hope you'll join me in my next few posts as I continue remembering and reflecting on 2020 and rev up revival for 2021. (More on that later.)

What did you learn in 2020?


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I'm sharing this post at Remember Me Monday and


Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas 2020


On this unique morning in history, I want to remind you - and myself - just as what God said all those thousands of years ago about sending Messiah, the Deliverer, came true, so will His promise of coming again and taking His church to be with Him forever. 

Maranatha! (Come, our Lord!)

Merry Christmas!

BECAUSE HE CAME ... THE WORDS OF ISAIAH CAME TRUE.



Isaiah 61:1-2 Version (NKJV)

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who arebound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,

Isaiah spoke this approximately 700 years before the birth of Christ.

Luke 4:16-21 (NKJV)

So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:


“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

There are many stories in the New Testament that prove Jesus did what He came to do.  How could Isaiah have known 700 years before that Jesus would heal the blind and set free those that Satan had oppressed? He knew because the Holy Spirit revealed it.

On this Christmas morning, over two thousand years after He came, my prayer is that you have the faith to accept what a wonderful gift we received ... Because He Came! 



*adapted from an earlier post

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Above and Beyond

December has slowed way-yyy down on the Journey after the busy month of  November's Praise Posting.  At first I was going to declare this month a time of margin for me with rerunning a few of my advent reflections weekly.

Instead, some of those advent posts have shown up on my  Instagram feed, while the blog has enjoyed 11 days of quiet.

But today's prompt over at the Five Minute Friday community made my fingers itch to get back to the keyboard. For the next 5 minutes, please enjoy my thoughts on "beyond."

GO

For some time now, I've noticed something about myself. I have a characteristic that not only describes me, but has been passed down to each of my daughters as well.

We're "extra." We are people who are never satisfied with doing the bare minimum of anything. If it's worth doing, it's worth putting heart, soul, and even, heaven forbid, even physical strength in the project. Going above and beyond what is necessary is bound up in our DNA.




All four of us channel it in different ways, of course, but it is still there deep inside. It's actually interesting to see it show up in each other. It would take a long conversation to cover this characteristic in each child; but for today, I'm going to talk about what I know best. Me.

It's no secret here on the Journey that I'm a bible enthusiast. But what I've noticed is I get more joy when I can dig deep and find connection below the surface of what a story in scripture relates. I want to study all the words in the original language. I want to find out what noted commentators may have said regarding the passage. Is there a hymn that goes along with the story? What's the story behind the hymn?

Going further, how can I apply it to my life. How can you apply it to yours?

When the Holy Spirit reveals to me something about the Word I'd never seen before, I get so excited! And grateful. Who am I that understanding would come to me?

Make no mistake, you get so much more out of bible study when you dig deep and not just skim over the words trying to meet some goal of reading x number of chapters in x number of days. Going beyond yields nuggets of gold!

STOP

Naturally, my 5 minutes of free-writing has snuck up on me way before I was ready.

Going above and beyond can mean a lot of extra effort, a loss of sleep or other things put on hold. In my mind, the end result always justifies the work expended.

However, sometimes just going one step beyond what an "average" person thinks is reasonable can yield doors being opened to you. 

One resource I learned a lot from was a book from Florence Littauer, "It Takes So Little to Be Above Average." I encourage anyone to read it who wants to be effective in whatever you put your mind to accomplish. Just the title alone often encourages me to just go ahead and go beyond what the average person would do.

I once heard it said, "Why would you want to be average? Average is being the best of the worst and the worst of the best!"

This is the time of the year when I always want to reflect on how close I came to my goals and then plan where I can improve. Do you do the same?

I know 2020 has sucked the heart out of a lot of people; but God allowed it for a reason. I want to come away with some lessons learned; and I want to surpass, or go beyond, in 2021. In coming weeks, I hope to discuss more of this with you.

I'd welcome any feedback you would care to share. Are you "extra" too?

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I'm linking up with the communities at Five Minute Friday and Grace&Truth


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Monday, November 30, 2020

Praise Post #30 - 2020



Today is the last day of November and the end of this year's Praise Posts. Each day I've given 5 praises for the blessings in my life. After today's post, I'll have offered up 30 X 5 = 150 praises to my Creator and Lord Jesus.

Actually this is like my 68th praise post over the years, not to mention when I join in with the Friday's Fave Five community who weekly offer up praises. (I've done 321 of those posts during my blogging career.)

I'm a big believer in having an attitude of gratitude. Why should the Lord bless me more if I'm not thankful for what I already have?

I don't deserve all the good things God has done for me. The only thing I can really say for myself is I decided early on to give my life to Him. Although, I'm not perfect and mess-up all the time, He still loves me and blesses me. This is my #1 praise and always will be:  I'm His.

#2 Praise for today is I'm thankful to be an American. Even with all her problems and the weird season we are in; it's still a wonderful country.

#3 I'm thankful for life itself. Today, a friend texted me about a sad happening: a 17 year old classmate of her daughter's died in a car accident. Immediately, my mind went back to something I've never forgotten: a classmate of mine also died at age 16 in a car wreck. Teenagers think they are invincible but death can come at any age. Each of us need to be thankful for each day of life we are given.

#4 I'm thankful to have my blog. My platform admittedly is not big. I still have hopes of growing it. But what an awesome privilege it is to push "Publish," any time I'm ready and send my words into cyber space. My prayer is to encourage others with my words.

#5 is praise for my current, right-now life. 2020 was not at all like I expected it to be. (Anybody feel the same?) Yet, I can always look back and say that this was the year I got to speak at my first Women's Conference and I felt good about it. It's also the year I started my email list to mail out my weekly devotionals, The Wednesday Pit Stop. AND it was in January of 2020 when I embarked on the two-year journey of teaching the book of Isaiah with my bible study group. So, see, some good things DID happen in 2020.

Thank you to everyone who read this year's praise posts, and  a double thank-you to those who commented. I appreciate you! 


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I'm sharing with the communities at Inspire Me Monday and #TellHisStory