My One Word for 2016–Rest

As 2015 was drawing to an end, I frequently heard people comment something along the lines of, “I am so glad for this year to be over.  It was not a good one.”  Many of them had experienced great losses and difficult trials during 2015.  That was not true for me, yet I was very glad for the year to end, as it had been challenging and exhausting.

2015 began with the anticipation of two new granddaughters.  Their arrivals in the early part of the year filled us with joy, and we are truly blessed to welcome these new additions into our family.  Babies, however, are a lot of work.  As grandparents, we have tried to help our children during this busy time, primarily by taking care of the  three older siblings who are all preschoolers.

We moved forward with a long awaited plan to build-out our unfinished basment.  It was a great idea and it turned out as we had hoped.  However, it required that the basement be emptied of all the things we had been storing in it.  We spent a few weeks sorting through everything and determining what to keep, what to take to Goodwill, and what to throw away before we could begin the actual work of finishing the space.

My already busy workload increased when a co-worker left but was not immediately replaced.  To keep up, I worked through lunch most days and stayed late.  I had to keep reminding myself to slow down a bit and breathe as I hurried from one meeting to the next.

Added into the mix were health challenges faced by our three parents who are in their 80’s. We helped out as much as we could in getting them to doctors’ appointment, including six weeks of daily radiation treatments for my mother-in-law during the holiday season.

So when it came time to think about One Word to focus on during 2016, I choose REST. This was confirmed when I read that our women’s ministries had chosen ‘Selah–Rest in the Lord’ as our annual theme.  The theme verse is “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)

Resting in the Lord doesn’t mean that I drop out of life and do nothing.  It doesn’t require me to ignore responsibilities and the challenges of life.  It does mean, however, that I lay my burdens on Jesus Christ.  I need to look to him as my source of strength each day.  He will never bring more demands into my life than I can handle with Him carrying the burden.

I look forward to a joyfully busy and productive year as I start each day with time in God’s Word and lean on Jesus to help me accomplish the tasks He sets before me.

 

A Life Verse for 2013

A number of years ago while teaching at a Christian high school, I was introduced to the concept of ‘life verses’.  Basically, life verses are verses of Scripture that speak so powerfully to a person that the person’s life is impacted.  The verses may supply encouragement, provoke a change of heart, bring correction, or provide instruction.  I was already aware of Scripture verses that had impacted me in these ways, and I had written several of those verses in my journal.  I had not, however, identified these verses as my ‘life verses.’ 

Since my introduction to the idea of life verses, I have made a habit of keeping my life verses close at hand.  I write them on index cards and carry them in my purse, so they are handy when I need them.  I read and ponder them frequently.  One such verse is Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”  This verse sustained me during a difficult time several years ago as Steve and I considered a major change in our life.  We were certain that God was leading us to make this change, yet nothing was working out.  When I would become discouraged, I would recite this verse many times throughout each day.  Eventually  God set things in motion for us with results that were far better than if our earlier attempts had succeeded.  God was teaching us to be patient and wait for His plan to be fulfilled.

Five years ago, God revealed to me that I should write a Christian novel.  This idea seemed very foreign to me, given my background is in math and finance.  Yet, God assured me that He would help me to accomplish the task if I would rely on Him.  Two verses gave me the courage to step out in faith and undertake this task.  I wrote them on index cards which I kept by my computer as I wrote.  One was John 15:16, “You did not choose me; I chose you and gave you this work and I gave you this work to produce fruit.”  This verse not only reminded me that writing a novel was God’s idea, but it also promised me that people would come to know God through reading the novel.  The second verse was  “If you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust Him to do it–you could never to it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked–well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God.  Sheer gift.” (Romans 4:5, The Message)  This verse encouraged me to continue to rely on God for the words to write.  I was well aware that I was not up to the task on my own, and I needed to be reminded to trust God to do it in me and through me.

For the past few weeks, I have been pondering a word to choose as my ‘One Word’ for 2013.  The One Word campaign encourages people to choose a word to focus on for the year, rather than making resolutions which are quickly broken.  Last year my Word was ‘intentional’ and in 2011 I selected ‘delight’ as my word.  This year I have not selected a word, but rather a new life verse. The verse that God keeps bringing to my mind is “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labors on what does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:2) 

This single verse encompasses important principles of money management and time management.  We should spend our money on things that sustain and improve our life, and we should be our time in tasks that bring joy and satisfaction.  I believe that if this verse is foremost in my thoughts this year,  I will be less likely to waste my money or my time.  I will not clutter my life with possessions I will discard in a few weeks or months and I won’t fritter away my time in meaningless activity.  So rather than making resolutions or even choosing a word to focus on this year, I have chosen a verse that I believe will impact me and the way I live my life in 2013 in very positive ways.

What Scripture verses have most impacted your life?  Do you have a verse you will focus on during this year?

Recommitting to Living Intentionally

In late February I wrote a blog about choosing “My One Word” for 2012.  I choose the word intentional and declared my intentions of “focusing my time and energy on what is truly important rather than simply responding to situations that present themselves.”  It’s now mid-June and the year will soon be half over.  It’s time to take stock of how I’ve done, and the scorecard is not encouraging, although it is not as dismal as I thought it might be.

I previously declared my goals to be intentional (1) in getting deeper into God’s Word and growing closer to Him, (2) in seeking His will for every aspect of my life, (3) in putting relationships ahead of accomplishing a to-do list, and (4) in taking steps to maintain my health, which will include losing weight and exercising more.  I also declared that I would spend less time mindlessly watching whatever show happens to be on television or surfing the Internet, less time playing Solitaire and Angry Birds, and less time stressing over situations that may or may not occur and that won’t matter to me a week later.  

Of course, as soon as you declare a course of action, it seems as if life conspires to interfere with your plans.  Shortly after writing my Intentional blog, we made an offer on a house, my brother-in-law died Bob unexpectedly, we closed on our house and moved, and we began a major renovation project.  Chaos ensued and I found myself reacting to situations rather than focusing my time and attention in productive ways.  We are now somewhat settled into the new house, we are adjusting to the big hole left in our lives by Bob’s absence, and the master bath renovation is awaiting shower doors to be complete.

It’s time to get my life back to some semblance of normalcy and my focus back on being intentional in my actions.  During this period of great distractions, I was faithful in my daily devotions.  I start each day by spending time reading the Bible and asking God to help me glorify Him in all that I do.  I think it is human nature to seek God’s help and draw closer to Him in troubled times and that was certainly true for me.   That is the positive side of the scorecard.

On the negative side, I’ve fallen back into old habits of playing solitaire and wasting time reading meaningless tripe on the Internet. I justify these time-wasting activities as stress relief; however, I am generally more stressed afterwards because nothing has been crossed off my to-do list.  I have managed to lose 4 pounds–not much for four months of denying myself bread and potatoes, but at least it is a loss and not a gain.  It probably goes without saying that I haven’t been exercising.  And I haven’t been writing.  My third novel which was to be completed by May 1 is no further along than it was in February.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines repent as “to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.”  That sounds like a good plan for my life.  So, I hereby repent of my lack of living intentionally and declare that I will turn from my sin and rededicate myself to those noble goals which I set earlier this year.  For the remainder of 2012, I will live intentionally and make the most of each day and each opportunity to grow in my relationship with God and those most important in my life and to improve my health.

My One Word for 2012: Intentional

I have been pondering my One Word for 2012 for two months now and have finally chosen ‘Intentional’ as my word for the year.  When I began considering what my focus for the year should be, I recalled a note a co-worker wrote me upon her retirement a few years ago.  She thanked me for reminding her “to keep the important things the important things.”  I wasn’t aware that I had ever done that, but I appreciated the compliment and have tried to live up to it. Of course, I fail more often than I succeed but I keep trying.

In trying to find a word which would encompass “focusing on the important things,” I considered thoughtful, purposeful, and balanced, before deciding on intentional.  The dictionary definition of intentional is “done with intent or purpose; deliberate.” I want to live my life with purpose and be deliberate in my actions.

My goal for 2012 is to be intentional in focusing my time and energy on what is truly important rather than simply responding to situations that present themselves.  This will require me to set priorities and take actions that will help me to accomplish my priorities.  

This year I want to be intentional (1) in getting deeper into God’s Word and growing closer to Him, (2) in seeking His will for every aspect of my life, (3) in putting relationships ahead of accomplishing a to-do list, and (4) in taking steps to maintain my health, which will include losing weight and exercising more.  I want to intentionally choose activities that will enhance my life and my relationships rather than those that simply fill my time.

Living intentionally this year will mean that I will spend less time mindlessly watching whatever show happens to be on television or surfing the Internet, less time playing Solitaire and Angry Birds, and less time stressing over situations that may or may not occur and that won’t matter to me a week later.  I’m sure I will fail often–it’s so easy to fall back into old habits–but my hope is that by making a deliberate decision to live intentionally, I will move closer to my goal of focusing my attention on the truly important things in life.  As I do that I will come closer to accomplish my life goal of bringing honor and glory to God in all that I do.

‘My One Word’Experiment for 2011—Closing Thoughts

Last year I heard about the “My One Word” challenge on my local Christian radio station. The idea is that instead of creating a list of resolutions, which are generally broken and long-forgotten by the time February 1st rolls around, we should choose a word to focus on for the year.  The originators of this idea refer to it as an ‘experiment.’  Their web site states that choosing one word “provides clarity by taking all of your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single thing. One word focuses on your character and creates a vision for your future.”  For more information on the My One Word experiment, you may go to their web site:  http://myoneword.org/.

For 2011, I chose “Delight” to be my word.  The scripture I focused on was “Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4 (NKJV).  The last three years have been challenging, and at times draining, as we faced the loss of my husband’s job and resulting long-term unemployment and the declining health of his parents.  The pressures of life had weighed heavily on me in 2009 and 2010.  I was determined to not let them steal my joy. 

I did none of the suggested exercises.  My total commitment to the exercise was to write two blogs about my word.  Yet, whenever I found myself getting bogged down by cares of the world, ‘Delight’ would pop into my mind.  Just thinking the word gave me a better perspective.  It is almost impossible to say or think the word ‘Delight’ without feeling a bit ‘delightful.’

As the year drew to a close, I once again read Psalm 37 during my devotions.  This time it was the 23rd verse that caught my attention.  It says, “The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He DELIGHTS in every detail of their lives.”   What a joy it brought to my heart to be reminded that God delights in me and in everything that concerns me. 

I can come to God with all the details of my life and He delights in guiding me to making the best decisions and the right choices.  God will direct Steve and me as we continue to search for a new home (see January 17th post).  He will guide me to be the best employee I can be and Steve as he continues to seek direction regarding earning a living.  God cares about our marriage, our health, and our relationships.  He is delighted when I bring these things to Him and He delights in helping me.  And those thoughts fill me with ‘Delight’.

I am still praying and pondering ‘My Word’ for 2012.  I plan to make a decision this week.

Will you participate in the ‘My One Word’challenge this year?  What ‘one word’ will you focus on in 2012?

Delight–Revisited

I read a blog yesterday in which the author discussed his One Word choices for the past three years and how he chose his One Word for this year.  While he remembered clearly his Words for 2008 and 2009, he was unable to recall his One Word for 2010 and had to look it up.  Interestingly, the word he forgot was Enjoy.  Enjoy seems like a pretty easy word to focus on for a year, and I was first amused that he had forgotten it.    Clearly, he was not successful in Enjoying life fully last year.

I was less amused as I read his explanation that he failed to live up to his word because he is more of a Martha than a Mary.  That observation hit close to home.  I am definitely more of a Martha.  For those of you who don’t understand the reference, this Martha was a friend of Jesus and sister to Lazarus and Mary.  When Jesus came to visit, Martha rushed around cooking and serving while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet feasting on his words.  When Martha complained to Jesus that her sister wasn’t helping her, he replied that, “Mary has chosen what is better.” (Luke 10:42)

For those of us who are doers, sitting at the feet of Jesus does not come naturally.  It is easier for us to volunteer to teach Sunday school or spend a day helping with an event than it is to spend an hour in quiet reflection in God’s Word.  We get so busy doing that, like the author of yesterday’s One Word blog, we forget to enjoy our time with God.  We may also have a hard time fully enjoying our families, our friends, our hobbies, and our work.

The dictionary defines Enjoy as “to take pleasure in; to find or experience pleasure.”  Delight is Enjoy compounded:  “a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; to give great pleasure; to take great pleasure in.”

When I chose Delight as my One Word for the year, I was focused on Delighting in God and recognizing that He Delights in me.  I will now add another focus—remembering to take Delight in my everyday life.  I will try this year to Delight in time spent in God’s word, to Delight in time spent with my family and friends, and to Delight in those I minister to or who minister to me.  I will try to relax more and be fully present in each moment.  I will try to avoid thinking about everything on my to-do list and what I could be accomplishing when I should be focused on those I am spending time with.

Several years ago I read Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver.  This insightful book speaks about having a balance between doing goods works and spending time communing with God.  Both are important if I am going to be the woman God has designed me to be.  Every couple of year I reread Having a Mary Heart to help me keep my focus.  It may be time to read it again.

Have you chosen One Word to focus on in 2011?  How is your One Word helping you to achieve personal growth?

Delight

Monday morning on the way to work I heard the radio DJs discussing the concept of “un-resolutions.”  They explained that a pastor had come up with idea that instead of making a list of resolutions, people should choose a word that represented what they want to work on during the year.  He calls his idea “My One Word, and says the “process provides clarity by taking all of your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single thing. One word focuses on your character and creates a vision for your future.”

The concept made a lot of sense, and I decided to join in.   The three DJs shared that they had chosen   Balance, Patience, and Discipline as their words.   Listeners called in to share their words.   All of the words were great and any of them could certainly have applied to my life. 

I was leaning toward Balance, with a goal of balancing different aspects of my life:  prayer and worship, work and family time, and Bible study and service, leisure and writing, etc.  I recently re-read Joanna Weaver’s book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.  Joanna wrote about the need to balance sitting at the feet of Jesus with time spent in the kitchen (or serving).  Balance seemed to be the word God was speaking to me.

During my Tuesday morning devotion, I was reading from the Prayer of Jabez devotional.  It focused on Psalm 18:19, “He rescued me because he delighted in me.”  I’m not sure that I ever consciously recognized that God delights in me before I read that.  At noon, I read a blog in which the writer committed to memorize two scriptures each month.  She is starting the year with Psalm 37:3, 4.  And there in verse 4 was that word Delight again. “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  I guess God wanted to make sure He got my attention, because Psalm 37:4 appeared in an email devotion I read before going to bed Tuesday night.

After encountering  Delight three times in one day, there was no doubt in my mind about what word to choose. Delight is going to be my One Word for 2011.  I will strive to delight in God and to remember that He delights in me.  Delighting in God will cause me to keep my eyes focused steadfastly on God and off myself.  Reminding myself that God delights in me will encourage me that God always has my best interest at heart and will keep me from getting discouraged when things are going the way I think they should.

What One Word will you focus on in 2011?