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One Word: Hope

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“This just doesn’t seem fair. Now our insurance may go up because she decided to lie?”

“Sorry, hun. Now it’s a matter of principle. This time I filed a claim purely for justice sake. I am not paying for the damage she caused. I am not paying for her to lie and get away with it. That is what is not fair. For someone to get away with being dishonest.”

This was the conversation between my husband and I. In our kitchen. The day after Christmas. What were we talking about? An insurance claim that I had to file for a tiny scrape to our vehicle. Because the other party caused the damage. Had more to lose.

And decided to side step the truth.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

I always started off a new year by picking one word that would define it. Well, by allowing God to pick it. Guide me in picking it. However, I did not pick one last year. I tried. I thought for a while it may have been “light,” because for a time I felt His light was being pushed back, drowned out by darkness so others could not see it.

As my journey sent me through one battle after another, I was also sent on many a mission to fight.

And without mine ever even knowing it, I was sent on many a mission to fight for truth.

So it seemed fitting that in the last few days of 2018, I would be standing in my kitchen fighting for it again. Fighting for truth to win, and for dishonesty to fail. For honest folks to be celebrated, and liars to be defeated.

Fighting for truth that continues to remain unspoken for fear of retaliation. Fear that speaking it will mean one is not believed. Thought to be crazy. Irrational. I know all three of those. I know how big that fear can get. I even know what it is like to not be believed. To stand up before a lie and be called crazy. Irrational.

But…I also know something bigger than those fears.

A just and fair Savior.

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.” Isaiah 43:18-19, MSG

Who can speak truth into the dark places.

Even as I sit here writing these words. Looking outside at a dreary day. One that seems to  set the tone for the end of the year that was filled with many dark, dreary days. Wondering if this year will bring more of the same.

“I am doing something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.” Isaiah 43:19, MSG

Truth in dark places.

Hope in dark places.

Hope that the truth will be brought into light. That more will seek it, speak it. Turn from the lies of the world, and seek the promises found in His Word. A hope that pierces the gloom. The darkest night. Promises to keep shining into those dark places.

Hope that keeps you moving forward, even when you want to give up, because you know and trust God to provide a breakthrough.

Even when you can’t see it in front of you, it is there.

If we don’t have hope that truth wins. That good will prevail. That light will be exposed. That God’s will be done. Then…what’s the point?

Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. -Shawshank Redemption. 

I think Andy was onto something. Hope. It’s a good thing.

On the hardest of days when I’m fighting for truth to win, I still have my hope. It’s the one thing I can count on when truth fails. Hope never does.

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2019 in One Word 2014

 

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One Word: Surrender

Surrender

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing. Isaiah 43:18-19

Oh, the promise of the New Year. A chance to make changes. Try something new. Correct all that was wrong with the past year. Time to make a list of new goals, most of which will be deserted by February.

It’s for this reason I began a couple years ago to chose just one word that would shape each new year. One word that God had laid on my heart to live out in my life. This past year, the word laid on my heart was perseverance. And, as begin to reflect on 2015, I have to ask myself if I really allowed this word to transform me? Did my actions and choices live up to its meaning?

Honestly, I didn’t embrace what it would mean in my life. Instead, I let illness and the dark days of winter sink me into a mild depression. I let criticism make me lose focus on my purpose, and instead fulfilled the purpose others had for me. I didn’t take care of myself, so consumed with taking care of the needs of others. I started things, and never finished them. I came close to giving in, and plain quitting, because it seemed easier than pushing through. I lost faith. I quit praying. I left too much undone, and too many words unsaid. I became a cynical, unloving, and angry woman. Taking every slight and hurt to heart, until I was a shell of the person I used to be.

And, as I sit here reflecting on that word-perseverance-I begin to wonder how I failed to allow it to transform me, and I realize I probably never had an idea what it meant in the midst of change and adversity. The word, perseverance, means much more than endurance, finishing, or not giving up. This is how it is usually defined, but most don’t know that it has another meaning as well: “grace to the end.”

His grace. His purpose. His leading in my life despite adversity. Living my full potential each and every day. Knowing He will sustain me and push me through to the end.

But, why was actually doing it-persevering-so difficult?

Because, I couldn’t let go. I held onto resentment, guilt, the past, my hurts, and my failures. I couldn’t persevere and keep running without letting go. Without complete surrender and release of all that held me back from my purpose.

So, this year…I will surrender. Let go. Endure life’s difficulties knowing I am His. Embrace who He has made me to be, despite popular opinion, or any uphill battle.

I will surrender to His will for my life, keeping in mind a few things I must let go of along the way. Making a few vows. Choosing not to settle for anything less than His purpose, and releasing anything that stands in the way. Despite difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

I will surrender the tendency to let the darkness of this world consume my mood and thoughts, but will be the light in that darkness. As well as one in my home. At work. In my community.

I will surrender the need for perfect children, and allow them to make and learn from their mistakes.

I surrender my need to please. I will embrace who God made me to be, not what others would like me to be.

I surrender the desire to run from the past in an attempt to forget it. Instead, I will give back to those who shaped it. Forgive those who maimed it. Teach others the lessons learned, and know that this past has made me who I am today.

I will surrender my fears. Those irrational ones that keep me from truly living. Face the unknown. Finally take steps to fulfill a dream.

I will dance in the rain.

I will intentionally put those “I’ll pray for you’s” into practice.

I will surrender the need to see life through the lens of my smart phone, and immerse myself in each and every glorious moment. Seeing life through my own eyes.

I’ll learn to love my own company. Call an old friend to catch up. Dress up- just because.

I surrender my insecurities, my fear of rejection, or of being misunderstood. I will say what needs to be said. Even if it hurts. Even if it is scary. Even if it is hard.

I will surrender my selfishness, hate, and regrets.

And, I will love-without abandon. Despite obstacles. Despite disagreements. Despite differences. Even if it is complicated. Even if it is messy.

I will surrender negativity, and anything or anyone that may creep in to cause me to lose my peace of mind, my faith, my sense of self. I will surround myself with positive people. Those who encourage me and push me to be better.

I will embrace distance that keeps those I hold dear far away. Knowing it is necessary for growth, opportunity, and change that won’t happen in the four walls called “home.”

I will surrender my fear of failure. I will try new things-not giving up when they don’t come easy.

I will surrender the belief that the world is full of evil, and choose to remember all that is good and true. Seeing this good in others, even when it seems hard to find. Even when I have been hurt. Even in the midst of tragedy.

This year, I will find the strength and peace to let go. To release all that holds me back from Him. To simply surrender.

The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20, MSG

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2016 in You Make All Things New

 

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One Word-Perseverance

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I like to think I have a way with words, with at least the written words that express my thoughts, my emotions, my desires. However, sometimes choosing just one word becomes a little more daunting.

Last year I joined a group of women in an on-line bible study in which I participate in choosing one word to live by for the year. This one word would replace any resolutions that would certainly be broken by the second day of January. Deciding on the one word that would define my year was not too complicated, but living it out was often something else entirely.

It is said when you choose this one word that God will reveal how exactly He plans for you to live up to it. And that He did.

While I did prove at times to be far from fearless, I also learned to understand…

Letting go is fearless. Admitting defeat is fearless. Admitting your faults and being transparent is fearless. Telling your story, as ugly as it may be is fearless. Forgiveness is fearless. Asking for help is fearless.

Faith in the midst of doubt is fearless. Embracing the twists and turns of life is fearless. Parenting is fearless. Love is fearless.

This year, this one who thinks she is so great with words, has had a tough time finding the “one.”

Until I lay in bed for the third week of an illness that quickly turned into pneumonia. Gasping for air. Tired. Weary. Worn. More sick than I had ever been.

Crying out for God to just give this weary girl some rest. Cursing Him for not providing the healing He had promised. Angry because the mission He had set out for me couldn’t possibly be fulfilled in this bed. On this couch. Gasping for breath. Tired, Weary. Worn.

Ready to give up on Him altogether.

Ready to give up…something that comes so easy to me.

The one who was “fearless” enough to stand in a room of strangers and tell her ugly story, couldn’t seem to find the motivation or strength to complete the simplest of tasks. To follow through on all the things she needed or desired to do.

The one who can fearlessly wrestle monsters, gives up too easily on other things that just seem to hard.

Like the guitar I played for a week, and then never picked back up.

Like all the books I started and never finished.

Like all the conversations I was too scared to have with the people who needed to hear my words the most.

The ideas and goals I have that I never write down, and then never start.

The good intentions and best laid plans I throw to the side when it gets to tough to follow through.

The “clean” eating. The desire to run I wanted to find again. The dream I so want to make happen. The marriage I take for granted. The prayers I never pray. The time I never have. Too hard. So, I just give up or never start.

And, here I was again. Ready to give up because God was making things too hard.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12

So, my one word. The one word God revealed to me as I lay screaming at Him. Angry. Gasping for air. Tired. Weary. Worn.

Perseverance.

Perseverance to pick up that guitar and finally learn to play it. Perseverance to get those dreams and goals written down so they can finally be achieved.

To finish that book. To follow through on those best laid plans and good intentions. To make time for God. My health. My family. My marriage.

To fight the urge to give up on people, projects, hopes when they get too hard. Or, to give up on God when he doesn’t answer.

Perseverance to run the race He will set before me. Never quitting. Never faltering. Never giving up.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2015 in You Make All Things New

 

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Me, Of Such Little Faith

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have such little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” Matthew 14:31

In a few weeks I will head back to Lynchburg, Virginia to attend a week long class. Alone, just like the last time. I have spent many of the past few weeks once again dreading the thought of leaving the cocoon of my home to sit in class with such a large group of strangers.

An introvert’s worst nightmare. And the source of dread and doubt that has plagued me, is one I even convinced my husband to let go off in terms of our finances!

I know. I know. I am not only an introvert, but also not so great at this practicing what you preach stuff.

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions. James 2:14

So, I here I sit. A woman who says she has enormous faith in God. Who commands her numbers-crunching husband to have a little faith as well, yet, I don’t have enough faith to believe he will not leave me lonely while I am away from home.

See, I mentioned I am introvert, right? I am not one who seeks out people. I would rather sit in the back of the room with a cup of coffee and a book, people watching, without ever having to engage with anyone. It seems a little irrational, but in reality, I simply fear rejection. I fear not making a connection with people, saying something completely idiotic, or finding out that someone really just doesn’t want to talk to me, or even like me.

Why? Because the devil tells me I have nothing to offer. Because the devil tells me I have nothing important to say, nothing of significance to contribute. Because the devil wants me to believe that no one wants to talk to me. That I am not good enough, and that no one likes me.

And even though I know that I will be surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ; people all working towards the same goal, the devil wants me to believe that I will be all alone.

Even when I know better….even when I know he says he will NEVER leave me lonely.

Just as my doubt begins to take over, and I cannot get over my fear and insecurities about venturing on this journey again:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. Philippians 4:6-7

That’s right. Even in our doubt, he can still answer prayers. Even seemingly silly and irrational ones like mine.

Because just as I was praying about my loneliness and dread, someone else was praying about their own journey to Lynchburg that same week! And, what do you know? It just so happened to be the same week I would be traveling too.

I doubted God’s plan last semester, and he placed people in my path to be with me along the journey. I doubted him again, and yet he has provided my need this time as well, putting that same person in just the right place at just the right time.

Oh, me, of such little faith. Worrying about tomorrow. Afraid of the unknown. Not giving my doubts and worries to God and trusting His plan.

Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. Psalm 55:22

He hasn’t failed me. He has never let me fall. Whether in my finances, my relationships, or a week long trip away from home.

So, it’s time to get rid of all my doubts, all my fears. To lay all my worries, burdens, and cares at His feet, and then to walk away knowing that no matter the task, no matter the worry-God has it all handled!

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2014 in One Word 2014

 

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Forward, Not Back

I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:13-14

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You can’t move forward if you are constantly looking backward. These have been the words I have repeated to myself and that have been running around and around in my mind since I chose my one word for 2014.

Let’s face it. We have a hard time moving forward. We like to live in our pasts. It’s comfortable there sometimes. The places and people are all familiar. We have been there and done that. So we know what to expect.

Looking forward. Taking those steps into new territory. It’s scary. We are afraid to be in new places. None of the faces look like the ones we know so well, and it certainly isn’t comfortable.

“Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. For I am doing a new thing!”          Isaiah 43:18-19

To truly live out God’s will, to live a life that is wholly surrendered to his plan, we must look forward. Sure, it’s alright to look back, to remember the mistakes we have made. But we also must learn from them, move on. We must be fearless. We can’t live and dwell in our pasts.

We can’t constantly look backward, and expect to take a step forward.

So, I am going to strive to move forward. New challenges. New faces. New territories. They are certainly scary, but with God walking beside me and guiding my fearful steps towards His purpose, I do not have to afraid of the road that lies ahead.

I know he will fearlessly move me forward in the right direction.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in One Word 2014

 

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Fearless in the Face of Doubt

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“Truly, I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.” Mark 11:23

This week marks the beginning of another semester of homework deadlines, on-line discussions, and late Sunday night procrastination panic-in other words, another semester of graduate school. I made the commitment this semester to spend a little time before classes began to prepare myself for what lay ahead. In doing so, I reviewed some of the grades and comments from professors I had not yet gotten to from the previous semester. I came across these words:

“January, we all have areas that we can grow in, but your insight has really increased over this week. Like all good counselors you will get better with practice. Keep your eyes on the prize!”

This after a week at school where I spent most of my time in my head, doubting every little thing I did or did not say as a pseudo-counselor.

Keep your eyes on the prize….

But, so often I keep them on myself-on my inadequacies, my mistakes, my failures, my self-doubt. I can’t see the prize because I am blinded by my insecurities.

And, I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6

He who began a good work. Was it not God who called me to this season in life? Is it not God who will equip me with everything I need to see his work and purpose through to the end? Is it not God who urges me in Philippians 3:4 to keep my eyes on the prize?

Yet, I still doubt my abilities, and in turn doubt Him.

So, this semester and those seasons I don’t even know about yet, I want to keep in the forefront of my mind the urging of Paul in Ephesians 3:20-21. To remember, God can do anything-far more than I could ever imagine or desire. Far more than I could ever do on my own, or in my own power.

I have to replace fear and doubt with faith.

I must keep my eyes on the prize.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2014 in One Word 2014, Uncategorized

 

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One Word: Fearless

But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3

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My children often teach me many lessons on life and parenthood. Having one child with autism has also taught me to embrace the fact that many of the obsessions children with this diagnosis have are often not completely rational, and sometimes others may think their likes are downright weird. Our son, Hunter’s, obsession? Sharks. Despite his love for this ocean creature, I am deeply terrified of sharks. While Hunter learns all he can about them (did you know there was a Lemon Shark?), I can’t get past the only thing I care to remember about them.

They swim in the ocean. Underneath my feet. And they bite. Hard! I’m afraid of the ocean. I’m afraid of sharks.

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Psalm 91:4-5

Yet, there are many things this heart fears.

I’m afraid of failure. I’m afraid of speaking up. I’m afraid of being vulnerable. I’m afraid of taking big steps, moving forward into unknown territories.

Why? Because it means I may fail. I may have to speak up. I may have to be vulnerable.

I’m afraid of not belonging. I’m afraid of roller coasters, spiders, and snakes. And while its contradictory, I’m afraid of not indulging in and reaching for everything this life has to offer.

I fear not being good enough, and I let this fear hold me back from living a life of purpose.

I fear looking back and realizing all the things I said I would do and accomplish were never accomplished at all.

That’s why this year, I have no resolutions. I will not make plans to do more or less of anything. This year my resolution is simply one word: FEARLESS.

“Don’t be afraid. For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears.” Zephaniah 3:16-17

FEARLESS. The word that God revealed to me as I reflected on the past year, and thought about the one ahead. Maybe it’s because too many times lately I have been afraid to speak up, move forward, and be vulnerable. Afraid of what others would think. Afraid to hurt others’ feelings. Someone who is often known for having so much spunk, has been anything but spunky!

I have been so overcome with fear that I have certainly not been FEARLESS.

I can’t tell you what this word will look like for me this year. Only God knows this. But, I do believe that in order to be FEARLESS, my purpose must be to face my fears. Admit I am afraid. Tell myself that being afraid is natural and totally OK.

While it may not mean I get over my fear of spiders or snakes, it does mean I learn to step outside my comfort zone…

To jump into the ocean, even though I know sharks swim in there.

To speak up, even though I may be the only one sharing.

To fail, be fine with it, and maybe even fail again.

To be vulnerable, even if it hurts.

To realize I am good enough, despite what others may think.

To reach for, indulge in, and grasp everything that God wants for me to have in this life, even if the path looks too long, too hard, or too scary.

To be FEARLESS.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2014 in One Word 2014

 

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