What’s Your Word for 2014?

sunrise on Christmas morn

This was a beautiful sunrise Christmas morning, 2013.

I’m never good at keeping New Year resolutions, so I decided several years ago not to even try.  However, I’m not sure why, but it seems that God gives me insight for the year ahead each January.  In fact, last year I went into 2013 kicking and screaming with what I felt was ahead.  I was prepared for the worst and it came, plus some.  This year, though, I am at peace.  I feel in my heart that 2014 is going to be a year of blessings—so that is my word for 2014.  Blessings.

We have all been through several years now of uncertainty having lived through the recession, job losses, cutbacks, high gas prices, changes in healthcare and other various stressors just to mention a few.  Some of us were better prepared than others.  However, I don’t think any of us have walked through the last few years unscathed.  Through these lean years, our household has cut back dramatically on eating out, vacations, and other things we would typically have done in the past just in order to save a few dollars to make ends meet.  Perhaps you’ve done the same.

Maybe it’s just me…or maybe you will relate.  It seems like when we go through lean times like these that we tend to get our priorities in line a little better than when times are easier and more certain.  Sometimes when things go smoothly in everything we do, we take things for granted.  In today’s world, when you go to work and come home with your job intact, it is a good day.  So many people I know in the last few years have struggled financially just because they were out of work or perhaps their job was cut back to part time to avoid high insurance costs for their company.  In 2013, God showed me how He provides.  He taught me once again to praise Him for His provision and reminded me to pray for my husband’s career and mine.  He gently pointed out to me that I should not put my faith into our employers; rather, I need to trust Him daily and seek His direction for our income.

Also, a year ago this week, it was confirmed that I had breast cancer.  Talk about your world losing control.  As a matter of fact, most of 2013 was spent going to appointments related to treating either my condition or the residual effects of the cancer.  It was just a couple of weeks ago that I can actually say, “I feel like myself again for the first time in a year!”  God taught me in 2013 that no one’s good health is guaranteed.  We can eat all of the right foods, exercise and get 8 hours of sleep every night and still get a disease that can threaten our life.  He taught me to slow down and do only the things of importance for a while.  The house can wait.  I may not be able to be superwoman to my kids and grandkids for a season.  He met me every morning, faithfully, and showed me through His Word that He was taking care of me and it was OK not to be so independent.  He spoke to me about the fact that I am human, living in a temporary world.  He designed life so that we could depend on Him to get us through whatever comes our way.  He gave me renewed hope of an eternity with no more suffering someday.

I say all of this because even though 2013 was a year of suffering, depression, uncertainty and lots of unexpected expenses; God has proven Himself, once again, to be faithful.  I can go through life like I started out last January, kicking and screaming; or, I can simply choose to trust God.  If we experience despair in our finances, health, and other circumstances, we can make the choice to put God in a box and don’t believe He can.  Or, we can seek Him through our situations and marvel at how He takes us through the valleys so gracefully.  I went into 2013 scared and uncertain about tomorrow.  Today in 2014, I still don’t know what tomorrow brings.  However, I am grateful for a year of suffering so that when God’s blessings fall, I will no longer take them for granted. I look forward to trusting God even more and growing into a deeper relationship with Him in 2014.

God never lets us down. He may not answer how or when we would like, but He is always there.  Today I am rejoicing through the days ahead in 2014 knowing He has my best interest at heart.  I am looking towards 2014 as the year for blessings because I have learned; blessings may even come disguised as trials and tribulationsEvery year is a year of blessings if our hearts are set on Him!

Ephesians 1:3 (NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

What’s your word for 2014?

What Is Bugging You This Week?

015As I age, I have grown to appreciate bugs.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t like them in my house.  However, they fascinate me when they’re outside.  Did you ever stop to think about how they feel being called a bug?  Did you ever look into their eyes and wonder what they’re thinking?  OK, I’m being silly.  Seriously, have you ever taken the time to look at the wonderful design of each one?

Since I love to take pictures, my photography has really given me a chance to examine bugs  up close and personal.  As I look at these, often times beautiful creatures, I am in awe of God who designed each one.  This week as I was reflecting on my latest bug picture—a dragonfly in my backyard—I knew God had a lesson in it for us this week.

As most of you know, I’m still recovering from my treatments for breast cancer.  I have been discouraged because I am still having low energy and other problems that bug me.  However, I know it is a process, so I am taking time to allow myself to heal.  As I was thinking about bugs this week, it dawned on me.  God has taken care to create some beautiful bugs on the earth.  We take them for granted and often look for ways to get them out of our lives.  They bug us and we simply want them gone.

bug

Just as bugs torment us, so do certain situations in our lives.  We often just want to stop the pain and suffering and get on with the things in life we enjoy.  We don’t want to be bugged by inconveniences of illness, job loss, financial difficulties, divorce, etc.   We simply want to rid ourselves of the problem.  However, could it be that these bugs have been perfectly designed just for us?

If we take the time and lean into God during tough times, there, we find the beauty in the situation.  We begin to see our trials from His viewpoint.  He knows exactly what it’s going to take for us to grow into the person He has created us to be.  Just as He has concerned Himself with every little detail of a bug’s design, He concerns Himself with every little detail of our lives as well.

001So this week, if you’re feeling bugged by life’s trials, relax.  Know that God knows every detail about your situation.  He doesn’t allow us to go through hard times because he wants to bug us.  Rather, He is interested in teaching us to find the beauty in the design.

Matthew 6:25-34   “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

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