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?

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2013 Roars In Like a Lion!

2013I am not the only one who has been hanging onto their hat since 2013 rounded the corner!  It seems like there is so much unrest with everyone.  Some might be worried about jobs or finances, what the fiscal cliff means to them and other political matters, gun control or no gun control, while others are struggling with health issues, relationship problems, etc.  I know this because I am the one that stands in the line at the supermarket while everyone around me including the cashier tells me about their problems.  I don’t know why it is but people just feel safe telling me stuff!

If you know me at all, you know that I am typically not a worrier and most always upbeat even when things are not perfect.  However, since I got the flu before Christmas, I am really struggling to get back on top of things.  The flu has been gone a long time now but its residual effects linger.  I don’t have a lot of energy and just yesterday had to start another round of antibiotics to try to get rid of the crud accumulating in my lungs.  Jim got sick this week too so between the two of us we are one lethargic couple!  Then today I found out that I might have breast cancer and am going to have a biopsy on Wednesday.  About an hour after receiving that news another doctor’s office called and said my cholesterol is sky high and I need to get on meds immediately as well as a low cholesterol diet!  I told him I would get right on that.  So that’s been my week, how has yours been?  I guess these are the perils of cramming all of your last minute doctor appointments and tests into the end of the year because your deductible for the year was already met!  Amidst it all, I’m trying desperately to be my positive upbeat self and stay focused on the important things even though 2013 has been total chaos thus far.

All of that aside, as I’ve been praying about the new year and what God might want from me in 2013, I have been impressed with a couple of things.  The first thing is that I feel God is calling me to pray harder this year.  I’ve always been a prayer warrior but I can almost feel Him saying, “Put on your full armor…be prepared for battle.”  Being the encourager that I am, this seems a bit negative for me to have those thoughts.  I’ve really been struggling with that.  I kept praying and thinking, really?  Does He really want me to tell people this for 2013?  Maybe I’m just overwhelmed with our sickness and it’s really not going to be that bad.

The second thing impressed on my mind has become my prayer to God.  I told Him I want to go deeper with Him this year.  I want to know Him more intimately and speak His messages more clearly for others to come to know Him as well.   I know that of course by praying more I will automatically become closer to Him as I commune with Him each day.  Since 2013 has begun I am beginning to wonder if by going deeper with Him that I may also have to experience more pain.  You know the sayings… “No pain, no gain and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Then the Bible reminds me in 1Peter 5:8-11 (NKJV) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.  But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you…

I don’t want to bring a message of doom and gloom and say, “This year is going to stink!  I can feel it!”  However, I think God is telling us to pay attention.  Get on our knees and resist the evil that is roaring around us like a lion seeking to devour us.  There are also times when God uses our suffering and pain to draw us closer to Him.  The good news is there is hope in the suffering that when it is over we will be perfected, established, strengthened and settled according to His Word.

So I personally declare this year the year of prayer and vigilance for me.  I am putting on my full armor and it’s not coming off until my Lord takes me home.  Just a few closing thoughts for you to ponder…Nothing in this world is going to change without our vigilance in the battle and fervent prayer against the enemy.  Nothing in this world as evil as it may seem is too big for God to handle.  A world without prayer will continue to spiral out of control.  A world filled with prayer will someday be restored.  Will you join God’s praying army with me today and put on your full armor?  Are you willing to get into the battle and get a little dirty knowing that when it is over you will be blessed?  How is God speaking to you in 2013?  Be blessed and don’t forget…go be a blessing!

God is Fanning the Flames for 2012!

Wow, do I ever feel pumped up and ready to go into another new year!  I’ve had some years that began with me digging my heals into the ground and saying, “No, I don’t want it to come!  I can feel a bad year on the horizon!”  Last year, I just kind of coasted into 2011 as I was not well and I really didn’t care one way or another.  However, 2012 is different.  I am a woman on a mission for God!

For 28 years, I knew God had something for me to do in this life other than just my everyday stuff.  I have prayed, hoped, dreamed, stepped out, felt blessed, stepped back, tired out, and even at times gave up on things I felt God leading me to do.  Of all of the things I have chosen to do in my life, it is those things that are eternal for which I am the most passionate about following.  I find that when I tire out and give up, it’s typically when I wasn’t really doing what I was put on this earth to do even when it seemed so right at one point.  For when you are serving God as you should, the Holy Spirit fills you up daily with passion and purpose for the day’s work.

Today, of this I am sure.  God’s plan has got to be my plan if I want to have more than just a mediocre existence in this life.  I want to do God’s will.  I want to minister to those He puts in my path.  I pray that the time that I spend writing is for His good and will reach many.  I want to help others find Him in an intimate way as I have, in my years of walking with Him.

In my reading this week, Paul was signing a letter he wrote in Colossians 4:17-18 and his words just jumped off the page at me.  He said, “…Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.  This salutation by my own hand Paul.  Remember my chains.  Grace be with you. Amen.”

Here was Paul, sitting in prison with his hands bound by chains, encouraging others to finish strong.  If he can be so positive while in such a place of great turmoil in his own personal life, so can I.  As a matter of fact, so can you!  You see, God didn’t put us in this world for everything to be easy and go our way.  He put us here to find Him, get to know Him, share Him, and learn to serve Him.

He has given each one of us a ministry of some kind that He wants us to fulfill.  He doesn’t really need us to accomplish our tasks; but He has allowed us the privilege to walk with Him and serve Him in these ways He puts before us.  I want to be like Paul.  I want to be an encourager, even when times are tough.  When I am down and out and bound by things of this world, I want The Holy Spirit to shine through me in a way that others will still want what I have.  I want to be victorious and faithful to the end, despite my circumstances.

Our pastor preached today on being either hot or cold and not lukewarm.  I want to be hot, Hot, scorching HOT for Jesus in 2012!  What about you?  Where is your walk in life taking you?  Have you asked God to show you where He wants you serving in 2012?  If not, take the time today to quiet your world before the hustle and bustle of the new year begins.  Shhhh…I can hear Him, can’t you?  He’s saying, “Keep praying so that I can keep you up on the latest details of what I need from you. Keep searching because sometimes My ways are not always obvious to a human mind.  Keep watching for where I am at work and come join Me when You see Me. My heart longs for you to know the blessings only I can give as you learn to serve Me.”

Well, I really don’t know if that’s what He’s saying to you…I just made that up!  It’s a Christian blog…I can’t lie!  The fact is, what He’s saying to me is probably not what He’s saying to you.  However, I do know Him well enough to know that He loves us.  He desires for us to have an intimate walk with Him while on this earth, reflecting His mightiness in the lives we live.

So how are your plans for 2012 looking?  Are you going to be hot, Hot, scorching HOT for Jesus this year?  What ministry has God given you to fulfill?  Can you conjure up just even a little bit of Paul’s faith and optimism even when times are tough? Are you ready to confidently claim the Holy Spirit’s power over you as you serve God this upcoming year in mightier ways than your mind can conceive?  I’m ready.  Bring on 2012!  Let’s run hard, act wisely, and let’s finish strong because that’s what God would want us to do.  We are His witnesses…let’s show His stuff in 2012!  God’s fanning the flames…is yours lit yet?

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