January 16, 2017

How to Thrive

Thrive is my One Word for 2017, but how do I go about thriving in all areas of my life? We all know how to make plants grow and thrive. Plant in soil, fertilize, water, and make sure the plants gets sunlight. But how do we make ourselves grow and thrive?

Psalm 1 from The Voice says:

God’s blessings follow you and await you at every turn:    when you don’t follow the advice of those who delight in wicked schemes,When you avoid sin’s highway,    when judgment and sarcasm beckon you, but you refuse.For you, the Eternal’s Word is your happiness.    It is your focus—from dusk to dawn.You are like a tree,    planted by flowing, cool streams of water that never run dry.Your fruit ripens in its time;    your leaves never fade or curl in the summer sun.No matter what you do, you prosper.

In order to thrive, there is something to AVOID. We all know we should flee from temptation, but we usually think of that murder, adultery, stealing, etc. It is saying here avoid sin's highway. Judgement and sarcasm. What? I have loved sarcasm because it uses irony and is a play on words, but really it is just a form of mockery and contempt. What about judgement? How many times do we talk bad about others, adding "Bless their heart" to make it sound like we are concerned for their best interest. It's wrong. We need to avoid biting others with our words and even with our thoughts. Where our thoughts are, our tongues will follow.

In order to thrive, we need to plant ourselves near things that give life. Like the tree planted by water where its roots could grow deep and tap into the nourishment of the stream, we need to tap into things that nourishes us and helps us to grow strong and fruitful.

The prescription is for our focus to be on God's word, from morning until night. Our focus is on Him and the love He has for the world. This transforming book permeates all areas of our lives. It gives wisdom. It gives hope. It gives grace and mercy.

So what does this look like for me as I seek to thrive this year? Well, here are some practical things I am putting into place to aid me in my quest.

GROW:

  • Read scripture every day and try to journal a truth that God points out to me in my new Journaling Bible.
  • Blog 2 times a week about what God is teaching me about thriving and how I am growing in different areas. 
  • Read 2 books a month, whether it is for spiritual growth, for knowledge about writing, or to refresh myself with fiction.
  • I joined Weight Watchers and am trying to eat healthier. Maybe exercise will come into play later, but if I try too much, then I will give up on everything. Yes, I know this all-too-well.
  • Have people over for a meal and fun once a month...or every other month. 
  • I started having my nails done every 3 weeks. I've never had them done before, so it is my "treat".  I decided to gray naturally and not dye my hair, but I am going to have pretty nails. 
  • Try and get 8 hours of sleep every day. This is not always easy since I get up at 5 am, but I am going to try, as I find I tend to wear cranky pants if I am sleep deprived.
AVOID:
  • Grumbling and complaining. People don't like being around "Debbie Downers".
  • Bad company - this includes things I watch and things I read. 
  • Too many sweets. I know I will never be able to give them up, but I can limit them.
  • Laziness - I am not going to sit down when I get home from work until I have gotten my chores done. (Once I sit down after a long day at work, it is all over.)
  • Fear - fear that I am not doing enough; that I'm not good enough; that I am too old, etc
Part of me wants to erase everything I've just written. I've written down goals before and know the embarrassment and regret of not accomplishing those goals. But that is just fear of failure. I should keep trying. At least trying is doing something, right?

There you go: my plan on thriving. What is your plan for this year?



January 10, 2017

Without Rival...One of A Kind

I have been a member of Goodreads for awhile, but haven't really kept up with it. Since my word for the year is thrive, I decided to challenge myself to read 2 books a month for a total of 24 books this year. I will also track my progress through Goodreads (HERE) to keep myself accountable, as well as keep a running list of the books I read.

Without Rival, by Lisa Bevere, is the first book on my list. The first half of this book was really good and talked about identity and purpose of women. We are loved uniquely, because we are one of a kind, created uniquely by God for a unique purpose. To me, this message was just what I needed and worth the money spent...even if the last half of the book lagged a bit.

It's so easy to get caught up in the comparison game on social media to where your value comes from how many likes you get. Well, that is just crazy. Our worth comes from our Creator. We are made to give Him glory and seek His approval, not the approval of man. Yes, social media is a way to encourage others and share God's message, but we need to be careful not compare our gifts with the gifts of other people. Our gifts are to share, regardless of the talents of others.

And yes, I am preaching to me.

Why am I preaching to myself? Because I want to thrive in the gifts that God has given me and not shy away from sharing just because I think there are millions out there better than me. Of course there are people better than me! But that doesn't mean I shouldn't share what God has put on my heart to give. I need to be brave and surrender to His will for me. (You see how God uses my past year's words to speak???) I need to step out in faith in what God is leading me to do.

We all need to quit thinking we don't have anything to offer to the world. Because we are uniquely created by an amazing God, we have gifts to share with those around us that nobody else has. You are one of kind and the things you do aren't like what anyone else can do. You have something to offer. Are you willing to share?

You should.

You are one of a kind. You are without rival.

January 05, 2017

32 Years Being His

Saying it out loud makes me feel so old, but then, I am over half of a century old! Thirty-two years ago today I walked down the aisle of a church in South Houston, Texas to marry the love of my life. It was the best decision I have ever made.

I moved to Houston right after I graduated high school to attend a small Bible college affiliated with my husband's church. I was 17 years old. Two weeks after I moved, I turned 18 and he gave me a dozen roses...and that was it. We were pretty much inseparable after that. The next birthday he proposed and we were married four months later. I was 19, he was 20.

It has been a beautiful life. It hasn't always been easy, but it has been a blessed one. You see, I married a man who love God even more than me. So much so that he emulates his Savior each and every day. He may get angry, but he doesn't show it. He loves sacrificially and I am as spoiled as they come. Sure, he is not perfect, but he is perfect for me. He is truly a gift from God and I am so incredibly thankful for him.

I love being his.

I love you, John!

January 01, 2017

Bringing In 2017 With A New WORD

After prayerful consideration, my Word for 2017 is THRIVE. Isn't that great?

Dictionary.com has two definitions for thrive.
1. to prosper; be fortunate or successful
2. to grow or develop vigorously; flourish

Though I would like to be successful, the first definition is not really what I am wanting. After last year's word of SURRENDER, the word Thrive excites me. There is a sense of expectancy and action. Growth and potential. It is a word that can bring power, don't you think?

I want to thrive in faith, in my relationships, in church, at work, in my art and in my writing. I want to grow and flourish in every area of my life.

I've been searching through scripture for verses that talk about thriving. I'll be sharing more verses later, but here is the verse that says it the best.

John 8:12 in The Voice says:

"I am the light that shines through the cosmos. If you walk with me, you will thrive in the nourishing light that gives life and will not know darkness." (Jesus speaking)

If we walk with Jesus, staying in step with Him through whatever situations we are in, we will thrive. There is action involved. We are to actively take the steps needed to stay in relationship with the One who is the light of the universe. We don't just wait around and expect Jesus to hit us over the head with His will. We are to pursue Him...know Him better...see Him at work around us and join Him in that work.

Jesus says we will thrive in the nourishing light that gives life. Gives me chills just thinking about it. Just as the sun causes the plants of the ground to grow and flourish, Jesus...when we stay close to Him...gives us the nourishment we need to live...to thrive...in this world. We grow, becoming more like Him, and gain true life saturated by His light.

This how I really want to thrive this year. I want to grow wildly and abundantly in love with Jesus.

Do you have a Word for the year? Or are you more of a New Year Resolution kind of person? I'd love to hear!


December 29, 2016

Surrender: A Year in Review

My word for 2016 was Surrender. I blogged about it earlier this year HERE. It wasn't a word that I was thrilled about, but I knew that it was a word I needed. I knew the Lord would redeem the word and make it something that would be a blessing instead of something I dreaded and even ran from.

The first part of my surrender was to start up some women's activities at church. You might say that is not surrendering, but for me it was.  You see, I had gotten into a bad habit of apathy. I used my day job as an excuse to not be active. Sure, I am exhausted from my job, but the Lord promises to give us the strength we need to do His work. So we began a monthly breakfast and a quarterly activity like a craft day, a Christmas tea, etc. We also started a Ladies Bible Study, which was by far the most rewarding thing. For such a small church, we have had a huge turnout. Women are hungry to share, grow, and be encouraged.

Another part of my surrender was the surrender of my time. As an empty-nester, I have a lot of time in the evenings. I tend to just watch Netflix and play games on my iPad (all part of that apathy and tiredness from my day job). I have tried to start writing again, but the surrender part was difficult, especially with outside circumstances got in the way. Which brings me to the last of my surrender.

It was a difficult year for my family. Just lots of stuff going on...some good, some bad. I really had to let my instinct to step in and help...aka be bossy and nosey....go and just surrender it all to the Lord. He can make good out of bad way better than I can. While it is not in His plan for bad things to happen, He can heal and bring good out of any situation.

There is a sense of fulfillment and peace in surrendering to the Lord. I know He wants the very best for me - I just need to surrender to Him and His will for me. Sure, there are bad times. We are never promised an easy life. But the journey we travel in this world develops our character and hearts to become the people He can use for His kingdom.

God knew I needed this word for this particular year. Surrender...a word redeemed.

p.s. I'm so excited about my word for 2017!

***Picture by markuso at freedigitalphotos.net***

December 25, 2016

A Sunday Christmas

Christmas 2016
I used to hate it when Christmas fell on a Sunday. We'd wake up early and open presents, dump out all the goodies in the stockings, then rush around to get ready for church, all the while glancing at our toys, wishing we could just stay home and play. I felt this way as an adult with children of my own, knowing that they too wished they could just stay home.

But I've learned that my focus was wrong. Sure, I would say that Jesus is the reason for the season, but they were just words. Those words really didn't affect my heart.

When your heart focuses on the One and Only, Christmas becomes sacred. A day that is steeped in wonder and awe. It's the miracle of the Creator God becoming a sacrificial lamb...a babe swaddled, lying in a cradle of hay.

This babe is Emmanuel...God with us.

Today Christians all over the world are gathering together to celebrate this coming King, this child on whom the weight of the world rests. Together we will raise our voices to praise Him who humbled himself to take on human form, becoming the servant of all, giving His life for each and every soul that ever was, is, and will be.

Today is special. Do you feel it? Do you hear the Spirit whisper into your soul, "Today is the day." He is here. Because of His birth, death, and resurrection, he is here...living in you. Because of His first gasp of breath, He now breathes into you His presence.

Rejoice! Worship Him! For He is here....and He will come again to take us home.

"Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams, a child is born, sweet-breathed; a son is given to us: a living gift. And even now, with tiny features and dewy hair, He is great. The power of leadership, and the weight of authority, will rest on His shoulders. His name? His name we'll know in many ways - He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing, Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6 (The Voice)

Merry  Christmas!

November 28, 2016

Not Another Fan

Photo by Naypong
at freedigitalphotos.net
I don't want to be just another fan.

There...I said it. I have been a fan of Jesus, but not always a true follower. Now I know that my friends and family would argue that, but if I truly search my heart, in some areas of my life I have been just another fan.

I saw on Facebook a book that my sister-in-law Elizabeth posted. They are starting up a study based on this book Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman and I was curious. I looked it up on Amazon and promptly ordered it. I started it this morning and am halfway through.

It's not easy reading, as I have had to examine my heart and my motives against the challenges that Jesus set forth to his disciples and the crowds that followed Him. Yikes.

You see, a fan is excited about their team until the team begins to falter. When tough times comes, the fan becomes disillusioned and becomes a fan of the next great team.

A follower on the other hand doesn't give up God when the going gets tough.

A follower counts the cost....and there will be a cost...and steps out in faith regardless.

A follower is excited about God and His mission in this world.

A follower is full of the Spirit, and is aware of His presence.

While I have been able to say yes at times to all of these, I have been lukewarm a good part of the time. I get weary. I become afraid of what others think. I get tired of Satan's attacks and give up on my zeal for the Lord.

I want a close relationship with God. I want to fear God and give Him the honor, respect, and reverence He is due. I want to live a life of love for God and for others. I want to be used by Him. I want to surrender to Him completely...wholeheartedly...unashamedly.

Oh God, the cry of my heart is I want to follow You. 

I don't want to be just another fan.


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