Resolutions, Words and Prayers.

new-years-resolutions-goals-ss-1920I think we all can agree on resolutions in the new year…they tend to be made with good intentions and often we find by next week we aren’t really doing too well with them, and we give up. Several years ago I joined the OneWord365 community where you pick a word to be the theme of your year. That’s often one I find I can stick to as well until around April or May, then revisit in the fall. I may even venture into another word theme for the year as I keep having a word pop up on my heart and mind for 2018, especially as I reflect back on 2017, as we are want to do these early days of a new year.

This year I wanted more of a prayer for my life. I am walking into this year knowing there are things I will accomplish and goals I want to set for myself. One in particular is getting certified to teach POUND fitness classes. I have been taking those classes for two year, growing to love it and the community it has brought. Another is to finish writing my book and have it submitted to literary agents. It’s a big goal but one I have carried year to year for a bit too long.

But the more I thought on this new year I couldn’t help but feel this pull to have a prayer for the year. For each month, each week, each day and even each moment. I desired to bring me back to the recognition of His Presence in moments, in situations, in my life in all things. I stumbled upon the words of someone as I was thinking through what my prayer would be, and it hit exactly where I was desiring to be in 2018.

Let me approach each moment as one God has appointed for His glory.

I don’t know about anyone else but that prayer, those words, were meant exactly for me to carry, to ruminate on, to pray fervently for throughout 2018. I want to cling to them and the moments He has appointed for me. Each and every one.

The hard ones? Yep.

The doubting ones? You got it.

The mundane ones? Um yeah.

The joyful ones? Oh yes.

And I have found that already I am running to those words as I begin to encounter moments where I can’t quite figure out why I’m in it, or how I should navigate it. Let me approach it knowing He has appointed it…not for me and my self, but for Him and His glory. It doesn’t mean all the moments will be good or #blessed.

It does mean I will need to look for Him in the moments, the days, the weeks, the months ahead, being proactive in seeking Him rather than retrospective of seeing Him when looking back. Because we aren’t too far gone from Christmas, and the reason for the season, Immanuel Himself. God with us. He is with me in all things, if I approach it with Him, if I pray to seek Him, preparing before any and every thing to know He is in control, He is good even when I fail at keeping my resolutions.


Do you have a resolution? A word for 2018? Or even a prayer or mission statement for your life? Or even a Scripture? I’d love to hear about it, so share below!

Yokes of Weariness

Christmas may be over, but I still have the refrain “the weary world rejoices” playing in my head. I think we’ve been grasping this year for rejoicing. We are a weary world, and I have to think that 2018 won’t magically hold a quick fix for our weary hearts.

Over the last few days the weariness has born down heavy to the point where I could feel the weight settling in for a good long stay. A tension between heaviness and lightness began to build though, as I didn’t want to close out this year with such a view of it and also enter a new one with this weighted feeling.

That is when I was reminded of scorched earth in a photo, what I felt embodied so much of what this year has felt like at least for me. Alot of earth scorched. There were highlights, don’t get me wrong here, but there was much heaviness. As I looked on at this photo a friend took I saw the starkness of the earth and this tree, barren and bleak. I came back to Christ’s words for some reason in Matthew, where He reminds us that He came not that we would take on this weariness and brokenness, that this bleakness was ours to bear. He took it on. He bore it out. He faced it and He overcame.

For each one of us. For us to come to Him.

To bring Him our yokes we build and tie around our shoulders, we fashion out of worry, anxiety, burdens of health and death, grief and loss. To loose the yokes and lay them down. To take upon His of rest, to learn humble hearts. To become like Him and know light.

From this bleakness there is hope. Standing in the stark contrast is Christ asking for our weariness here at the end of 2017, and at the beginning of 2018. He asks for it daily. In the moments we want to carry our weary hearts, He asks we carry them straight to Him and let them go. Taking the burden off, He loosens our hearts to know Him more and trust Him deeper. To depend further upon Him in order to rejoice at His coming.

May our hearts rejoice in the beauty of the scorched earth and bleakness, knowing He is right there with us in it. He stands in the field, present in the manger, calling wise men to Him, and our hearts to His. To unburden and to release the yokes of life.


If you’d like to take a look at the photo that inspired part of this post, you can see it over at my friend’s site here.

Dear 2016

Dear 2016,

You are fresh and new, like warm laundry out of the dryer. Yes, that’s how I see you…full of warmth and goodness. Your predecessor had a rough time with me, we didn’t mesh all that well and it was evident from the outset. Try as I might, we really just never got on with one another. I was happy to part ways just 30+ hours ago.

But you, oh you 2016 I am happy to greet you-with smiles, high-fives, hugs and cheer. I welcomed you with loving arms to embrace fully and completely. No more will the years be marked with dates of the past but with stones of the present.

For you 2016 I tried to set expectations, assumptions made on what you would be like before I even knew you. Aren’t we like that though as humans? We make judgements, crafting our own expectations in a way to control the outcomes, others. You are different though. You exploded with joy and gratitude in my life already. You are bright and you are big. You are also in the small, in the comforts and in the quiet.

For you 2016 I wanted to gift a renewed spirit, but I think instead I am finding a complete different one within me. One that has long since gone forgotten, ignored and flat-out disrespected. You don’t want that refurbished me, no you want a new creation in me. One that holds excitement, joy and gratitude. One that isn’t defined by what isn’t, but by all that simply is. No one likes a regifted item, so why would you want me with all those resolutions and failed fixes?

For you are worthy of more 2016…but no expectations or assumptions are attached. You just simply are present and here. I won’t try to make you into something you are not, nor attempt to mold you into something of my own desires. Nope, you simply are what you are for the next 364 days. I welcome that and you. And yes, as you can see I still have the tree from Christmas up today when so many others have come down. But I am not rushing this year…I am taking time to relish in the beauty and simplicity of time. The quiet of presence and awareness is what is drawing me to leave it up just a few more hours. To be still and know…

You are new 2016 and it is my sincere desire to relish you each and every day fully present and aware, a heart full of gratitude and joy. I will fail on days-probably more often than not, but I know there’s always a new day just around the corner awaiting me with delight. You have gifted me 366 days this year, an extra to enjoy fully and presently. I will savor each of them for what they are-gifts. Here’s to not binding you up for storage but giving you away each and every day.

With unending gratefulness and joy,

S2

What A Hip Hop Dance Class Taught Me

Lately I have been taking a hip hop class at the gym I go to. I was getting bored quickly with the elliptical and treadmill, even though it had a tv and I had podcasts.

When I run outside, it’s just different. The monotony of a machine makes me want to put a pencil through my eye, but I digress.

Nervously I entered the incredibly full class the first week, inching my way to the back so I could blend in. (SN: a woman from my Tuesday step class had misinformed me that this was also a step class, it is most definitely not.) That just wasn’t possible because this class builds on itself each week. Regardless of my trepidation, I told my 34 year old self that this wasn’t middle school and that I was going to do this. So I have for the last few weeks.

Last night I looked around at the smaller group, since it’s the holidays, and saw a pregnant woman, a 70+ year old woman, and a couple on the back row with me that were just having fun, moving. Yes we were out of step, but we were having a good time and getting some exercise in.

It takes us all a while to loosen up in these situations-where we are out of our comfort zones or are pushed to be beyond our boundaries of security. I felt a little whisper last night as I was completely off on one whole routine that said, “Be confident in yourself.”

Fear’s a good liar. It reminds us of the long-forgotten mistakes, errors and embarrassments. It points to the awkward and the negative, the judgements and the critics. And we can buy into fear, and it’ll keep us on the back row in alot of life, or even outside the doors. It’ll tell us that we don’t have the body, the rhythm, or the drive to do that. It’ll whisper we aren’t as good as the former dancer in front of us and cause us to misstep. Then it will point at that misstep any time we falter or question whether we should go back, try again, or take another leap.

Yes, this is about a group fitness class, but it’s so much more than that. That’s where we often find the lessons in life-in the unexpected. That’s also where we take one more step against fear and self-doubt, banishing them with a confidence in ourselves to be bold, be brave and to fear not.

As we start to look at a new year, may we live in the confidence of the gifts and abilities we have been given by a God who designed us to live fully into them. Using them as blessings and goodness, and understanding that fear is based upon the lie of worth and value. Take that step into the room, move up from the back row and get off the sidelines this year. Show fear it has no place in your head, your heart and your life.

Because if I can take a hip hop dance class, trust me, you can do the thing you have been fearing too.

Hoarders, the Mind Edition

Yesterday I went to my favorite little store where I make ridiculous decisions on things I buy, never spending more than $10 in this store. No, it’s not Target either. It’s this little thrift store I have come to love that is relatively close to my home.

For some reason, this store is a gold mine for books. I have found so many amazing books by authors I love there. Take yesterday for example, I got books from Elizabeth Elliott, John Piper and Henry Blackaby to name a few. Six books total, and I spent $9.56. I have gotten inspired by things there to craft and re-purpose. It’s my little soul-shop on random Saturdays.

I joke about being a book hoarder because I love to read, and finding good books is my specialty. I very rarely ask for recommendations simply because I don’t like to be influenced by others’ impressions. I have one friend who I will ask what he’s read or would suggest only because I trust his expertise entirely in this area. He has yet to steer me wrong. But I purge as well. Once I have read a book, and unless it was one that I can pinpoint the life change from it, then away it goes to McKay’s. Currently I have about 15 books in the guest room piled up ready for a trip. I rarely keep fiction books, with the exception of the very worn copy of Wuthering Heights, the Harry Potter collection (one day my nephews will like those books, one day), and a British author I have followed since college’s collection.

The same can be true about beliefs in my life. Some I hold onto for nostalgia without realizing it, only taking stock when things pile up and my life screams “NO MORE!” Who else but me is responsible for my values, experiences and beliefs? We tend to collect so much in this life without pausing often to take stock and purge from it what we no longer need to carry or shouldn’t carry with us.

They can weigh us down, cause us to view every experience with the same lens as that first one, and ultimately become overwhelmed with the piles of burdens. While life won’t be neat and orderly all the time, I think we could all do a better job of purging long-held beliefs or situations from the mess within in order to provide a cleaner existence for ourselves and others.

We clutch at memories of how it used to be, rather than forging a new path in a new adventure. We cling to what was rather than grasp at what is now. We choose long-held beliefs instead of attempting understanding something new in order to feel safe and secure. With a new year I find myself no longer wishing to cling to thoughts that bring frustration or anger, no longer piling up situations and circumstances that should never have been kept.

Being a mind hoarder only brings burdens to carry, weights to bear and sorrows to drown in. Hoarding wrongs, rights and beliefs that aren’t healthy only affect you long term. They eat away and rot out your foundation, to a point where no one wants to enter that realm with you.

It’s January 11th. This year still has that newborn scent, full of hope and joy. You get to decide if it feeds on the burdens you’ve brought or the joy of a fresh start. Clear away what you have been hoarding within, address what needs to be addressing, and then allow newness to flood you. Stop hoarding and start renewing.

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
    the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
    What can man do to me?

Psalm 118:5-6

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

Journal of Joy

I plan to share in a post later next week on my One Word for 2015, as that is something I find to resonate throughout the year in my life.

Something new I started this year though was a journal of joy. I don’t know about you all, but I journal. It’s the writer in me. A while back I stumbled upon old journals from college and post-grad life. I cackled laughing at some of the stuff in there. But it marked alot of things for me in that time period that I was heavily dwelling upon.

I have a devotional journal where I am also in agreement with Annie Downs, shall be burned upon my death. God and I get alot of talking down in there, and I look back through it after a season of life to see what I missed in it and what He led me through.

So back to this journal of joy. For the last couple of years I have had this knot of negativity and pessimism reigning in me. I called it a realistic attitude but I found towards the end of 2014 that it had been negative junk. It weighed me down and spread toxicity in alot of things. So I decided this year would be a year where I would find the joy in things, people, circumstances and situations. (spoiler alert on the One Word post, by the way)

To aid in that I bought a new journal, and who doesn’t love a new journal AND pens?! AmIright?! I don’t write every day because that’s too demanding and soon I would dislike my joy journal. But I pause at the end of days and put in a few thoughts of joy from the day or the couple of days before.

With so much strain and pushing in all around, I come back to that journal already nine days into 2015 to see joy found, joy sought and joy realized. It’s already making for a brighter, sweeter new year in my heart and in my journal.


Do you journal? If so would you join with me to be intentional once a month, a week, or a day to share a joy found in it?

A Prayerful New Year

“having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,  and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.”

Ephesians 1:18,19 (ESV)

It’s 2015. How crazy is that? Where are the hover boards now? My Back to the Future II humor for those that get it.

I have had the verse above sitting on my desk where I write for the last six weeks or so and continue to ruminate on it. As this new year begins, which for some may be a continuation of things from last year or  even a completely new beginning, I pray this over us all.

That our hearts may be enlightened. I don’t think we I ask for that nearly enough. In fact I think I like to reject having my heart enlightened much of the time, better to occupy myself with my own thoughts rather than God’s or others. (am I right?!) But that changes as I begin praying that the eyes of my heart, of your hearts, are enlightened in this new year. That we would be more focused on learning and pursuing other things rather than our own self interests.

Why?

Well so that we can find the hope which we have been called to by Him. He beckons us with a hope that shouts, whispers, empathizes, encourages, and dreams. He plans with His hope, this hope that nudges at us at times, while at others it down right lands in our laps with such fervor and surprise. It’s an individualized and central hope, both and the same. It’s a hope only you could recognize when your heart is open and knowledgeable to His call.

What for?

That our hearts would see and know and understand the riches of our inheritance. Inheritance as we are becoming what He has called us to, a saintly priesthood. Loving brothers and sisters in Christ. The church. All of the above. We have an eternal inheritance, that came at the promise to Abraham and continues today in each of those sanctified in Him. It is fulfilled in our work, in what we do as to God. While we do not work to be sanctified or to obtain this inheritance, as it’s freely given by Him, we continue on in pursuing that call of hope knowing there are riches of saintly inheritance for us in Him.

But how?

Through His incomparably great power. Not through anything we strive for, nor through others. No, our hearts get wise to what He has called us to and the inheritance that awaits not by our own means but through His strength and might. We are a weak people, not meant to accomplish anything of our doing. That power rests and reigns in Him. We believe in that, we hope in that, and we allow it to fill us to accomplish the work He has given us to do. Not that we may be idle or use it for dubious means, but that He may receive the glory.

After all, we are merely clay pots to be filled by the One Who created us in His image. Knowing that we have time ahead as we start a new year to be filled with His power to grow in wisdom of our hearts and truly hear the hope called out to us? That’s some pretty joy-filled things to see on January 1. It’s a daunting prayer to pray over this year, but why not this year? Why not today? Why not this moment?

May your hearts be enlightened to know the hope He has called you, the riches of His inheritance for you and His great power for you as you believe in Him this year.