Happy New Year!! It is that time again, many of us set goals and make resolutions. A couple years ago, I was introduced to the One Word Challenge. It is basically choosing one word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live the following year. I did it last year and loved it so I decided to do it again this year and I wanted to share with you my two words (I know you are only supposed to pick one but two really stood out to me again this year 🙂
My two words for 2016 are:
Balance and Abide
Balance is a word that I have encountered a lot lately. I want to have balance in my schedule for both me and my kids! I want to have a balance of hard work, fun, service (giving back to others) and some relaxation/ reboot time! Also, God has shown me the importance of balance in my relationships; I need to have a balance of both truth and grace in my relationships especially with my kids!
The word abide has come up in my quiet times and books over the last 6 months. I think of the verse in John 15 where it says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” Abide means to remain in or to fully depend on God for everything. I am excited to focus on this word this year! I truly believe that God wants me to go to him first for everything! It is so easy to seek counsel from friends and family first and then pray second. So, this year, I am going to try to pray first and go to God first before I call a friend! Pray for me- I will definitely need some help on this one!
I want to encourage all of you to do the one word challenge!! In fact, my kids have also decided to chose a word this year. One chose responsibility and one chose self-control. I am so excited to see how God works in their life!
Lastly, I encourage you to share your word with a friend! I know I would love to hear your word too; please email me and let me know if you do the challenge!!
Even though it is close to the end of December, I would still like to recommend a book to you. It is called “The Greatest Gift… Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas” by Ann Voskamp. She also wrote another great book called “One Thousand Gifts”. Ann begins each chapter with a section of scripture and then adds her own thoughts which I truly have loved; they are so full of truth. At the end of each chapter, she also includes an action step and some reflection questions to encourage you to go deeper. This book was meant to be read in the month of December; however I think the devotionals and nuggets of truth are so strong that it can be read any time of the year.
There are so many amazing chapters in this book that I would love to share with you. Because of time, let me share today’s devotional reading; it was Luke 1:26-38 where the angel appears to Mary to share with her that she has been chosen to carry Jesus. First of all, let me start off by saying that I am so in awe of Mary and her response to the angel’s news. She says, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Her response is amazing to me; it is a complete surrender to God even when the circumstances did not make sense. I don’t know about you but I would have lots more questions like how will Joseph react to this news and will he still want to marry me. Or what will the whole town think and how do I explain this… but instead she allowed God to use her in an amazing way because of her willingness to say yes. In her book, Ann says, “Your greatest gift is not your gifts, but your surrendered yes to be a space for God.” Ann encourages us to make space. This is such a busy time of year with so many items on our to do list that sometimes we forget to make space for how God wants to use us this Christmas. My challenge for you in these last couple days before Christmas is to make space and be open to how God can use you- it could be simply encouraging another person either a friend or stranger, it could be giving to someone in need, it could be extending love and forgiveness to someone that has hurt you, or it could be welcoming someone into your home for the Holidays. I don’t know the exact details but I know God wants us to be willing to say yes just like Mary modeled to us.
I love the way Ann says it in her book, “There is no need to produce or perform or perfect- simply become a place for God. That is all.” If we are all honest, we have tried to either produce more, perform better or be perfect. It just leaves us exhausted and unfulfilled because this is not God’s desire for us. In the previous chapter, Ann says this, “You are most prepared for Christmas when you are done trying to make your performance into the gift and instead revel in His presence as the Gift.” What does God want for Christmas this year- He wants you! He wants you to accept his gift of Jesus and let Him be your Savior and Lord of your life. He also wants you to shine brightly for him by using your gifts He has given you to show others Christ’s love and forgiveness!! In her book, Ann says, “You’ve got to use the life you’ve been given to give others life.” I just love this!
My prayer for all of us is that we can truly remember God’s love story to us this Christmas and our focus will be on the special gift of Jesus. I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas!! Remember God loves you so much!!