Wednesday, January 27, 2016


During the first couple of days of 2016, I saw a lot of people posting about their #oneword for the year. Although I had a word for 2015, I hadn't given any thought to a word for this year.  Last year my word was "Now."  The meaning was twofold for me.  The first was a call to action, as in "Do it now."  I wanted to work on my tendency to put off unpleasant tasks.  I still have a long way to go in fighting this battle, but I do feel like I have made some growth in this area.  The second meaning was a reminder:  God has the power, and He can do immeasurably more than we can ask or even imagine. (Ephesians 3:20-21).  When I am lost, stuck, fretting, fearful...God has the power.  He can handle whatever situation I find myself in.  All I have to do is let Him.

I mulled over the idea of keeping "Now" for my word.  It just didn't feel right.  As I went about my daily living, I had this feeling like I needed a focus word, but I had no idea what it should be.  In one quiet, almost desperate moment, my heart whispered, "God, do you have a word for me this year?"  

I think I was almost afraid to ask.  What if He said no?  But what if he said yes?  What does He see me needing to work on?  Do I really want to know?

The answer came, rather swiftly.  Not in a whisper and not in a whirlwind.  But I knew it was from Him.


This response made me sing on the inside.  Renew.  It is perfect for how I have been feeling.  Renew.  I should have known that my God could do no less than give me a individualized, tailored word just for my own unique circumstances.  

He is not calling me to a place halfway around the world.  He is not calling me to a new career or to be something that I am not.  He is calling me to the life He has already given me.  This is the place where He wants me to be right now.  He is calling me to look around and take notice of what is around me.  Do what I am already doing, but make it new again.  Refine it, develop my skills, take hold of my life, own it.

What if I looked at everything in my life with the same joy that I experience when I begin to see winter rolling out and spring start popping up all over?  I could renew the areas in my life in the same way that trees bud out with new leaves.  Be the same me, but with a newness and a freshness that is exciting to behold.


For me, renew is abut a fresh start each day.  Renew my time with God and with His Word each day.   I feel like that time had become routine and lackluster.  I was rushing through so I could get to the next thing.  Approaching God's throne as a task on my checklist instead of a personal invitation to sit at the feet of the One who made me.  

One Sunday afternoon, I happened on to a couple of quiet hours at my house while Todd took the kids to the farm.  I poured a cup of coffee and opened my Bible.  I was so hungry for some quality time with my Savior that I sat there for nearly two hours reading and reflecting.  Wow.  I so needed that.


I found three verses that really spoke to me about the idea of renewal.  I may end up writing about all three of them at some point.  The one that resonated most has long been a favorite.  Psalm 51:10 tells us, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; renew a right spirit within me."

in this year, I am seeking to renew myself.  Renew my heart, soul, mind, and body.

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Beginnings

Yesterday my brother-in-law and his very lovely bride started a new chapter in their lives.  They are moving to the far side of the country.  Both of them were born in small towns in the middle of our state.  Neither of them has lived in another state, and they haven't done a whole lot of traveling either.  They are young.  They are adventurous.  They are ready for some new experiences in their lives.  I get that.  I really do.

We went to church with them weekend before last.  It was his last Sunday to lead worship there, and we wanted to be there to support him.  Can I just tell you?  I was a mess.  Before Andy had played a note or spoken a word, my eyes welled up and the first of many tears rolled down my cheek.  With everything having been so busy, that was the first moment for me to really process that they were moving away.  Really, really far away.

Honestly, it is not like we have seen them a lot anyway.  Other than major holidays and birthdays, we have not spent much time with them.  But when we are together...our families have a good time.   And my children absolutely completely adore Uncle Andy and Aunt Lauren.  Seth spent all day at Thanksgiving wrestling with Uncle Andy.  A dream come true for an eight-year-old boy.  Hannah spends every minute on Aunt Lauren's lap, playing with her beautiful long brown hair.  Or letting Aunt Lauren play with her own hair.  They love all their aunts and uncles, of course, but these two have captured little hearts in a very special way.

So we are sitting in worship, and I keep thinking about how much Andy and Lauren are going to be missed.  They are moving far enough away that they won't be able to come back for every major holiday or child's birthday party.  I really don't know how much or when they will be able to visit home...or when we will be able to visit them.

At the end of the service, Andy shared some things about his life, and how he never expected to be working in a church.  But there he was.  He talked about how much he had grown in his faith and as a person in the last two years.  One day over the summer, he was in a meeting with the pastor and some other people.  He was getting ready to pray, and someone prayed the exact things he was thinking.  Someone else followed it up with exactly where Andy would have gone next.  He felt like he was really in sync with his colleagues at that moment.  That's when Andy asked God, in his own private prayer, if this is where he was supposed to be because it really felt like he was in the right spot.

There was a pause.  Andy heard this answer.  "No.  They are going in the right direction here.  They have it under control.  You are dismissed."

Whoa.  You are dismissed.  That stopped me in my tracks.  It also brought on a new round of waterworks.  You are dismissed.  Now I realized that they were not moving away on some youthful, spontaneous whim.  They are following God's call in their lives.  They are going where they think God wants them to be.

It reminds me of Abram and Sarai.  In Genesis 12:1, we read, "The LORD had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.'"  The LORD continues with a blessing and a promise for Abram, and then they pack up and head out to Canaan.  Everything they knew, everything they were familiar with, everything that felt like home...they left it all behind.  And for what?  To journey to a place where they know no one, where they have no roots, where everything is new.

Could I do that?  Could I leave everything behind and start completely over?  I don't know that I could.  If you have ever met me, you probably know that I don't like change.  I am not a risk-taker.  I am pretty good with the status quo.  Spontaneity and quick decision-making are not characetistics that I really possess.  So could I do it?  If God called Todd and me to leave what we know behind and head to a brand new place in a brand new direction, could I do it?  I don't know.  I am afraid that I would "Gideonize" it and keep asking for signs to see if that was what He really meant.  (I think I just made up that word Gideonize; I kind-of like it.) 

I admire the faith of Abran and Sarai to travel to a foreign country on a long and difficult journey to set up a new life based on the promises revealed to them through the LORD.  I admire Andy and Lauren for being open to God's call on their lives.  It is a long way off, but at least they won't have to travel by camel to get there.

Today I am reminding myself to be thankful for cars and planes that can travel back and forth between here and there.  Although I don't know when, I will see them again.  I am also thankful for texts, Facebook, Skype, and whatever other technologies will allow us to keep in touch as the miles separate us.

In the meantime, I am praying this blessing over them every day:

"The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."  (Numbers 6:24-25)