One Word for 2017




This time of year I am always thinking about one word for the new year and anticipating what the next season will hold.

We were driving through the country when Steve asked if I had any goals for this week between Christmas and New Year when I am off work. I shared my desire to make a plan for writing, resurrect my blog and revisit a book I started writing last year.

He suggested my one word for 2017 should be Create.

I sunk back into my seat because honestly, a word for the year hadn’t even crossed my mind. For the past few years, I have prayed and sought after a word I believe God wants to use as a theme for my life: areas I need to grow in, things I believe He is teaching me. Words like Whatever (more appropriately – Surrender),  FunBe, Faithful, and Peace.  They were all formative and I learned so much about who God is and who I am becoming.

But this December, it wasn’t even on the radar.

Shortly after the sinking, it was like someone poured cold water on my face and I realized I need to wake up. I’ve been head down, trying to move forward for the past I don’t know how long. Just doing what needs to be done in order to survive and get everyone ELSE where they need to be and forgetting about where I want to be just short of daydreaming.

I’ve neglected my own soul care, the things I am passionate about and have lost my way.

How gentle and sweet of God to bring this to my attention through my husband.  Because of his motivation, this week has been awesome. I’ve gone back to what I know. Creating space for creativity. Creating space for time with my Jesus. Creating great meals and moments for my boys and their friends. Steve is right. 

I thrive when I make space to create. What makes YOU thrive?

At the end of this post, I want to share with you a resource that I’ve used myself throughout the years that I’ve dusted off and reworked for myself and for you in 2017. It’s a way to think through what you want life to look like in this next year and actually make it happen.

I don’t know about you, but when I make goals, resolutions or come up with new ideas, they typically fizzle without a plan. This resource makes it easy for you to make a plan for your dreams so you can actually make them happen.

Dreams about your relationships, your work, your passion, your body, your soul care. Make it happen with me in 2017 and start coming alive again.

Use this guide as you think about the New Year and what your word is or what your goals and dreams are for the year. Revisit it monthly as your reflect and respond to new things that come up and make adjustments along the way. Hopefully, you will be encouraged by your successes and come alive as you make your hopes and dreams more of a reality.

I’d love to hear about your word for the year, your hopes for 2017 and where God is leading you. Please feel free to share, post, and pass this along to those who may find it helpful

Happy New Year!
Suzie


 

What Does It Mean to Be in the Presence of God?

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Christians have this weird language. Some of it is birthed out of tradition and culture but some of the words we use are actually found in the Bible. Those, especially those require interpretation. Many people (including ourselves) have no idea what we are talking about when we say certain words or phrases and it’s important for us to know what we mean so we can mean what we say.

Recently, a dear friend asked me to explain what it means to be “in the presence of God.” She knew the answer but was asked by a new believer and wanted to process how to explain it. I was so thankful to have been asked. Because although it’s something I talk about and pray about, it’s been a while since I’ve actually sat down to think about it means.

Immediately Psalm 139 came to mind. King David speaks about the presence of God being inescapable. He is everywhere at all times. Not only is he in every physical space, he is in our thoughts and knows them from a place that transcends space and time, before a word is even on our tongues.

In my words, this presence of God is when we are awakened to the reality of Jesus in our lives.

It could be a sweet awakening or a swift smack upside the head that begins with some sort of crisis. Regardless of how, the presence of God awakens us to something bigger than ourselves and leaves us longing for that bigger thing. A longing that is Jesus and a longing he desires to meet with himself.

It is awareness of grace and mercy. It is found in the love of a friend, the forgiveness offered to us, or the unexplained forgiveness we have to offer those who have hurt us.

It is peace. At times an unexplainable peace that makes no sense considering the situation we find ourselves in.

The presence of God can also explained in John 4 with the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well. As the conversation progresses Jesus reveals himself to her.

Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4:26)

The presence of God reveals the person of Jesus as God and man, meanwhile revealing who we are without him and who we are meant to be with him.

We are often aware of it in the company of others which is why we are encouraged to gather together. It is sensed in the awe of his creation when you drive into places like the valley floor of Yosemite or the central coast of California, or surf the big waves of Hawaii. Yet we can become acutely aware of it in the silence of our loneliness, on our knees or in the darkest hours of the night.

Yes, the presence of God is being awakened to all of this. The reality that Jesus lives, breathes life and moves among us. Not just one time, one Sunday morning, one tearful night, but anytime you suddenly know that He is here and in the depths of your soul you know can no longer ignore Him.

Our journey of understanding, like so much our faith, grows deeper as we walk forward together. I would like to learn from you…How would you explain it?

Trusting What’s In You

You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” – John 14:15-17

Several years ago, a dear woman I look up to was listening to me lament about my fears over my children not loving Jesus. She looked at me with that look that older and wiser women have when they realize you are freaking out over something you have no reason to at the time. Her words have stayed with me since.

“Your son has Jesus in Him and the Spirit of God is going to convict him, lead him and comfort him throughout his life. You can trust that.”

The words have stayed close, but I often forget the truth behind them. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

My kids stories are not my stories. Though they will always feel like a part of me they are apart from me and have their own path to walk. Whether they make the same mistakes I did or not is out of my hands. I can’t orchestrate their love for the Lord and their choice to live the life God has for them or go their own way. I can only live that way myself and guide them and encourage them to do the same.

As my boys get older, the more I realize this is so true. The less I want to control and the more I want to pray (in theory – let’s be honest). I guess a better way to say it is that I’m realizing my prayers and the way I live my own life with them is more powerful than any perceived control I have.

If our children have confessed Christ as Savior, then according the Jesus, His Spirit, the Helper, dwells within them just as He does in us. None of us will ever love Jesus perfectly and keep His commandments perfectly and yet by His grace and incredible mercy, He remains within us forever. His words, not mine.

May we trust the Spirit of God within us and those whom we love.

He is near.

 

Processing Racial Tension and Reconciliation

Do yourself a favor if you haven’t already, and ask an African American person you have a friendship with (or are acquainted with, because this could lead to a meaningful friendship) how they have been experiencing the recent events in our country, particularly the last couple of weeks.

Don’t try to relate, or justify anything or tell them what you think… that all matters of course, but if you just simply ask someone how they feel and what they have experienced, you might be surprised. Don’t get defensive and don’t try to “not see the color” because we all see the color and color is what is beautiful and different colors express the beauty and various facets of our Creator… just listen.

Listen to their passion and the emotion and try to practice empathy. You may think you understand already and maybe you do, but perhaps part of what our problem is that we don’t really take the time to listen and appreciate experiences and perspectives that are not our own. God is bigger and He is near.

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for

“‘In him we live and move and have our being’
as even some of your own poets have said,

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.” – Acts 17:26-28

Maybe the weight of all this darkness we’ve all been feeling has a greater and more divine purpose of causing us to feel our way towards him, as though we are groping in the dark to find something…some shred of hope…some sense of progress, but ultimately, we are feeling our way towards him and we WILL find him because he has promised us so.

I have always considered myself someone who “doesn’t see color,” but as of late my vernacular is going to change. I’m lying to myself if I don’t see color. It didn’t hit me until last week when my son walked out the door at 9:30pm with his best friend in the world who is black. They went to a movie and my heart sank. It was then I realized, the conversations my friends who are raising African-American sons are having are different than the ones we have at home. They have to learn behavior for different reasons than mine do. To say I don’t see the color is a disservice to myself and those around me.

Things may be getting worse. They may be getting better. They may actually not be much different but because of social media we are more aware. Whatever the case it doesn’t matter. God has determined this time and space where you and I live for a reason much bigger than ourselves. The whole point of everything is for us to feel our way toward him. These too are the trials James 1 talks about that produce a steadfastness of faith. As our faith gets stronger, our works will be more meaningful and the way we love will be more pure and Christ like.

It’s a simple and loving thing we can all do to be part of the solution in a very broken world that is groaning for salvation.

Just ask, “how has your experience been?” and listen.

He is near.

Let not your heart be troubled: He is Present and Will Prepare You

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“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to were I am going.” {John 14:1-4}

The imperative is to believe.

Believe in the person of Christ knowing He is the way. The way to where He is going and the way to everything else before us.

Jesus is always preparing for us. He is preparing us for what is next in our lives. He is preparing us  and preparing for us an eternity full of His presence.

Two things we should remember today: He is fully present and He will fully prepare us.

In light of these two things, He is saying we can trust Him for what we can’t see. Our only part in this is to believe.

What do you need to believe God for today?