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#Oneword 2017

I believe that God gave me my “one word” and Scripture for 2017. I wasn’t looking for it. In fact, I thought about not having a “one word.” I’m not into fads. 

My precious sis Maria

My precious sister Maria

But as I sought my sister Maria’s counsel on an important matter at the end of 2016 (she’s my sister and a therapist!), she encouraged me about being intentional–doing things on purpose. Here below is what she emailed me:

“My word for the last few days is “on purpose.” We have to do things on purpose – get closer to God and family and friends. Make time to do things. Improve ourselves like health and money management. I guess my question is what can you do on purpose to make things even a little better?”

She also wrote, “I so get feeling like things are stuck in a rut, an endless pit of crap. We can’t control other people, only ourselves. If this was a therapy session, lol, I would try to have you identify three things that have shown improvement in the last month (exercised more, prayed more, went to a workshop, etc), then three things you can do on purpose to improve things. And I am preaching to myself! I love you immensely. Praying God will fill your heart to overflowing!”

Then as I sat in church yesterday in my black dress, cloaked in an emerald-white sapphire necklace and bracelet and many questions about life, our pastor Jeff talked about being intentional in 2017. There’s that word again. When God says something once, I listen. When He says something twice, I sit up and pay much closer attention. Third time, I know He’s a-shoutin’ at me!

2017 One Word Intentional

So my “one word” for 2017 is intentional. 

I didn’t really want the word. It’s tired, overused, much like the word “purpose,” which I’m all over and about in my mission encouraging women to use their gifts for God and doing what they love.

But it’s a word I need in my life. Down to my writing bones. (This phrase came to mind, remembering author Natalie Goldberg’s excellent book, Writing Down the Bones.

The definition of intentional, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary online is:

  • done by intention or design; 
  • done in a way that is planned;
  • done in a deliberate way; not accidental.

Synonyms for intentional are:

  • voluntary
  • willing
  • deliberate.

Voluntary implies implies freedom and spontaneity of choice or action without external compulsion.

Willing implies a readiness and eagerness to accede to or anticipate the wishes of another.

The antonyms (opposite meaning) and near antonyms of intentional are even more intriguing:

  • nondeliberate;
  • nonpurposive.
  • accidental;
  • hit-or-miss;
  • aimless;
  • coerced;
  • forced;
  • casual;
  • impulsive.

As I look over and reflect on these lists of words, I ask myself: am I willing to do what God says to do in 2017? Will I obey Him? 

mule Image source: : http://images.wisegeek.com/mule-near-grass.jpg

mule
Image source: : http://images.wisegeek.com/mule-near-grass.jpg

Everyone who knows me knows that I’m stubborn as a mule. I like to think of it as “being my own person”–independent, a free spirit. But many times it’s just plain defiance and obstinance. No one is going to tell me what to do, by God! Not even God!

Control. Pride. “Stiff-necked” the Bible calls the Israelites. This trait cost many of them their lives in the wilderness.

So I surrender. Thy Will Be Done. https://youtu.be/Dp4WC_YZAuw

Beth Jones Women's Conference Speaker & Author

Beth Jones
Women’s Conference Speaker & Author

My prayer for 2017 is that I’ll be intentional:

  • in seeking God and His Kingdom first;
  • in taking care of my health;
  • in my marriage’s healing and restoration;
  • in spending time with my children and grandchildren;
  • in speaking to empower men and women;
  • in writing more books;
  • in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and lead the lost to salvation;
  • in generous financial giving to others in need;
  • in intercessory prayer and spiritual warfare;
  • in walking in peace, not worry, fear, frustration, anger, stress;
  • in being  a productive, profitable Proverbs 31 woman.

My Scripture for 2017 is Ephesians 5:10, The Message: “Figure out what will please the Lord, and then do it.”

What is your “one word” for 2017 and why? Please leave your comments below.

Have a blessed, happy, and prosperous New Year 2017!

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Declutter your home and heart for the new year

Ray treating hand injury of little girl in Haiti

Ray treating hand injury of little girl in Haiti

My husband Ray has been to Haiti on mission trips about 5 times, to help our pastor friends Jay and Linda Threadgill of Fishers of Men Ministries International, including after the 7.0m earthquake in 2010 when he set up a medical clinic treating 200 to 300 injured and ill patients a day.

On his third trip there, I went with him. My heart hurt for the poor people of Haiti, and I learned many things there. One of the things that stood out to me the most was the trash problem. The trash is an ongoing nightmare for the people living there, with garbage filling the streets. On seemingly every corner, I saw garbage several feet high and wide and was horrified.

Pigs in Haiti trash Image source: http://www.bryankrahn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/haiti-pigs-1024x768.jpg

Pigs in Haiti trash
Image source: http://www.bryankrahn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/haiti-pigs-1024×768.jpg

I couldn’t stop talking about it to the point where Ray’s friend Shawn made a running bet with Ray that Ray had to pay him $1.00 for every time I talked about the trash. I was unaware of the bet, but began noticing after awhile that Ray would groan every time I mentioned it and Shawn would start laughing. After awhile, Ray owed him so much money that he had to stop the bet! They finally told me about it, and I told Shawn to give Ray his money back or give it to pastor Jay for the people of Haiti.

Once dubbed “The Pearl of the Antilles” in the 1950’s, Haiti has few landfills or dumpsters, and there’s nowhere to dispose of the garbage. Many people have to climb over it or wade through it to get anywhere!

The trash problem results in:

  • Mice, rats, roaches, and mosquitoes to  increase, and disease to spread.
  • The horrible smell and awful appearance are destroying the economy and are leading to a severe decrease in tourism, which could help lift the poor country out of aid dependency.
  • A toxic environment. Decaying waste produces methane gas, which when inhaled can lead to serious long-term lung, heart and brain defects.
palm tree

palm tree
Image source: http://www.commercialsilk.com/toolkit/photos/ancient-palm1.jpg

One night as Shawn, Ray and I sat on a patio, surrounded by luscious emerald-green palm trees and it began to gently rain as we drank small bottles of cold Coke®, I sighed with contentment, thinking, “We are in Haiti! HAITI!” It was surreal and like an exciting adventure. Then suddenly, I saw a big mouse running across a nearby power line and wanted to go home!

The trash and the rodents mar the idyllic tropical beauty of the land. It’s the same in our lives.  At the end of each year, I intentionally “take out the trash” to declutter my home and my heart.

Here’s a few of the things I do to “declutter” physically and spiritually, which might help you, too. 

My office clutter

My office clutter

Last night I pulled everything out of my office closet to organize, declutter, and throw things away. When I posted this above picture on Facebook, some of the amusing responses from my friends were:

  • “Oh my, is that all you have? My paper tiger is huge!”
  • “I’m doing the samething. Paper mountain for me.”
  • “Me, too!”
  • “My husband and I cleaned out several boxes in the basement. I found an old journal from the 1980’s.”
  • “I have so much paper stuff it’s not even funny!”
  • “I’m doing the same. I love organizing and purging!”
  • “I just had a white peppermint mocha. Yummo!” (I had mentioned drinking a cappuccino while doing my pile!”

It seems I’m in good company here. What about you?

shredder

shredder

This time of year, one of my best friends is the shredder. The one I bought  (pictured above) is from Walmart, and I think it cost me about $30. I use it all the time. One reason I shred personal papers is for protection against identity theft. (Nineteen people become victims of identity theft every minute, with $15 billion stolen from 13.1 million U.S. consumers in 2015.)

shredder

shredder

Last night I went through the folders in my black file cabinet, pictured above. (I have a small one; that helps tame the paper tiger!). If there are any papers that I believe I will not need, I toss and shred them.

This is the part where it gets sticky. So many people are afraid to throw away papers (or other belongings) because “I might need this one day.” Do you really need it? That is the question. You will not need 3 copies of the same medical bill!  You don’t need papers from every place you’ve ever worked in your life. If you’re an author or speaker, you don’t need to keep copies of every single speaking presentation or old manuscripts. Purge!

folders

folders

Next, I organize the papers into various, colored folders. Write a short label for the contents of the folder, such as:

  • Present bills
  • Past due bills
  • Personal joint checking account
  • Business checking account
  • Paid off bills
  • Student loans

Your folders may have different labels. Since I am a published author and do research for my books, I also have a few folders for topics that I’m studying and writing about, such as:

papers

Woman under mountain of papers

The key is to not let the paper tiger get out of control. Remember, your goal here is to get your office, desk, closet, or whatever space you’re working in organized, neat, and clean to prepare for the coming year. A study by Princeton University found that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.

You decide on what to keep and what to throw away and shred. There’s such a feeling of accomplishment and lightness when you are finished! You can breathe easier.

Another good idea is to buy a fireproof, waterproof safe to keep all your important family documents in, such as:

  • Copies of each family member’s birth certificates;
  • Copies of each family member’s driver’s license;
  • Family members’ passports;
  • Rent agreement or mortgage papers;
  • Copies of your car insurance papers;
  • Medical, dental, and vision insurance papers;
  • Retirement papers;
  • Bank information papers;
  • Spare keys to house, cars, safes, etc.
  • Any other papers that would be irreplaceable if lost or destroyed.

You can also get a safe at your local community bank to store these for you at a cost. I advise making copies of everything first.

A few other things I do at the end of the year to declutter and prepare for the new year:

  • Go through my closets and drawers. A good rule of thumb for giving away, selling, or throwing away an item is if you haven’t used it for a whole year (some say 6 months). Just think of how you’re making room for cute new clothes! 😀 The leggings from 3 years ago won’t make you this winter’s fashionista! Then again, I don’t care about that personally; I wear what I like and is comfortable. Just make sure that your clothes still fit, are still in good shape (not torn, buttons missing, badly faded, etc.), you feel attractive in them, and they’re suitable for the current season.
  • Deep clean my house and decorate it prettily. This includes those once a year jobs like dusting ceiling fans (or dusting in general! Just kidding!), cleaning out your fridge, freezer, oven, and/or dishwasher. You can run vinegar and water through your dishwasher while it’s empty to clean it. Go through each room of your home. Does it look clean, organized, warm and inviting? Is the decor a reflection of your personal style and taste? If not, it may be time to toss some things and decorate to reflect you more.  A woman’s home is her nest, and I think we should love where we live!
  • Knock down spider webs in the corners of every room, and in each closet and cabinet. This is a job I often leave to my husband Ray as I’m afraid of spiders! Spiders love to come inside your house during the colder months. They are not my furry little friends!
  • Check and replace light bulbs in each light or lamp and batteries in the smoke alarms. I usually do the light bulbs, and I ask Ray to check the smoke alarms since he used to be a fire chief and fireman. Smoke alarms save lives, and reduce fire deaths and injuries. The batteries should be checked once a month and the smoke alarm every 10 years. 
  • Check your car’s oil, windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid, tires, headlights and brake lights, and overall well-being (again, this is where I need Ray’s help!) You also might need a tune-up. Make sure your trunk has jumping cables, a spare tire, a flashlight, a blanket (this might be kept in the back seat in the event of breaking down during cold weather, plus snacks and water.)
  • Create an emergency kit for disasters for your home. (This is on my goals list!)
  • Clean out the garage.  Sweep, knock down spider webs, and organize it. Make sure your car(s) fit in there! Throw away any empty cans of charcoal fluid, car oil, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, Windex or other cleaners, etc. 

colored heart-lightstock.com

Last and definitely not least, I declutter my heart to prepare for the new year.  Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.”–Proverbs 4:23, NIV

I ask God to search my heart for any unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, anger, rage, malice, jealousy, envy, worry, fear, stress, or anything that displeases Him. I don’t want to carry those things with me into the new year.  I want a clean and pure heart, and to run unencumbered into 2017!

Take out the trash! Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and show you any sin, anyone you need to forgive (including God or yourself), any unnecessary weight (such as stress, fear or anxiety) that will keep you from fulfilling your purpose walking in authority and in peace this year.

couple holding hands

couple holding hands

Examine your relationships with people this year: your marriage, your children, your parents, your siblings, your in-laws, your friends, your business peers or co-workers, your boss, your neighbors. Is the relationship good and close? Is there tension or unforgiveness between you, and if so, why?  

Remember the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a  different result. If you do what you always did in this relationship–hold a grudge, blame, act snarky, criticize, withhold affection, ignore, take him or her for granted–you’ll get the same tired strife or distance!

The Bible says in Romans 12:18 (Berean Study Bible): “If it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone.” You might not be able to reconcile with everybody, but do your part and let God deal with the rest. When you prioritize a relationship and let the person know you sincerely care and humbly approach him or her (including apologies when necessary), it can work miracles.

Love is the greatest miracle of all. I’m asking God to give me more of a heart of unconditional, agape love for Him and others this coming year.

At other times, for the sake of your own emotional and mental health, you may need to set firm boundaries in relationships to protect yourself or those you love. You can forgive someone, but that doesn’t mean allowing others to abuse or mistreat you.

studying the Bible

studying the Bible

The most important relationship of all for the coming year is between you and God. Is there any “trash” between you and Him—known sin? Spend time in prayer and ask God to show you anything hindering your intimacy with Him. Walk in obedience this coming year and you will experience His many blessings that He longs to bestow on you.

“God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done.”–2 Corinthians 9:8, The Message

Are you ready to get rid of the trash, and declutter your home and heart? Don’t put it off. We have 3 more days before the end of this year! Let’s prepare for 2017 and make it your and my best year ever!

Image source: https://happynewyear2017.tips/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/new-year-2017-twitter-cover.jpg

Happy New Year 2017
Image source: https://happynewyear2017.tips/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/new-year-2017-twitter-cover.jpg

***Do you want to draw closer to God in the coming year? Check out my eBook on prayer at Amazon, Walking With God.

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Create beauty each day

A pretty breakfast setting

My pretty breakfast setting this morning

“My mother created a beautiful home environment, which helped me to learn how to see and how to live. Writers have to find their own voices. I had to learn how to see. Mother’s innate aesthetic sense affected everything she did. When I think back to the meals we ate together as a family, I remember the fresh flowers on the table, the food attractively arranged on the plate and planned partly with color in mind. To Mother, truth was beauty lived every day. Not only did Mother did me to appreciate beauty by her example, she also taught me an invaluable lesson–the importance of creating beauty each day, and how to do it.” ~ Alexandra Stoddard, Living a Beautiful Life: 500 Ways to add Elegance, Order, Beauty and Joy to Every Day of Your Life

I love beautiful things. In fact, unexpectedly someone told me today that my Facebook posts sometimes remind her of Anne Ortlund, author of Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman. I was shocked, as she was a great woman of God, and her husband Ray was a great man of God. What a huge compliment!

I believe that it’s so important to notice and surround ourselves with beauty every day. A vase of fresh flowers. Fragrant candles or Scentsy warmers. Pretty paintings. Strawberries in a bowl on the kitchen counter. A crystal glass of your fave drink. A hand-made quilt and freshly washed sheets on your bed with fluffy pillows.

A cute coffee mug (maybe with some chocolate!). Lavender bath salts and unique scented shower gels like honeysuckle and jasmine in the bathroom. Soft pillows on couches and loveseats. Happy family photos. A friendly welcome mat at your front or back door and invite friends over and order pizza (or enjoy Ray’s infamous, mouth-watering Cajun chicken on the grill!). 

dolphin Image source: http://www.defenders.org/

dolphin
Image source: http://www.defenders.org/

When you look at creation, you can see that God loves beauty, too. A bright red male cardinal. The moon and stars shining luminously. The glorious rays of the sun. The sound and beauty of the amazing ocean waves, on glistening white sands and the wind blowing through the palm trees. Majestic blue, snow-capped mountains. Orange desert cactus blooming. Sunrises and sunsets, each one different and breath-taking. Dolphins, sharks, stingrays, lions, tigers, black panthers, elephants, zebra, giraffe, kangaroo, wolves, butterflies, kittens, puppies, all that has been created by God with a word.

The Bible tells us to focus on what’s beautiful. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” ~ Philippians 4:8, KJV

Image resource: Pinterest-woman and coffee

beautiful woman writing with coffee
Image resource: Pinterest

God sees you and me as beautiful. In Song of Solomon 2:14, NLT, it says, “My dove is hiding behind the rocks, behind an outcrop on the cliff. Let me see your face; let me hear your voice. For your voice is pleasant, and your face is lovely.”

Our enemy Satan does all he can to mar our beauty and the beauty of this world. From pollution on this earth to pollution in our souls, the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10)

He wants our marriages, families, physical bodies, homes, environment, work places, walk with Christ, and attitudes as ugly as possible. He is the author of lies, confusion, and destruction. I was about to Skype my sweet friend last night, when she texted me. “Hold on. Coming. We are having chaos.” In the other room of her house, there were shouting and angry words between her husband and her son. 

happy couple

happy couple

The enemy never stops. He won’t until he’s burning in the Lake of Fire. (Revelation 20:10) Because he’s so relentless, we as believers in Christ need to do all we can to display God’s beauty and create it in our lives. 

  • We can be beautiful women of God by obeying and serving Him with our time, our resources (such as money, our work, or other physical resources), our spiritual gifts and our lives. As we spend more time with Jesus each day, we become more like Him, by God conforming us into His image. (Romans 8:29)
  • We can bring beauty to our relationships by loving and forgiving others, encouraging them daily, and helping them. Each day we can wipe the slate clean. God’s mercies are new each morning. (Lamentations 3:23)
  • We can make our homes beautiful, a place of safe refuge and comfort, by keeping it clean, organized, and beautifully decorated with the resources we have“I suddenly realized that God’s beautiful Proverbs 31 woman was the sparkling jewel in her husband’s life! She brought the love, the color, the joy, the life, and the energy to the home!” (Elizabeth George, Beautiful in God’s Eyes)
  • We can have an impact on this world and make it beautiful by sharing the good news of Jesus and our powerful testimony. Tell your story with others. Allow God’s anointing to flow through you as an open conduit of His power. (1 John 2:27)
  • We can have a beautiful attitude by being positive and faith-filled, instead of being negative, complaining, criticizing, or being ungrateful. (Philippians 2:14) Ask God to heal any wound in your heart that prevents your utmost, inner beauty from shining forth. 
  • We can visit beautiful places, traveling to new towns, states, and nations, eating new foods, meeting new people, and making new, beautiful memories that last a lifetime. 
  • We can leave a beautiful legacy with our children and grandchildren by fulfilling the calling and purpose God has assigned for our lives, and by showing them Jesus through our godly example.

I want to be a beautiful woman, inside and out, and to surround myself with beauty, don’t you? 

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” ~ 1 Peter 3:3-4, NIV

*******

Promises In The Dark: One Woman's Search for Authentic Love

You can read how God made beauty out of the ashes of my life in my memoir, Promises In The Dark: One Woman’s Search for Authentic Love. Click here to find out more. 

 

 

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