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A new year gives HOPE

woman hiking mountain

woman hiking mountain

It’s a new year with exciting new opportunities, as well as new challenges like hiking a steep mountain as the woman is pictured above. The origin of the word opportunities comes from the Latin word opportunitatem, which means “fitness, convenience, suitableness, favorable time.”

Whether you’ve made New Year resolutions and goals, determining to be among the only 8% who achieve them, or you’ve chosen a “one word,” or you’ve decided to do nothing at all right now and que sera, sera (whatever will be, will be), a new year, like a new morning, always offers you a fresh slate to start over. Which is one reason I love it so much. A new year gives HOPE.

Hope

Hope

The definition above of the original Latin word for opportunities includes “favorable time.” God’s word says something about this, too:

“Thus says the LORD, “In a favorable time I have answered You, And in a day of salvation I have helped You; And I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people, To restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages.”–Isaiah 49:8

 

Speaker/Author Sheryl Griffin

Speaker/Author Sheryl Griffin

The year 2017 is a favorable time for you! God will answer you. He will help you. And He will give you hope. As my sweet speaker/author friend Sheryl Griffin says, “With Christ there is always hope.”

Yes, even in the eye of a storm, Jesus gives hope and is your anchor. 

And when the winds and the waves crash all around you, and you feel afraid like the disciples did, Jesus will calm the storm inside you as He speaks to the storm outside you. He doesn’t want you to feel afraid. He wants you to place your trust and hope in Him. 

Jesus is our peace in the storm. Image resource: http://farmersalmanac.com/weather/2012/05/28/2012-hurrican-season-forecast/


***
Do you need HOPE today? Check out Beth’s first fiction and Amazon Best Seller eBook, Storm Tossed, about a woman who had to face the storm inside her, as well as the hurricane outside her. Is this the last Rachel will see of her husband Jackson and her daughter Faith? Will her beach house in Destin, Florida, stand? Will Rachel die in this dangerous storm? 

Storm Tossed

Storm Tossed at Amazon
http://hyperurl.co/vq9iaa

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Blog, Faith, Marriage, Parenting, Speaking, Time Management, Writing

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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Blog, Faith, Marriage, prayer, Spiritual Gifts, Writing

Hot chocolate with marshmallows and such

Image source: Lightstock.com

Image source: Lightstock.com

Golden Hues

“Autumn brings cooler days

Effusing fiery golden hues.”

~ Copyright 2012 Joseph May

I have a new addiction this fall: pumpkin spice cappuccino. Between that and Sonic grape slushes, I’m not doing a very good job of conquering my sugar addiction, so please pray for me! (Yes, seriously, pray.)

Below is a picture of me with my cappuccino before church yesterday. Pastor Jeff taught on discipleship and I was challenged by his question: who is discipling you and who are you discipling? We all need a Paul (teacher) and a Timothy (disciple) in our lives. 

Me with pumpkin spice cappuccino

Me with pumpkin spice cappuccino

I’m also loving the beautiful colored leaves. This is my fave time of year, besides spring. It used to be winter until the last couple of icy winters, where our car’s tires were sliding on the highway and it freaked me out. Planning to get new snow tires soon! (I also dislike all the germs and how people get so sick during the winter…especially if it involves anyone in my family!)

changing leaves

changing leaves

 

colored leaves

colored leaves

 

yellow leaf

yellow leaf

Although fall and spring are now my fave seasons, I’m still a snow bunny at heart and love how pretty the white snow looks outside, but my husband Ray (a paramedic) says I don’t have to work in the slushy mess like he does. He’s right. I get to enjoy looking at it from inside our toasty warm house, under a soft blanket with my fuzzy socks and drinking a hot chocolate with whip cream!

Heart socks

Heart socks

My sweet Facebook friend Debbie Oliver is constantly posting pics of delicious hot chocolate with marshmallows, whip cream, and sprinkles that inspire me, like the one in the pic below! Debbie is founder and group leader of Debbie Oliver Ministries. Isn’t she beautiful? Her heart is, too! I hope one day to meet her in person. 

Debbie's hot chocolate

Debbie’s hot chocolate

Debbie Oliver

Debbie Oliver

We’re now in the final quarter of the year. It’s a great time to examine the goals you made at the beginning of the year. Which ones have you accomplished? Which ones remain undone?

Let’s finish 2016 with intention and obedience. God still has things He wants you and me to do this year! Pray and ask Him what that is, and then obey. 

Metamorphosis: Transformed from Fear to Faith

Copyright 2016 Beth Jones

The remaining goals I have for this year are:

  • Improving my health and fitness (eating healthy and walking/jogging 3-4 times a week; I need to get back on track!);
  • Working on my marriage (improving communication; dating; intentionally building intimacy);
  • Praying daily for Ray, our children, grandchildren, and other family and friends;
  • Outsourcing help for my newest books – hiring a formatter to format my Word file for Kindle at Amazon for my new book, Metamorphosis: Transformed from Fear to Faith, and hiring a graphic designer to design the cover for my eBook, How To Write Fast: Making Your Writing Dreams Come True, to get it ready for print (a physical book copy) for you.
  • Traveling. I have a specific place where I’m praying to go this year, if God provides financially (just one of many!). Where do you want to go? “You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!” (Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!)

Are you enjoying this fall? What are your fave things about autumn? 

What remaining goals do you have for this year that you need to get done? Leave your comments below. 

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