My one word for 2019

Several years ago I stopped making New Year resolutions, because, let’s face it, they were broken the first month (sometimes the first week!)–like walking again or eating healthier! I heard about instead, creating a #oneword and a Scripture verse(s) to go along with it.

One word

When I began to do this, I no longer felt condemnation that I was breaking my New Year resolutions so quickly. I also discovered that as I earnestly prayed to God about this matter, the #oneword always turned out to be a prophetic theme for the entire year.

joy
Red cardinals joy decoration

For example, my #oneword in 2018 was JOY. At times, last year was anything but joyful! There were many hard times. I have cried a lot the last several years, more than I ever have in my entire life.

pensive woman
pensive woman

We all have stress and battle worries–relationship problems. Business or ministry challenges. Health issues. Financial struggles. But joy is a choice. You can be joyful even in adversity or a major crisis! Joy is not the same as happiness.

Smiling child

God wants us happy, just as we do our own children. But joy, like faith, isn’t based on circumstances. The joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) We must choose faith, and we must choose joy.

Compass pointing north
Compass pointing north
Image source: Google

Usually, the last week of December of each year, I pray about the coming new year, for God to protect and bless me and my family and friends, for His guidance and presence with us, and for a #oneword and Scripture(s) for the coming year.

I ask Him to be mine and my family’s compass, our “true north.” (This expression comes from the great chick flick movie, Message In A Bottle, with Kevin Costner!)

Message in a Bottle movie
Message in a Bottle movie

God speaks in a myriad of ways to His children:

  • primarily through His holy word, the Bible;
  • by His still, small voice to our hearts as we pray and listen to Him;
  • from other people, sharing His words of truth and encouragement;
  • in nature (“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”–Psalm 19:1, NIV);
  • through signs in the sky, such as the sun, the moon, the stars, etc. (Luke 21:25);
  • in other signs, such as red cardinal birds, mourning doves, eagles, the wind, a billboard, a car’s bumper sticker, something said on a podcast, radio or TV show, a voice in a crowd, etc. Obviously, we can’t base our lives on these “signs,” but God can speak to His children however He wants to get His message of truth across to us. Sometimes it’s like He needs a two by four to get the message through our thick heads and stubborn hearts!

Just prior to January 2019 beginning, I noticed the words “humble” and “humility” in a couple of different places. First, the words Stay HUMBLE were inscribed on chapstick that I’d received in a gift box.

Stay humble chapstick
Stay humble chapstick gift

That’s interesting, I thought. The words “humble” and “humility” started popping up like Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Butter popcorn on Facebook posts.

popcorn popping
popcorn popping;
Image source: Google

Then I started seeing the words a LOT! A recurrent theme.

Oh no, I thought in dread. Uh oh—wait a minute! That’s my one word for 2019, isn’t it, God?

I knew what that meant (God was going to smash my PRIDE), and heck no, I did NOT want that word! Which is probably exactly why He is giving it to me!

Why couldn’t I get a nicer, easier, funner word like adventures? Or dream bigger? Or overflow, especially in our bank account? Or laughter?

But no. My words are humble and humility! Yes, I know humility is a beautiful, Christ-like virtue and God is doing this for my own good.

You and I know there is just no use fighting God. In the end, He’s going to get His way. Because He’s God!

Jacob wrestling
Jacob wrestling with God
Image source: Google

We can wrestle with Him until daybreak like Jacob did (Genesis 32:22-32), but we’ll walk away with a painful limp. God is bigger and more powerful than you and me, so we might as well submit and obey!

So I started researching the definition of humility to begin preparing spiritually for 2019. (Here goes nothing!)

  • freedom from pride or arrogance;
  • a lack of ego;
  • lowness; an attitude of service;
  • the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance;
  • serving others for their good, as well as your own;
  • a realistic appreciation of your strengths, as well as your weaknesses.

Synonyms for humility include:

  • demureness;
  • down-to-earthness;
  • lowliness;
  • meekness;
  • modesty.

You know, traits that are so unlike me! People who know me well would NOT describe me as demure–reserved, bashful, shrinking. Instead, my sister Maria describes my approach in life more like “a bull in a china shop.” 

Antonyms (the opposite) of humility are even more revealing–and alarming!

  • arrogance;
  • assumption;
  • conceit;
  • haughtiness;
  • huffiness;
  • presumptuousness;
  • pretense;
  • pride;
  • imperiousness (domineering);
  • obtrusiveness;
  • superiority.

STOP! Is anyone else getting uncomfortable here?! Well, I sure am. But then it’s my #oneword, not yours–unless God says so!

Remember that pride, and then rebellion, was Satan’s sin. We don’t want to be like the devil, do we? I don’t!

Humility and gratitude
Humility and gratitude

Mother Teresa said, “If you are humble, then nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.”

No doubt that I have some family members, or even friends, who will remind me throughout this year of my #oneword humility and how I am being so NOT humble!

Maybe humility isn’t your strong suit, either. I have good news, dear friend. When we stumble and fall, as we surely will, we can get back up.

That is why Jesus died for you and me; nobody is perfect but Him. He’s teaching us to be more like Him each moment.

You and I can breathe again, and be thankful that God’s mercies are new every beautiful morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

 

Humility book
Humility book

This week, I ordered a used copy of Andrew Murray’s book Humility from Amazon to start off the year right and plan to do other studies on this topic as well.

My Scripture verses for 2019, based on these words humble and humility are:

“The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” (Proverbs 15:33, ESV)

“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6, NKJV. The NLT translation says, “And He gives grace generously.”)

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:6-7, NKJV)

This last Scripture shows me that I need to be alert in Spirit this year. Satan wants to cause destruction in mine and my family’s life, to devour and kill us. I thank God that Jesus Christ is more powerful and the battle belongs to the Lord, who has the victory already!

The great news in all this? If we humble ourselves before God and cultivate a lifestyle of humility, depending on and trusting solely in Him, the Bible says God will give us HONOR and EXALT us! (Good surprises for us, for HIS glory!) Isn’t that exciting? 

Do you have a #oneword, Scripture verse(s), and/or theme for the new year 2019? Please share it below with me! And let’s pray for each other this year to walk it out with God’s grace and help!

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One Word for 2018

Several years ago I stopped making New Year’s resolutions because within the first month (sometimes the first week!), I had broken them. You know, things like, “lose 30 pounds, have daily devotional time with God first thing every morning, travel internationally, have a hot marriage, be the world’s best mom.” Then I felt like a failure when they didn’t happen–even remotely. Do you relate?

According to speaker/author Donna Partow, here’s some facts about New Year’s Resolutions:

25% of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions after 1 week.

60% of people abandon them within six months.

Most people make the same New Year’s Resolution 10 times without success.success-failure sign

I decided that instead of resolutions (or even “goals”), I’d pray to God for a Scripture and a “one word” and/or theme for the coming new year. This has worked out well for me. And I no longer feel like #wifefail or #momfail or whatever fail.

Last year’s “one word” was intentional. 

Each year, I’ve discovered how accurate the “one word” was for that year with both its blessings and challenges to overcome. Throughout 2017, I had to make very intentional choices. 

woman by mountain
woman on mountain peak

For 2018, my “one word” is JOY. Whenever I begin to see or hear a word or a Scripture two, three, or more times, I know that God is speaking to my heart and wants to teach me something. 

I’ve begun to see this word JOY a lot and recently found a Christmas decoration with two red cardinals (cardinals are very special to me), with the word JOY on it. I felt that was the final confirmation that I needed to use this as my one word for the coming year.

I look forward to this, as 2017 was hell, one of the worst years in my life (and I’ve had some bad ones before!). 

joy

My two Scriptures for 2018 are Nehemiah 8:10, NLT, and Psalm 126:5, ESV:

“And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10, NLT)

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” (Psalm 126:5, ESV)

This verse in Psalm 126:5 is especially profound, because I cried a lot during 2017. (More than usual!)

On the Blue Letter Bible website, that word “joy” from Nehemiah 8:10 in the original language is chedvah. It simply means joy or gladness. 

You can have God’s joy even in the midst of painful circumstances, because our hope as believers is always in our faith in Jesus Christ and His second coming, not in what is happening around us. We fix our eyes on Him, not the storm.

The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines joy as:

1: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires: delight.

2: a state of happiness or felicity: bliss.

3: a source or cause of delight. 

Here’s a virtual toast to you and me for a much better, joy-filled-to-overflowing year in 2018!

Toasting Glasses Image resource: https://www.graceplacewellness.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/champagne-toasting-flutes.jpg

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions or have a “one word,” theme, and/or Scripture for the new year? Please share what you do and what yours is in the comments below. 
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Our 25th “silver” wedding anniversary

The sterling silver cross necklace gift Ray gave me for our 25th "silver" wedding anniversary
The sterling silver cross necklace gift Ray gave me for our 25th “silver” wedding anniversary

This week, April 11, 2017, Ray and I had our 25th “silver” wedding anniversary. It seems like just two years, and then it also seems like it’s been forever. It has sure been HELL.

But as I pointed out in my Facebook comment, never a dull moment!

Despite our LOUD, INTENSE arguments for 25 years (yes, the WHOLE marriage; we had one tonight!), we’ve been married longer than many of our family members and friends, watching in grief as they divorced…while we have determined to fulfill our covenant with God and each other. It hasn’t been easy, and we’ve had to look to the Cross for help.

Jesus on the cross
Jesus on the cross

We’ve survived unfaithfulness to each other (both of us), bankruptcy, foreclosure of our home, stepfamily conflicts, financial crisis after crisis, multiple moves to new homes/cities, health issues, ministry failures, and much more. 

What is our greatest strength, though? We’ve never quit. Like runners in a sprint or a marathon, you keep moving forward, no matter how tired you are.

sprinters

We’ve never thrown in the towel, although we have both wanted to  many times through the years.

Ray has actually been to divorce attorneys three times because he was so fed up with our marriage! (And I’ve thought about going to one many times!)

Ray & me Holding our "faith" stone, as we wait for final approval of the VA loan for the home we're buying this year
Ray & me
Holding our “faith” stone, as we wait for final approval of the VA loan for the home we’re buying this year

By God’s grace, we’re still together, hopefully until death do us part.

  • Ray can still make me laugh more than anyone else;
  • Every time he prays over me and holds my hand, saying, “It’s going to be okay,” I know it is going to be;
  • He still turns me on;
  • He still cooks the best Cajun grilled chicken I’ve ever tasted;
  • He still loves me–which is quite a feat, considering how I am!

25 years and still going…please pray for us. 

Here’s what we did for our 25th “silver” wedding anniversary. It was a fun date!

Ray bought me a very funny card. It features a married male and female dog couple and says “It’s our anniversary.” The card seemed hand-picked by God, and made me laugh because it was so much like us.

anniversary card
anniversary card

For example, it showed the couple wanting to watch a movie together. The husband dog asked, “How about science fiction?” and the wife dog asked, “How about a love story?” Ray is a sci-fi fan, and of course I love chick flicks! 

Another hilarious thing about the card was that it read, “We still like to write each other little notes…although the subject matter isn’t always love.” It showed a cartoon of the wife posting sticky notes to her husband on a cork board with notes like, “Call the dentist,” “Grocery List,” and “Toilet keeps running.” The husband dog has stooped shoulders, and is looking at the sticky notes with an exasperated , tired expression. (Ray feels this way about my sticky notes!)

Ray said the card “nailed the notes.” (I’m addicted to sticky notes and often leave Ray little notes around the house for his “honey-do’s.”)

sticky note
sticky note

On the card, they were at a drive-through restaurant, with the husband getting the wife some food. He is asking her, “No fries, honey?” and she is saying, “No, just a cheeseburger.” Ironically, a couple of nights before Ray gave me the card, I’d asked him to go get me a Sonic cheeseburger. The card amused us both. 

Ray also gave me a beautiful, sterling silver cross necklace as my gift. Silver for our 25th “silver” wedding anniversary, and a cross as he said it is the foundation of our marriage. Amen! Ray did so good on my card and gift!

necklace
sterling silver cross necklace gift

For part of his present, I bought Ray a straight razor soap cup, that he had been requesting to go with his straight razor I’d bought him.  You put soap in the cup, and whip it to make a  good lather, then apply the soap to the face before shaving. When Ray was a little boy, he used to watch his granddaddy Hutchins shave at the bathroom mirror with a straight razor.

Recently Ray said he wanted a straight razor, from the good memories of his granddad, plus straight razors are supposed to give men a better shave. I didn’t really “get” it, but it’s a guy thing, so I bought him the straight razor, the black strop to sharpen the razor, and the soap cup.

I also have something special to give him for our 25th “silver” wedding anniversary party, which I will blog about soon!

straight razor and brush
straight razor and brush
soap cup
soap cup

For our “silver” wedding anniversary, I bought pretty silver heels for our anniversary date. Love them!

my silver shoes
my silver shoes

Ray wore a silver shirt with a silver pattern tie, black slacks, and his cowboy boots for our anniversary date. Looking good!

Ray in his silver shirt & tie for our "silver" wedding anniversary
Ray in his silver shirt & tie for our “silver” wedding anniversary

Here I am in my black dress, black wrap, the silver shoes, and wearing the sterling silver cross necklace Ray gave me.

me in black dress, black wrap, silver shoes & silver cross necklace for our "silver" anniversary
me in black dress, black wrap, silver shoes & silver cross necklace for our “silver” anniversary

For our 25th “silver” wedding anniversary date, we ate lamb gyro sandwiches with tzatziki sauce (made with cucumber), pita bread with hummus, and dolmades (stuffed grape leaves with rice and beef). Ray also had a Greek salad. It was DELICIOUS!

lamb gyros
lamb gyros
pita bread & hummus
pita bread & hummus
dolmades
dolmades

After our date, we came home and prayed together for our marriage, our children, and our grandchildren, asking God to bless us and our family and for us to walk in obedience to Jesus, and that the latter days would be greater than the former. (Haggai 2:9) It was a great 25th wedding anniversary!

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This book In PRINT at: https://www.createspace.com/6099550
This book In PRINT at: https://www.createspace.com/6099550

If  you are hurting in your marriage and you’d like to read about the 25 difficult years of Ray’s and my marriage, but how with God nothing is impossible,click here.

 

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