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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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My “One Word” and Scriptures for 2016

Several years ago I stopped making New Year’s Resolutions because they don’t work anyway; 1/3 of resolutions don’t make it past January because of no commitment.

Resolutions lack a foundation of meaning. Life Hacks’ article on resolutions by Steve Erry says that:

“What you need is something more fundamental, more central and more important to you. What you need is something that comes from the inside, something that’s based on what’s important and what matters to you. That’s the only way to get behind it, have confidence in it and keep the motivation and commitment going.”
“>
That is why before the beginning of each year, I pray to God for the coming year, for His wisdom, guidance, protection, and blessing over me, my family, our loved ones, the U.S. and Israel.

Several years ago I heard about asking God for a theme or a “one word” for the year. I also pray to ask God for a meaningful Scripture and a song that will carry me through the year.

In December 2015, I attended iBloom‘s Planning Virtual Retreat. It was a wonderful conference that filled me up, encouraged and refreshed me. During team member/speaker Betsy Ringer‘s session on getting a new “theme” for the year, she allowed time for everyone attending to pray to get quiet before God and ask Him for the theme.

While praying, I had a vision from the Lord  A vision is not some woo-woo, out-there-in-left-field, New Agey thing (although they can be if you’re not a true Christian and it doesn’t line up with God’s word). A vision is part of the gift of prophecy, which is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. You can learn more about these gifts in Lester Sumrall’s book at Amazon, Gifts and Ministries of the Holy Spirit.

I describe visions as like a running picture (like a movie) in your head. Your eyes are open physically but you see it with your spirit.

deer on mountain

deer on mountain

In my mind as I prayed, I saw a picture of a female deer in a grassy field in the woods by a creek. The waters were graceful and peaceful, flowing gently. 

The doe was eating the green grass, and lifted her head. She looked around her alertly,watchful, and listening, with her large, gentle brown eyes. That was it.

I immediately felt impressed that my “one word” for 2016 was “DEER.”

Then I believe God gave me an acronym for it:

D- Do what God says.

E – Each morning God has new mercies, new things for me. (Isaiah 43:19)

E – Enter the land.

R – Rinse and Repeat; Renew. 

When I shared about the picture I received during the prayer time in the chat room, Betsy immediate typed that before iBloom’s virtual retreat began, God had given her a Scripture:

“The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as sure-footed as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.” (Habakkuk 3:19, NLT)

I believe this is my Scripture for 2016, as well as Psalm 23, specifically verses 2 and 3:

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

Hinds' Feet on High Places

I felt led to re-read Hannah Hurnard’s book, a gift given to me by my friend Wendi and which I read years ago, Hinds’ Feet on High Places. At that time I was bound by many fears, and related much to the main character Much-Afraid.

I confess I still struggle with fear about various things (don’t we all), but God doesn’t want you or me to be afraid–just to TRUST HIM.

With this vision and Scriptures, I feel led to study the deer to learn more about them, specifically the hind that is the character in Hinds’ Feet On High Places. The hind is known today as the red deer.

I’m going to continue blogging as I study Scriptures on the deer (as many as 26 verses are on the deer in the Bible). 

I felt like God led me to this song about the deer, too (As The Deer by Eddie James), and am searching for other meaningful ones for 2016, as part of my 2016 “theme.”

Do you make New Year’s resolutions and goals, choose a theme or a “one word,” or ask God for a Scripture at the beginning of the year? Please share in the comments below.

And my prayer is that you’ll experience a wonderful year filled with God’s wisdom, guidance, protection, blessings, and goodness–your best year yet!

If you’re like me, 2015 was a HARD year and I’m so glad it’s over. Each new year provides a “clean slate,” a fresh, new start for you and me. God has good things planned for us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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