Jan 16

SNOWBALLS AND PUPPYDOGS

Carol and snowball

 

These gigantic snowballs are the product of recess at our local elementary school.

The snowballs are still sitting on the field over four weeks later. They haven’t grown any bigger because school has been mostly out—due to an unbelievably harsh winter we are having here.

Presently we have about 18″ of snow on the ground, with piles of snow 4′ tall next to driveways. New snow falls almost every day; some days it’s just flurries; other days we find ourselves shoveling twice a day. The build-up of snow on roofs has led to leaks where warm air escapes from our homes and melts the ice back down through heating vents and light fixtures.

But despite the folks saying this is the harshest, coldest and most snow-filled winter we have had since 1882, I love living here. There are still oodles of reasons to love life here:

  1. Snow shoveling is great exercise; especially if you do it a couple of times a day.

  2. Shoveling gets the neighborhood out. I’ve met neighbors I hadn’t met before and connected with others better. We have local “snow angels,” most notably right next door. Some days the dear angels have shoveled our sidewalk and part of our driveway before we even have our boots on. Now I strive to be a show angel to others.

  3. Shoveling is a team sport as 5-6 people focus on one house together and then move on down the block to the next.

  4. Life slows down. Sitting by the window with a cup of tea, watching gigantic floating snow feathers provides time to appreciate the beauty of the frozen world outside.

  5. One of the best forms of entertainment ever is watching the puppydog explore that delightful white stuff.

Other parts of the world have a lot more snow than we have here, but sometimes I watch the snow falling onto the enormous piles we already have and wonder what Jesus has in mind.

The point is though: we can trust that Jesus does have something in mind.

Maybe it’s about getting people out of their homes and working together. Maybe it’s about slowing people down so they can appreciate beauty that exists amid the hardship. Maybe it’s about providing entertainment as we watch puppydogs and school kids enjoy the miracle of fluffy frozen water falling to the ground.

Whatever Jesus has in mind, we can trust Him whether He intends a hardship or whether He just wants us to find the joy amid it. One thing remains constant: when Jesus is at the center of life, it’s all good.

 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior (Habakuk 3:18 NIV)

 

 

Jan 09

What shall we do this year?

2017-goals

Last week I announced my 2017 focus word: Temple.  This week, I’m announcing my writing goals.

Not only does announcing my goals keep me accountable, my hope is that it encourages you to make your own goals for 2017. Then return each quarter we’ll review progress and recommit to the next part of the journey. Here are my writing goals:

BOOKS I WILL WORK ON:

I am Rahab

Rebuilding Your Tattered Temple

Jesus Wants Me to Do WHAT?

Atop the Mountain

My Beautiful Feet (new working title)

From What if to Whatever

I am Deborah

I expect to only release one book this year—I am Rahab, the latest character study in the With Faith Like Hers Bible study series. The other books are still works in progress. They’ve been works in progress for several years already, but that is the way of creating books. They take many years from concept to release.

Fortunately, I keep growing spiritually as God teaches me through the process of creation, while keeping one verse in front of me at all times:

Of making books there is no end…(Ecclesiastes 12:12 NIV)

I will also keep writing for other outlets, maintain this blog, pursue branding, work cooperatively with other writers, reformat this website and pursue picture book illustration.

How I intend to work on the above goals is nestled in a cozy computer file—29 pages of a detailed month-by-month plan. I mention the plan to encourage you to not only settle on what you’d like to accomplish this year, but also how and when.

So now—what do you want to accomplish this year? Do you have a plan to accomplish your goals? Share your what and how and then come back each quarter and review them with us.

Jan 02

What’s the Word?

 

one-word

God is teaching me to number my days. Last year, He continued that process by giving me the one-word focus of legacy. That word helped me find new focus in my writing ministry by providing single-mindedness in the works Jesus is leading me to write. It provided a concentration on the legacy of faith I want to leave behind. It also provided me with generational joy in the birth of my grandson. It was a great word.

This year God gave me the focus word temple.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV).

  • I look forward to this focus word as a way God will show me the presence of the Holy Spirit living in me and help me attune my conscious mind to the Spirit’s leading.

  • I expect this focus word to help me listen for the Spirit’s guiding and help me be His hands and feet in this world.

  • The word temple will also help me find joy in every second I have left in this world, making the most of the physical body God has given me stewardship over.

On that last point, many of us set lofty goals each year in the hope of regaining better physical shape—weight loss, fitness, nutrition. I’m one of those folks. Each year I set a weight loss goal and most years I fail at it.

In August I began a new approach to regaining better physical health, which has encouraged me to set better health goals for 2017. I expect that having temple as my one word this year will help me focus on rebuilding the tattered temple God has entrusted me to spend my time on earth in.

When I began my prayerful search for my 2017 focus word, I secretly hoped it would be victorious or grace. Perhaps God will give me those words in a future year. Or perhaps I’ll end up learning lessons about victory and grace through the lessons He teaches about this temple on loan to me while I’m learning to number my days.

Although temple wouldn’t have been my first choice as a focus word, if I had left the decision up to myself, I am completely excited, knowing that temple is the word God will use to teach me lessons I can’t even imagine at this point. It’s a reminder of that prayer I often pray:

Lord, fill me with excited expectation for what you have planned!

He is sure doing that. And it’s only the second day of the new year!

Selecting a single focus word is part of what I do in January. The other thing I do each year is determine what I want to accomplish in my writing ministry. Now that you know my focus word, hang on. Next week, I’ll share my writing goals.

For you—that means you’ve got another week to think about what you want to accomplish this year, before I start nagging…er, encouraging you. You may not be a writer. But certainly there are things you’d like to accomplish in 2017. Think about them. Create a plan of action (see this link on how to set SMARTER goals) and come back next week. I’ll share my goals; you share yours and we can keep each other encouraged and accountable.

Whatever lessons God has in store, 2017 is going to be a great year. It is a year created by God, gifted to all of us and hopefully lived by us for His glory.

Happy New Year to you!

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Did you pick a single word to help you focus in 2017? If not, why not do so now? Here  and here are the links to the 12 words I was considering for my 2017 focus. Does one speak to you?

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