OneWord 2017: Hope for the New Year

Image/KarenJordanHave you chosen your “OneWord” for 2017?

Focus. I selected my initial “OneWord” after reading an inspiring post on  Lindsey Nobles’s blog in 2011. I decided on the word “focus” after wrestling with distractions.

Fearless. I decided on the word “fearless” the next year. I needed to defeat the spirit of fear and pursue my projects, plans, and dreams.

Essential. After skipping three years, the word “essential” surfaced in 2015. Struggling with my priorities, I needed to rethink what mattered most. Plus, I faced a book deadline. At the same time, my husband, Dan, retired.

BookCover/KJordanRelease. I didn’t select “OneWord” in 2016. Why? I concentrated on my first book, Words That Change Everything. So, I suppose my “OneWord” became “release,” since I focused on marketing my book.

Hope. Recently, I sensed “hope” should be my 2017 “OneWord.” I had lost my confidence as I faced my lack of experience in marketing my book. Plus, my husband acts like “every day is Saturday” since he retired.

When the Lord placed “hope” on my heart, I sense new direction and a renewed purpose for the future.

Choose hope. Do you feel hopeless about the future? Perhaps our recent presidential election left you disheartened.

God’s Word offers us this promise of hope after a difficult journey.

(We can) rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Rom. 5:3-5 ESV)

Can you identify the reason for your hopelessness? If you need direction and clarity of purpose to overcome your discouragement and doubt, I challenge you to accept His gift of hope today.

Happy New Year!

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Comfort for the New Year

Photo/KarenJordan“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Cor. 1:4 NLT).

A New Year offers new opportunities and challenges. As I sense the needs around me, I often think, “What can I do to help those in need?”

Sometimes it’s hard to know how to respond. In fact, some people may say,”the devil is in the detail,” inferring that there’s some mysterious secret hidden in the details. That term comes from the original phrase “God is in the detail,” which reminds us that the details are always important.

Discovering the mysterious details of how to help others requires wisdom. And God promises to guide us in this discovery process. But He wants us to ask for HIS help first.  “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you … ” (Jms. 1:5 NLT).

Seek God first. The Lord promises to provide the guidance we need throughout our lives. Psalm 32:8 says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you” (NLT).

God often uses my experiences—good and bad—when I seek Him for direction in helping others. At times, He prompts me to share small things—like prayers, concerns, and a listening ear.

When my friend, Kathy, struggled with vertigo following her cancer treatments, I felt helpless to help her since she lived in another state. And I knew the misery of vertigo. When Kathy mentioned that she could not even read her Bible, I was able to read scriptures to her by phone.

Later, Kathy told me, “Your calls helped me survive my cancer treatments.”

Listen. In Matthew 11:15, Jesus asks His disciples, “Are you listening to me? Really listening?” (MSG).

As we seek God and ask questions, it’s important to listen for the answers. Sometimes instead of listening to God, I’m tempted to offer unsolicited advice to friends and family.

Have you ever received a gift that you didn’t want or need? Awkward! Our unsolicited gifts might actually offend instead of blessing others. Perhaps they need godly advice, not just a hasty opinion or thoughtless response.

Ask questions. I also ask questions when I’m trying to discern how to encourage others. What matters most to them? How can I discern how to help? What helped me when I faced a similar problem? What do I wish someone else had offered me when I faced my last crisis?

John 14:26 promises, “… the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (NIV).

Tell the stories that matter most. As a Christian writer, I never want to lose sight of the needs of my audience. Author Anne Lamott offers this advice: “Write the books you really wished were out there in the world.”

During a crisis, I look for resources to help me find solutions for my current needs. Encouraging words heal my soul when I’m desperate for answers. And I’m grateful for the writers who have poured their lives into helpful devotionals and books for those troubling days.

So, “… even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you” (Phil. 2:17 NIV).

As you plan your projects for the New Year, consider offering some words that could help meet the needs of others.

“… Words are powerful; take them seriously” (Matt. 12:36 MSG).

Can you think of a book that helped you through a crisis?

On Your Mark. . .

BXP135660

BXP135660 (Photo credit: tableatny)

Something about the first week of the year makes me feel like I’m starting a race, lined up ready for the gun to sound. This week I flipped over my calendar to 2014 and suddenly deadlines loom closer. Email messages are flowing in reminding me of promises that I made. It’s time to begin working on the goals listed on the paper before me. It can be overwhelming.

On your mark…

English: Anxious Athlete Waiting at Starting Line

English: Anxious Athlete Waiting at Starting Line (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Where is our starting point for the New Year? It’s a good time to take inventory. What were my achievements in the past year?  What are my goals for this one? If we are rooted and grounded  before we start, the race will go better. We wouldn’t get far in the race if we didn’t know where we were headed.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.  Acts 20:24

Get set…

English: Athletic Feet of Runner Positioned at...

English: Athletic Feet of Runner Positioned at Starting Block Français : Pieds d’athlète positionnés sur les starting blocks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take a breath. Focus on one thing at a time. Life is lived one moment at a time. Writing requires perseverance, one word, one paragraph, one page, one chapter at a time. A slow persistence.  Persevere. God provides our daily bread – just enough for today.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24

Go…

English: Swift Form of a Runner about to Begin...

English: Swift Form of a Runner about to Begin Race (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay. Time to begin. The route is marked out ahead. Let’s run it. The New Year has already begun. Let’s live it well!

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

Happy New Year,

Betsy and Laurie

http://www.WritingSisters.com

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

  Hebrews 12:1

My New Word Focus — Six Weeks Later

Like many others, a few years ago I switched from making resolutions to fixating on a single word focus at the beginning of a new year. All of my words tied to specific passages of Bible scripture, equipping me with a support system for my resolve. And they enhanced my writing, as well as general life choices.

In the past, various encouragements came to mind:

Joy by Anita Brooks

One of my past Word Focuses — JOY

All very positive affirmations. And each one transformed me more into the person I wanted to become.

But this year, I’m compelled to focus on a very different word. Mostly opposite of concentrated efforts in my past. This year, I guess God’s using a little reverse psychology on me. My New Year focus word?

Lazy.

As in, don’t be the wicked and lazy servant who buries her talents. Matthew 25:14-30.

Besides the spiritual application, there are practical applications as well. Especially when it comes to succeeding as a published writer.

  • If I fritter my time away on television, or other useless endeavors, I can’t be about my Father’s business of writing.
  • It takes practice, learning as a good apprentice, to become a professional. 
  • Allowing myself to wallow in tiredness stifles my ability to be a doer, and makes me a dreamer only. (I’ve learned I can talk myself out of being tired, can move around for a few minutes, or even allow myself a short nap to revive. Sometimes, fatigue is a mindset.)
  • A person has to start where they are in order to get where they want to go.
  • I only get so many seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months in a year, and wasting them will only leave me discouraged, guilty, and depressed. This can spin me into a hamster wheel of failure.
  • Publishers don’t like working with lazy writers.
  • Being lazy with my marketing means missed opportunities to get my message into the world.
  • Building a writing career takes time, energy, and persistence. Laziness steals momentum from what we’ve invested thus far.
Anita Brooks Ready to Write

Crawling Into My Writing Cave

The reason I’m writing about this now, versus week one or January 1, is I know myself. Often, about six weeks into a focus of this nature, I start getting lax, allowing apathy to override my renewed concentration on a specific act. I need something to propel me into my Writing Cave.

So this post isn’t just about you, although I certainly hope it encourages you to revisit your resolution or New Year’s focus, but it’s also about me. I’m creating a tickler for myself, to help me avoid the pitfall of so easily forgetting the promise I made to me, before God.

Ecclesiastes 5:5 says, “It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.” A resolution or word focus is a vow you make to yourself.

I’m not saying this to make anyone, including myself, feel guilty. But I can’t ignore the truth of the statement, and the reminder that I need to do a better job of acting on my God-given ability and opportunity. After all, a lazy attitude toward learning new things, or accepting new challenges, will make me stagnate.

Anita Brooks, Dare to LiveAs the tagline on my website says, “It’s Never Too Late for a Fresh Start with Fresh Faith.” I believe it, and I live by it.

So this year, my focus is on the word lazy — something I hope to learn to live without. Each day dawns bright with new hope, and each moment burns deep with opportunity.

What have you resolved? How are you doing in your renewed efforts?