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It’s the New Year. 

Everyone is posting their great notes and how-to’s for the new year.  All the great revelations for the upcoming year and reflections upon the past year are being posted.  I think that’s great.

But, for me it’s January 4. A normal day. Hump day.

Kids have started back to school. I am getting my house back in order after Christmas festivities and guests and chaos. nhhguo-2ypw-andy-fitzsimon

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I’ve got a wedding to plan.

They needed a wedding planner. My son is getting married to the love of his life in exactly 46 days. I’m calling caterers and bakers and paying florists and receiving wedding invitations in the mail and getting ready to shoot them off to guests in the mail.

And laundry is going and the dog is being walked and I’m helping my Honey roll out the many law group projects he envisions.

 You know how it all goes. We all wear a hundred different hats.

Life just keeps moving regardless of the calendar.   It doesn’t really matter that it is January 4 and great life wisdom for the year needs to be made and written down in a journal.

But, in the middle of it all, I am listening.  I am still listening.

I have no great big introspection to bust out as of yet. I’m working on slowly hearing what I need to hear for my life. You can’t rush great revelation!

I don’t make resolutions.  It only sets me up for failure.  Anybody relate with me on this one? I quit doing that a long time ago. That’s so 1990-something for me.

Probably pre-baby era.

But, I will tell you what I am doing.

I am taking time. 

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In the middle of all the crazy normal (and not so normal) life goings-on I am taking moments to turn on the worship music, make a hot drink, light some warm candles and read Scripture and devotionals and journal my thoughts.

Praying and listening with my spirit to hear what God is saying to me.  Right now I am trying to determine a word or words that might give direction for my year.

Listening for a word or words that would give me focus and that would infuse some faith into my spirit for the days of 2017.

So, I am being more focused, more intentional.  I am being more determined to make the time to listen. I am intent on hearing from God and finding direction.

photo-1447600514716-ca6f3974c346Last year was one for the books.  I really don’t ever need one like that again.  But, as I say that, my heart is quickly hastened to add there were blessings added I never saw coming. And blessings in the works that I didn’t realize I would need at the time I would need them, but God did and orchestrated their timing. So, even though, much rain came, God sent grace and provision.  He had people and resources waiting for just the right moment and season.

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And as I look into 2017, I hold in my hands all the beautiful grace Christ gave in 2016.

So, on January 4, I don’t have great proclamations of how to go about your year and what to give up and what to grab ahold of.  All I know is take time to see what God would say to you. He works personally for each one of us.

2017 is not 2016.

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I have two different Scriptures I am holding on to for my new upcoming year.  That is as far as I have gotten.   I’d say it is a pretty great start. I feel certain they are to guide my new year. Here they are:

Forget about what’s happened;
    don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
    rivers in the badlands. (Isaiah 43:19, The Message)

Get up, my dear friend,
    fair and beautiful lover—come to me!
Look around you: Winter is over;
    the winter rains are over, gone!
Spring flowers are in blossom all over.
    The whole world’s a choir—and singing!
Spring warblers are filling the forest
    with sweet arpeggios.
Lilacs are exuberantly purple and perfumed,
    and cherry trees fragrant with blossoms.
Oh, get up, dear friend,
    my fair and beautiful lover—come to me!
Come, my shy and modest dove—
    leave your seclusion, come out in the open. (Songs 2: 10-14, The Message)

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I will let these Scriptures guide my thoughts. And let me tell you, they have already been challenged in this first week of the year! But, I am returning to them over and over.  Isaiah 40:8 reminds us , “The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever.”

 I encourage you to take time to listen to what Christ would want to speak to you.  Maybe you haven’t had a whole lot of time to spend searching for a great revelation.  Just take a few moments to quiet your heart. Invest moments in yourself. Invest in your year– it will help chart the course for your year.

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I was feeling particularly low going into the new year’s eve weekend.  I was focused more on the challenges and hurt of 2016.  It was hard. There were deep disappointments—the most being from people.  And that was my focus. I was weary. My heart was heavy. It had become too much of my focus. And a year of reviewing the pain was getting burdensome. In an effort to relinquish the hurt, I prayed an honest, broken prayer laying in my bed.

cse3okq03oq-riley-briggsAs I have begun the new year, my attention has begun to shift. It is as if a literal shift has taken place on a physical calendar in my heart and mind. As in a turning of the page over to a new year on a new calendar, so is my attention.

I encourage you to do the same. Look ahead to what God has for you in 2017.

I press on to what is ahead.

I honestly have no idea what this year holds or what is on the horizon. I can’t even begin to imagine what God has planned. The slate has pretty much been wiped clean over the past year. So, I think I will buckle up and enjoy the ride!

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Change your focus.  It just may change your heart.

Check Out The View From Here!

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I’m a crazy walker.  When I go out for a walk, or even when I add in a run, I always look down.  What am I looking at?  I don’t get it.  Am I afraid if I don’t look at my feet they won’t move right?  Or is the sidewalk just so beautiful I need to keep my eye on it?

It’s weird.

I tell myself, “Pick your head up! You look goofy.  Look up and see the beauty around you.  You’re missing out!”  Yeah.  I will pick my head up…my thoughts center on the beauty in the sky and trees.  I get lost in thought—maybe even whisper a little prayer.  And, then, “Look at those feet walking.  Look at that sidewalk.  Yep, they’re still there.”

For goodness sake!  I just don’t get it.  This is a problem, I do believe.  I’m missing out.  Even when I have a walking buddy I do it.  Before I know it, I’m focusing on the road right in front of me, instead of seeing all that is around me.  They have been kind enough to just ignore it!

This has gotten me to thinking.

In life, what am I focusing on?

10168201_10205519276527835_6867101749092095366_nAm I focusing on the challenges and tough-going I have experienced?  Am I looking at the past and wishing circumstances had been different or I had been dealt a better hand?

Where is my focus?

Perhaps I am focusing on how I wish I was different.  Different gifting, different temperment, different anything.

Maybe I look at the ways I could have made different choices and would then be on a different and seemingly better path.

Focus. 

What is my focus?

Too much introspection can lead to too much self-focusing.  Sometimes I just have to get out of my head.  It’s good to remember our past and what we have come through.  It’s important to remember what we have learned.  Gratitude is born out of remembering with grace our journey.

But, we can’t afford to get stuck.  

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 A couple years ago I realized all my conversations were about all the negative things going on in my world.   It was my habit.  I was good at rehashing the injustices and idiocy I was enduring.  My friends were so gracious.  They commiserated with me.  Even though it had to be like nails on a chalkboard, they loved on me and listened—and endured it!

  I finally got tired of hearing myself talk about it.  It was getting old.  And, I knew it was a problem when I couldn’t think of other things to talk about.  It kind of felt like a loser sort of life!

It’s amazing when God starts nudging you in a new direction. 

1473920_10202797628648339_2105884648_nI’m guessing He was tired of hearing all about it too—over and over and over and over—if you get my drift.

I was missing out on all the goodness He was giving.  I was missing out on all the beauty and grace He so lavishly supplied.  He was fully aware of all the injustice and rejection and hurt.  He got it.  He saw it and knew how it hurt.  The Beautiful One was trying to give me beauty for my ashes.  But, it wasn’t going to happen if all I kept focusing on was the pitiful parts.  I was going to miss it all.  What a tragedy—and He knew it.

I had to quit wallowing around in the ashes!

He spoke to my heart.  He opened my eyes to the reality of what I was becoming.  It wasn’t the image I wanted.  I purposed in my heart I was done reliving it all and talking about it.  I was done dwelling on the negative and the pain.

Oh, I remember.  I have the scars to show for it.  But, I was done allowing it to become my focus and driving force.  I was done talking about and rehashing every gory detail of every injustice.  I determined that chapter was done.  I was moving forward.

You know, it made all the difference in the world in my heart and life. 

It wasn’t easy.  I had to think of new topics of conversation.  I had to live purposefully in the here and now.  Yes, I remember.  And, at times there is still pain in those scars.  But, it doesn’t drive me any longer.  I no longer look down and behind but look up and ahead.  This new way of thinking and being set me on a new trajectory.  It is so much more beautiful here!

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Psalm 103 is really great right about now. 

It’s too long to post here, but I encourage you to take a couple minutes to read it.  It helps in the refocusing.

What do I choose to focus on?  Where am I looking? 

Am I remembering all of His blessings? 

Do I remember that He has healed my family and me and has raised us from our ashes? 

Do I recall that He has redeemed me—that He has wrapped me in goodness? 

That He makes everything come out right and puts victims back on their feet? 

Do I focus on His grace and mercy and keep in mind He doesn’t give us what we deserve, but gives us what we don’t deserve? 

Do I relish in His fierce love and His total awareness of me? 

How about remembering His love is eternal–forever and always?

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It brings into proper perspective the flaws of this world.  No scheme of man will ever take me from His hand.  I am His.  Why so downcast oh, dear soul?  Look up to the hills from which comes your help!

Change your focus!  It’s beautiful up here!

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