As 2016 comes to a wrap, here are 16 things I am taking away from 2016…
1. Daily Success Comes from Daily Surrender.
On this day,
May I/we speak with your wisdom;
Listen with your compassion;
See with your grace;
Give with your generosity;
Touch with your gentleness;
Make the best decisions that align with your will;
And above all, may I/we Love with your heart.
For All I Thank Him. For All I Trust Him.
3. The 185 Day Devotional
Late last year, I began a 185-day devotional. I do not know what possessed me to even start it. And to be honest, I can’t tell you what it was about. What I can tell you is that in the midst of the 185 days, there were several moments in which I considered not even continuing. Who would know (besides God and I)? 185 days is a long time. But yet something in me persisted and day by day, 185 days became 184 days and so forth. On the final day of the devotional, I realized why I started it and finished it…because it was symbollic of a greater journey I was on. See on that 185th day, Drew and I got to see and hear the beating heart of our little one for the very first time! Often in life, when we are believing for something (or someone), we can face days in which nothing seems to be happening. The truth is, when nothing seems to be happening, everything is happening!
4. “Living well starts with loving well.”-Dave Willis, author of “The Seven Laws of Love”
5. Embrace Moments of Pure Joy…They Are All Around Us.
6. It’s Good to Ask Bold Questions but Sometimes What We Really Need is To Make Bold Statements/Declarations.
7. H.O.P.E. Heals
Perhaps some detours aren’t detours at all. Perhaps they are actually the path. The picture. The plan. And, perhaps most unexpectedly, they can be perfect.
What has happened to me is extreme; however, it is not that different from what everyone deals with. I am a sort of microcosm for what we all feel. I can barely walk, even with a cane, but who feels free even if they can? My face is paralyzed, but who feels beautiful even when they look normal? I have no coordination in my right hand, so I can’t hold things, even my child, but who feels like a competent parent even if all their faculties are intact? For months I could not eat, and even today I have difficulty swallowing, but who feels full satisfied even if they can enjoy every delectable treat they desire? I am tired almost all the time now, but who always feels energized to engage fully in their life? My voice is messed up, but who feels understood even if they can speak plainly? I have double vision, but who sees everything clearly even if they can see normally? My future is uncertain, but whose isn’t?
So no matter the situation, universally people feel what I am living out. They don’t feel free. They don’t feel understood. They don’t feel satisfied.
I believe that pain is pain, no matter what the form, but perspective is perspective. Ultimately, ours is a story of a life overcome by hope.
8. The Beautiful Olive (O-live) Tree
-requires the dry, hot (harsh) wind from the east (desert) and the rain and life wind from the west (mediterranean) to be fruitful
“We need both the winds of hardship and the winds of relief to sweep across our lives if we are to be truly fruitful.”-Lysa TerKeurst, author of “Uninvited”
-picked fresh, olives are naturally bitter. To be palatable, it must go through a lengthy process of being washed, broken, pressed, soaked, sometimes salting, and waiting
“it is a lengthy process to be cured of bitterness and prepared for usefulness. If we are to escape the natural bitterness of the human heart, we have to go through a long process as well…the process of being cured.”-Lysa TerKeurst, author of “Uninvited”
-to preserve olives for the long run, it must be crushed to extract the oil
“Crushing, rather, is the way of preservation. It’s also the way to get what’s most valuable, the oil, out of the oil. Keeping this perspective is how we can be troubled on every side yet not distressed…pressed to the point of being crushed but not crushed and destroyed.”-Lysa TerKeurst, author of “Uninvited”
“When the sorrowful winds of the east blow, I forget they are necessary.
When I’m being processed, I forget it’s for the sake of ridding me of bitterness.
And when I’m being crushed, I forget it’s for the sake of my preservation.”-Lysa TerKeurst, author of “Uninvited”
The olive tree is such a beautiful reminder that this isn’t how it’s going to be forever. On the other side of the harsh wind is fit. On the other side of the process of being broken and waiting is a useful heart free of bitterness. On the other side of being pressed and crushed is oil…the most valuable part of me set free to emerge.
On the other side of every hardship is a resurrection.
We must believe that what God has said He will do will be done. Don’t focus on the problems. Instead, have the resurrection mind-set that holds fast to God’s promises. Good is coming!
-Lysa TerKeurst, author of “Uninvited”
9. Success the Jesus Way
“Living small is not about having less, but being less-less respected in the eyes of the world, less successful, less wealthy, less esteemed, less you. Less me. And more Jesus. Here, in the abundance of less, where more of us is stripped away we’ll uncover the person we were made to be, the one created in the image of a God who sank holy feet into our human mess.
“Quite simply, our deep gratitude to Jesus Christ is manifested neither in being chaste, honest, sober, and respectable, nor in church-going, Bible-toting, and Psalm-singing, but in our deep and delicate respect for one another.”-Brennan Manning
10. CHOOSE Joy. Every Day.
“I made a decision a long time ago that I was going to choose joy. I even painted a big rectangle on my wall and printed it in big letters so I wouldn’t forget to make that choice every day. The major word in that rectangle isn’t joy; it’s CHOOSE. It’s looking around me when life is difficult and trading every complaint I have for something beautiful in my life that far outweighs it. I know, it’s that Pollyanna thing again, but living joyful beats cynical any day of the week.”-Sara Frankl, co-author of “Choose Joy”
Sara taught me that choosing joy doesn’t mean living in denial of reality. It doesn’t mean pretending everything is okay when it’s not. It doesn’t mean not allowing ourselves to grieve or acknowledge our own heartaches in life. It means being honest and authentic with where we are and, from that place, still lifting our eyes homeward.
Choosing joy is acknowledging that while I don’t understand what’s going on, God does. Choosing joy is remembering that while life seems to be spiralling out of control, it is never out of God’s control. Choosing joy is remaining mindful that while my circumstances may feel anything but ideal, God still has my good and His glory in mind.
11. Living in the F.L.O.W.
Luke 5 tells the story of Jesus and some of His disciples Peter, James, and John. Drew and I found ourselves discussing this story one evening and I said, “I wonder what it was about Jesus that they dropped everything and I mean EVERYTHING immediately?”
The very next day as I was pondering this, God enlightened me.
13. I am Perfectly Imperfect. And that’s ok. Life is Perfectly Imperfect. And that’s ok.
Life may be messy, but the mess is worth it.
I still fight against my fast-paced, overachieving nature every single day. I fight the urge to take on anything and everything. But then I remember that perfection is overrated, because God loves me where I am and exactly who I am in this moment. And He’s put joy in the mess, the circus, and the seventh load of laundry if you allow yourself to be still enough to see it. Identify those areas of your life that are overflowing, and do something about them. Unsubscribe. Uncommit. Slow down.
-Emily Ley, “Grace Not Perfection”
14. My Purpose. Your Purpose. OUR Purpose.
15. (Be) Open (To) the Present
“Today can’t be saved. It can only be spent. It’s a limited-time offer, one-of-a-kind free gift. The same goes for your God-given abilities and opportunities. If you do not use them, you may lose them. The amazing thing is that the opposite is also true. When you put the gifts and talents God has given you into action, you don’t use them up; you encourage them to grow.”-David Bordon and Tom Winters
16. The Reason for Every Season
FREE GIFT TIME!!!
I wanted to finish this year off by giving YOU a special gift to say, “Thank You” for sharing your moments with me. There are many things that you could be doing with your time and I am so grateful for the ones that you have generously shared with me. May you my dear beautiful friend always know that You. Are. So. Loved. It’s non-negotiable:).
Happy Christmas and Here’s to An Extraodinary 2017 Ahead!
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And as always, feel free to share and tell!