Reflecting on “A Different Kind of Christmas” for the New Year

As we are about to enter into a new year, I’m reflecting on the different kind of Christmas we recently celebrated. The transition into 2021 can be spent just as Megan, the main character in my story, “A Different Kind of Christmas” celebrated Christmas Eve. A beautiful celebration indeed.

Check out the link to my reading of this short story, friends. May God bless you as you celebrate the new year with our King!

Serve

 

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At the end of every year, I ask God to reveal a word to me for the upcoming year. (Click here for last year’s word.) I was in the kitchen cooking something back in December when I asked and a word just came:

Serve.

I’ll be honest, the word scared me. Serve? Serve who? And how? Where? Questions buzzed around me like a swarm of hornets. I was cringing and waiting to feel those stings.

Would God ask me to serve in similar ways I’d done in the past? Lord, You know how that turned out.

Would He ask me to take on a variety of those heavy tasks like I’d tried to carry before? Lord, You remember how I used to cry at night, begging You to rescue me.

Again, I’m being honest here: I wanted to ignore God. I really did. I didn’t want to think about serving because of what happened in my past.

But then something wonderful happened: God began teaching me what He meant by the word “serve.” He revealed it through the time I spent with Him reading His Word, through sermons I’d heard, and through my past, those things I’d tried that didn’t work.

I think I needed to learn that failing isn’t like wandering through a muddy, dark valley where we hang our heads low and whimper as we crawl out. (Oh, it can be if we want to see it that way.)

Failing can be an experience we share with God, one where He picks us up, pulls the leaves from our hair, and puts His arm around us as He leads us out of that dark valley; all the while giving us eyes that see some good, some lesson that we can learn from the mess we got ourselves into. (If we ask Him to help us.)

Something I needed to learn from my past failures before I could really move forward to “serve” the way He wanted was to listen to Him. Really listen to Him and stop trying to look for a detour that might be faster. And I really needed to stop trying to figure things out, stop trying to fix things.

I make such a mess with all of my “fixing!”

When I finally stopped running in circles in my muddy valley, when I finally stopped trying to fix everything, and when I stopped ignoring God, He explained what He meant:

“Serve Me.

If I’m being honest again (which I am), I breathed a sigh of relief! Maybe that sounds strange, but I remember the Scripture that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. (Matthew 11:30.)

God doesn’t want to burn us out. We do that enough on our own.

Our loving heavenly Father has wonderful plans, wonderful purposes for us. That’s why it’s exciting, not burdensome and NEVER boring, to serve God.

But what does that mean exactly?

Well, I know what He has revealed to me for my life: I am supposed to stop running away from God’s calling (my name isn’t Jonah!), stop making apologies to the world because I’m “JUST” a stay-at-home mom (which means I stop acting like a dog with its tail between its legs like I’m lazy and doing something wrong and should be ashamed – but that’s a whole other topic!), and be the best wife and mom I can be. And it’s time I step fully into my calling as a writer. No more doubts. No more wavering. It is my calling. It’s time I take it seriously.

I’m so excited to see what He’s going to do through my finally-surrendering-to-His-will heart, what things He will pour into me that I may spill out and share with others. And really, I’m honored to serve Him in ways that I can love Him even more.

Serve. What a beautiful word.

“But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” (1 Samuel 12: 24 NIV.)

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11 NIV.)

(Photo from Pexels.)

 

 

 

 

 

A New Chapter

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When I was a little girl, I loved Christmas so much I’d sulk when it was over as I headed back to school. There was a vacant spot in our family room where the Christmas tree had been with a few abandoned pine needles stuck to the carpet and mere crumbs staring up at me from the bottom of the cookie jar. My young life seemed bare and gray without all the decorations and sugary goodness.

But now I’m a little more grown-up (a little!) and there is such excitement with a new year stretching out before me because I know the Author who is going to write the next chapter in my life, giving me the tiniest glimpse in the form of a single word to ponder and pray about. (And if I know anything about God, it’s that I will never know all there is to know about Him; that alone leaves me biting my bottom lip in anticipation and wide-eyed with wonder.)

I’ve learned that when I ask God to give me a clue about the upcoming year, I’m like a little girl again only I’m not wearing pigtails and I’m not waiting to shred wrapping paper to get to a new toy. Instead, I’m sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting to pounce on the “new” and follow God on some grand and amazing adventure.

Funny, the word “adventure” leads me right into this year’s word, but it’s important to look back because the words are connected just like the chapters in a book.

Previous words: obey, new, wisdom, hope, and perseverance. And last year’s word: bold.

I smile when I think about some of the things God called me to do last year and how I needed to be bold and rely on Him for His strength – start a women’s group, speak to two groups of ladies on the same day (yikes, I was nervous!), submit my novel to an amazing agent, preach, let go of the past, ask for more of God, loosen my overprotective-momma-bear grip on our daughter knowing God’s gentle touch is always going to be better, and start speaking up about things I don’t like and things I know God doesn’t want me doing. (I’m really not supposed to have a garden or a bakery; the little pig-tailed dreamer in me has her pouty lip out.)

As I began praying and asking God weeks ago in the middle of December for the next word, the chapter title for 2019, God whispered it so profoundly to my heart:

Journey.

Oh my, what a big word! It could mean anything, really. A spiritual journey, a physical journey, a journey of healing… The list could go on and on.

Thankfully, I don’t have to have it all figured out, but I know I’ll need to be bold (see how the words are connected!). And I know God will walk with me, step by step, into this new year as He and I set out on this journey together.

And really, my friends, there is no toy or cookie that could ever be as sweet as the excitement and anticipation of drawing close to God as we begin the new chapter He has for us, revealing the abundant life He’s planned all along.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV.)

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 NASB.)