Tag Archives: Words

Embracing the New Year with a New Word

abundace- man standing facing sun and skyI always look forward to the New Year; not so much for the New Year’s resolutions, nor for a new start, though both can have its place. I like the New Year because it is an opportunity to examine the past year and seek insight for the year ahead. For me, this is more than what I did or did not do. It’s not a time to beat myself up on the should’ves, would’ves, or could’ves. It’s not even a time to praise myself for all the wonderous accomplishments. I have done both in the past, and they leave me empty.

Specifically over the last couple of years I have started building a New Year’s tradition just me and The Lord. I block out special time to be with Him. Just like spending time with a friend and/or a spouse. For example, there are times when my husband and I are home together, working on our own projects  and sharing the same space. We see each other and have small chats of conversation. Yet, it is important to us that we have date night. Date night allows us to intentionally set time together limiting distractions so we can chat and really learn more about each other.

I started asking myself why would it be any different with God? I am finding that if I want to know God, to hear more of His voice, and share more conversations, then I want to be intentional in spending time with Him.

During this new year’s time with The Lord I examine the past and seek out pathways for the future. He shows me areas of growth, as well as, offers opportunities to learn from the struggles and failures. (Yes, I admit sometimes reviewing the struggles and failures are hard, and I would like to ignore them. But, when I dare to step into these, and bring them to The Lord, He teaches me many valuable lessons and helps prepare me for the next round.) The nuggets gleamed from looking at the past serve as stepping stones for the present and future building focus and direction in the new year.

The BeBeloved team is also building a tradition in seeking God for a word to carry each of us through the new year. I am thankful to share this connection with our BeBeloved team. I pray that as we share our words that it deposits courage, hope, love, and perseverance unto you in this year ahead. Praying it stirs you to join us in this process in asking The Lord for your word for this next year.

In seeking God’s heart in His word for me, I want to share that each person is unique so each one of us will have different experiences with The Lord and will receive a different word(s). (So, there is NO right way!) In my prayer time The Lord shared His word for me this year is ABUNDANCE and He linked it to the verse John 10:10. [content_box_light_blue width="75%"]“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”[/content_box_light_blue] In praying into this word and verse, and I am once again amazed in God’s timing and love. He has been wooing me towards this word for the last couple of months, and I did not realize it until now. Now I am ready to receive this word. Oh, how perfect is His timing, how gentle and loving are His ways!

abundant - i came that they may have life and have it abundantly

In reviewing last year, I see one of the core seeds that has held me captive was in the lies and fears of scarcity. The shackle of scarcity makes me feel like I do not have enough…not enough time, knowledge, money, resources…etc and that all this equates to me not being enough. The scarcity mindset has cost me. It produces unrealistic expectations and plans. It leaves me continuously straining for more, but the more is not defined. The more is just more.

The word ABUNDANCE is God’s gift to me. With this word He shines Light on the lies and fears rooted in scarcity. The thief is Satan who comes to steal and kill and destroy. Satan tries to root the scarcity mindset in me hoping to strip away God’s Truth in who I am – His child, His beloved, His friend.

Join me as I share more of my journey in embracing God’s word for me. I want to hear about your word and story too so please add it to the comments below.

 

 

New Year, New Words

#OneWord365

Last year, we started a BeBeloved tradition of kicking off the new year with one word. We each chose one prayerfully, and used it as a guide and a resolution of sorts. Mine was “create” and Zereta’s was “discipline” (I know, right?! She’s very brave.)

https://www.facebook.com/ArtJonakFanPage
https://www.facebook.com/ArtJonakFanPage

Why words instead of resolutions? Well, first off, resolutions tend to be concrete things to do or achieve. And, most people’s resolutions stay the same year after year. They are less about growing and shaping and more about completing tasks. Maybe you love tasks, but here’s another problem: Turns out sharing your resolution can backfire.

The One Word challenge is very in line with the BeBeloved story: What would help you become more of who you are?How are you hoping to grow this year? How is your life shaping you this year? Choose a word that focuses your energy toward these goals.

There’s even a site dedicated to choosing a word for the year: http://oneword365.com/. If you join their site, you can join their movement and find your tribe–the others who have chosen the same word that you have! (So far, no one has chosen my word, though. Stay tuned for my blog on Tuesday!)

This week, Breanna, Zereta, and I are going to share our words. We’d love to hear your words as well. Tell us about yours in the comments!

Speaking of Your Words…

You may have noticed that we’ve made some edits to our About Us page. It’s because we’re really excited about this year, primarily because we’re stoked to invite more writers into the BeBeloved conversation.

While three of us–Kimberly, Zereta, and Breanna–will be blogging weekly and generally guarding the mission here, we’ll also be building a tribe of contributors who occasionally lend their voices to the conversation. We’re excited to see how a broader conversation unfolds. (Read this next line in your best infomercial voice) But that’s not all! We’re accepting submissions for guest blogs as well! Do you have a story that fits with our vision of pursuing healthy identity? If so, we want to feature you here! Interested? Submit your blog (or questions) here.

Here’s to 2014!

Wounding Words, Healing Hearts

Yes, I know what you’re thinking… Where have you been, Emily?!  I’ve definitely taken a hiatus of sorts from BeBeloved, as life’s demands have multiplied exponentially. Between work, wedding planning, medical issues, and -oh yeah, sleep- writing has fallen way off my To Do list. Which is sad, because I love it. It helps my brain process and meditate, particularly on the truths God is showing me in the day-to-day. And I am compelled to share with you what’s been buzzing around my brain this week.

Wounding Words

The other day I was casually driving around town, heading over a slight hill. My attention was then captured by an enormous sign in the distance. Capital, bright red letters. From a ways off I couldn’t make out exactly what the sign read, though I had an idea. As I topped the hill the full sign came into view and the words I feared I had seen turned out to be real:

Shame On

SHAME ON

The three gentlemen standing behind the sign were protesters, displaying their contention for a particular business in town.  When I realized these words, my heart sank. I didn’t care who or what the sign was against or what they had done that was so wrong.  Those words kept piercing me, and every other motorist passing by. “SHAME ON…”

I got to thinking how awful this phrase is. Is there really anything worse you could say to another human being? Even “I hate you” doesn’t express such condemnation. Passionate emotion, yes. Extreme dislike, yes. Yet in the end it’s still an opinion.  Though something about “shame on”…. they’re almost cursing words. Casting judgement and humiliation on the listener. Or in this scenario, the reader.

Even though this phrase wasn’t printed for me, it pains me.

Healing Hearts

One concept I have been contemplating a lot lately is that of grace. And when I say a lot, I mean a LOT. It has increasingly sparked my mind and spirit the past year and a half. The last several months it has almost become overwhelming.

If there is an antidote to shame, it is grace. Whereas one says “You are entirely unacceptable” the other says “You are entirely acceptable.” I do believe I’ve written on this before, but there’s a reason for that! It just gets clearer and clearer. Grace covers shame. Love covers sin. God said so Himself in 1 Peter 4:8.

Our culture seems to be shame-based. That is, perfectly fine with casting shame on others. We’ll even stand on the road on a hot day for hours with a specially made ugly banner to let you know how little we think of you… and how little you should think of yourself too.

Beautiful ladies, will you please, please not give in to this mentality?? There will always be more than enough messages of why you’re not enough, or even why you’re bad. But Jesus has said no such thing to you. His banner over you is love. His mercy is ready to sweep over your mistakes. We all make them.  But shame- please don’t sit in it. Walk in grace. Claim your dignity! Receive the blessing and not the curse.

Even if we’ve done wrong, God doesn’t want us to view ourselves as bad. Believe it or not, that’s the truth! And, may I suggest:  Believe it.

Upon reflection…

I do not want to write much today. I am more in a place of needing to hear than say. Needing to absorb truth, not because I am “dry” or despairing, but because my heart is thirsty for it.

I often will write a Bible verse or other quote on my bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker. This way I am sure to see it everyday before I get going. It can provide encouragement, wisdom, or comfort among other things. Usually it’s meant to be some sort of a reminder for myself. Recently I was inspired by a close friend who is doing something similar, except using Scripture on the mirror that focuses solely on identity.

What a perfect idea. Looking at yourself, surrounded by the truth of who you really are. Which is who we are to God.

Emma

Yes, this is me standing in front of my bathroom mirror. And these are all thing things I am because of Jesus Christ. This is how I should view myself. It is how He views me. The top one, by the way, reads “You are altogether beautiful, my darling. And there is no blemish in you.” (Song of Songs 4:7)  That wasn’t an easy one to write… but it’s still true.

Consciously choosing to see ourselves– and our lives– through God’s perspective is of the utmost importance. I think of it as a form of soul care, and it reminds me of visual prayer- a really neat method of prayer we learned this year from BeBeloved’s very own Michelle.

Fact is, we are all created in His image. Wonderfully made. He adores us through loving eyes.

If you belong to Jesus (and you would know if you do) then all these things are accurate of you too:
You’re more than a conqueror. A new creation. Washed. Sanctified. Justified.

It may seem countercultural to consider yourself as wonderful. Afterall, isn’t our culture always telling us what we lack? Why we aren’t good enough? Why we need that new car, new mascara, new diet plan, new suit.

Yet there is a way to see yourself accurately without doing so arrogantly. Reflecting on the truth.

I encourage you to open a Bible and grab a dry erase marker. Let truth sink in. Believe in your value. Reflect on it. It’s more than refreshing.

God, Everywhere

My iPod is named Violet. I have a quirk of naming inademant objects in my life.  As I was riding in Ruby the other day (my red Ford Focus) Violet pulled up “What A Girl Wants” by Christina Aguilera while on shuffle.  Really? I still have this song? I listened to the whole thing since I hadn’t heard it in– how many years?  Didn’t expect to get much from these three musical minutes. I was wrong.  A lyric at the high part of the song leaped at me from the speakers. Christina belts out,

“Whatever keeps me in your arms is what I need!”

For whatever reason, at that moment, it wasn’t a pop song. It was Emily drawn into a moment with God. That realization swept over me. I need You, God! Whatever keeps me in Your Arms is what I need.

That’s how Christina Aguilera preached to me this week.  And that is a sentence I never thought I would write.

Truth comes at us from all different angles and, I believe, different ways.  God Himself is everywhere; His love is everywhere.  It makes sense that He always has something to say. My head understands this. The problem is my soul is not as often attuned to this. I wonder how many love messages I’ve been missing out on lately…

It’s a fact. We do need whatever it is that keeps us in God’s embrace.  Exactly what He uses to pull us close is the ever unfolding surprise.

I am beyond a fan of the Bible. Of course God speaks to us through scripture. While I practice and promote memorization of passages, I’m aware power lies in simple phrases from the Bible too. Sometimes just a word or two.

But God is not limited to pages.  It can be the lyrics to a song –even one not on Christian radio (gasp!)  It can be a quote from a movie, or line from a book. Here’s the thing about truth: it binds us to Him. Take it from a girl who’s listened to “All I Ask Of You” from Phantom of the Opera repeatedly during worship or sheds a tear over The Little Engine That Could.  Where there is truth, there is power.

Truth reminds. Truth guides. Truth encourages.  When life gets turbulent, truth is a lifeline.  The four lines below gave me something solid to cling to in a stormy season when I thought I was drowning.  They compose a simple hymnal refrain, words by Annie J. Flint.  I read and recited it over and over.

[content_box_light_blue width="75%"]But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.[/content_box_light_blue]

Do you have a life preserver? That phrase, poem, mantra, movie scene, song? That thing that pulls you through the waves back to Christ every time. We belong in His Arms.  If not- don’t worry!  It’s not a matter of finding one; let it find you.  Our God is faithful to draw us to Himself, by whatever means He will.  Over the course of a lifetime it’s probable we will accumulate a number of lifeline truths in all their various forms.

Maybe this idea sounds awesome to you; maybe it sounds weird or childish. That’s okay. Jesus is above our quirks and doubts. Just keep your ears open and turned on.  And, I would suggest, your iPod too.

 

Lord, give Your message of encouragement and perseverance to the beauty reading this right now.  Give her exactly what she needs to hang onto You.  Draw her closer and closer- and closer yet. Plant her in Your love. May her roots go down deep into the soil of Your marvelous love. Shelter this darling and keep her in Your embrace.
Love,  Emily

 

Words are good. At least, they can be.

This week our church is reading and journaling through James 3, which famously says, “No man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” In conversation about this passage in James, I’ve heard this quote from Abraham Lincoln twice: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Amusingly, a child in our kids ministry stumped his teacher on Sunday by asking if there were times when being quiet is like hiding. Touche.

The danger here is to think that we should all become become silent nuns rather than risk speaking the wrong thing. But James is not the only book in the Bible that speaks about the power of words. Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” Proverbs 16:24 says “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

Of course, the Abe Lincoln quote presupposes that the speaker is a fool, and Proverbs has a lot to say about fools, too. I’m not saying keeping silent isn’t ever the answer, just that there are times when speaking is not only okay, but necessary. If we read on in James chapter 3, we find that he addresses this. James 3:17 says “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” He says we can be driven by heavenly wisdom or “demonic” wisdom (that’s the NKJV for you).

It’s true that our words hold a lot of potential to do damage. As women, my guess is that every one of us has been part of toxic female community. Groups of women aren’t exactly known for how they nurture each other–unfortunately Mean Girls is funny for a reason. Am I the only one who wonders whether the shadow mission of junior high is to teach girls how to compete and cut each other down? Thank God that never happens in the church! <insert sarcasm>

But the solution is not as easy as silencing ourselves. If we become silent, how will we speak truth? How will we encourage, make glad, and bring about health? We won’t. The Bible calls us to speak sweet words that are life-giving. Thankfully, I’ve got some amazing women in my life who have restored my faith in my gender. And that’s my prayer for our BeBeloved community today.

Use your powers for good this week :)