Theme Word 2018: Listen

Any other theme word junkies like me out there? Yes, I am indeed hooked on the practice of choosing a theme word for each new year. For a goal-oriented gal like me it seems only natural to have an over-arching word—a quality, an attitude, or an action—that I can focus on and that can give me direction throughout the year. 

In November and/or December I start thinking and praying about what my word for the upcoming year should be. Some years I think I know what it will be and then the Lord brings another word to mind or to my attention through multiple avenues. When that happens I know God is at work directing me to the word he has for me in the upcoming year. I so appreciate his guidance. After all, he knows the future and he knows what I need to help guide me through it.

This year the Lord has directed me to the word listen. As usual at this early stage, I don’t know all the ways God will use this particular theme word in my life over the next twelve months. I just know it’s a word I’ve been noticing and that has been resonating in my spirit. And so, I want to listen to those inner nudges and begin to focus more on listening this year.

So here’s hoping by the end of 2018 I will have grown in my listening skills. Listening more often and more attentively to God, to my loved ones, to others, to the natural world, and even to myself—to what my body or spirit may be trying to tell me.

And as ever, it will interesting to see what God has in store this year and how he will use listen in my life. He has a way of surprising us, doesn’t he? So I say, “Lord, help me keep my ears and my spirit wide open so I don’t miss a thing!” 

“. . . Everyone should be quick to listen . . . ” James 1:19

*Have you chosen a theme word or anchor verse for 2018? If not, feel free to adopt mine!

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by mpeterke, Creative Commons License

Tuning Our Ears

Do certain sounds capture your attention while escaping the notice of other people? For example, a distant cry of “Mom!” may find you turning your head instinctively. Or if you’re my little grandsons, the sound of the garage door opening is not just another outdoor sound, but it means that Daddy is home. And they hear it every time. Their ears are tuned for it.

While hiking and exploring recently in Colorado, my ears perked up to the songs of nearby birds, but my traveling companions didn’t take particular notice of them. For them, birdsong was just a pleasant part of nature’s backdrop, but for me, it signaled a chance to capture some photos of birds I may not regularly see. Since I enjoy taking photos, my ears and eyes are tuned to opportunities, just like my grandsons’ ears are tuned to the sound of their daddy coming home.

We tune our ears—and our eyes for that matter—to the things and people important to us, don’t we? Since we have different loved ones and different interests, it follows that our ears will be tuned to different things for the most part.

For those of us who are believers—children of God—let’s ask ourselves if we’ve made sure to tune our ears to his voice. Whether he’s speaking through his Word, through the voice of the Holy Spirit within us, through the wind or the waves or the birds singing overhead, or through the timely word of a friend, do we hear him? Do we take notice? Are our ears tuned to God?

Let’s tune in. We don’t want to miss hearing from our Savior and our God!

“. . . love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 30:20 NIV

*What helps you tune in to God’s voice?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*My photo

Waste Nothing

3910415397_5974dca644_z“When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’” John 6:12 NIV

Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the 5,000 is one of the most well-known stories and miracles recorded in the Bible.

We remember the massive crowd of people who followed Jesus to a remote area. We remember the worry expressed by the disciples over how to feed such a large crowd. We remember the boy with five loaves and two fish and how Jesus gave thanks for the food and then had the disciples distribute it to the people. And we remember the twelve basketfuls of food that were amazingly left over. But do we remember what Jesus said (as recorded above) when everyone had had enough to eat?

Jesus said, “‘Let nothing be wasted.’” We don’t know exactly what Jesus had in mind with this instruction to his disciples. Maybe he wanted to provide the people with a powerful visual of his abundant provision and power as the leftovers were placed into baskets. Or maybe he wanted to teach his disciples to fully use all that he provides.

Whatever the full intention of Jesus’ instruction that day, we can apply the lesson of “let nothing be wasted” in our lives today, can’t we?

On a physical level, we can all use a reminder to be good stewards of God’s provision. Unless we’ve known poverty and extreme hardship, most of us occasionally—or even regularly—waste the resources at our disposal. Food gets tossed out, water goes down the drain (literally), electricity flows when not needed, and money gets spent on foolish things at times. So yes, we need this reminder today.

Let’s also consider how this important “let nothing be wasted” lesson can apply to other aspects of our lives as well. What about trials? Let’s not let the hard things in our lives—the pain, losses, disappointments, challenges, injustices, etc.—be wasted. Let’s learn from them or grow in character. Let’s be moved to some positive action.

And what about the blessings in our lives? Let’s not waste an ounce of the goodness God lavishes on us. Let’s fully enjoy and utilize and share them. And let’s continually give God praise and glory for all the wonderful things he does for us.

So friends, whatever comes into our lives, whether good or whether bad, let’s heed that same instruction Jesus gave to his disciples so many years ago: “Let nothing be wasted.”

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14a NIV

*When have you grown through a trial? How have you fully used a blessing God has given you?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out last week. It’s not too late to receive it. I feature a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue so don’t miss out. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by K.Hurley, Creative Commons License

Live the Moments

8479559443_6ab58e2e01_zIf you’re like me at times, you may be rushing through life at such a frenetic pace that you miss some of the treasures along the way. Sometimes I need to slow down so I don’t whiz by the moments of my life, and other times I just need to be more aware of them, more deliberate in experiencing them.

I love what author and minister Frederick Buechner has to say about being more mindful of the moments of our lives in his book Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation. See if they strike a chord with you as they did with me:

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because, in the last analysis, all moments are key moments and life itself is grace.”

I wonder what key moments I’ve missed because I wasn’t listening to my life. Do you, like me, need to listen to your life more? Need to remember that each day is a gift of grace? Let’s notice more of our lives from now on, let’s live the moments.

“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 NKJV

*When has an ordinary moment turned into more for you?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter comes out tomorrow. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by JGSpotOn, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: Hanging on His Words

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“…all the people hung on his words.” Luke 19:48b

Not long ago, in remembrance of what Jesus did for us through His death and resurrection, I read through several chapters of Luke’s account of those holy events, starting with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Luke tells us that every day Jesus taught at the temple and then concludes that particular paragraph with “all the people hung on his words.”

I already had that phrased underlined in my Bible, but I’ve got to tell you, those words captured my attention again. I could picture the people listening intently, straining to hear every word, hungry for the life-giving words and wisdom of Jesus.

So let me simply ask today, what about us? Are we hanging on His words? Are we listening intently, straining to hear everything He says to us? Are we hungry for the life-giving words and wisdom of Jesus, for the truth, instruction, and comfort of the Word of God?

In other words, who or what is our lifeline? To whom are we listening? May we be found hanging on His words!

*I hope this slightly revised encore post from April 2011 was a blessing to you today!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter comes out next week, and author Suzie Eller has graciously offered to give one of my subscribers a copy of Come With Me, her new book coming out in May. If you haven’t subscribed yet, now is a great time to do so. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by [derekmswanson], Creative Commons License