Revisiting and Refreshing Our 2014 Theme Words

DSC05212Remember the theme words many of us adopted at the beginning of the year? Now that a third of 2014 has come and gone, maybe we should each revisit our words and the focus we adopted for the year and see how we’re doing. Anyone game for a little evaluation and renewal of good intentions?

My theme word for 2014 is guard. I admit I don’t think of it as often as I should, but the Lord has brought it to mind several times to help steer me in the right direction when I’ve needed wisdom for certain decisions or situations. Since one of the purposes of a theme word is to help guide us through the year, my word guard is fulfilling that role.

I’ve done fairly well applying the word guard to some areas of my life so far this year, but in other areas, I haven’t let it play much of a role. And that’s not because of a refusal to let it impact those areas, but instead because of a lack of awareness. I forget to apply my theme word. And even in the areas where I’m doing pretty well, I could benefit from an even deeper ongoing remembrance of it. How about you? Are you thinking of specific areas of strength and weakness in regard to your theme word the way I am?

Also, at the beginning of the year, I predicted that areas I hadn’t yet thought of where being on guard would be needed would come to light as the year went on, and that’s proven to be true. Recently, as I read the “My Identity” chapter in Prayers for a Woman’s Soul by Julie Gillies, I saw that Satan, the enemy of our souls, is ready and waiting for opportunities to steal our identities in Christ from us. That old deceiver wants to snatch the truth of who we are as children of God and replace it with his lies. And oh how often I’ve let him do that! I need to not only be on guard against his tactics, but I also need to proactively guard my identity by planting the Word firmly in my mind and heart and by recalling it often.

As we’ve revisited our theme words today, I hope each of us has been encouraged by our successes, prodded to action in areas of weakness, and made aware of new areas of application. Refresher courses are a good thing, aren’t they? What do you say—let’s renew our focus. Let’s allow our theme words to do their jobs!

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

*Do you have a theme word for 2014? Have you seen benefits yet?

*My photo

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

*Don’t miss out on the Going Natural Giveaway! Deadline to enter is 6 p.m. Wednesday. See post for details.

Got Guts?

Say what you will about the current craze of reality competition shows, but those contestants have guts.

It takes courage to not only perform and compete but also to stand before a panel of judges to be critiqued in front of a live audience and millions of viewers at home. Most of us would never attempt one—let alone both—of those very public laying-it-all-on-the-line chances at success—or failure.

For the most part, as a viewer I usually gravitate toward the singing competitions. I’m not into fashion, I can’t dance, and I’m only a marginal cook, but I know music well enough to know a good singer and musician when I hear one. In fact, I’ve slipped quite naturally into my at-home role of judging America’s wannabe recording stars. And many times I’m left wondering why everyone doesn’t agree with me :)

It seems a few contestants always make me wonder how in the world they’ve made it as far as they have. But I have to give them this: They are courageous. They are trying.

Most are at least a little—if not a lot—nervous. A few take some real beatings when the judges pronounce their verdicts. But still they put themselves out there in the hope of coming one step closer to their dreams becoming reality.

As a writer, I can identify with much of this. It takes courage to put myself out there, to submit my work to editors or agents knowing there is a good chance it will be rejected. A certain amount of guts even comes into play when showing a piece to my critique group. What will they think? How will they judge it? And even when blogging, I sometimes feel a little insecure about how certain posts might be viewed.

My writing will never make a difference, though, if I don’t risk the performance, the competition, the judging. And so I keep at it.

Are there areas in your life—or maybe even another in mine—where it’s time to step out in courage and give it our best shot? Have we got the guts to do it, to risk unpleasant responses or possibly even failure? If we don’t take the risk, we’ll never know the blessing and joy of succeeding in those areas, though, will we?

How about it? Got guts?

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

*Have you put yourself or your work out there for critique or judging? Are you currently trying to work up the courage to do it?

*Flickr photo by seanmcgrath

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. Sign up is free and to the right!

My Pick, Your Pick, God’s Pick

Here’s your chance. Time to weigh in with your Idol pick. You didn’t think I’d let American Idol go by this year without a mention on the blog, did you? :)

Idol has been loaded with talent this season. In fact, I think this particular group of finalists, especially now that we’re down to the top five, shines like no other group has in previous years. The contestants remaining are definitely the cream of the crop, each one with his or her own unique abilities and sound. At this point, it’s exciting just to see what they’re going to do from week to week.

With that said, let’s go ahead and get down to the nitty gritty. Who’s your favorite? Your pick to win it all? As much as I like Danny and think he’s super-talented, my number one pick is Adam. He simply outshines everyone consistently from week to week. As far as I’m concerned this season, he’s in a class by himself — vocally and performance-wise. Every time he sings, he does something to amaze me. He’s crazy good.

Now I know we’re going to have some differences of opinion on this matter of a favorite — that’s okay :) Go ahead and sing the praises of your pick with a comment. It’ll be fun to see who you all are pulling for and why.

Okay, we’ve done my pick and your pick — now what about God’s pick? You know what I think? I think He’s already picked them all.

In fact, He’s already picked us all. He’s crazy about us. He loves us so much He sent His Son into the world to make a way for us to be with Him forever. He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance(2 Peter 3:9b KJV) and spend eternity in heaven with Him. Yes, He loves us all. Amazing, huh? We need only to accept His love and place our faith in Him.

So as for me? I choose Him back. I’d say He’s in a class all by Himself. He’s crazy good!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 KJV

Flickr photo by Chris Owens

**The next issue of Life Notes, my free quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out the first of May. Don’t miss out — sign up to receive it if you haven’t already (see sidebar). Thanks!

More Than Meets The Eye

Are you up for an intense movie experience? If so, run out and see Vantage Point. I can’t remember ever seeing another movie quite like it — and that’s one reason it’s worth seeing. It’s different.

The same event (an assassination attempt/terrorist plot) is told from the perspective of first one character and then another…and another…and so on. You might think it would get boring, but it doesn’t. So many new details come to light with each version that it becomes more and more interesting, more suspenseful, as the full story unfolds. Yes, there is violence. But the subject matter requires it. And the sad but true fact is that it could easily be tomorrow’s headlines. It’s our present day reality.

So much would have been missed if we had seen this story from the vantage point of only one character. Our first assumptions would have proved wrong. None of us could have made an accurate judgement based on the information gleaned from just one or two of the people involved. The story was more complex than that.

This unique movie concept — this Vantage Point theme — made me think about the judgements we make in our everyday lives. How many times do we witness or even play a role in an event or conversation and then immediately pass judgement based only on what we ourselves can see? Just like the storyline in the movie, life is more complex than that. There’s usually more than meets the eye involved.

Let’s be alert to looking at situations from different vantage points. Let’s give the benefit of the doubt the next time someone seems especially demanding or harsh. Maybe heavy demands or extreme stress has been placed on that person. When we feel like someone has snubbed us, perhaps she was distracted by worry or heartache instead.

Let’s look beyond the surface. After all, “Jesus said…’Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgement.'” John 7:21a, 24

*Flickr photo by Piutus

*P.S. Has anyone else seen Vantage Point? What did you think? Can you think of another movie ever being made like it? I couldn’t…