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Reflections: Look Back to Move Forward

New Year brings with it HOPE! A fresh beginning. A clean slate, A life do-over.hope rock

However the New Year’s weekend is also a  juxtapose of two worlds are war for your heart and life: 

“Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it.”  (Matt 7:13)

Millions will party, drink heavily, stand in the freezing cold to watch a ball drop and hear Auld Lang Syne and ring in the new year. Some will kiss– or much more– with virtual strangers– and many will not even remember the “fun” they experienced except for the lingering painful head-splitting headache and hangover welcoming them into the new year.

While true celebration is a good thing, partying to numb your life is destructive. Jesus shared this story to help us reflect on what truly matters in life:

New-Year-Eve-Party explosionAnd he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:15-22 emphasis mine) 

Selah for Success

So how can we be rich toward God?  And how can this weekend of  debauchery in the world, be a defining moment for you

Set aside some time to ponder. …to wonder. . . to reflect. .. to muse…to contemplate. In a world that bombards us with messaging, and constant media noise that leaves little quiet, little white space,and  little peace, we all need some “selah”

This past year, much of my time has been spent in the Psalms, first studying, writing, drawing  Bible Art. Then after the release of Discovering Hope in the Psalms, teaching on the Psalms. I have come to love and long for “selah” . Discovering Hope Psalms coverThe Psalms were meant to be sung, so selah is on the surface, a musical directive, meaning to stop and listen, to pause and ponder. Selah is a gift we give to ourselves, and a gift we give to God. We know selah is important, it is in the Psalms more than 70 times

Here is one of my favorites:

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. selahSelah

Sojourn in silence. Take in the presence of God. Breathe. Selah  creates moments for the Creator to reach our listening hearts, and as we pause to reflect on God and all He has done, we worship. We pause to let our heartbeat match God’s heartbeat.

Selah helps us turn down the noise and hear God’s  whisper. And as we hear, we gain light for the path ahead. Selah helps us get in sync with God and His plans for our lives.

One of our favorite activities to do on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, (depending on the responsibilities to ministry or family we might carry any particular year) is to set aside time for an extended private quiet time with God, then we cozy up together on the sofa, often in front of a fireplace, we selah– we pause to ponder our lives together.

Pam bill facing road psalms 37 3 befriend faithfulnessLook Back

Here are some questions we use to reflect on and discuss . . . and we LISTEN, we really LISTEN to each other:

What went right last year? When did you feel like a success?

What are moments when you felt God’s pleasure on your life?

What went wrong? What a moments you never want to repeat?

What helped you grow with God?

What choices helped you gain or move your life forward?

What drained your life or robbed from your life?

Then ask one question over 12 areas of our life. One a scale from 1- 10, 10 being “stellar success” and 1 being “near failure” where would you rate your life in each area, and why?

 Spiritual – My Walk with God Journeyplanner new year God

 Physical – My Wellness Journey

 Financial – My Money Journey

 Vocational – My Career/Volunteer Journey

Relational – My Marriage Journey

Familial – My Children, Grandchildren or Extended Family Journey

Intellectual – My Academic or Personal Development Journey

Emotional – My Peace of Mind Journey

Environmental – My Home Life Journey

Organizational – My Decluttering Journey

Communal – My Friendship Journey

Inspirational – My Impact in the World Journey

Look Forward

After we talk through our past, we pause and pray and ask God to lead our future. Sometimes we move forward in the conversation about our future right then, but most of the time, we pause a day or few, and pick up the conversation about our future.

pam-bill- dating BCWe usually take most of the month of December to pray, “God lead me. God lead us.” We are watching and listening for our “Word of the Year.” I have been selecting a Word of the Year, and verse for the year, since I was a college student– so for nearly 40 years– God lead me to select My Word of the Year before it was even a “”thing.”

To me, my Word of the Year, helps me focus on what God is trying to tech me, tell me, train me in.

I am not a very good bowler, my intent might be to roll the ball down the center and get a strike– but I am just not that skilled. So me (and my grandkids) bowl with bumpers on each side so no matter how we roll the bowling ball, it bounces back and forth to stay centered and the result is pins get knocked over! Victory! To me, having a Word of the year is  a lot like that bumper bowling. My Word of the year helps to keep me, my life, my family and my future centered in God.

In my book 7 Simple Skills for Every Women:Success in Keeping It All Together, I share hosimple legacyw God has added to this tradition, year after year. And how God has used my sharing my Word of the Year to spread this tradition to most of my friendship and family circles. I now have added these elements:

 WORD of the Year– Often God uses the path that I am on to lead me to my “word”. I may hear a verse or quote in a serom, podcast or on the radio in a song or message. Or I may read a verse or quote in a Bible study I maybe dong or in a book or blog I am reading. Often, God drops my word in my heart as I am praying and pondering on the path behind and the path ahead– like seeing a road sign when you are navigating on a the journey of life. If you seek God, He and His plan for you will be found.

Verse of the Year– I go to Bible hub or Bible gateway and insert my Word of the year, or synonms into the search bar. I then look to see which verse bring me hope, joy or makes me feel loved by God.

Motto of the Year– a few words that might summarize the path ahead. Something that might go on a coffee mug or tee shirt.

Song of the Year– I look for a theme song that captures the Word or verse. If my schedule allows, I create a play list of several songs that I play during waiting times all year: dressing in the morning, driving, waiting for a family member or friend, or as I fall asleep at night.

Art or Reminder of the Year- I usually buy a mug, or a tee shirt, or a paperweight or book mark– something I will see each day to be a compass and reminder of the message God is sending. Some years, I create my own work of art, a painting or other expression to capture this God directive.

Fragrance of the Year- We have five senses, but we rarely use them all. I look for an essential oil whose name or purpose might be connected to my word of the year. Or sometimes I can find a fragrance or perfume with the name that is my same word.

Clarifying Question for the Year- This is the most important ingredient for success. Turn your word into a question that you use to make decisions and choices. Here are a few examples from my life:

adventure collage

ADVENTURE: How can I see this or make this into on adventure for God?

STRONG: Will this make me, my life, my relationships stronger?

BEAUTIFUL- Will this make me and my life reflect the beauty I see in God and His creation?

BLESSING- Will this be a blessing to others or bring blessing to to my life, my marriage, my family, my friends? blessing pam word of year 2017

THRIVE- Will this choice help me, my walk with God, my marriage, my fiances and physical well being thrive?

You can download OUR BEST YEAR worksheets, (for couples or singles) and in a quiet time with God complete these, then together set goals in the 12 above areas you just reflected on, but for the new year.

If you need motivation or inspiration, you can read a story of powerful change and results God gave our lives the year when my Word of the Year was STRONG.

beyoutiful gear beautifulPraying for you to have SELAH . . . and a New Year . . . rich in God.



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