The house is quiet this morning and I knew yesterday that I needed my time with Him today. The sun is streaming through the windows, warming my back as I sit in my favorite chair and read, ponder, and pray. One of our dogs sits near me, hopeful that something I am using will catch the sunlight and reflect glimpses of light on a wall or the ceiling. He will happily sit there for as long as it takes or until I am done. It’s my iPad I have to be most careful about, but you’d be surprised at how often a cover of a book will do the same thing.
My heart has been well taught this morning. I haven’t taken time to be with God the past few days – being sick with this cold, school being out, the holidays – all of the things that seem urgent at the time or that temporarily distract me. To really study, I need time, quiet, and to feel good enough to read. That means enough sleep and not being sick. This year is rapidly ending. So many people talk about reflecting, but I just feel like I need to take a deep breath, pause for just a few minutes, and then look forward to the new year.
I start considering what my “words” for the new year will be early in the month. During shopping or holiday baking, I roll the words around in my mind to see how they feel or if they sit well. At some point, during a quick quiet moment, I will find the words that feel the most right and run them through a thesaurus to see if there are other words that might be more specific to what I’m feeling or have a slightly different feeling about them. I generally only have one word. The past two years, it’s been the same phrase, “Be Still.” I have had numerous encounters with that phrase – songs, poems, writings, even some art. It has served me well as I really did just need to be still.
As I was considering a word for this coming year, I was immediately aware that I needed more than one. This was a new idea and challenge for me and I wound up with a lot of questions, which led to more pondering. I have read much of what Ali Edwards has said over the years about her One Little Word, and I knew there must be others practicing this same idea. As questions always do, I was made aware of a book called The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. (Be forewarned: there is some cussing in this one) I have been a life long die hard believer in goals and lists, but this book opened my heart and mind to the possibility that I had it all backwards. It had never occurred to me that the reason I was doing all of that work all of those years was so that I would feel a certain way. As I made my way through the pages, it resonated with what I have been feeling for awhile – my lists and goals and plans haven’t been serving me well. I just haven’t been feeling like I was getting out of checking them off what I had hoped to.
I came away from the study of that book with four feelings I wanted to have in my life on a regular basis: still, engaged, inspired, valiant. While they held the essence of what I was going for, they still didn’t feel “right.” I pondered, thesaurused them, and finally settled on four words that sit well with me.
CALM | CONNECTED | GUIDED | FOCUSED
Unbeknownst to me, I was already being led by a loving Father who loves to show me when I am on the right path. I found a book at Sam’s Club called Jesus Calling that I will begin using as my daily devotional on the first day of the new year. It spoke to me as soon as I saw the cover, but then, when I opened the pages to read the introduction, there it was Psalms 46:10, being quoted. Again. “Be Still.” Be peaceful. Have faith. Trust Me. Trust in My love for you. Trust in My care of those you love, for I love them more. Stand still for what I have told you. Be fixed on the end “regardless of..” Be quiet. Be calm. Be glad – I have already told you how this all ends.
I also came across a book at Goodwill titled Closer to My Friends and Family. It’s a scripture based workbook/journal that I am going to use as the “studies” portion of my time with God each day. Part of being joy-full to me is to feel connected to those I love. It is a challenge for me to reach out. It doesn’t come easily anymore, but it’s something I crave. As I sat with God this morning I talked with Him about how to feel more connected and what my part in it is. He spoke to my heart by helping me to remember that me being connected to them means I have to do something. Not just anything. Something specific that they will recognize as my love for them. Of course, the Five Love Languages popped into my head and I grabbed it off the bookshelf and carefully considered, with God’s guidance, what it would look like to each individual. I came away from that counseling session with numerous specific actions I can take to show my love, which will help me feel more connected.
And, if I wasn’t already richly blessed, in my current daily devotional book (check out the My Rocks tab above) there was a poem by Edgar A. Guest that I had to print out for my personal journal using the new Project Life app so it would be pretty. The sun I have been basking in has now passed my beautiful library windows and the dog has given up hope that he will find anything to chase this morning. My heart is full, my mind is clear, I am focused, calm, feeling connected to you, dear friend, and am ready to be filled with the blessings this day will bring.
Have a blessed and joy-filled day. Carmen