Our Word for 2018

           At the beginning of each year, we prayed about the word that will help to define the year.  This year is no exception.  What word will God give you to help you define 2018? 
            For me, the word came early in December.  Then it popped back up in a God way the other day while I was listening to music.  My word for my 2018 is perseverance.  In looking at the definition, I realized how appropriate this word is for me during this time.
The definition in Google is the following.  This year will be, for me to be steadfast in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. This is something I need in a lot of areas in my life, personally and professionally.  How it will manifest itself in my life, I am going to enjoy finding out.
Each year, I have an expectation of what the word will mean for my life.  Yet, I am sure that God is shaking His head at me and just saying, “Laura, you have no idea what I will show you, but soon, you will see.”
            This year, I have made resolutions, and goals, like most of us do.  I don’t want to just sit back and watch my life not happen in front of my eyes.  Yet, there are areas that I do need to be steadfast, because I see the difficulties.  Sometimes they seem insurmountable.
            God will teach me to persevere with Him.  At least, that is what I need for Him to do.  I am not patient, and if something doesn’t go according to how I plan, I give up, or blame God, myself, whoever for it not going how I thought it would go.
            This year, it appears, that God wants me to remember that nothing is impossible for him.  His love is steadfast.  His is perseverance.  Especially, when it comes to me.  I know that I can be difficult at times, but I am so grateful that He is perseverance.
            I get in my own way sometimes.  There are times that I try and move ahead of God, and then I wonder why things are difficult or there are “delays” in achieving success.  When, actually, it is not delayed by God’s timing, and I cause it to be more difficult.
            I pray that all of you find your word for the year.  Pray this month that God will reveal it to you.  It will come, and you will know that it is for you.  Find your word.
            This is year four that we have been doing this.  Every January, we pray for our word for the year.  I wrote my down, and I see a pattern of growth in God, and in my self.
Photo by alexander milo on Unsplash
My words by year:
2015 – Trust
2016 – Confidence
2017 – Openness
2018 - Perseverance
Dear Lord, I pray for each person reading this blog.  May they find their word for the year.  You want to walk beside each one of us, if only we will let you.  No matter what has happened or what we have done. You have never stopped loving us.  As this new year begins, I pray a revival in our hearts. 
In Your name, Amen

Laura Maxson 

Practicing Present

As this year comes to an end and I look back upon it, what did it hold? Am I the same person I was 12 months ago? Are my relationship with others the same? What about my relationship with God?

Starting January, the word God impressed me to pray over was "Present." I have a tendency to often worry about what the future hold or think back on the "remember when..." So, I started the year praying how I could be "happy" about being in the present-in the moment.

And let me tell you. There has been growth in this area; and like physically growing, there have definitely been some growing pains in the process. 

Thinking that it was about being "happy" in every situation seemed to bring more anxiety and stress. But through this year God has journeyed with me to help me realize, it's not about being "happy" in every moment.

This has been a year filled with lots of opportunities to live in the present. A son who graduated from 8th grade and now in High School, changes in family members' health, changes in job roles for both my husband and I. Some events easy to be happy in, others not so much.  In these moments my natural reflex of, "what if this or that happens next," wanted to kick in. 

You know that saying "Don't cross that bridge until you come to it"? In these times, I've crossed and had to come back over many bridges that I didn't need to go over in the first place. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7

This year as God walked beside me, He opened my eyes to realize it's not about being "happy" in every moment-it's about allowing Him to be part of every moment. 

Realizing, I'm not navigating having a teenager as gracefully as I want, is hard. In one of those moments, in church no less, with emotions of frustration at my teenager and tears streaming down my cheeks. God allowed me to be real with some church members who lifted me up and reassured me I am not alone in this. 

Struggling with family who have health issues, I tried to push down my grief and emotion, and instead build a wall, to just be the professional nurse. But God used many people, who chose to be present and see through that wall.  Praying people who shared in opportunities for real emotion and healing to take place. 

Struggling with new changes in a job role. Yes, God is still asking me to plan and work hard. But, not worry about the future or unrealistic expectations that have not been placed on me. 

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash
Living in the present doesn't me I need to stop dreaming, stop planning, or stop thinking about the future. Living in the present means learning to continuously live in His presence. When I do this, I will not miss out on what God is wanting me to know, to experience-in the now. I will be blessed and enjoying life to it's fullest; happiness, anticipation, sadness, all of it-with Him and through Him.

Just this past week I was walking through the woods with my mother-in-love, who is currently battling with breast cancer. We were talking about the family pictures we were going to be taking. Earlier someone had asked her why we were going to do the pictures this visit. As we walked down that path, arm in arm, her answer,"Because we're all together now. And who knows what the future will hold."

I thank God, that He too, walks with me arm in arm on this journey;
and I can rest assure, that He is the one who holds my future in His hands.

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.Ecclesiastes 3:1

Reflection of 2017

At the beginning of 2017, we prayed about the word that would define the year.  My word for the year was Openness.  I had this preconceived notion of what that would mean.  Yet, this year has taught me to be open and not to rely on those preconceived notions.
            This year has been one of the best and worst years I have had.  I have thought that I have been open, but as I reflect, I really have not been.  The reflection is causing me to reevaluate this year.
            I have been open to how I think things should be.  The beginning of the year, I was so close to God.  He had guided me in a direction, or at least that is what I thought. He and I were so close that someone told me that I was glowing from the inside out.
            As I type these words, it is hard to remember that feeling.  The first part of the year was great.  Yes, there were struggles, and challenges.  However, I “knew” what God was going to do. I had the time table all done in my head.
            It is the end of the year, and I see what I thought God was guiding me to slipping further and further away.  Was I mistaken? Did I get it wrong? Did God lie to me?  What did I do wrong?
            With these questions running in my head, it is sobering.  This is not where I want my thoughts to go.  I have to be honest, I am angry and mad at God and at myself that there are things in my life that are not going the direction I thought God was guiding.
            It is hard to admit that. However, I am being open with myself as well as God. There are times in our lives that it is not rainbows and sunshine.  Sometimes, there are dark days, and God is there for then too.          
            God is big enough to take whatever I throw at Him.  He is patient and will continue to guide. Maybe, that is what I am to learn. Openness to questions, and things not going according to plan. Openness to allowing myself to be honest with myself. 
It has taken me most of the year to come to that realization.  This journey is always ongoing.  Openness can be open to change, open with others, open with myself. There are so many meanings to that word.
This year has taught me that I need to be open and honest with the people in my life, as well as myself.  It is okay to be mad and angry with God. It is okay to sometimes not put on the happy face and pretend that everything is okay. 
I hope that you take time this month and reflect on this past year.  God is working on all of us, and we need to be open to that work in our lives.  Sometimes it is not easy, and there are growing pains. Yet, it is life changing.
My prayer for all of you is that you do not lose sight of God.  He is always there and ready to listen to you, even if you are mad at Him.  Just don’t stop talking to Him.
Dear Lord, I pray that those who are reading this reflect on this year.  I thank you for allowing each of us to have this journey with You.  Yes, sometimes we don’t know what You are doing, but You do.  Also, there are things that happen in life that have no explanation at the moment. Yet, I want to be open and keep my eyes on You.
In Jesus’ Name Amen

Laura Maxson