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Sunday, January 22, 2017

One Word 2017 - Light

Last year I focused on "Truth." I felt like I was set free from many of my self-made prisons of shame, guilt, and insecurities.

This year, my one little word focus is "Light."

I want to thoroughly explore two sides of the word "Light."

For several months now, I am drawn to the creation story in the Bible, and fascinated by how God separates light from darkness - twice - during creation alone. We have this puzzle for our kids, and I have spent many moments feeling like God is trying to show me something big in the wooden numbers and the way the 1 and the 4 both show God's strong desire to bring light into the world - physically.

I have spent a few years now knee deep in Romans and walking through the book of Romans with some discipleship groups I learn from and lead. This year, I want to dig hard into the book of John and learn more about the character and life of Jesus himself, and I was struck at how that book begins:

John 1:1- 13
 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

It is creation, and the beginning, and Jesus, and light. In HIM was life - and the life was the LIGHT of men. Verse 4 alone trips me up. Jesus brought life - Jesus was and is life - and His life brings and is light. This makes me feel confused, and curious, happy, and excited, like I'm about to stumble on a big secret I never fully understood before.

The word "Light" also implies and means - "not heavy." The Erykah Badu song "Bag Lady" plays through my head when I think about this and I hear her voice saying, "Bag gone hurt yo back...Pack light...pack light..."

I want to get better at not being weighed down by mental/emotional/spiritual burdens that are not mine. Too often I carry in my head and heart shame that is not mine, worries that are not mine, and burdens that are not my responsibility or my ability to control. I also want to focus on ridding myself of the weight of the over-accumulation of stuff - clothes, papers, furniture, all the junk that we "clean up," but don't really even need. I want to live a life where I only carry what is mine to carry - and I can happily lay the rest down at the feet of Jesus. I want to live a life of minimalism, and clear out the junk that clutters my home and my mind. I want to leave 2017 with LESS stuff than I have begun the year owning - less stuff, and more LIGHT in all the dark spaces of my life.

Matthew 11: 28- 30
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

His goal for me is not that I am weighed down by heaviness constantly - but that I would be able to rest in Him, so that I take on His yoke, with a light burden.

I want to do a word study on "light" and dig into the verses that explain it. These are just a few:

I am seeking light this year. Light that shines in the darkness - and the darkness has not overcome it. I find this "one little word" to be so much better for me than resolutions. This word becomes a thought process I can pick up and lay down. I can research it and apply it to multiple areas of life. Do you have a one word focus this year? I'd love to hear about it! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Truth from 2016

I have been embracing the "One Word" focus in lieu of a list of New Year's Resolutions for a few years now, and I love it!

The first year, I focused on "Fearless," because I felt that I had a lot of fears holding me back from living life and trusting God fully.

That led me to the pursuit last year of "Truth" for 2016.

This is the original post I did at the beginning of the year about my journey to begin this study of Truth.

After that post, I dug in and did quite a bit of scripture study around the word truth. I also began to unearth buried truth in myself that I had pushed way down. Broken pieces of my past that I had never allowed to heal, began to surface on my quest for truth. When I learned how to acknowledge my own feelings this year, I began to find truth on a whole new level. A dear friend of mine taught me this truth: we need to examine and understand our true feelings in order to stop pursuing negative behaviors that we choose in order to escape those heavy feelings.

For example, if we feel extremely sad and rejected by someone, it is more common for people these days to try to do one or more of the following things in order to escape those heavy sad feelings:

A. Lash out in anger, perhaps with swearing or violence ("I didn't like you anyways, you bleepity bleeping bleep bleep bleeper!" *Punching a wall or throwing something)
B. Use a chemical substance to make one's self feel better (alcohol, drugs, including cigarettes and pot)
C. Eat comfort foods (ice cream, candy, pizza, whatever)
D. Retail therapy (go shopping and buy more than what you need of any type of item)
E. Have sexual relations with someone or indulge in porn

All of those things (and other ways), are methods to ESCAPE the truth instead of forcing ourselves to face the truth and FEEL our feelings. Instead of attempting an escape from our feelings, we need to truthfully learn to feel our feelings with safe people. These are the steps to that process:

1. Find It (What is the actual feeling - in the above situation, the person feels SAD and REJECTED)
2. Feel It (BE sad. Cry. Heave big sighs. Punch a pillow. Let the feelings out in a safe and healthy way)
3. Share It (Tell someone you know who will be able to do the next step well)
4. Receive Comfort (Comfort from the safe person you've told is NOT them giving you one of the escape routes listed above in A-E. Comfort from a safe person is them telling you honestly and openly, "If I was in your situation, I would feel the exact same thing. I am so sorry you are hurting.")

When I learned to take the above steps toward truthfully acknowledging and feeling my feelings, things changed in my life drastically!

The other big truth I learned to embrace is that we are ALL so very broken. Hiding our brokenness from others is only being fake. Not that we need to share everything with everyone - I am NOT saying anyone needs to share all of their business with everyone they meet and/or on social media - but we need to be far more honest about our own real life struggles than most of us tend to be. Slapping on a fake smile and telling people we are "fine," does nothing to lead any of us closer to Jesus. He wants us to tell the truth. Embracing this verse has led me to bare my soul and my personal sin struggles with far more people than I ever imagined:

Revelation 12:11 in my 3 favorite versions straight from

New International Version
They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
New Living Translation
And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.
English Standard Version
And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Revelation 12:11 tells me that I can defeat - triumph - conquer the devil when I allow Jesus' blood to take away my sins, combined with my truthful ability to share what He has done in my life. That is POWERFUL! When I am brutally honest about what my testimony is and how God has saved and redeemed all my messy broken pieces, God can use that to kick the devil's butt! The word of my testimony is the description of ways I failed miserably, and how He managed to take my failures and use them for His glory and my good, because that gives others more HOPE than my fake smile ever did.

The truth is so much more powerful than we give it credit. This has really transformed my marriage, parenting, and friendships. I am no longer afraid to tell the truth, and no longer desiring to hide my brokenness. Learning to kindly, graciously share the truth in love has also been important, though. You can't just tell people truth without love. Knowing the truth is helpful, but sharing the truth with love at the right time, is all about listening to the Holy Spirit.

I also learned and recognized that the truth is absolutely only found in God's Word. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. When we choose to truly abide in His word, and soak it up to where it can influence our minds and our actions, then we are being set free from a lifetime of living in the defeat of the enemy's lies. I began to focus on John 8:31-32 around Christmas last year, and began the year seeking the word "truth" because I was so enamored with how to live those verses:

I wrote it down several times and began to focus on how much knowing God's word brought me the exact truth I needed to be set free from prisons of my own invention and the ones the devil used to keep me defeated. It was so impactful on my life, that I began to design a tattoo. I worked on that tattoo design from January, until I finally got it for my birthday present to myself (in September). For several months I practiced writing it on my left arm, until I decided that I definitely wanted to put it on my right arm, and I couldn't write it well left-handed. I asked several different instagram artists to help me design it, and ended up using some of their words and then tracing and reshaping them into the exact letters I wanted. I love it. I have no regrets. The truth really does set you free, because Jesus is the truth, and where He is, there is freedom.
The night I got it - so fresh

Recently - I need a few letters touched up,
but I like the more faded color overall.

This year I am going to do the One Word focus again, and my word is "Light" for 2017.  More on that soon. :) Are you doing a One Word focus? Have you tried it before? What did you learn? What is your word for this year?