“The reason one writes isn’t the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald


"But how could you live and have no story to tell?" ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky


"Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph" ~Matt Hardy


“A mother keeps a garden of the heart, planting the seeds of faith and character that give her children hope and purpose for the years ahead.” ~Anonymous


“If your story is never told, it becomes something else...forgotten.” ~Anonymous

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Stayer

As I venture into Psalm 16:2 today and looking at my notes, I really just want to give several translations and nuggets of the same words...

"I say to the Lord, "You are my Lord, apart from you I have no good thing."

"Without you, nothing makes sense."

"I have no good beside you (present or future) without you."

My Lord,...my goodness (righteousness) there is none beside you."

"I have no other help but yours."

"You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart from you."

"O my soul, thou has said unto the Lord, thou art my Lord."

"...my goodness extendeth not to Thee" (literally, I have no goodness but Thee)

These words are a song to Adonai, our Master. Matthew Henry's commentary states that Adonai signifies "My Stayer...the strength of my heart.  My soul cries this out....do NOT unsay it!"   I love that..."soul, listen to me, do not unsay that which strengthens me....My Adonai, my master, my strength."   How many of us throughout the day experience the flips and flops of our heart and emotions when life throws the unexpected at us.....maybe we need to say..."soul, let's wake up...My Stayer and the strength of my heart is alive and well within me!"
Sometimes my little ole' heart needs some strength throughout the day :)

I love this quote...

Let nothing disturb thee; Let nothing dismay thee; All things pass; God never changes.Patience attains all that it strives for. He who has God finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices.” -Teresa of Avila

Looking at different translations can give new meaning and insight into a verse which we never noticed before.  Without HIM, nothing makes sense. This is my favorite - with so many voices out there screaming for our attention....telling us what is "important" and what we need in our lives; just watching the evening news gives this phrase such credibility....without HIM, nothing makes sense!  I find rest and assurance in the knowledge that when things don't make sense, I have SOMEONE who does!

Apart from HIM, I have no good thing.  I think this little verse is packed with life for us today.

He is My Stayer, the strength of my heart.

Okay....this clipart might be a little hokey, but for us romantics, I love the idea of My Hero riding in on a white horse to give me strength :)

Monday, January 30, 2012

My Gift

Like most people (I think) the book of Psalms in the Bible is a favorite.  The chapters (each Psalm) are fairly short and generally they make easy reading.  They are the praises and heart cries of principally one man, David, and a few other men who in their joy, rest, struggle, sin, anguish, war and being pursued by enemies poured out their hearts to God.  They are words we can easily identify with.  On any given day, we can take a psalm and make it our own.  Reading, singing or shouting in joy or hope, these verses of 150 chapters become the very emotions we are feeling and need to express. 

A couple of years ago, I took on the task of really studying one of my favorites.  Psalm 16.  I originally began by desiring to write a Bible study for others, but ended up writing pages upon pages of my own study, discovering riches I had no idea were hidden in these eleven verses.  I did word studies, culture investigation, inspecting the man, David, and towards the end of an entire year focusing on this one Psalm, came upon another Bible study devoted to Psalm 16:6 which wrapped up my own in depth investigation of this Psalm like a beautifully wrapped gift.  

However, this "gift" has sat in a drawer and in a file on my computer for months.  Recently, I felt a strong nudge from the Lord, to get it out, dust it off and share it.  So for the next weeks, off and on, I will hand over to you my gift and hope as you open it, will bask in the beauty of God's Word and the endless understanding Word can bring to our lives.

Enjoy and open with care....

Psalm 16:1 "Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge."

When I began studying this...I inserted "Keep me (my heart) safe, my God..."
Psalm 17:8 says..."hide me in the shadow of your wings."  Psalm 7:1 tells me to take refugee in you.  The Amplified Version expresses it this way... "I hide myself in you."

Hannah Whithall Smith in her book "Safe Within Your Love" says...”I feel just like a little chick who has run out of a storm and under his mother’s wings and is safe there.  I hear the raging storm and I am utterly unable to comprehend it or measure the damage it is doing.  But I am safe under His wings  He can manage the dark storm but I cannot.  Why then should I worry or be anxious?....When I feel hopeless or fear, I know I need to get back under His wings.”

Have you ever seen the movie "Twister"?  The movie starts out with a family running for cover to their cellar when a tornado is approaching.  They are underground hearing the unimaginable roar of the twister, the wind and rain.  When it has passed and they come up for air, the camera pans the absolute devastation the twister has wrought all around them. They could "hear" the storm, but they were safe underground.  Only after it had passed, did they actually see.

Our family was in Indiana once during a tornado "watch", a first for us.   I awoke in the middle of the night hearing the most terrifying wind and noise.  The rest of the family slept peacefully (I am a light sleeper...but it does add a touch to this story :)  I heard the storm, but the hubby and kids were at peace.  The radio in another part of the house was telling our friends "what to do". As I marveled that anyone could sleep through that, I was reminded that it is the same with God and His Word - a storm is approaching (as will always happen in life) and God tells us what to do.  Do we take refuge in Him?  

The Message Bible says "Keep me safe, O God (El Shaddai...The MOST GOD ALMIGHTY), I've run for dear life to you."  Sometimes we need to actually RUN towards God for his protection - there is no where else to go.

To seek refuge or to give refuge means:
** to keep, to guard
** to have charge of, to keep watch over, to protect (a watchman)
** to keep within the bounds and to restrain (I like this!)

A refuge is a shield, a fortress, a dwelling place and a strong tower.

What does taking refuge mean to you when you are in the midst of disaster or chaos?  What does that look like to you?  When I began this study, the devastating earthquake had just happened in Haiti.  Total loss for hundreds of inhabitants of that island.  How does someone who has quite literally LOST IT ALL...loved ones, home, all belongings, only the shirt on their back and a pile of rubble to look at realizing "this is all that is left".  Where do you go...what do you do....what does "a refuge" look like to you?  It could be a medical diagnosis you weren't expecting, a flood, a death of a close family member, a betrayal.  Where do we find hope in such seemingly hopeless circumstances?

Our family experienced a house fire nearly 25 years ago.  We lost all material possessions except the clothes on our back.  I grabbed my year-old son as I ran out the door.  I will NEVER forget waking the next morning in the home of good friends and realizing I didn't even have a comb for my hair or a toothbrush.  I had slept in my only clothes.  The feeling of losing all you owned.  As the shock wore off, I was incredibly grateful that what really mattered was lying in the bed next to me....my husband and year-old son (although he was asleep in a cardboard box next to our bed :)  I can honestly say, if I had not had the LORD, as my REFUGE during that season, my life today would look sadly different.  I would pour out my heart daily to Him of the aches of losing it all.  There is so much more to this story, I will share at another time....or today's blog will turn into a book....but GOD proved His faithfulness to us above and beyond what we could have even imagined as we walked through those oncoming weeks and months.  He was our REFUGE.  He was the One we poured our hearts out to.  He was the One who carried our burden.  He was the One who provided friends to support us during that time.  

What did that look like?  Daily expressing my heart to Him, daily crying out when I couldn't make a decision and life was too overwhelming...walking into the store that next day with a check from the Red Cross to "buy what we need"....where do you even begin?  A comb? A toothbrush?  Underwear?  Getting out of bed each morning, taking another breath and acknowledging HIM as my protector, my guide, my refuge...the One who will keep me within my bounds.  Crying out to Him for understanding and grace, when the tensions of decisions could greatly affect your relationships with those around you.  Keeping my focus on HIM rather than what I could "see".

Sometimes God allows it all to be stripped away...so we have no where else to go but to HIM.  And when we do...He gives Himself to us....and He is released to pour out blessing upon blessing.  Sometimes we don't know how much we need God to be a refuge until we actually need one.  The great thing about God being my refuge is He will never disappoint!  All other "refuges" or forms of protection we seek will disappoint.

Today, let Psalm 16:1 be a song on your lips.  And He will not disappoint!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Simplifying My Life

Today is "anniversary day".  This blog began a year ago today.  I have written 60 entries including this one.  That is a bit over one a week.  Honestly, I had planned to write much more.  I read some incredible blogs where the author blogs daily.  I realize that for some, it is their livelihood....or contributed to their notoriety and furthered their career, and it is necessary for them to update daily and keep their "audience" up.  My intent was not to become famous :).  My desire was to do a simple thing....write.  As I said in my first blog entry....I do so much better putting my thoughts in writing.  I express myself more completely.  In a nutshell, writing is something that helps me come alive.  Something I want to do.  So why is something I so enjoy doing, happen only once a week?  

My excuse....I am "busy".  But really, can I not find the time to do what I love?  A few days ago I wrote that I resolved to write more, among a few other things I love doing.  I resolve to "run my race" with my whole heart....the complete me.  As I live and breathe through the month of January, I have discovered perhaps I am adding to my "list" of things I want to do and in trying to fit them in, I have just that...a list.  My intentions are good. My desires are good. But somehow in the midst of all the stuff...these desires become another "thing to do".  Wow, how did that happen?  Already into week 3 of January and my resolve is working itself out every few days, rather than every day.

It seems, fittingly so, that many of the blogs I have read this month have to do with resolutions, setting goals, and following your dream.  Many have said they want to "simplify" their life this year.  Simplify...that hits the nail on the head.  We cram so much into our lives that we discover we cannot do it all...at least not daily.  In December, I took a couple of items from my calendar and removed them from my weekly list.  Two less things in 2012, even though they were things I enjoyed, I felt God tell me I could still fulfill my purpose without them. Hard to do, but I did it.

This week I purposely set time aside to do four of the things that matter to me. After each time, I felt so alive.  My husband is away on a ministry trip, which actually allows me to not stick to a schedule.  I figured this was a good couple of weeks to simplify and come to some arrangement and understanding with myself on how I can arrange my life to intentionally walk and learn the purposes God has for me.  This may sound a bit odd to some, but for those of you in the same season of life as I, it makes sense.  I have been an at-home mom, homeschooled for years and involvement in the schools when my children attended publicly; but now....two away from home - one in college, one out.  One at college but living at home.  And one still in high school.  So...I have an almost "empty nest".  My husband is traveling much more now and the time is coming where I will be able to accompany him more often.  I have for years been involved in our local church, Bible studies, prayer groups... Basically, a busy mom.  But my involvement is changing.  My children are changing...my life is changing. However, there are always needs to be met and jobs to do.  And I admit, I am having a bit of a challenge in figuring out how to "simplify".  

For each of us, simplifying will mean something different.  Taking out what distracts us so that we can put our energy into what really matters, to us and those we love.  My "race" each day must begin with my "warm up"...my time with God.  If I don't have that, my muscles will cramp, I will get aches in my side and I will constantly need to be catching my breath.  All that I encounter during the day after that will be better navigated because I have started my race with what really matters.  

My learning to simplify falls into the time after my "warm up" :)  

My race is my life as a:


I am learning to balance what is really important 
during this season:

my relationship with my God
my relationship with my husband
my children
my friendships
leadership & ministry in my church & community
Bible study and writing
exercise & health

Hmm...I think I just gave myself a "pep talk".  Maybe I just needed to write out my thoughts :)  But what I would love to hear is...how do YOU simplify your life?    Do you still struggle with fitting it all in?  Have you taken some things out, only to find you still are trying to find time to do the things you love?  Do you try to do what you love daily, or do you space it out throughout the week?  Are you able to breathe, or do you find yourself constantly stopping to catch your breath?  I would like to hear...I would like to learn from you.  Are there practical steps you have taken to simplify?  

My anniversary blog is dedicated to doing what you and I love in 2012, doing what it takes to live our dream....and helping each other run our race and get to the finish line knowing we have pursued what God put on our hearts in doing His will for our lives.  Simplifying our lives so the people and tasks we take on are the ones that really matter.  Let me hear from you how you are running your race.  

I had to add this clip-art photo...need more hands? :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Foto Fun :)

I mentioned before how visually-oriented I am and my love for photography - color, shapes, people, nature....I go crazy when I go for walks with my camera!  Well, along with my "resolve" to spend more time taking photos, as well as a few other goals I have made for the next twelve months, I recently came across this webpage and project for 2012.  


Following a theme and submitting my photos (about 4 a month) should be fun and keep me accountable to try some new techniques.  I am really looking forward to this :)

The theme for January is "RESOLUTION", how fitting, right?  I looked at some of their entries posted already and following up on my own resolve...

A portion of my resolve for 2012 is to do more writing....at least 30 minutes a day.  Mostly in the context of my own study of Scripture and what I have learned and applied through the course of my spiritual journey.

I can write about many things, but I do want to write about what I know...my life and my relationship with God which has led me to have many adventures in along the way.  As part of the guidelines for this project, I will be posting my photos on my blog.  So you get to enjoy (hopefully) the photos and whatever creativity I can muster from week to week.  Not sure which photo I like more...hmmm...well, I am off to post my entry :) 

Until next time ...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The LORD is my Rock

Do you need a ROCK today?  Reading Psalm 18 challenged me..."The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn (strength) of my salvation, my stronghold." (verse 2) 

David expresses his heart's cry with these very words repeatedly throughout the book of Psalms.  He was continually in need of a rock.  He was relentlessly  pursued by his enemies  (verse3).  As I fed on these passages this morning, the thought came...not so many of us have our earthly enemies - flesh and blood people pursuing us.  Perhaps some of us do out there in the cut throat business world, or in our culture of survival of the fittest where greed and trying to be better and have more than everyone else abounds.  But I don't have someone lurking around the corner waiting to devour me.  

Or do I?  I may not have a flesh and blood "friend" desiring to offend or attack me, but I do have an "enemy" who is after my soul.  And I have little "enemies" wanting to steal my joy and victory.  We all have them.....they have names...insecurity, hopelessness, fear, anxiety, pride, self-loathing, ungratefulness....those "buttons" that get pushed to get us to take our eyes off the Rock.  

Years ago, I circled and noted Psalm 18:17-18 in my Bible "He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.  They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support."  In the margin, I wrote, "my demons....my problems, struggles and sin". When problems arise or disaster strikes, those little "enemies" can rear their ugly heads to discourage me and drag me down. To take me down a path I once trod, but no longer live.  An enemy is really someone or something that opposes you.  Yes, my struggles, sin, little problems do oppose me....they don't want me to move on or to walk in joy despite my circumstances.  They don't want me to get out of bed in the morning.  They don't want me to respond in kindness or in the "opposite spirit" of this world I live in.  They are my little "enemies" so to speak.

Oh, but read on...verse 19..."He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because he delighted in me."  HE DELIGHTS IN ME - and YOU!  

The LORD my ROCK, "Yahweh Tsuri"  - the Hebrew noun tsur is translated "stone" or "rock".  What better noun to display God's stability, permanence, His protection and His enduring faithfulness?  Rocks are often used to provide a foundation - to build altars, temples, houses and city walls.  They can provide shelter, shade and safety in the wilderness.  They can be an anchor in a rushing river.  In the Old Testament, they were used to commemorate important events in Israel's eventful history.  

Do we need to be reminded today that He is our Rock?  Is that same old insecurity or fear or sin that God has enabled us by His spirit and healing to overcome in the past creeping up (that button pushed) to cause us to fear?  Are we worried about something that we really have no control over?  Is an "enemy" poking at you to bring discouragement or feelings of hopelessness.  Has a word been spoken, perhaps unintentionally, that has caused old feelings to surface?  Do we need a Rock today?

Let me clarify something...if there are things in our lives that really need some serious prayer, unconfessed sin or bondages that we have never allowed to see the light of day, those areas will continue to hurt us and hound us until we deal with them.  James 5:16 tells us to "confess our sins one to another and pray for each other that we may be healed."  We need our spiritual leadership and community of friends to pray and see us set free from those things that have wounded us and kept us from being all God desires us to be. 

But we are at war in this world we live in. We don't live in a perfect world.  Life happens and troubles exist.  However, with God we can walk in freedom and victory.  And we sure need the eternal ROCK to grab onto.  Daily we need that Rock to be our strength, our fortress.  Daily we need to be reminded that HE is more reliable than the ground we stand on.  When we are shaken, He can steady us.  When we are in trouble, He can save us.  Because He DELIGHTS in us.

Psalm 18
Psalm 144:1-2, 7-10
2 Samuel 22:2-4
1 Samuel 2:2
1 Peter 2:6
Isaiah 26:3-4
Psalm 62:1-2

A few wonderful, encouraging chunks of "daily bread" to feed on today if you are feeling you need a ROCK to be your stability.  My prayer for you (and me) is that whatever faces us in this year 2012, we will trust in that Rock.  Prayerfully consider how your life could be different at the end of this year if you experienced more deeply the Truth that God is YOUR ROCK?

Even when we take "leaps of faith" that same Rock will always be there as  our foundation :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Taste of Julia

Waking up to 24 degrees Fahrenheit and beautiful cold crisp sunshine, it looked like a day I might be able to spend a bit of time outside.  However, the grey clouds are now quietly creeping in and the forecast for the weekend into next week is snow.  I always get in the mood for winter comfort food when the weather turns wintery.

After a trip to the market, I decided today was a Julia Child "Boeuf Bourguignon" sort of day.  I had the house to myself and indulged in slicing, sauteing, mixing and tasting.  I adore the smell (and taste) of meats cooked in red wine.  There is a richness about it that makes my taste buds smile :)

Popping the casserole into the oven to cook for the next three hours, I enjoyed the peace and quiet...and promptly fell asleep in front of the fireplace.  Now, awake, the smell is oh, my....heavenly.  I used a recipe I tried a few years ago (I'm sorry, Julia!) and it takes much less time than the honored, well-deserved French version.  Let's just say, I wanted to match the meal to the area :)

There is an incredible beef bourguignon on page 48 of this book and other great recipes throughout.  I think Julia will forgive me this once :) But for those who would like to try the real thing...

Either way, it is a great dish to make on a cold and wintery day.  I'm looking forward to this masterpiece sitting atop or along side buttered noodles, a bit of steamed broccoli and crusty bread to mop up the sauce.  

We women love to cook (or some of us anyway!) - for those of us who do, enjoy  being creative and have a really blessed weekend!

  AND...Bon Appetit!

Friday, January 6, 2012


An often unrecognized holiday appears on our calendar every January 6th, but how many of us even understand it's meaning?  When I see Epiphany, I am more concerned if I spelled it correctly :)   To enlighten us on this day (which by the way is also "National Shortbread Day"; perhaps we can get to that a bit later :)....let's explain....

epiphany - a Christian "feast day" which celebrates God the Son coming as a human being in Jesus Christ. It also commemorates the visitation of the Magi to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem.  A second "Christmas" to some segments of the Christian church.  

epiphany - the sudden realization or comprehension of a larger meaning of something....an "aha" moment :)  This word also takes on the meaning of "manifestation", or a clear appearance of something or someone.  

It seems to me that we all "need" an epiphany from time to time.  A wakeup moment of realization in this walk of faith we take every day.  Doesn't your heart and spirit come alive when we "discover the last piece of the puzzle and now see the whole picture?"  To be honest, I wish I had this moment at least once a day...I could use some "aha" moments of epiphany more often in my life.

Proverbs 9:10 says "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."  Psalm 111:10 also states "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, all who follow His precepts (or ways) have good understanding."  My "aha" moment right now is....wisdom and knowledge (which are two different things by the way) are at our fingertips as we seek to know God, fear Him and walk in His ways. 

Fear of the Lord + following His ways = wisdom and understanding 

Epiphany moments can be more obvious to us day by day as we seek Him and spend time in His presence.  I want to say to my spirit, "Wake up and see what God is doing in and around you, dear girl! See the bigger picture and not just the "moment" you are living in or worrying about!"  There is a bigger picture out there and God wants to manifest Himself to us every day we look for Him.

I have a friend who has a blog entitled "Epiphany" and her subtitle is "Celebrating Moments of Discovery and Growth in the Daily Walk of Faith".  I pray that for myself and you, dear friends, that today in honor of this Christian holiday and a "second Christmas" - we would have moments of discovery...how you've grown...how your faith is being lived out.  Be a "wise man" and encounter that Jesus from Bethlehem.  Remember, when they saw the Star, they were filled with exceedingly great joy!  And they brought Him gifts. 

Discover and Celebrate! 

And while you are at it...go have that piece of shortbread with a cup of tea...
and enjoy National Shortbread Day.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


The new year always brings thoughts of resolutions and promises to ourselves.  We actually follow through with some, and others fall by the wayside, as early as February :)  As disheartening as it can be not to accomplish a goal we set out for ourselves, God created us to be creative and to do new things, try new things and desire for something better than where we currently "exist".  So every new year, even though I try hard and don't always accomplish every one of my "goals", I at least put some out there to work towards.  Some are practical and others are "spiritual" in the sense I want to grow deeper in the Word and my relationship with God.  And in some ways, a few are difficult to "measure" and are only realized with time.  They do, however, give me purpose and a sense of living the abundant life that Jesus draws us towards. I hope we can spur each other on this year towards abundant living and a sense of purpose.  

A friend recently pointed me towards this quote: 

“Whatever it is you hope for this coming year, don’t stop at resolutions. Find resolve. Then map it out. How are you going to do it? Monthly, weekly, daily, what does this dream require of you? Now do it, and do it with all the strength you’ve got. You have one brief, beautiful, unique life to live, and only a limited handful of matches with which to set your world ablaze. Don’t you dare waste them.”

David du Chemin/Professional Photographer

It spoke right to my heart :)  There are some personal desires that have occupied spaces in my heart for years...some being lived out and others yet to be realized in their fullness.  I am finding that "resolve" to set some guidelines in my life to see a desire or two fulfilled this year.  I have always loved to write and being a visual person, photography has been a quiet passion of mine for years. (I have multitudes of "coffee table" photo books, as well as my absolute favorite cookbooks all have colored photos!)   Both writing and photography have lain dormant far too long. Maybe it is being in this fifth decade that is awakening passions to be fulfilled in the next half-century :)

For years, I helped write newsletters and articles, both for ministries and our own family.  I have scores of journals filling my drawers and closets.  I love to read and while reading, often am writing "in my mind" as I read.  In my early twenties, I had an incredible camera.  My best friend and I took photography classes and built up a library of photography books.  While a house fire consumed my camera and collection of photography know-how, the years of mothering and busy-ness left me little time to pursue this passion.  

I have loved living my life and the years that are behind me.  I don't regret a single moment of the busy-ness and being a mom has always been my number one love and passion.  However, I do believe a new season is ahead of me.  Of course, being able to blog and having a computer, as well as my birthday and Christmas gift of a brand new digital SLR may have something to do with it :)  

And so...I am resolving and mapping out my days and weeks to pursue my passion.  I believe God has placed the desires in my heart (Psalm 37:4) and I want to honor him with each and every plan.  I pray my writing and photography will bring Him glory and touch the lives of those He places in my life.  I don't really know what that looks like at this point, but I will leave that to Him. :)  For now, just the joy of learning and sharing will satisfy a hunger :)

I really had something different to write about today...but somehow these thoughts took over.  Perhaps you have a "passion" also or even a small desire you have wanted to pursue.  Ask God to enlarge and nurture that desire in your heart.  Ask Him to use it for His glory.  Ask Him to show you this year how you can move towards making that desire or passion a reality in your life.  Make Proverbs 3:6 a prayer to Him.  And I pray your life and desires will glory Him :)

A few of my first photos...by the way, when I studied photography years ago, film SLR's were what we used....I now need to learn the digital side of things, as well as the photo editing programs on the computer (there's A LOT more buttons on this camera).....so I have some learning and re-learning to do....

"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, 
the Lord's name is to be praised. "  Ps. 113:3

I really like macro photography :)

Some outdoor Christmas lights in a neighborhood
in our town - love night photography!

And my favorite girls ....

And men....

I'll stop now, or this will become a Christmas photo album :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Race of 2012

It's here!!  A fresh new year...a new start...a new day, week, month.  With all the possibilities of hope, joy, faith and promise waiting to be revealed.  I hope you are  able to face these coming twelve months with a sense of hope and promise, no matter what the last 365 days held.  Psalm 46 talks about a lot of shaking, but GOD being in our midst and our help, our fortress, our strength.  He can and will make us glad and He will be exalted.  He is with us!  That is a promise to wrap around us as we run into 2012 :)

The Word God has revealed to me for this fresh year is Hebrews 12:1-3:

"Therefore, since WE are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off EVERYTHING THAT HINDERS AND THE SIN THAT SO EASILY 
OUT FOR US (me :), fixing our eyes on JESUS, the pioneer
and perfecter of faith.  For the JOY set before him he endured the
cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne
of God.  CONSIDER HIM who endured such opposition from sinners

We are NOT ALONE !!

Throw off ANYTHING that hinders (might not be "sin"...just something holding you back).

Get rid of sin that so EASILY entangles.  (figure out what is making you "trip" or slow down in your race).

We have a race "marked out for each one of us"  - no one else can run my race!

My eyes so FIXED on JESUS.....at the finish line!!

For the JOY.....there is JOY awaiting us (and in the midst of the race....but I have a feeling the JOY at the end is indescribable :)

Consider HIM.....do not grow weary and lose heart!

I have to include this passage from the Message version...it is toooo good to miss....

"Do you see what this means - all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running - and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed - that exhilarating finish in and with God - he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.  When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!"

What does YOUR race look like?  

What "tools" do you need to have in your life to successfully run your race? (deeper into the WORD, surround yourselves with strong believers for support, perhaps a small group, moms prayer groups, be mentored......this is one "tool belt" you can wear around your waste and it won't be cumbersome in running :) Choose prayerfully so you will be running a marathon with endurance and not losing steam halfway through :)

What shoes or lighter clothing do you need to wear to persevere? (Col. 3:12, 1 Peter 5:5) ?

I am pondering my race this year....what do I need to take on, or peel off, to run my race successfully?  How about you?  Worth some thoughtful prayer before the One who enables us...as we run the race He lays out for each of us.

My prayer is you will have ears to hear, an open heart to His Voice, and the perseverance to run YOUR RACE.  Put on those spiritual Nike's and let's line up on that starting line.....