All posts by J. Emm

Choosing One Verse for 2019

choosing one verse 2019 graphic

Last month I wrote about choosing one word to help guide your life and your year. This time I’m writing about choosing a verse or bible passage to help guide your year.

One Word was about allowing God to use that word to work through you. That chosen word helps to transform, heal, inspire, and encourage you to move through the year in alignment with God’s will for your life. This word becomes a sacred echo in your life. This echo is described by Margaret Feinberg in her interview with CBN , “..but since then I’ve grown in my prayer life and relationship with God. And I’ve been discovering that when God speaks he often speaks more as an echo than a whisper. He’ll say the same thing again and again. When I listen for the echo I walk more fully into all that He has for me. I felt like this was a message that others needed to hear and the response has been overwhelming.”

When God really wants to get your attention, He doesn’t just say something once. He echoes. The same scripture, idea, or theme will reappear until you can’t help but wonder if a greater something, or Someone, is at work (Beliefnet, 09/2008)”.
sprititual growth 2019

Yes, God is a god of repetition. He knows that humans are not likely to notice the first time or even listen for that matter.

We can only notice those sacred echoes when we slow down and intentionally take time to notice themes and patterns that appear in our daily lives. We can do this through various forms of prayer, biblical meditation, journaling, and conversations with others.

When you notice repetition in your life, stop and ask God what it is that he wants you to hear. What is happening in your life that needs your attention, your prayers, your time? Those sacred echoes don’t necessarily need to be about negative things. God also communicates pleasant messages to us. Sometimes God is simply saying, “Good Job. Great. Keep Going. I hear you. I’m here. I’m with you.” He might be drawing you to discover new interests or new people. Don’t be afraid to find out what he is communicating to you.

Along with having one word, another spiritual tool to help guide you is having a verse to focus on for the year. Choosing a verse for the year doesn’t come at the expense of not reading the rest of the bible or neglecting to engage in bible and book studies, those are important and not partaking in those activities would be hazardous for your spiritual health and growth. Instead, your verse serves a similar purpose to your one word, it is meant to become a sacred echo in your life, a way for a specific verse to speak to you throughout the year and help you grow.

Some Helpful Steps for Choosing a Verse

In choosing a yearly verse, take some time to review various events, learning experiences, areas of growth, and some of the challenges your faced in the last year.

In your review, was there certain patterns or themes that you noticed?

If so, reach for your bible and see if there are any verses that stand out to you. Make a list of these verses, pray over them, and ask God if one of those verses is one you should focus on during the year.

Maybe there is a characteristic or value that you’d like to learn about or develop on a personal level for 2019. Again, pray about it, and if that is what you’ve chosen, start searching for verses that speak to what you’d like to learn about or cultivate in your life.

The verse becomes more meaningful if you write it out and place it in various places where you will see it. If you’d like to keep the verse private, place it in your bible, your bible study book, or in your handbag/wallet. If you are not feeling up to sharing your verse with others, it’s perfectly alright to keep it between you and God, after all this your own journey and you get to chose who is privy to all that God is revealing to you.

Memorize the verse. At most, your verse will be one to four sentences long. This is easy enough to remember, unless you have problems with memory. Take your time. It also helps to find a translation that you like. Some verse sound beautifully poetic in the KJV, others make more sense coming from the NIV. The goal is to get a good understanding of the verse and allow it to positively impact your life throughout the year.

My One Word: Quiet

My One Verse:  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

I’m not yet sure what Romans 12:2 has to do with my one word, but that verse is one that kept popping up all over the place in my life within a short period of time. I thought, o.k. God, you’re trying to tell me something specific to my own life and circumstances, so Romans 12:2 it is. This was how the sacred echo lead me to Romans 12:2. I won’t pre-determine what role the one word and verse are going to play in my life or how it is going to impact me. This is the beauty of both spiritual exercises, we leave it to God to speak to us as we encounter those words and verses. We walk alongside God as he creates those sacred echoes and we heed the life changing messages that become part of our journey through 2019.

 

 

 

 

Choosing One Word To Guide You Through 2019

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Good-bye 2018! It’s time to celebrate, we all made it. For some of you reading this, the year was smooth sailings, for others it was bumpy roads. Whichever path the year took for you, don’t forget to stop and give thanks to God that you are where you’re at today. Even if you are feeling angry, scared, or hopeless, trust that you being alive means there is the opportunity to move forward knowing circumstances can change for the better. Maybe not right away, but at some point in the future.

If you had an amazing year, a good year, a great year, be thankful to God and those who helped you out. What I wrote to those who had a less than stellar year applies to you as well. Circumstances can change, so cherish the good moments, keep those you love close, take care of yourself, and be kind to those you cross paths with.

Several years ago I gave up on making new years resolutions. I made the switch to choosing one word to focus on instead of trying to remember the long list of resolutions that were created with good intentions and wishful thinking.

Choosing one word to help guide you through the year is much more manageable and meaningful than a resolution made during winter holidays when you are in a good mood, upbeat, and unrealistic.

Ray Lopez reminds us, “With the end of 2018 just days away, you want to know that your one word for next year is going to keep you focused, be transformative, and act as a compass throughout 2019. You want to know the word will work, that it will be just the thing you need to remind you of what you want your life to look like.”

Before you begin to work on choosing your one word for 2019, keep in mind what Lopez says about self-knowledge, “It’s hard to distill our goals into one word if we don’t understand ourselves… I mean really know ourselves. Self-awareness isn’t usually easy, and it can expose things about ourselves that may be difficult to embrace. But unless we have a sense of what motivates us and how past events affect present choices, it’s difficult to understand how to move forward.

Some Questions to Ask and Define Yourself

What is your name? ( Seems like a silly question, but I start with this one as a way to clearly remind people that this is about you and no one else. We aren’t here to change and develop others, only our self.)

In one sentence, who are you?

In your own life, what is worth the struggle/pain/sweat equity?

What do you avoid in life?

List some things you often take for granted?

What’s something that you used to fear, but no longer do?

What are things you look forward to?

What have you been telling yourself lately? Is this something you need to keep telling yourself or should you stop? If you stop telling yourself this, is there something else you could be telling yourself instead?

What are some of the hard things that you know you have to do in 2019? What are some hard/challenging things that would be beneficial for you to do in 2019?

Are there things or persons you are worried about as you enter the new year?

Are you intentional with you time? If not, what are some ways you can become more intentional with your time and as a result, more intentional with your life?

What are some things and persons/groups you need to say “yes” to this year? What are some things you need to say “no” to?

Do you… ?

Love yourself

Respect yourself

Take care of yourself

Put yourself first (not to be confused with being selfish)

Your One Word is something that you will be cultivating throughout 2019. You’ll grow into your word as you live it, reflect on it, and learn from it.

Write or type out a bunch of different words (writing is better and don’t worry about spelling).  These words are characteristics you might want to work on or develop, words that will help or encourage you to reach a specific goal, or a word associated with whatever God has laid on your heart and you have yet to discover why. Remember this word is going to be a part of your life for most or all of the year.

Choosing a word doesn’t need to be stressful. It may not come to you in one sitting, it might take days or weeks, there is no urgency. This exercise is meant to empower you instead of discouraging you.

Review your list and circle some of the words or themes that stood out for you. Do any of these words and themes seem connected to any current or upcoming goals, projects, circumstances, or major events in your life? Narrow down your list by focusing on these words and themes.

Reflect and pray over your list. Ask for wisdom in choosing your word based only on you and your own life. No one else gets to select your word, you are the only one living your life. This is also the reason it is important to not consult others for help in choosing your One Word; the only one you need to consult with is God, he’s got your back.

 

One Word Resources at Other Websites

One Word 365 Choosing Your One Word

My One Word

Elizabeth Steere on Choosing her One Word

Book Journey My One Word for 2019

 

 

 

 

Life Lessons Learned from Indoor Gardening Failures

Gardens are beautiful. I’m fortunate to live in a neighbourhood where people spend a lot of time and money on vegetable and flower gardens, and landscaping.

This year I decided I wanted to decorate my place with some small, easy to care indoor plants. I did my homework by going online and finding a list of the easiest indoor greenery to care for. I read all the lists, followed all the instructions and then it happened, half my plants nearly died.

I had imagined my sofa table filled with a colourful assortment of flowering plants that would require minimal care and never die. Between inquiring of Google and asking seasoned gardeners I learned why those plants were dying and I was failing; I was handling flowering plants the way I sometimes handle life.

Hawaii Greens
Somewhere in Hawaii 

Impatience: Gardening requires patience. To begin, you seed, water, fertilize, repeat as needed. I wasn’t interested in that, instead I went to the store and purchased plants that were ready to go. The downside to this is that my impatience meant I wasn’t able to get the exact plants I wanted. Had I been patient, I would have taken the time to start with seeds and follow the process of tend and wait, watch it grow!

Ask yourself: In life, when you are patient, you are more likely to get the things you want. Being in a rush and taking whatever you can get instantly means settling for second best if you’re lucky. Are you willing to put in the time, discipline, and effort to get what you want?

Miniature Japanese Zen Garden
Someone’s miniature Japanese zen garden, unfortunately not mine 😦

Over caring and worrying: Water is life and death. I my case, water became a near death experience for the plants. I sometimes anxiously watered the plants every second day. I checked on the plants every day to make sure they were alright, as if they were inpatients. Eventually two of my plants started to develop curling leaves. I later learned that this is caused by overwatering. The remedy for this problem was to not water them for two weeks. It wasn’t easy switching from overwatering and over caring to practically leaving the plants alone to repair itself naturally. With time, and without me messing with it, both plants came back to life and flourished, growing taller than ever.

Ask Yourself: Am I willing to follow the process whatever it might involve or are you going to want to do things your own way?  When you are a beginner it’s important to listen to those with much more experience and knowledge. When you don’t, things are likely to go wrong.

Buying Too Much and Spending Too Much Money: I set a budget for how much I would spend buying flowers and succulents. What I didn’t account for is that some of these plants would grow and need to be placed in larger pots. I also didn’t consider how much it would all add up to for different types of soil, tools, fertilizers, planters and plant pots. When the costs became more than I was wiling to spend, I decided to say goodbye to some of my plants. They were requiring time I didn’t have, and money I didn’t care to spend.

In the past my hobbies cost me a lot of money. I made the decision a couple of years ago not to engage in hobbies or interests that would require me to spend more than a certain amount of money per month.

Ask yourself: When considering taking up a new hobby, consider the cost; is it affordable for you and it is a good investment of your money, energy, and time?
Starting new hobbies are great, there is nothing wrong with trying new things in life, however, it’s best to prepare before hand when necessary. I don’t want to be a negative Nancy, my hope for you is that your new hobby is a pleasant experience instead of one filled with unnecessary surprises and stress. Don’t forget, hobbies are meant to bring happiness and fulfillment to a person’s life.

 

Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Job 12: 7-10 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”

 

 

When Your Church Shames and Silences Others

Source: Belfast

If you watch and read the news you’ll notice that allegations of sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace and the church hasn’t died down. This is not a surprise. As long as there is continued and growing support for people who come forward with their experiences the issue won’t disappear from media outlets any time soon.

Whether or not allegations become known to the public, there are people who bravely come forward and share their stories and the experience of not being listened to, not being respected, and not being supported.

If you call yourself a Christian, I believe it is important to know that God does not support harassment of any kind. Don’t believe me? Then don’t take my word for it, take God’s word for it.

When people come forward, remember that you are not a public relations agent. It’s not a time to worry about the reputation of the accused or your church. As a church community and especially as members, it is important to support administrative processes within the church that take allegations seriously. It shouldn’t matter who you believe or whose side you are on; every church needs to have policies and procedures in place where the accused and the accuser are both listened to fairly, and people with a bias are not allowed to be part of the investigation.

When people have been harassed or assaulted, the last persons they want to have to meet with is a team of  board members, that may or may not consist entirely of men, and have to beg and plead to not only be believed, but listened to and taken seriously.

I’m disappointed when I encounter women who don’t think it is important for churches to have policies and procedures in place that prevent church staff from being in situations where harassment can occur in the first place.  We live in a society where words are meaningless, expectations must be placed in writing and made clear to everyone. It’s not enough to trust that someone is a “good” person or a “godly” man. 

It’s not enough to quietly transfer the troublesome staff member to another department or church, or pay hush money to the accuser (this prevents the victim from being able to share his or her story and allows the accused to not be held accountable).

Jesus cares about people who have been sexually harassed and bullied within a community that claims to be his followers. Jesus is a healer and he wants to see victims healed in his name. It’s important for us to boldly let the board members and elders at our places of worship know that as followers of Jesus we won’t accept the dismissive attitudes and actions of leaders and church attenders who don’t believe in the importance of holding harassers and bullies accountable to their victims and the church community.

Ask yourself these following questions:

Does my church have respectful and justice oriented polices and procedures in place that help to prevent sexual harassment and bullying? Are there policies that specifically address sexual harassment and bullying?

What is the process for making a complaint against a staff member?Does it protect the accuser from being slandered and shamed, are co-staff and witnesses protected from retaliation?

How does my church currently handle friction and controversy?

Are there any women elders or board members? Do they come from diverse backgrounds (age, class, income, educational background, etc.)?

Has my church ever paid anyone hush money? Was this recorded in the church finances, were church members informed of this decision?

These are just a few questions to ask yourself about how your church handles the serious topic of harassment.

The following are some articles that provide some important, but sad examples of what happens when churches support harassment by church staff members:

What He Thinks About What Happened At Willow Creek

John Ortberg and His Observations on the Topic

Vonda Dyer. Believe Her.