One day away from 2016 and today has been a bit of a reflection for me.  The last two months I've been doing this "Photo Challenge" on Instagram and even though this month I haven't kept up daily with it, today was a good one: "Earlier this year..."  It forced me to look through my photos on my iPhone and really realize how GREAT this year was!  We did a LOT of traveling and funny as this may seem, I actually forgot how much traveling took place.  That sounds crazy, but with our crazy busy life I guess things kind of blend together or become a bit of a fog.  Either way, I don't like that!  You spend so much time planning for trips, getting ready and excited for them and then a few months later... POOF.. they are hard to recall!  So here is some of the highlights for my December 30th Photo Challenge:

 

That's why I like to Instagram, FB and most importantly, keep travel journals.  I'm not the best at recording everything and it's even a miracle if I capture a moment from each day on a trip, but at least I have something that I've kept from each trip with the photos, ephemera and my journaling to go with it.  Here are some of the travel journals I kept this year:

Love that I have these and I encourage everyone to take a small journal with you on your trips!  The time is so precious and goes by so fast... Just even if you jot down one thought for each day or where you went and where you ate each day.  Then you can go back later and fill in more details or add photos and I promise you, you will TREASURE it for years to come...

Now for 2016...

I've been trying to also reflect on my "One Little Word" from 2015 today and try and think about what my word for 2016 should be.  This year my word was "Closer" and I am so blessed to say that word fit so perfectly!  At the beginning of last year I was a part of Jeanne Oliver's
Becoming Series and I talked about this word in my video.  I really wanted to draw CLOSER to the Lord and His word in 2015 and I can honestly say that I did.  I started spending more time in my devotions and delving into my new love of Bible Journaling and those things really brought back my love of the bible and a new found excitement to read and understand it.  I brought this into my 1st Art & Faith Creative Retreat in Italy this past June and I can't begin to explain what a JOY that was!  To bring my love of travel, art and faith into one week with other women with the same interests was a dream (and prayer) come true!  It's really all I want to do now and I can't wait for 2016 and my 2nd Art & Faith Creative Retreat in September with Shanna Noel (from Illustrated Faith) and Junelle Jacobsen (from Yes & Amen) When the first glimmer of my dream of creating art retreats in Italy started I thought about how I could incorporate my faith from the very beginning.  But as they were solely art (mixed-media, jewlelry art, scrapbooking, painting, etc...) I didn't think that I could.  I figured those attending knew that I was a Christian and there were little touches here and there on my blog and even at the events that would show that, but a retreat devoted to art AND faith??  I really didn't know how that would look.  But the Lord did and I'm so happy that He showed me over time and nudged me in that direction.  I thought it would be years before that would happen but in early 2014 I felt that the Lord was putting it on my heart and telling me "Why are you waiting?  People need ME now" and so that is how it blossomed.  I am beyond thankful for this opportunity to talk with other women, to share in our faith and how God has given us all GIFTS and that we should be using those gifts!  And what better setting then in a beautiful part of Italy with inspiration around every corner, with like minded women who love to be CREATIVE, who love to travel and see the beauty God has blessed our world with and to share time together with new found friends!  Perfetto! 

But getting back to that "One Little Word" (by the way Ali Edwards started this and has some great classes to help encourage you to find your word) and what I have been thinking about for 2016...  I finally found my word about 30 minutes ago!  I thought it was either going to be REST or GROW... but my word came to me this morning while I was going through my bible and looking at all my past bible journaling pages that I have done this year.  What a joy this new art form has given me!  But the word that I new was perfect for 2016 is...

DWELL (Abitare in Italian)

This year it was CLOSER and it truly was a year of drawing closer to the Lord and His word.  I though maybe it would be REST for next year but now I know that DWELL is such a better word and a better description of what I think the Lord wants me to do in this next year(and forever :).  Now that I have drawn closer to the Lord through His word, I want to dwell there.  This year is time for me to spend more time learning, growing, resting and dwelling on His word.  The verses that I found about dwelling perfectly explain it:

Psalm 61:1-4  "Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer, from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.  Lead me to the rock that is higher than I for you have been my refuge, a strong tower again the enemy.  Let me DWELL in your tent forever.  Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings."

Ephesians 3: 16-18 "That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may DWELL in your hearts through faith - that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

Psalm 27:4 "One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:  that I may DWELL in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple."

(Rebecca showed me the verse above was her bible verse of the day just a few minutes after I had found my #onelittleword... pretty sweet affirmation :)

I hope this inspires you to find YOUR word for the year.  What is the Lord putting on your heart to focus on?

I wanted to share some of my favorite photos from 2015 today but maybe I'll save that for a blog post next week.  Here is definitely one of my FAV photos from 2015 and if you don't follow me on Instagram or FB, then maybe this will be NEWS for you...

Our oldest daughter Victoria got ENGAGED!  We are overjoyed that Dany and Victoria will be getting married in 2016!!  So next year will be a busy and joyful year for our family!  We love how the Lord brought these two together from different countries and we are so blessed that He is bringing them together in the next year in marriage!

Have a WONDERFUL New Years Eve tonight and may the Lord Bless you and Keep you as we all  celebrate another year and look forward to the year ahead!

Love to all,

Laura

  

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