With the end of 2016 fast approaching, I've been thinking a lot about looking forward, but with a fresh start.  It excites me to think about the New Year and the possibilities that lay before me.  I understand that is nothing new... we are all lead to think this way, at this time of year.

What has been especially on my mind though is how to "release" some things we don't want to bring with us into the New Year.

You see I don't know about you... but I'm not a great one with change... Oh I know life changes a lot.  But I think I'm better if I don't THINK about change... and it just happens.  If I look back at the end of the year, see where my life has gone and can look back on those changes that did happen,  (but since they already DID happen) it's not so hard??  Am I totally weird in this??  

If I FOCUS on the change that is COMING... then I get anxious.  And next year I know will come with a lot of changes.  Our daughter just got married, that is a huge change in our family dynamic. She won't be "coming home" anymore.  She has her own home now.  (which is a GREAT thing... just a change) Our middle daughter is graduating from High School and will be going off to college... somewhere.  We will be down to one kiddo at home. Our little family of 5 living and growing up is no longer.  That's BIG change for this momma! My husband is starting a new business.  All these changes are exciting... but DIFFERENT and a little scary all at the same time.  I'm a pretty laid back kind of person, but I can already see how these changes are definitely going to be on my mind in the coming year.  How can they not?

So, I don't want to worry about all these changes.. or worry about anything for that matter!  That isn't so easy sometimes though and I need help with this. In Matthew 6:34 it clearly says not to worry about ANYTHING.

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

I found a great commentary about this on Bible. org here.  This is so good and explains this whole idea. I encourage you to take the time to read it. It's a long commentary, but so worth it!  Here is a little blurb from it:

"Fog can blanket a city for seven blocks and be as much as 100 feet deep. But if you could take that fog and change it into water, it would only fill up a single glass. Worry is like a gigantic fog that can blind you and cause you to take your eyes off of the Lord. But when you see worry for what it really is, you realize that it is nothing more than a mere glass of water. When you try to actually grab onto the worry that you are consumed with, it is so fleeting that it isn’t even there. Jesus says, “God will guide you through the fog of worry if you let Him lead the way. He alone can overcome your worries. Don’t worry, be hopeful."

That's so GOOD right? 

Hopeful!

I just realized THAT is my #onelittleword for 2017!

I want to focus on being HOPEFUL.  

I found so many wonderful verses about having HOPE that I know I will be bible journaling my word for the year throughout this next year!  This page I just did this afternoon and it really does make me happy & hopeful just looking at it!

Romans 15:13 says: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."

In Romans 5:2-5 it says: "Through him we have also obtained access by faith into the grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of glory of God.  More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

We had some friends over the other night for a mid-week bible study and fellowship time since our church in taking a couple weeks off of mid-week study to remodel the sanctuary.  It was AWESOME to get together with these families and spend time together!  (It was also pretty awesome that Dany's parents wanted to cook the whole meal for us too!) I love these families and their hearts. We are a group of friends that number almost 30 all together with our children and even more than that when extended family join us, like in this photo!  It's so much fun to watch the dynamics of a group of this size.

This is a group of people I want to:

~ "rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance"  We talked about that the other night.  We know this life will have suffering, trials and hardships...  Life is not perfect and life can be hard.  What we rejoice in knowing is that our Lord is with us during those times, that He allows trials in our lives to refine us and shape us into the person He wants us to be.  And that the Lord puts people in our lives to help us through those times of hardships and suffering.

~ "endure this life with... because "endurance produces character, and character produces hope..." Talked about this too.  We really want our children to have character! But character comes from hard places.  Life experiences... Do we want our kids to go through hard times?  NO!  But is that part of growing and learning?  YES...  Oh, it's so hard to see our kids hurt or watch them struggle to find their way.  We pray they don't go astray or loose the Lords path for their lives.  I know Prayer is a HUGE part of letting the Lord work in their lives during these hard times.  And I've seen evidence of how strong in their faith they can come out the other end of a trail and I Praise GOD for that!

~ "and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."  I think being Hopeful in the Lord is a GREAT start to 2017!!  

I want to have HOPE for each one of these friends (and every one of YOU too) to have the Holy Spirit dwell in them and guide them.  I have hope for all the kids in this photo to find the path the Lord has for them.  There are quite a few teenagers in this photo that are either in college, going off to college or going to be in the next few years. (including my senior in the middle with her glasses on :)  I pray that each one of these kids/young adults will seek the Lord with all their heart!  That they will ask what it is the Lord wants of them...and then GO/RUN towards that!  That they will find a "helpmate" in life that loves the Lord with all their heart!  That the person they fall in love with has the Fruit of the Spirit in them,  encourages them in the Lord,  stays pure with them, prays with them, reads the Word of God with them, and seeks God as the center of that relationship!  Because then they will know the blessings of God in that relationship and know they have chosen the one God has for them!  

Isn't that what we ALL want for our children and seek to encourage them to find?  How fun to watch this group grow up and hopefully go to some of these kids' weddings and see the fruit of these prayers for our children!  Who knows... maybe there will be a few God designed matches in this group of kids!?!

Last night we were out for my dear friend Heather's Birthday and on the way home we were talking with one of the couples about dating.  I don't think of myself as someone to give much advice, (that is outside of my blog, lol) but b/c we have older daughters they were asking us some advice for their children.  Basically what I just wrote in the paragraph above is what I would say IS our advice!  I've blogged about dating in past blog posts and you can find those if you are seeking out more advice.  But we really were so blessed with our two older daughters having great "heads on their shoulders." I know Victoria found those qualities above in Dany and that is such an answer to our prayers! I know Rebecca is waiting for the one the Lord has for her and I know she won't settle for anyone other than someone with those qualities above, because a Godly man is so important to her (he also needs to have a sense of humor :).  I was talking to her just the other day and she'd probably be embarrassed if she knew I was saying this (but she doesn't read my blog :).  She has some great qualities that I know Godly young men are looking for and I told her that many young men will, and have, fallen for her because of that... BUT, she needs to seek who the Lord wants HER to fall for.  So many girls these days are just happy to have ANY guy like them.  "Oh, it feels so good to have a guy like you"...  they just get caught up in the feelings/emotions of it and don't seek out if that person IS the right person for them. That's another piece of advice I guess I can impart to you.  In fact last night talking with this couple in the car on the way home it was interesting to hear their point of view on our daughter and it was a blessing to hear what they see in Rebecca! (although the part about her getting married at a young age b/c of her great qualities was surprising and I'm definitely not hoping for that Paul...hahaha) And Isabella?? I guess we need to start preparing her for this future too, even though she is only 12 and seems even "younger" being the baby of the family.  Oh boy... I don't know how this blog post turned into a dating advice column... hahaha  

Getting back to being HOPEFUL, here is another scripture about hope found in:

Romans 12:12 says: "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."

I think this may be my "Verse for the Year" because it's so short, concise and easy to remember!

Here is the context surrounding it:

Romans 12: 9-13 "Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality."

A good "New Years" resolution I'd say... 

Looks like I will be studying Romans a lot next year...

I want to show brotherly affection, hold fast to what is good, be fervent in spirit and serve the Lord together with them!  

Getting back to that Bible Study, one of the dads that lead the bible study on Wednesday was talking about looking forward to the New Year with the "Big Picture" in mind.  What is the legacy we will leave our children after we are gone?  As parents, of course we want the best for our children! We want our children to grow up loving and serving their Savior.  We want to be the best parents we can for those children.  We want to raise them up to LOVE the Lord, to serve Him and to look towards the prize of our heavenly home. But what can we do TODAY to set us all on that path?  To train up our children in the way they should go...

I think two KEY ingredients are: (there are many more but I'll start here...) 

1. Be CONSTANT in prayer!  Like Romans 12:12 says. This is something I am learning more and more each day the importance of.  Prayer CHANGES things!  I like what my friend Heather said this morning to me... "Prayer PRE-WRITES HISTORY!"  That's an awesome way to look at it! That is probably the biggest lesson I have learned this year as my word this year was DWELL.  Dwell in His Word and Pray... and I thank God for this lesson.  Pray BIG PRAYERS!!  I've read a few books this year on prayer and I'm still learning so much and plan to keep learning.

2. Share the Word of God with them!  This one I have to admit hasn't been something we've been great at this year... which I am so sad to realize as this year closes.  I have been in the Word daily, I know my older girls are in the Word daily but do we ALL share in His Word together daily?  No.  Our desire has always been to read a devotional together after dinner each night and when the girls were little, that was easy to do.  Now as they have grown and we have adapted to a different life, with less meals at the table each week, we haven't made this a priority.  As we think of our youngest daughter, my husband and I regret this realization.  We pray the Lord will help us to make this a priority in 2017 and beyond.

I am HOPEFUL these two things will be a priority for all of us in the coming year.

 

And with my new #onelittleword in mind for 2017:

I am hopeful our daughter and new husband will have a lifetime of LOVE and JOY in their marriage!  

I am hopeful our graduating daughter will be lead by the Lord to the right college, career path and eventually the right man for her.

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 I am hopeful our youngest will find her calling and set her mind on the Lord's will for her life.

I am hopeful for my husband to be blessed in this new business venture and give God the glory for what He is doing in his life.

 I am hopeful for the future of my faith based retreats and what the Lord is doing through them.

And I am hopeful the Lord will show you His will for your life this year!

So to end where I started this way too long blog post...

My HOPE for 2017 is to RELEASE my own desires, and be HOPEFUL on the Lord's will.  

In my own life, that isn't so easy for me to do.  I think too much on things that I should let go of.  In fact, just last night the Lord really convicted me (probably why I couldn't sleep last night) that I tell my girls to "let go" of things or attitudes and I myself haven't don't that fully on some things in my own life!  Today as I was writing this off and on all day, the Lord has really convicted me of that.  I had to take some time to really pray and ask for forgiveness and I am SO thankful He does forgive us and restore us!  It feels like a weight lifted off of me and Lauren Daigle's song "Trust in You" really blessed me today:

 

So, my prayer for all of YOU as we start a New Year is that I hope all of you REST in the knowledge that we have a God that loves us, that we can TRUST He is working a good plan for us and our children, and we can have HOPE in Him for now and forever!

Many blessings in 2017!

Laura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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