Places To Go, People To See…Hello 2014 by Trish

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(Photo: Big Stock Photo)

It’s the New Year and there is just something so inspiring about the idea of a fresh start – a new beginning. We tend to use the beginning of a calendar year to implement new goals for our personal and spiritual journeys.

I cannot speak for all, but as for me, I’m thrilled for the dawn of a new year. I love that God provides brand new mercies and whatever I did not achieve over the past 12 months, I can reassess my priorities and try again.

I was having lunch with my sister some time ago and I was sharing with her the expectations of others that I allow to pressure me at times.  I shared how it can be overwhelming when others see your life from their perspective and try to offer a solution that feels significantly different than what you had in mind. She made a simple yet profound statement just by saying “You CAN have it all”. In other words, she was reassuring me that the dreams in my heart regarding my future can be achieved and that I need not settle for good just because “good” is what could be attained right now. “Great” may take longer and require more effort, but it is possible.

The next piece of advice was, “write down your plan”. She was holding me accountable to my dream by telling me to write it out.

As you gather your memories from 2013 and create inspired thoughts for 2014, what do you aspire to accomplish? Are you believing God for restoration in a relationship? Do you have a desire to further your education and better equip yourself in your calling? Are there financial goals you would like to accomplish? Whatever your “list” for 2014 is, breathe life on it by writing it down and then ask God to give you a plan to accomplish it.

Get to writing, girl! You’ve got places to go, people to see and a great big world that needs you fully operating in your God-given potential!

The Lost Art of Courtesy by Kenika

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(Photo: Big Stock Photo)

Many know the “golden rule” which is to treat others the same way you would like to be treated.  The root of this principle is Biblical.  Matthew 7:12 states, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”   Although it is a Biblical concept almost all people tend to live by this mantra or idea whether they are Christians or not.  Across the board it is understood that we must be kind to others in the same way that we would want them to be kind to us.

One time I was at the airport waiting to board a flight.  If you have spent any amount of time at the airport, you understand it is not the friendliest place on the planet.  You have passengers that are trying to find their check-in counter, make it through security, perhaps find coffee or a meal, and then find their appropriate gate.  Occasionally gates change and flight times are delayed, making people irritable and aggravated.  On the other side you have curbside check-in agents, counter agents, security (TSA), Gate agents, et cetera that have a job to do and they have to deal with disgruntled people all day every day.  There are a lot of moving parts and moving people each with their own agenda or goal to accomplish. Because of this, there is a lot of room for misunderstandings and offense.

While I was waiting to board my flight I overheard one lady almost chasing down another lady.  The first lady was exiting the restroom, and the second lady was following her.  The lady that was following her said, “Ma’am” like four times before she turned around. Finally when the lady turned around, I overheard, “Ma’am, I am really sorry if I bumped into you in the restroom (I didn’t mean to)”.  The other lady, almost in shock, replied by saying that it was no problem at all.  I don’t know why this impacted me so much but it did. To see such courtesy and kindness for seemingly no other reason but to be courtesy and kind was refreshing to me.  I thought to myself, “Am I this persistent and consistent with being courteous?”  “Would I extend myself that far to demonstrate the ‘golden rule’?”  It was refreshing to see that common courtesy was not dead.  That there was someone out there who decided to stop what they had going on, put aside their own agenda to make sure that someone else was not hurt or offended.

I could totally flip this concept and make it even more in depth for those of us who serve the God that created this idea, but I believe the idea stands on it’s own. I was impressed to see that common courtesy is still alive and well, an even more was willing to challenge myself to express the same courtesy to others.  The top of the year is always a great time to evaluate where we’ve been and where we need to be. We should evaluate ourselves to see if we have extended this to everyone we encounter and if not, do our best to resurrect courtesy in order to sow seeds of kindness and impact the lives of everyone we meet.

God Recycles by Bombi

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(Photo: Big Stock  Photo)
Years ago I moved from Arizona to the environmentally conscious-Pacific Northwest.

Since then, I’ve held onto a greener way of life. Seems nowadays that “going green”
is new and almost trendy, but being green is older than we think. Being aware and
sensitive to our world and its resources, including the beings in it, started with
creation. This started with God.

It fascinates me that God created the whole world, including the stuff on, in, and
around it out of nothing. He used His own words to create it, speaking life and
things into existence. What wonder and majesty. What a creator! Come to think of
it, God is the greatest recycler of them all. He’s the very best at up-cycling, re-using,
and repurposing. He’s the author of resourcefulness. He used dirt to make man,
then used a part of man to make woman. When people die and are buried, their
bodies decay and turn back into dirt. God uses dirt, water, sunshine, and seeds to
make food. What a genius!

I’d like to point out even more examples of God’s resourcefulness throughout
history and within our very own lives. Through His example we find resources in
ways and places we might not otherwise have looked. He asks us to re-use what we
already have. When Moses didn’t know how he would lead the Israelites into the
Promise Land or what he would use to do it with, God asked him to look at what he
had in his own hand. (Exodus 4:2)

God’s example shows us that we have more than we think we do. When we don’t
have what we need, sometimes God asks us to trade what we do have so we can
get what we need. He gives us beauty when we give him our ashes. He gives joy for
tears. I don’t know about you, but ashes and tears normally wouldn’t seem like a
resource. For me, there were times where it seemed to be all I had. Well it was
something, and God worked with it. What a good trade!

God’s resourceful example shows us that He multiplies what we have during times
of lack. When we make the initiative to use something over and again for God’s
glory, He does something for us more fantastic than we could ever have hoped. He
multiplies it! Like He did with the widow’s oil and flour (1 Kings 17), like He did with
the loaves and two fishes (Matthew 14). I can go on and on. I tell you, I am so in
awe of God. He is the most resourceful being that ever was and ever will be. He is
all knowing. When others don’t know how to use something, or get more of or out of
something, He always knows just how.

God is so resourceful that He utilizes every experience in your life in His divine plan
for you. He wastes nothing. There was a year in my life where my father,
half-brother, and close family friend died. Not to mention my divorce. I’d find my
heart crying out, “How in the world could these experiences benefit anyone?” Now
when I know of someone grieving, I can weep with them and comfort them with the
comfort God gave me.

Are you in question of your life today? Do you feel that so much of it is such a mess
you want to throw it all away? Do you feel you have no resources? You have nothing
to offer the world or anyone? When you look in the mirror, do you see trash? If
you’ve made it this far reading this, then I’m here to tell you that the One who is
able to make you can remake you. You are not trash, you are God’s treasure. Maybe
you just want to throw parts of you away? Well, God wants it. All of it. He’s that
resourceful. If you surrender your trash to God, He will re-purpose your life in ways
you’ve never imagined. What the enemy meant for evil God will use for the good.
He will recycle that pain, that hurt, that story. He will use it for His honor and His
glory.

Genesis 50:20 (NKJV)
But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to
bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

Choosing Joy by Sonya

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(Photo: Big Stock Photo)

Choosing joy in all circumstances and situations in life can be difficult but it doesn’t have
to be that way as we change our mindset. James 1:2 puts it this way, “Consider it pure
joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”

God desires us to live with joy that surpasses all understanding. I believe it takes retraining
our mind to think on thoughts from above as Philippians 4:8 explains very well.
“Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just,

whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, and whatever things are of good report, if
there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things.”

These things bring everlasting joy and peace in our lives. Think of the difference it would make
to train our minds to think on truth, pure thoughts, and everything that is praiseworthy.
Then joy will come in the morning for us as we begin our day thinking on heavenly things.

Our joy is not out of the plans the world has for us but it comes from God’s plan and an
inward obedience towards God. This joy should overflow in our lives and be an outward
reflection of the work God is doing inside of us. As we choose joy then we can’t think of
negative thoughts or impure and unlovely and untrue things. When we think on the
joy-filled things we have no room for the other thoughts that cloud our mind. Choosing
joy in all circumstances is not what our culture teaches us but God teaches us that
choosing joy will be our strength. “The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength” Nehemiah 8-9.

Lasting joy is found in HIM. Make this is an action in your life by choosing joy and
thinking of all the things we have to be thankful for. It doesn’t mean life will be perfect
but it does mean that we trust in God for our joy and not people, thoughts or our
circumstances. Being full of joy will bear the fruit God has intended for you. No one can
take away your joy, and today I challenge you to choose joy.

For 2014, make it your goal to live a joy-filled life holding back nothing. Allow God
to transform your way of thinking and allow HIM to be your joy!

Remember Psalm 1:1, “Obeying God will bring great joy.” Don’t wait, experience that joy today!