2019 Word

It’s time to announce my new Word of the Year.  This word has been jumping off the page to me for several weeks.  It’s a great word to think about this year — “Kind.”  One of the most common derivatives of this word, of course, is “kindness,” so I’ll be watching for both words.

The word first came to my attention while singing a worship song on a walk.  It brought tears to my eyes to imagine the kind heart of God.  We all need kindness:

You’re rich in love and you’re slow to anger.

Your name is great and your heart is kind.

For all your goodness I will keep on singing

10,000 reasons for my heart to find.

If you have never chosen a word before, I highly recommend it.  What word would you like to focus on this year?  Each of my previous words still stay with me to this day and jump off the page when I see them–Hold, Way, Trust, Refuge, Journey, Presence, Pain, Worship, Cast, Joy.  They’ve become deeply meaningful, personal and special to me.  Powerful!

Here are some quotes using my word, “Kind.”

He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgive our sins.  He has showered His kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.  — Ephesians 1:7-8

Old-Ma sitting in her rocker by the fire, wrapped up in the coat that had belonged to Old-Pa, so long ago that those times were hardly a memory, a thick-set woman shrinking with the years, everything about her shrinking but her heart.  And that heart was as large as the mountains.  Larger.  Her whole life was nothing but kindness.  It warmed him, just the thought, and lifted his feet as surely as it lifted his spirits.  He knew he was home then, really home, and that all the rest of it was done now.  Because Old-Ma would be sitting there, maybe sleeping in her rocker, or maybe still working through a chapter in the Bible that had come to belong to her, as surely as her hands and feet did, a Bible marked and turned down and spotted with decades of touching every single page.  And she lived that way, if nobody else in the world did, nobody but her.  She lived a Christian woman’s life so that it didn’t even seem like there was any trying in it, as if it had been born into her, as if her kindness was natural as breathing.  On those days when his father’s hard face eased a little he was fond of saying that Old-Ma would’ve fixed a plate for Judas Iscariot, if he ever came by, and prayed him along on his travels.  — Owen Parry, Our Simple Gifts, pg. 105-106

When you give a word of kindness for someone who needs it, that’s an act of worship.  — Max Lucado

My wish this holiday season, is for people not to make assumptions about others, to put themselves in others’ shoes, to respect others as they wish to be respected, to respond with kindness even when they disagree, to live and let live.  — Julia Ioffe, Washington Post News Service, 12/25/18

Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  — Colossians 3:12 (NLT)

What is your Word of the Year?



Not Alone

This week I’m sharing quotes from my Word of the YearJoy!  Following are more wonderful phrases that use the word, “Joy.”  I can honestly say that this has not been an easy year; but, in truth, even when times are really difficult, there is a joy and strength deep inside that no one can displace in my life.  It’s always there, as a foundation to everything because God is faithful and present and He loves unconditionally.

The Christian joy is found in knowing that, though he must go through scenes of deepest gloom, he is not alone; there is One who has led the way.  Yes, he knows that nothing can separate him from that One, if he will keep his eyes fixed on Him; and the sorrow to be endured will only make the goal more beautiful.  — Ruth Youngdahl Nelson, God’s Son in My Heart, pg. 10

While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up to Heaven.  So they worshiped Him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy.  — Luke 24:51-52 (NIV)

At His sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the LORD with music.  Psalm 27:6b (NLT)

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.  The self-same well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes be filled with your tears…The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.  — Kahil Gibran

Jesus saves us not only from our sin and ourselves.  He also saves us from our ordinariness.  He transforms the drudgery of daily existence into a wonderful journey with Him…Jesus brings new meaning to everything, even the most meaningless of days.  We find joy where before there was only dullness of heart because, beyond ourselves, Jesus has come, the true bringer of joy.  Pray that your dullest tasks will be transformed with the joy of Christ. — Michael Card, Joy in the Journey

Shout to the LORD, all the earth; break out in praise to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and melodious song, with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn.  Make a joyful symphony before the LORD, the king!  Let the sea and everything in it shout His praise!  Let the earth and all living things join in.  Let the rivers clap their hands in glee!  Let the hills sing out their songs of joy before the LORD, for He is coming to judge the earth.  He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness.  — from Psalm 98 (NLT)

I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.  Yes, your joy will overflow!  John 15:11 (NLT)

You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.  — Psalm 4:7 (NLT)

The parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) is a familiar story, and it’s important to keep the focus where it belongs:  not on the lost son, but on the father and his great joy at the repentance and return of the son.  — R. C. Sproul, What is theGreat Commission?, go, 57

Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the LORD because the foundation of the LORD’s Temple had been laid.  But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation.  The others, however, were shouting for joy.  The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.  — Ezra 3:11-13 (NLT)

Joy is hard to find on ordinary days in the routine of daily life.  If real joy is to be found, it must come from the outside.  On those mystical occasions when joy comes to us from beyond, the ordinary is transformed into a vehicle for the joy.  The entire world can be transformed in a moment…the first Easter [or Christmas] began as an ordinary day.  Jesus chose an ordinary day to transform the world and give us the chance to know joy.  — Michael Card, Joy in the Journey



Look Back

It’s nearly time to choose a new Word of the Year, and I certainly have enjoyed this year’s word — Joy!  Here are some of the amazing quotes in my journal that use this vibrant word:

Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  — Philippians 2:2 (NIV)

Look back with joy to all your wanderings.  — John Muir

Shout for joy…shout in triumph…Rejoice and exult with all your heart…You will fear disaster no more…the Lord your God is in your midst.  He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love.  He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.  — Zephaniah 3:14-17 (NASB)

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.  Amen.  — Jude 24-25 (ESV)

One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized Him in the Jordan River.  As Jesus came up out of the water, He saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on Him like a dove.  And a voice from Heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”  — Mark 1:9-11 (NLT)

When God’s Spirit moves, He leaves singing in His wake, and in particular He leaves new songs, songs that embody His truth and are an obedient response to His beauty.  These songs are a spontaneous and joyful response to the great truth that it is in fact God who is doing something new!  He is coming, and His approach is meant to be strewn, like palm branches, with new songs!  — Michael Card, Joy in the Journey

We may have civilized bodies and yet barbarous souls. We are blind to the real sights of this world; deaf to its voice; and dead to its death. And not till we know, that one grief outweighs ten thousand joys will we become what Christianity is striving to make us. — Herman Melville

Lament is a gift of God for the people of God, the trailing breadcrumbs of sorrow that lead to the feast of joy.  — Rev. Joe Holland, Tabletalk, , May 2018, pg. 22

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  — Psalm 16:11 (ESV)

As He spoke, He showed them His hands and His feet.  Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder.  — Luke 24:40-41 (NLT)


Specifics Can Be Funny

I recently shared the fact that as I read God’s Word each day, He gives me exactly what I need for that particular day.  When I read an assigned daily reading there it is–just what I need to cope, have courage, move forward, forgive, change my attitude or rest quietly in Him and trust Him.  Let me give you some specific examples from Eugene H. Peterson’s The Message, to illustrate what I’m talking about.  Some of these are pretty funny, actually.

May the Master take you by the hand and lead you along the path of God’s love and Christ’s endurance.  2 Thessalonians 3:5  (given on a day when I was praying about wrist sprains, internal injuries & bruises from a bad bike accident)

I’m letting you know what I need, calling out for help and lifting my arms toward your inner sanctum…Blessed be God—he heard me praying. He proved he’s on my side; I’ve thrown my lot in with him.  Now I’m jumping for joy, shouting and singing my thanks to him.  God is all strength for his people…Save your people and bless your heritage.  Care for them; carry them like a good shepherd.  – from Psalm 28  — (given on a day when I was weary and praying for wisdom)

But you’ve made me strong as a charging bison, you’ve honored me with a festive parade.  Psalm 92:10 — (given the day our high school (the Buffalo Bison) won state football, and returned to town with police and fire truck escorts leading the way)

Go ahead, examine me from inside out, surprise me in the middle of the night—You’ll find I’m just what I say I am…I’m staying on your trail; I’m putting one foot in front of the other.  I’m not giving up.  I call to you, God, because I’m sure of an answer.  Psalm 17:3, 5-6a  (given the day of Chris’ graduation from boot camp in 2001)

GOD met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears.  Look at him; give him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from him. When I was desperate, I called out, and GOD got me out of a tight spot.  GOD’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray.  Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—how good GOD is.  Blessed are you who run to him.  Psalm 34:4-8 (given at a time I was worried and anxious about something)

Keep your eye on me; hide me under your cool wing feathers.  Psalm 17:8  (given on a stifling, hot day)

I have a friend who was starting a new job as a middle school music teacher, and she was especially nervous about conducting the choir with her hands.  Her scripture reading at that time said, “Whatever happens, conduct…”  (Philippians 1:27–NIV).  We just had to laugh, how God added humor to the day and gave her the courage to do what He had equipped her to do.

I could give hundreds (or thousands) of examples like this.  Some are too personal to share.  These are just a few that I wrote down in my journals from The Message; I’ll share more in the future.  I read from various translations, and the same thing occurs with any of the Bibles I’m reading.  Seeing the same scripture from various translations helps me see the passage from different perspectives, and helps me understand God’s heart a little more each day.

I don’t share this to brag on my own faith or “goodness;” I am only human like anyone else — weak, failing, imperfect.  I share this to reveal how good and faithful God is.  He is always present and speaking to me in my daily needs.  It’s all about Him, not about us.


General Advice

Today’s quotes from Eugene H. Peterson’s The Message are some of the best general advice we find in the Scriptures.  I absolutely love the wording of these true and wise passages of Scripture.

It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone.  Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?  Psalm 127:2

…all prayer, pursued far enough, becomes praise…  from Living the Message

…failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.  from Living the Message

Then GOD promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night! My life is God’s prayer.  Psalm 42:8

So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault.  Romans 14:19

You can’t force these things.  They only come about through my Spirit.  Zech. 4:6

The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake is confirmed by my sleeping heart.  Psalm 16:7

Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to His guests for their blessing…Run after mature righteousness—faith, love, peace—joining those who are in honest and serious prayer before God…Refuse to get involved in inane discussions; they always end up in fights. God’s servants must not be argumentative but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey. 2 Timothy 2:21-25a

It’s the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God’s light and doesn’t block the light from others.  1 John 2:10

God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight! Psalm 18:2


He Never Walks Away

This week I have more quotes from Eugene Peterson to share with you; more of the quotes that I found in old journals that encouraged me then, and were just what I needed to see, again, in recent weeks.  These all relate to trials and difficulties.  I love the wording he put on these classic scriptures and in his own writing.

GOD will never walk away from his people, never desert his precious people. Psalm 94:14

So we’re not giving up.  How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.  2 Cor. 4:16

He heals the heartbroken and bandages their wounds.  He counts the stars and assigns each a name.  Our Lord is great, with limitless strength; we’ll never comprehend what he knows and does.  God puts the fallen on their feet again… Psalm 147:3-6

He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.  He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence. GOD makes everything come out right; he puts victims back on their feet.  Psalm 103:5-6

Job ridiculed the so-called wisdom of his friends.  They had such small minds!  … How insensitive they were.  In contrast, Job, through his suffering, became more aware of God than ever, sensitive to both the majesty and the mystery of the Almighty.  Such spiritual sensitivity is one of the great gifts that suffering has to offer, if only we have the humility to kneel and receive it.  Conversations, pg. 748

Great Introductions

When reading Eugene H. Peterson’s The Message, I enjoyed reading the introductions to each book.  These are really important words; don’t miss them.

Only as we develop raw honesty and detailed thoroughness in our praying do we become whole…   — Introduction to Psalms

But Habakkuk speaks our word to God.  He gives voice to our bewilderment, articulates our puzzled attempts to make sense of things, faces God with our disappointment with God…But this prophet companion who stands at our side does something even more important. He waits and listens.  It is in his waiting and listening—which then turns into praying—that he found himself inhabiting the large world of God’s sovereignty.  Only there did he eventually realize the believing-in-God life, the steady trust-in-God life, is the full life…where every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.  – Introduction to Habakkuk

Matthew tells the story in such a way that not only is everything previous to us completed in Jesus, weare completed in Jesus.  Every day we wake up in the middle of something that is already going on, that has been going on for a long time:  genealogy and geology, history and culture, the cosmos—God. –Introduction to Matthew

We humans keep looking for a religion that will give us access to God without having to bother with people.  We want to go to God for comfort and inspiration when we’re fed up with the men and women and children around us…This determination to get ourselves a religion that gives us an inside track with God, but leaves us free to deal with people however we like, is age-old.  It is the sort of religion that has been promoted and marketed with both zeal and skill throughout human history…It is also the sort of religion that the biblical prophets are determined to root out.  They are dead set against it.  Because the root of the solid spiritual life is embedded in a relationship between people and God, it is easy to develop the misunderstanding that my spiritual life is something personal between God and me—a pirate thing to be nurtured by prayers and singing, spiritual readings that comfort and inspire and worship with like-minded friends.  If we think this way for very long, we will assume that the way we treat people we don’t like or who don’t like us has nothing to do with God. That’s when the prophets step in and interrupt us, insisting, “Everything you do or think or feel has to do with God.  Every person you meet has to do with God.  We live in a vast world of inter-connectedness, and the connections have consequences, either in things or in people—and allthe connections have consequences, either in things or in people—and all the consequences come together in God.  The biblical phrase for the coming together of the consequences is Judgment Day.  We can’t be reminded too often or too forcefully of this reckoning.  Zephaniah’s voice in the choir of prophets sustains the intensity, the urgency.  Conversations, pg. 1445, (Introduction to Zephaniah)