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In January our blog topic focused on our word or Scripture of the year. Now with our year soon coming to a close, we look in our rearview mirrors and reflect on what that word/Scripture and God’s activity have meant for our life, spiritual growth, and writing.
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Before writing my own review, I spent an enjoyable morning reading all our January posts. Several themes emerged.
Most writers described the life issues and challenges that brought them to the place of choosing their key words/Scriptures.
Writers looked forward to 2020 with hope, faith, and expectation. Some even outlined specific goals and plans. Others gave suggestions for choosing and processing their word/Scripture.
Writers found Scripture promises of God's faithfulness and encouragement. The goal of most writers was to trust God and follow Him more closely.
The writers of comments added insight and affirmation as they shared with compassion and understanding how their own experiences resonated with those of the writer.
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My 2020 theme was the Lord of The Impossible. Over the year, however, my word tended to be breakthroughs. However, I discovered that the Lord’s breakthroughs often don’t come with blazing fireworks, but through His quiet indwelling and empowerment. It can be a slow process, as Carolyn Arends wrote: “As a general rule (God) works incrementally – a shift in perspective here, a small breakthrough there, slowly enlarging our capacity to see and receive what He has for us.” Over the year, my focus gradually shifted from breakthroughs to God Himself and what He has done (from Luke 8:39).
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God Provided during Covid
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Shortly after Covid flatlined us and turned our lives upside down, I awoke one morning with the Spirit’s quiet assurance, “Rest in the shadow of my wings until these calamities are past” (from Psalm 57:1).
As I learned to rest and not worry, God gave me the impetus for more extended times with Him and His Word in early mornings. A friend had given me a daily Prayer Journal, so I began more structured times of listing my verse for the day, praise and gratitude items, and prayer requests. I was conscious that I was praying more for our governments and those with various Covid-related needs. While my own months were fairly calm, God brought several into my life who needed prayer and encouragement. I became more conscious of daily practicing the presence of God, too.
God opened up new opportunities during Covid
Because we couldn’t attend church in-person, I spent early Sunday mornings on bird watching at our local bird sanctuary and different lakes and ponds. This was a time of worship before returning home in time to watch our 11 o’clock services online.
Zoom offered alternatives to in-person meetings--new prayer gatherings (and there were many), webinars, and our Fall Conference, all from the comfort of my home. For me, it was quite an adjustment to lead our local writers’ group on Zoom without all those interpersonal nuances!
God brought a change of lifestyle—either temporary or permanent
With spending more time at home—with shops closed and appointments cancelled, I continued quilting projects and cleaning the house. As spring blossomed, I worked more in my yard and flower beds, enjoying it more than I have in several years. My morning walks became longer and I explored new trails farther from home. My increased activity paid off: by autumn I felt physically stronger, I determined with God’s empowerment to develop greater strength and endurance in other areas of my life.
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God gave me new insights and strategies for writing.
Major turning points came to my writing this year. First, as I wrote my June 2020 blog on writing themes, I discovered unused potential in exploring some topics. God was leading me to, “Launch out into the deep.” Further, over the year my writing focused more and more on Christ’s redemptive work and the Spirit’s empowerment. Valerie Ronald spoke so eloquently into my desire in one of her blog posts. She wanted: “to soak my stories and words with the love of Jesus...My goal is to weave His essence throughout my stories, to evoke a deep inner response in a reader’s heart toward the good.” (Thank you, Valerie!)
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God brought our family both joys and the valley of death.
Our extended family held a number of (mostly) outdoor events this summer, bringing me to a closer relationship with several others. One spiritual highlight was the baptism and then marriage of my great-niece Amanda. At her baptism, I was invited to speak words of encouragement. Doing so prompted me to pray more deeply and further encourage both Amanda and Nick in their new lives as new Christ-followers.
In March, my nephew Kevin passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack. Our smaller “Covid Funeral,” in August included mostly family and close friends. Then as I prepare this writing, Kevin’s father and my brother-in-law, Peter, is in Palliative Care from liver cancer and heart issues. In my last in-depth conversation with Peter, he expressed how much his life has become a life of thanks. While death is a great sorrow to those of us left behind, I rejoice to know that both men will be at rest in God’s presence.
Like Peter, I pray my life will be characterized by thanksgiving, joy, and peace.
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As you prepare your post this month, ask yourself these questions:
How have I seen my relationships, daily experiences, life challenges, spiritual life, and writing through the lens of my word or scripture of the year?
How has the Spirit of Christ been working in me?
What has God taught me about Himself—and myself?
How can I encourage my readers?