Monday, January 30, 2017

Day 12: Quote Worthy

Today's journal prompt is brought to you by the letter P (as in the Pinterest) and rhyming sounds put together by none other than Dr. Seuess.  Hehehe...a little Sesame Street throwback for those of you of a certain age! The prompt was to write about a recent quote you've found that is a favorite to you. While I have many favorites and have a page in my Bullet Journal where I've jotted them down, the one I am going to share for this post was actually given an entire page all to itself.  Ok, you get the picture...

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not."  - Dr. Seuss

It was just a couple of days ago this quote really clicked into place.  The Mr. and I are in a couple of small group studies at church.   It has been the topics of these classes, mixed with my personal experiences, that have made this so special to me.  I will admit this quote is also the one that has nurtured my desire to write a book. I can't say when it will be done, but I have the outline created - in rough draft form. Sure there are many books on the market which talk about the subject, giving the author's viewpoints on what to do and what not to do.  Some are filled with case studies and academic research and some are nothing more than a self-help guru's two cents worth of verbiage.  Both of which option I have read several, neither of which got me to where I was hoping to get.

That is the thing with it, though.  Were these books wrote because the author had an unrelenting passion for reaching the reader or for creating a piece of work to line shelves someplace?  I'm sure mixed with the words somewhere along the way there was passion and in the end, the result was a place upon a bookshelf.  I have a strong passion for a very particular subject.  One you have all had the pleasure of reading a time or two over the years this blog has been in place.  There are simply too many, sadly, that are seeking advice and information on this specific topic but don't have right words available to them.  That said, I in no way think my words are superior, perfect, or the only ones that are right.  In fact, there will be great opposition to what I have to write about, but it is the end result of the words that I care for the most because they will reach who they are supposed to reach.

If I could share, with just one person, my story and have it help them in any way, then I will have accomplished a lifetime of achievement in this specific area.  Why?  Because I care for the broken, lost, and hurting person.  I want to help them find the hope that seems to be lost in their current situation.  I want them to know when they feel all alone, they are never, ever, all alone.  I want to share some solid, true, Biblical principles for walking the journey they are on.  Oh, not because I did it all right, but because I got some bits wrong and those are the ones I want to share and teach from. Also, to give glory and thanks for the bits I got right and to encourage them to find the right way for them.

I challenge YOU this week to find a quote that speaks to you, that hits you where you are and to think about the reason why.  Go ahead, you've got this!

- M

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Day 11: Sidestep

So, at day 11 I think it is time to take a little sidestep.  I have begun this crazy fun thing called Bullet-Journaling.  Did I tell you about this before?  Anyway, this is equal parts creativity, journaling, and planning.  I've found, being three weeks into it, there are many things about it I find time-consuming and not necessary and many things that I love.  I love the list making and organization it affords me.  This is by far its best quality.  Second is the fact I can use my creativity to design the pages.  The thing that I struggle with, and this is probably the thing many people who do this have is a bit timey.

All that said, I must admit, it has given me a place to collect all of the randomness that enters my head - all hours of the day.  I've outlines 2 books I want to write, I've jotted down the clips of dreams I remember each night, I've found a way to track my weight loss goal and a unique way to track my savings goal.  The only problem I see with it is when this journal gets full...well, I'm going to have to start all over again!

While I am certain, to some degree, this sounds like I am complaining, I am not.  I actually encourage you to run out and google this (if you are not already in the know). But beware!  When you find this on youtube you will lose hours.  HOURS!  Then you will find Pinterest boards...more HOURS!  Yet, in a way it is therapeutic and we all need that kind of positivity in out lives!

Sorry this is so short today.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Day 10: I'd Hardly Call This A Challenge

Well, it seems I simply do not have the time to complete 30 consecutive days of a writing challenge.  While I admit, I was excited and a bit anxious to begin this, I am most certainly not so good at the following through of it.   Even with all of the writing prompts I have found, and believe, me there are many, many to find, I simply don't have it in me to keep at it with such fervent pace.  Actually, I think a lot of it is more the fact it seems so much like I am forcing the words to come.  There are several posts that were written to near completion that I erased because I felt the words were there simply for the sake of having words, well, there. (This is a good spot for you to inwardly thank me for sparing you the time to read them!)

Have you ever done that?  Not even with just writing, but with anything.  You get really excited and over commit yourself to something because, in the beginning, it doesn't seem like it is going to take all that much to do?  But the more you find yourself in it, you realize the time required or the effort necessary just leaves you shaking your head in utter disbelief - at yourself - for signing on to do yet one more thing?  Let's get the context of this rambling up front....I mean this solely in the framework of hobbies and activities.   Not those things in life where you actually DO need to be front and center - consistently and constantly - like say a job or marriage relationship.

I guess what I am getting at with this is that, while yes, I will complete the 30 days, it will not be in a consistent manner.  The truth of it is, I have a few other things I am working on that require more time and aren't really ready to be a "part" of this challenge.  One of them is a Bible study I am writing.  I am a bit nervous about it, I am a perfectionist after all and I am afraid it won't be perfect.  Another thing I am working on is a personal journal that will never grace the pages of this blog, but it is most certainly necessary for my more creative side.  Then there is the project I've been struggling to pull together for some time.  Not that I don't have the ideas, the means, or even possibly the time, but that I don't have the self-confidence to put it together. 

Anyhow, all that said, I suppose if I were to leave you with a small bit of wisdom or some such thing, it would be to - yes, challenge yourself, but don't do it for the sake of the challenge.  Do it for the sake of making yourself better in the challenge.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Day 9: The Words on the Pages

Today's blog post topic is surprisingly NOT from a Pinterest find, but rather, an email I received just this morning.  Years ago I signed up for a Scripture Challenge for which the goal was to create a 26 paged 6x6 album where each letter of the alphabet was to be used to study a word from the Bible.  She has, over the years, done many different studies all involving scrapbooking and scripture.  This year, she has decided to focus on journal prompts with a little artistry added in.  Phew...that is a lot to get through to get to my point!

Anyhow, she listed 4 prompts today, one for each week of the month.  While all of them are good, and I will more than likely use them all at some point in this challenge, (ok, you know me better than that, I'll shout squirrel and change directions, but for now I'm going to run with this!) I am choosing this one quite purposefully.

Do you write in your Bible?  Why or why not, and what do you write?

First I need to let you know, I have a few Bibles.  (This will be another blog post, if I follow the prompts!) Each one received at different times.  I don't have a favorite Bible, but I do prefer the NIV.  All that said, yes, I write in my Bible.  I do.  I do not find it in the least bit degrading, demeaning, or even devaluing of God's word.  While some folks prefer to sit down and read with a notebook to record what thoughts they have, or the way the Holy Spirit speaks to them through the words on the pages, I much prefer to keep those words on the very pages that speak them.  Here's why. I don't have a set time each day where I sit down quietly before the  Lord.  I don't even have a set routine for my reading.  In all honesty, I don't even read daily from the same Bible.  More often than not I use the Bible App on my phone.  I'm getting off point.  Let me pull this back in.  I read on the go - a lot.

I received a pocket-sized Bible many, many years ago, for Valentine's Day, from my ex-Mr.  I carried that around with me everywhere.  I wanted it to be with me so I could read on the go also so I could be a better Christian.  (Again, another topic for another time.) While I did use the Bible in that way for a few years, it wasn't until he chose to walk away from our marriage that I really started to listen to what the words were saying to me.  Before that, yes I read and made notes in the margins, something akin to, "thank you Lord", "amen", and the other requisite utterings signaling I was reading the words.  However, it wasn't until during those days where I sought the Lord, begged and pleaded with Him, looked to Him for the answers when I finally WROTE in the margins.  I have since retired that Bible ( I have it in a drawer someplace) but the words on the pages, the ones where God spoke to me and I wrote back to Him, are so very real and so very important.  In fact, they are much like a beloved conversation you never want to forget.  Someday I will pull it back out and re-read what we talked about and may even use them for a much larger piece of writing.

Then there is the pocket-sized Bible I use now.  This one was a beautiful gift from my Mr. for my birthday.  In these pages, there are a few "thank-yous" and "amens", but there are so many more conversations.  There are days where I just poured out my soul, there are days where I just cried out to him (in word form), there are days where I have questioned him exponentially, and there are days where I have praised him for anything and everything.  And that, in all honesty, is why I write in my Bible.  It is something I can do on the go, anywhere and at any time.  I don't have to sit quietly before Him to hold a conversation with Him.  There is so much beauty in the margins.  It is the space where God and I meet, where His is growing me and I am asking to be grown.  I truly love the margins. (Please know that there is a great deal of benefit sitting quietly and expectantly before Him, and I do recommend it.)

Oh, how the words, all the words, on the pages are so very important, so very necessary, and so very real. 

Do you write in the margins too?


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Day 8: 3 Lessons

Today's writing prompt was to list three things you want your children to learn from you.  While there are certainly more than three, these are the first three I thought of.

1. That you are never too old to make a goal, have a dream, to wish big.  And while there is no age limit to any of that, there is a level of ownership to making it happen.  I want them to know that hard work and determination accomplishes things because nothing is going to be given to you.  Sure, there will be some goals that are easier than others, and some that no matter how much you put into it, there is no guarantee of success.  However, giving up is a certain way to achieve nothing.

2. That loving others is a choice, just as them loving you back is theirs.  And sadly, in this life you will have people who will not love you back (or even care about you) no matter how much you love them (or try to)...and yes, these are people who may even be family whether by blood or by marriage.  Regardless of this, don't change loving them any way.  Because the truth of it is, the way they treat you is a direct reflection of who they are, not in the least bit about who you are.

3. Be a responsible adult. No one in this world is going to be responsible for you, nor should they be. This world does not owe you anything.  In fact, it will take more from you than it gives.  Live for God, live within your means, pay your bills, travel, grow a family, make something of yourself, and laugh a lot.  Hardships will come, brokenness will be overbearing at times, and mean people will wear you down, but don't let these things cause you to act irresponsibly. 

Again, these three aren't the only lessons I wish to impart on them.  In fact, if anything, I want them to know that no matter what, as their mom I'm always going to love them, cheer for them, care for them, give them a what for when they deserve it, have advice when they need and ask for it, and just generally be here for them.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Day 7: A Week Into This Thing

We are officially a week into this new year, and ironically I am writing post 7 (ironic since I actually started this challenge in December!). I read through several of my Pinterest lists this morning for a topic to write on today.  To my chagrin there really wasn't much that sounded fun, insightful, or even interesting - to me. So I decided to mix a couple ideas together for today's challenge.  Instead of making a list of things I want to accomplish in 2017 and instead of writing a letter to someone, I am going to write a letter to 2017. This should be fun!!!

Dear New Year (a.k.a. 2017),

We are officially seven whole days into welcoming you; at this point in time I'd say the newness has worn off. The sparkle and pizzazz wore off well before the ball dropped and Mariah Carey missed some vocal cues (according to FB - I was in bed for the live showing!). Sure there are those of us who still inadvertently give credit to your predecessor when dating things, like checks and emails,  but for the most part the "big deal" bit is over with. It's ok though, it is the way of things these days; nothing is "new" for long. (Check out all of the instant internet celebs...) That said, I have to admit I am looking forward to what you have to offer.  Yes, I know, there is a lot of it I have a part in, none of it is wholly to chance, but randomness does have much opportunity to present itself. (This is my way of saying there are goals I have set and circumstances that will happen beyond my control.)

I'm sure you are just getting the hang of being here and already have some big things planned for us.  The next of which is the inauguration of our next President and his perfectly selected VP.  I will politely back out of sharing some of my views on what is happening in society today and the idiocy of those acting out in a negative way because they aren't getting their way from a political standpoint. The last thing we need is one more bit of commentary. (But in case I recant that thought process later, I'll be sure to not associate it to this letter...that way you can claim ignorance.) Then there's tax season...or as many look at it...the way they get to cash in on their annual "savings" account.  Does that make the government like a bank?  If so, I think I want a better annual return for my investment.  Oh shucks, I think I'm getting back to politics...sorry!

Listen, let's get down to brass tacks here.  I have a few things I'd like to see out of you.  First, for the love of all that is holy, be nice.  Then if you could, be kind, be thoughtful, be caring, be generous, be, well, anything but awful!  We have 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, etc together - make it count.  I will be entering my last year as a thirty-something this year - I have hugely mixed reviews on this.  I was wicked excited to reach 30, but feel there is much I have yet to gain from this decade of life before I send it on its way.  So, if you could, help make it a good one in the memory department.  I will also get to celebrate the second year of marriage to my Mr.  Seriously couldn't be more excited.  I have truly never known a love like this and am so exceedingly blessed the Lord picked him for me and me for him.

Then there are all the times we get to share making memories with our Littles.  I want to let you know that in my devotional today I was kindly reminded that sometimes our greatest purpose on Earth is to grow someone else's greatest purpose on Earth.  That our legacy is, perhaps, only found in future generations.  How profound and exciting.  Not to mention what an honor and blessing.  Therefore, I am handing the balance of this year back to you in order to provide those opportunities where the Mr. and I can nurture the lives of the 5 people we call ours.  If I could take a moment, I'd also like to address the opportunities to grow the family as a whole.  While there is no better and no worse thing in life than family (by that I mean the intentional way they set out to hurt you and segregate you), you've been given a clean slate, so far as history is concerned.  Let's use the remainder of your days to add some exponential growth in the concept of family...especially more so since we are blended. Tighten your boot straps because there is much work to be done here in this area!

I'm going to get off track here for a moment and go a on a small environmental rant, if you will.  What the what are you doing with the weather?  I know you are merely a time construct utilized by man to negotiate and organize themselves, but pull yourself together man!  It's January.  In Indiana.  Where is the blasted snow?  It's officially one degree outside and they have more snow in the south today than we do!  In addition to that, if we could make summer shorter and spring/fall longer this year, that'd be great.

A small thing that is somewhat related to the weather, but not really; at some point in this next year, preferably today, if not, definitely sooner rather than later, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE heal my right knee.  I'm a fat girl.  I don't just want to run - I NEED TO RUN.  I miss the freedom of the open road, the changes in the seasons, the time I spent alone with God.  Actually, look at it this way.  If you can pull this off, you can stick your tongue out at your older sister (a.k.a. 2015) and  tell her you are soooo much better than she is because you fixed what she broke.  Just saying...there is much fun in a little sibling rivalry! 

While this letter is deeply rooted in satire, because after all, a year, in itself, can do no single thing to change the outcomes of our lives, there is one thing that can.  I'm going to take this moment to thank you in advance for all of the opportunities I will have to spend time alone with my Father (running or not).  The messages I will get to hear on Sunday mornings, the time in fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, the devotionals I will get to read as the days pass, the prayers I will get to share with my family, the books I will get to read that will encourage and deepen my personal walk and daily journey, the lessons I will get to learn and those I may even have the honor of teaching.  I have big hopes for the year in this department and am anxiously awaiting to see how God molds me during this time - you've got your work cut out for you.  Hope you are ready!

With that, I bid you farewell and hello.

Keep it real,

Friday, January 6, 2017

Day 6: Writing All the Stuff

Have you ever found it is so much easier to write than it is to actually talk to people? I have. It isn't that I don't enjoy holding conversations, it is just that I am not really good with small talk.  I get turned inside out and stressed beyond belief, mostly because I do not know how to keep a conversation going.  I envision it is supposed to move and flow like a beach ball at a packed concert. Instead, I'm used to a sudden a very painful way. To me, it is tiring, exhausting, and takes so much of me physically, mentally, and emotionally.  There are some people who confuse this with my being antisocial.  I'm not.  It is simply that I don't have the social graces some were blessed with.  That and the fact I am your textbook introvert.  So what does all of that have to do with today's blog post?  Well, writing of course!

Writing, journaling, note-taking, list-making, word-jotting, you name it...I LOVE it!   I think I shared once, years ago, about the number of spiral-bound notebooks I have lying around the house.  I don't so much these days now that I have an app on my phone for that, but it is something I dearly want to get back to. I miss the actual writing part of writing.   Sure typing has its being epically faster and cleaner, but it takes away some of the beauty of it all.  The joy of seeing shapes become letters and letters become words and words become sentences, it is almost poetic.

I have been researching the art of journaling.  It seems it is not as dead as I had thought in this age of technology.  It has simply been re-invented into something that crosses media and personal hobbies.  Of which, I find it to be gratifying.  I've literally watched hours of youtube videos and read several commentaries on this (new to me) thing called Bullet Journaling. People, I can honestly tell you I am super excited to try this thing!  I am planning some rough ideas on what I want in my first journal.  It is kind of giving me some anxiety because I don't want to mess it up. Yet, at the same time, I'm wicked excited about the level of creativity it will afford me.

I want to have monthly trackers for things like exercise, reading, expenses.  Then weekly trackers for things like healthy eating, water intake, activities with the Littles, etc. I think the thing that has me the most geeked-out are the opportunities to make lists.  Yes. I have always been THAT person.  Lists make me happy.  They help me to stay focused and adult as I should.  I have no shame in admitting this.  To help balance this small, anal-retentive character trait of mine, I don't match my socks up after they are laundered.  It keeps the yin-yang at peace in my life.  We all need balance, I find mine in unique ways!  HA!

But the part of it I think will bring me the fullest joy, is it also being a place I can take notes and journal - one of the things I miss.  I have random pieces of paper lying about with notes I have taken while reading something, watching something, as a thought comes up, any and all of it.  In fact, I used to keep the sticky notes hung on my kitchen cupboards.  This practice was totally acceptable when it was just me and my daughters, but now that I'm married and have two step-sons I can't really keep all those random musings hung up for all the eyes to see.  (My excuse, but really it's because I can't enforce picking up after yourself and keeping clutter at bay when I'm adding to it too!)

Who knows, if this journaling thing takes off, it can be something I can share with the girls (the boys hate writing - something they often remind me of!).  Honestly, I think it would be my middle-Little who would embrace it the most, but who knows...Here's looking forward to a hobby that helps me to grow!

Later, M

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Day 5 - Better Late Than Never

This post is a few days late.  I'd like to give you a pile of grand reasons, like traveling to a fantastic place, reading a book I just couldn't put down, training for another marathon, you know, all of those things that take a lot of time and would naturally keep me from doing some of the little things I should be doing... Yet the truth of it is - life.  Yep, life happened.  Work-work...housework...sick getting, basically, life.  During this time I have caught up on a few of the daily devotionals I started, one of which was almost 6 months ago!  I love the Bible App on my phone, it gives me the opportunity to find a plethora of wonderful devotionals, which I am better at finding than completing most days.  I've successfully finished a couple of them in the last two days...being sick has its benefits.  I am also on the last chapter of "Crash the Chatterbox" by Steven Furtick. FINALLY!  I started this book months ago, like maybe 6 or something like that!  Hey, don't judge, it's my - have to read a lot of different things all at once characteristic I blame for this.  A few things about these devotionals and this book that have really hit home for me these past few days.

1) God isn't through with me yet.  Nope, I'm still a work in progress, and despite my desire to the contrary, there will never be a moment on this side of eternity where I will reach perfection, but that is ok too.  Why? Because it means I get to go to my Jesus every day and ask Him to help me be more like he is.  Sometimes it is an easy learning day, others it is difficult and the struggle is frustratingly real.  Regardless of how the lesson presents itself, I trust the change even if it is ever so subtle.

2) The dreams that I have for my life (teaching in case I've not shared that with you at least a hundred times before) are attainable, but they will take work (aka an education, applying, interviewing, etc) and faith in myself and trust in God's timing.  I also know my dreams will not make sense to others and they will not all support me in my decisions (continuing my education) or even congratulate me on steps completed to get there.  This too is just fine.  There will be nay-sayers in life.  This comes from their own jealousy or deep-rooted disdain for me...I just need to give these people over to God and continue on.  He's so much better at sorting out all of the details anyhow.  Plus, I don't have the time or the energy for it.

3) The things people say about me, have said about me, and will say about me are none of my business.  Nope.  If it makes them feel better, so be it.  I can tell you, this is so much harder for me than anything else.  ANYTHING!  I have a penchant for internalizing these things and in turn act or react accordingly!  A huge lesson I earnestly try to teach my children not to do.  I once had a relative tell me I would never amount to much (I think the exact words uttered were "Mandy will end up barefoot and pregnant and living on assistance." - No, I don't hold it against that relative, we all say things we wish we could take back.), another adult once told me I wasn't smart enough to be in the medical field (I wanted to be a Pathologist when I was a Junior/Senior in HS.),  yet another family member tell me I was fat, ugly, and no boy would ever want to date me (um...we all have issues during our teen years, I was NOT easy on the eyes, sure, but to this day they are still words I struggle to forget.), a boss once told me that I wasn't good enough with people and didn't have the right personality for a specific job (I applied for, several times, to be a server at the restaurant I worked at in HS and after...I never got the gig.), I could go on and on with this statements made by others concerning me, but I know these, like those I haven't actually heard, are not a reflection of me...they are a reflection of them.  Yes, there are things I will never do and never be, but oh the things I can and am!

4) Sometimes the expectations we have for life have to fall apart for the plans of the Lord to shine through.  He never once promised us a life without struggles, but He did promise to always be there during them.  I have a hard time remembering this. (Sometimes daily!) There are times I get so mad at Him for some of the things that have happened to me, but then, in the same breath, I am praising Him for some of the things that have happened to me.  You see, each and every...EACH AND EVERY...moment in life is an opportunity to learn.  Oh, how I've fought some of these lessons and hated learning them, but by understanding my current struggles are being given in order to teach me and grow me, it certainly makes them bearable; if only on the premise of what they are - lessons - and nothing else.

And that, my dears, is what the last few days of not keeping up with the 30-day challenge have wrought.  So, I guess, if I had to be honest about it - it was a good thing.  After all, I didn't have to go to Pinterest for this topic which is another (or just my) way of saying it's better late than never!

- M

Monday, January 2, 2017

Day 4: New Year's Resolution

I didn't get this post typed up yesterday.  Between church, taking the Little shopping so they could spend their Christmas $$  from their Aunt Jacqui, coming home to play games, and enjoying our first afternoon with the Mr. who just started 1st shift yesterday!!! As an officer, he doesn't get the holiday's off like the rest of us, but as we tell everyone, the bad guys don't take time off...LOL!

Instead of finding a writing topic from one of my Pinterest lists, I thought I would share with you the notes I took at church yesterday.  It was an amazing service filled with an abundance of tears and 'amens'. I just love when you can feel the Holy Spirit move a room.  It is a blessing I wish everyone would feel and/or acknowledge.

Naturally, the message was centered around the new year, resolutions of a sort, and becoming all that God designed you to be.  The verses the message was centered on are from the Old Testament - 2 Samual 23:8-12 & 20.  If your Bible is like mine, there are sub-headers to each chapter, kind of giving you a brief, what's what for the words you are about to read. The header for this portion of scripture is "David's Mighty Warriors" and the passages are:

These are the names of David’s mighty warriors:
Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.
Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, 10 but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.
11 Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. 12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.
 20 Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.

 Now, if you are anything like me you get a wee bit lost and confused in some of the Old Testament stories.  I truly admit context is a BIG helper for reading ANY portion of scripture.  Meaning, you have to read all of it to understand what is being said, not just cherry pick the words that meet your opinion.  I digress. Below are the notes I took during the message:

  • What is my spiritual well-being before God?
  • Even though the warriors in the passage fought the battle, the victory came from the Lord.
    • The warriors were in service to King David
  • We are all living our lives in service to a king.
  • Josheb was commander over Eleazar - a man who stood his ground and fought until his hand froze to his sword. - basically, his hand cramped around the handle!  (Can you imagine fighting for something so hard?!) *They did the work, but God brought the victory!*
  • TRUTH:  There is no amount of good works you can do that will impress God. It is only through grace we are saved. 
    •  Eph. 2:8-9 -> For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
  • MISCONCEPTION: because there is no work to come to Jesus, there is no work needed to follow him = this leads to a shallow faith and cheap grace
    • James 2: 14 -> 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?
    • Phil. 2:12 -> 12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,
  • Just because you are "tight" with the King, doesn't mean you get to "kick back" like the king.
    • We need direction to serve, to grow, to become = we must ask God for this
  • We have a choice to make on what we are going to do when it comes to battle; do we stay and fight or run away?
    • Because I stood, because I fought, God brought about a great victory
  • Despite circumstances, emotions, and others around you, take your stance
    • Eph. 6:13 -> 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
  • Read Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson (I think I bought this a while ago and never read it...I do that with books!)
  • Have a BHAG - Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal
    • What thing is God calling you to do in 2017?  Is it a battle to fight, a dream to grasp hold of, a relationship to mend, a lion to slay...WHAT IS IT?
    • Go to God.  Give it to God. Ask Him for guidance.