I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free! Psalm 119:32, NIV1984

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Very Best New Year's Resolution

The best resolution for a new year?  The best new habit to form?

It's the only New Year's resolution I've ever kept.

But I succeeded in keeping it only after failing first... after standing in front of the class I was teaching and challenging them to join me in memorizing the entire book of Colossians... and then making it through only seven verses of the first chapter.

And that nagging sense of failure haunted me for years.

But in January of 2010, when Ann issued that same challenge... to memorize the entire book of Colossians... she did it in a way that we all could manage:  Memorize Colossians in a year, just two verses a week.

Just two verses a week?!  I could do that!

There was a clear plan.  There was a start, a finish, a goal.  There were deadlines to keep me on track. And I could prepare the whole project in advance so I wouldn't scramble and flounder in the middle when days became busy and life got crazy.

So I printed the verses, pasted them in a little book of blank pages... sent off an email to a friend I knew would join me in the challenge... and memorized my way through the entire book of Colossians that year.

And then I just kept going... kept memorizing...


Well... for the same reason the psalmist recorded in Psalm 119:11.
"I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you."

And because, if I'm going to be faithful to do as the Lord instructs us through Paul in his letter to the Colossians, to "set (my) mind on things above and not on earthly things..." then I'm going to have to have "things above" already tucked into the corners of my mind and hidden in the caverns of my heart.

In this dark and broken and hurting world, I'll only succeed in thinking about "what is true, what is noble, what is right, what is pure, what is lovely... " if I am making a habit of rehearsing, reciting, and remembering those true and noble things in the midst of the mess, the mundane, and the menial.

And when I face a mountain in the path before me?
I'll not say to it, "Be moved!" unless I have faith.
And what is recorded in the letter to the Romans?
"Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God!" (emphasis mine)

So I'm resolving this year, like last year and the year before that, to hide God's Word in my heart.  It's the surest way to succeed in my goal to remain.

Want to join me in this challenge, this resolve to hide God's Word in my heart?  Do it!  You won't regret it!  God has promised us that His Word will not go out and return void.  If you sow the seed of His Word in your life, you can trust Him to make it grow.  He will make it bear fruit!

Not sure how to get started?
Here are a couple of links that may help:

Ann Voskamp is memorizing chapters 1, 8, and 11 of Romans this year.  She has provided printable Scripture memory pages and lots of links to help you along.  There's also a link to last year's "Memorize the Mount" plan, as well as to the "Colossians in a Year" plan.  Click here for details.

Beth Moore has a fabulous plan for memorizing two verses each month.  Choose the verse and the version you prefer and log your verses on her blog twice a month for accountability, encouragement, and fun.  Click here for details.

And what am I memorizing this year?  I'm starting with John 15, as I strive to remain firmly rooted in Him.  Then I'll memorize Romans 8.  And, Lord willing, I'll finish the year with 2 Corinthians 4.

Want to join me?  Jump in!  Whether you do the Romans Project with Ann, two verses a month with Beth, or a plan of your own... just do this thing!  Hide God's Word in your heart that it might bear fruit in your life!

It's a New Year's Resolution worth making... and you just might find yourself keeping it every year!

Remain in me, and I will remain in you...
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
you may ask for anything...
John 15:4, 7 NLT

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013


They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I think it's true.

Sometimes, one word attached to one photograph can weave its way into your thoughts and take root there.  That's what happened with this photograph:

photo credit:  Louie Giglio

Several months ago, Louie tweeted that picture with just this word: Remain.  And I've been thinking about it ever since  . . . about what it means to remain . . . to abide . . . to dwell . . . to stay firmly rooted.


Miriam-Webster says that remain means:
1. to be a part not destroyed, taken, or used up
2. to stay in the same place or with the same person or group


I find myself wanting to chase "this idea" or start "that fun project."  I want to figure things out or make them work on my own.  I want to do things my own way in my own time and by my own strength.

But the Lord reminds me, "Remain."

He says this: 
"Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.  Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches.  Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.  For apart from me, you can do nothing."  John 15:4-5, NLT

Remain.  Abide.  Dwell.  Stay.  Live.

Simple words.
And why does the follow-through so often elude me?

"Remain in me," Jesus says, "and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine."  (John 15:4, NIV 1984)

"Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you..."  (Amplified Bible)

"Live in me.  Make your home in me just as I do in you...you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me."  (The Message)

"Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me."  (ESV)

Live.  Stay.  Dwell.  Abide.  Remain...

...that all I do would be only His work in me.
...that the fruit of my life would be sweet and good because the source is right and true.


Around the web, Ann, Lisa, and Emily have been talking about their one word for the year, about the best habits for all these days ahead.

I know my word.
I know the habit that most needs forming in me.
Now to do what I know.

  Remain in me, and I will remain in you...
For apart from me, you can do nothing.
John 15:4-5, NLT

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Giving Thanks . . . December Wrap

There's a quiet stillness that settles in at the end of December.  Bare branches stretch against a winter-white sky.  The pecan trees have long-since shed their leaves, released their fruit.

In the stillness, we look back on a year of counting on the Lord, of continuing to count the ways He has blessed.  And we look ahead with expectation.  Because the Lord is good.  And His unfailing love endures forever.

Continuing to count His gifts and grace . . .

#1603  a walk-through nativity bringing the story to life
#1604  first century costumes leading us to step back in time
#1605  "Roman soldiers" charging up on horses
#1606  donkeys, sheep, chickens, and goats in the "market"
#1607  remembering again that God so loved the world He gave
#1608  the ones who sacrificed their time to tell the story for all of us
#1609  lighting candles and remembering God's gift of light
#1610  a fire in the fireplace during the homeschool day
#1611  oatmeal with pumpkin seeds, cranberries & sunflower seeds
#1612  new friends in unexpected places
#1613  enjoying an evening I didn't expect to like at all
#1614  yummy pumpkin bread a friend baked
#1615  pulling up stools to her counter and sharing stories
#1616  laughing together at funny memories
#1617  lunch with sweet friends
#1618  simple gifts exchanged between the four of us
#1619  an afternoon at the home of a dear friend I've dearly missed
#1620  rolling out cookie dough and decorating cookies
#1621  playing UNO and Quixo with my boy-child
#1622  Grandad home safely from India...and bearing gifts!
#1623  celebrating Gram on her birthday
#1624  finding just the right gift
#1625  chicken kabobs, hummus & tabouli for dinner
#1626  red velvet cupcakes to share 
#1627  the Lord shielding us from the car that came careening toward us
#1628  just enough time to make the trek and purchase the gift
#1629  husband and boy-child cleaning out the garage...
#1630  ...and putting together the ping-pong table
#1631  unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning
#1632  a nap on the sofa, Christmas afternoon, holding a tiny newborn
#1633  the calm that follows the rush of Christmas  
#1631  watching the sun rise in the Eastern sky as we drove
#1632  arriving safely there
#1633  cousins playing hard all day long
#1634  kids building catapults and popsicle-stick bridges
#1635  fireworks before the rain
#1636  popcorn popping on the stovetop
#1637  cups of hot chocolate and warm apple cider
#1638  games of Jenga around the table
#1639  a new year...and all this hope and expectation...

Come and see what God has done,
how awesome His works in man's behalf.
Psalm 66:5, NIV 1984

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