For several years now, the Lord has been giving me a word or phrase at the beginning of the year to guide and encourage me as the year goes by. I haven't always shared my words here, but I have them in my journals...I have found it to be a great help. I love reading all my blog and Facebook friends' words for the year...it's neat to see how we are all at different stages and places, ebbs and flows. Some are slowing down a bit and seeking more 'balance' or 'peace'...others are ramping up in some ways and seeking 'strength' or 'boldness'.
This year my word is 'brave'. I have had several years of quiet healing, growing, and changing - kind of like a caterpillar in a cocoon. I really needed those quiet, peaceful years after my divorce, and later the loss of my job, to help me heal. Then two years ago my word was 'Expansion' and the Lord started to have me emerge from the cocoon and stretch my new wings. That was the year I exhibited my artwork at the Craft & Hobby Association Winter show in Anaheim and attended the International Christian Retailers Show in Orlando and the International Quilt Market here in Houston. Plus I began contracting as a painting instructor at Pinot's Palette. Lots of new contacts...lots of new activity...lots of new work...expansion indeed! Then, 2013's word was 'New', which seemed rather odd to me at the time...didn't I just complete a year of new, new, new in the 2012 year of expansion? But it ended up being a very different thing. It was all about new attitudes, new priorities, new skills, new people, new approaches, new thought patterns, new appreciation, new gratitude...a quiet, reflective kind of 'new'.
So, I can see now that the quiet, reflective year of 'New' was the preparation I needed for 'Brave'. God had a lot of adjusting to do in my heart and mind (still does of course), but it was intensive. And now, I am stepping out again...and I know how much I need Him more than ever. Here's the only way I can be brave....
...I have to trust in Him with all my heart. He is my great BIG God - my strength and my shield. Apart from Him, I don't stand a chance.
SO, that's how 'Brave' will have to be for me...knowing He's got me, and trusting in that.
I'm not sure of all the things I am going to need to be brave about this year, but He did give me a bit more direction with the addition of 3 more words for the year: 'Enter', 'Explore', and 'Enjoy', and a word picture to tie it all together. He showed me a sheep that had been set free from its pen and had been turned out into a lovely, spacious pasture, but though the sheep knows she has been set free, she still remained close to the pen because it was what she knew best and where she felt "safe". So I feel the Lord is saying it's time for me to be brave (in Him) and enter the beautiful, spacious pasture, explore it far and wide, and enjoy myself in the process!
And I am starting to do just that. I will be leading/facilitating a women's Bible study at my church this Spring...I haven't done that since 2005, almost 9 years! That's just the beginning. Not sure of all the places I will explore, but I know in my heart that I can be brave enough to go there, trusting in His presence to be with me at all times...and, yes, I will even enjoy every step of the journey!
"...the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me."