Word of the Year

Courage To Be Thankful During Difficult Times

blog post header titled Courage to Be Thankful During Difficult Times by Denise M. Colby

This blog post is about thankfulness. Several blog posts right now are covering the topic of COVID-19 and the Coronavirus. I myself have found it challenging to write something without addressing the elephant in the room. And thus, why I decided to share how I’m trying to focus on finding ways to be thankful (and the one phrase that started all this!)

When the peace of Christ rules in our hearts, thankfulness overflows. Even in the darkest of times, we can praise God for his love, his sovereignty, and his promise to be near us when we call. Psalm 145:18

So let’s get started! The other day something struck me that I wanted to share.

I was really thankful we had three bathrooms for the five adults in our house.

And then my mind went to: I was thankful that the other four in my house were boys and not girls, and thus we used less toilet paper.

Oh, the silly things our minds go to, right?

But it got me thinking…what else am I thankful for in these challenging times? I found I could rattle off quite a bit of things.

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1

 

Here’s my list:

Family dinners every night.

That my family likes each other enough to want to hang out together, even after being around only each other for longer than three weeks.

Technology to connect with others outside our family unit.

The grace and caring I’ve seen from all my kids’ teachers.

The nurses and doctors and first responders who brave this new virus every day.

The hugs and prayers I’m seeing in texts, Facebook, and other social media.

Finding 80% of the items on my list at the grocery store.

For all the workers who ensure that those items are on the shelves at the store (that includes those that make, package, deliver)

The price of gas dropping significantly. $2.49 the last time I gassed up and that’s LOW for California.

I can find and order what I need online.

Daily walks with my husband.

Journals to write down my thoughts and feelings and observances (see my previous post Journaling Through Challenging Times – Ideas, Questions, & Encouragement)

Finding something new to learn and having mental capacity to try it out.

Getting to projects at home, that I haven’t had time for.

Watching the creative content such as the SGN network (Some Good News) by John Krasinski. 

I love seeing the creativity that builds because of limitations. Sometimes we are too busy to think out of the box and that can limit us as well.

Eleanor Roosevelt Quote about strength, courage and confidence over a wooden crate background by Denise M. Colby

My word this year is courage.

I chose it to have more courage in my writing. To take risks. To say no to things that would interrupt me finishing my book. But I also felt courage was a good word for my faith, to open myself to God more with  Bible reading and prayer.

Who knew that this word would be so applicable to what we are facing right now. Courage to trust God. Courage to adapt and adjust to this new normal.

I found these other verses fit with the thankfulness in my heart.

 

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 106:1

and

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

and

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

What is something that you are thankful for that is new during these difficult times?

I’d love to hear it.

Faith, Hope, & Love

Where Is Your Confidence?

2 Corinthians 3:4-5 - Our competence comes from God

This morning I was reading in 2 Corinthians and the following verse made me stop and pause, so I wrote it down on my handy 3×5 index card for future reference:

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.     2 Corinthians 3:5

I want to be a writer. Notice I said I want to, not I am.

I’ve only been writing things for over twenty years – either marketing copy or fiction stories. No matter which, the reality is I struggle with believing in myself. My takeaway from this verse is God’s telling me if I believe in him, I need to believe in myself.

After getting the kids off to school, I took a walk and the verse rattled around in my head. But for some reason the key word competence turned into the word confidence (I wonder who put that there?). As I mulled around thoughts about confidence, I knew I needed to come home and look up the word in the dictionary.

I love words. Definitions, synonyms – all of it. I also love seeing connections words have with other words.  So here’s what the website http://www.dictionary.com says about

CONFIDENCE: full trust; belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance:

And I love the example they gave in a sentence: His lack of confidence defeated him.

Is my lack of confidence in my abilities as a writer defeating me?

I think about my writing and the nudges I have had over the past five years and I know without a doubt God wants me to do this, otherwise doors would’ve closed on me long ago. However I’m not fully doing what he wants me to do because I have not had the confidence to just do it.

I’ve been saying for a while now, I would like to write devotionals. I have this strong innate desire to share hope, encouragement and God’s Word with others. What I haven’t been sure about is the how and what. So I haven’t done it, period.

When I took my walk this am something clicked and I couldn’t wait to get back home because I needed to do this right now. God has confidence in me. He has given me the desire. He’s nudging me to do this. Why have I not done this? Why?

I’m afraid – that’s why. What am I so afraid of? Putting myself out there? Looking like an idiot? Is that confidence then? I know I’m not looking for accolades, not looking for stardom. I just want to write and share my heart. But I’ve been too scared to do that.

Then I saw the Synonyms for confidence – 1. faith, reliance, dependence.

And the Antonym – 1. mistrust.

Wow!

In a nutshell, my lack of confidence in myself (lack of faith) and the abilities God has given me (lack of faith, dependence) are holding me back from sharing something he wants me to share.

I’m not really trusting God then, am I? If I have faith, I should have confidence in what he’s asking me to do. And I need to depend on Him when I do it.

So here I am today. Writing a devotional and setting up a specific devotional page on my website. Only God knows what will happen. I just need to have the confidence to do it (already the nagging doubts are creeping in). I must rely on God with the rest.

But wait, there’s more. When I grabbed my Bible to write in the verse, I realized I made a mistake (was it really?) and the word was competence not confidence. Oh no! Do I scrap what I just wrote? Does it even relate? See maybe I shouldn’t be doing this after all. I paused for a moment then decided to look it up:

COMPETENCE: having suitable or sufficient skill, knowledge, experience, etc., for some purpose; properly qualified:

And the Synonym: 1. fit, capable, proficient.

No antonym. Interesting. There is no negative/opposite of being competent.  You either are or you are not. I may not be the best writer, but I know I am proficient. So what am I waiting for?

Then I looked at 2 Corinthians 3:4 Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.

If God has given you skills – you are capable to use them for his glory. You just need to have the confidence through Him to do it. 

What abilities (competence) has God given you?  Where do you put your confidence?  In your own efforts, schedule, skills, voices in your head? Or do you trust God?  Do you have the confidence to put yourself out there with whatever it is?

God has given us all skills. We are all competent in something. Being competent does not need to mean you are the best at something.

Being competent means you are proficient. You can get the job done.

We let our own voices tell us we are not competent because we think we need to be the best or someone does it better than us and we let it affect our confidence which in turn affects what we do.    

Everyone’s path is different and God has one he wants you to follow. He has given you these skills for a reason. You just have to have confidence in Him that He is with you every step of the way.

God believes in you and I believe in you too!

Word of the Year

Finding Strength

Life is hard, crazy and stressful and in those moments when we search for answers, sometimes God connects things in a way that makes me stop in awe.

The last two years I have chosen a word to focus on.  Hope was my first word in 2015 and Believe was my word in 2016. 

For this year I have chosen – STRENGTH – and in searching up verses I am amazed to see how many fit where I am.

In my walk with God.  My daily struggles of life.  My writing career.  Everything.

Philippians 4:13 is all about strength in the Lord

I know I need strength as I begin showing my work to agents, publishers, critique partners, you name it. 

I need to be able to take criticism and suggestions and have strength to really hear the recommendations to make me a better writer.  I also want to lean on God’s strength in all aspects of my life.  As I get older, I realize that I can’t do life without him.

There are so many I want to highlight so for me to pick just one is really challenging.  So throughout the year, I will share different ones on my Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Here’s one though, I want to share:

Psalm 119:28 My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.

I love this last one personally.  Many days I feel weary dealing with everyday life.  And I know I’m not alone. I hope that these verses can offer you some comfort as they do to me.

So now that I firmly have my word set for the year, I look forward to seeing how God will use this word to encourage me, bolster me, show me things. 

And He will.  Not even a week after I selected STRENGTH, imagine my surprise when my Bible Study book I ordered – Priscella Shearer’s Gideon – came in and the cover had these words: your weakness. Gods strength. Oh how God knows things before we do.  The fact that I’ll be spending six weeks studying God’s strength?  I’m so excited.

I would encourage you to consider selecting a word to focus on.  Write down 3 or 4 that pop in your mind and then look up verses to them.  As you ponder each one, God will let you know what the right one would be.  And I hope that it gives you infinite encouragement in all aspects of your life, just as mine have done for me.

Blessings, Denise

Word of the Year

What Word Represents 2016?

What WORD would you choose to represent this year?

Over the last several years I’ve read articles about people selecting a specific word or phrase that represents the year for them. It could be an area to focus on or something God has put on their heart to study and live out daily throughout the year.

Last year was the first year I selected a word and after several days of listing out different words, I selected the word Hope.

It summarized for me where I was in my life – both writing and personal. I had hope for my writing and where it was leading me, that I wanted to write about hope to offer hope to others, hope for how God would provide for my family, hope for the future and so much more.

Several times throughout the year I found myself leaning on that word knowing God wanted me to never lose Hope, making sure it was in the words I wrote and in my actions.  It really did sum up my year when I reflect back. 

So this year I was excited to see what new word would fit me and my life.  I prayed about it and wrote down several words that I felt my heart leaning towards, but one kept coming up more than the others, so…

for 2016 I selected…..

BELIEVE

First and foremost I need to BELIEVE in God, believe he will meet my needs, and so on.  I also need to believe I can become a published author, believe I have something worthy to say, believe in this journey God is taking me on, believe in my family and their support, and so much more.

I looked up the word Believe in the bible and there are too many verses to count with the word believe in it, but as I read different ones it became even more clear that this was the right word for me this year.  So many of them spoke to me, specifically: 

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”  Mark 5:36

“If you can’t?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”  Mark 9:23

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!  Luke 1:45

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.  John 7:38

I know without a doubt that this is the word for me this year. The year I’m going to believe in myself to show my work to agents, editors and hopefully become a published author.

I just need to believe

I encourage you to take some time to reflect and pray about a word for you for 2016. When we take time to listen to what God wants for us it is amazing how he can encourage and strengthen us in our journey through his Word. 

Let me know what word or words you choose for your focus word this year. 

Blessings to you throughout 2016. 

Denise

Faith, Hope, & Love

Love & Hope, 1 Corinthians 13:7

Heart Clip Art 55

Depending on the moment, certain bible verses can stand out and speak to us in a new way.  As I work on my overall theme for my writing, I know I want to write about hope. Hope in Jesus and hope in our lives. 

I also want to write about love. Jesus’ love and romantic love. I came across a bible verse that jumped out at me with this exact theme. Then I opened my bible to find it and what I read was completely different.    

It took me a minute and then I remembered there are lots of different translations of the bible. I wanted to find the specific one I saw. So I dug a little deeper and of course, Googled it.  Sure enough the version I was looking for was the NLT (New Life Translation). It reads like this:

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.  1 Corinthians 13:7.

I looked a bit and found a few other translations.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres – NIV

Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – NKJV

I find it interesting the different words that are used to say the same thing and how they speak to us differently at different times. 

I like the idea that in a romantic story a couple who find “true love” have withstood whatever conflict has been thrown at them. They ultimately did not give up on each other and what they have ended up with is something wonderful and special.

I like how this verse can communicate that. 

But after pondering a while on all that, I could see a bigger truth in this statement.

God’s love never gives up

God’s love never loses faith

God’s love is always hopeful

God’s love endures through every circumstance. 

That no matter where you are or where you are going, God loves you. 

Always (NIV version), in Everything (NKJV).  And his love will bear all things. God’s love always protects. God’s love always perseveres. He’s not going to shelter us from things happening.  But his love for us will help us persevere. Through anything.

There’s a peace in that thought.  Something to take root in our hearts.  Because when we are full of HIS Love, then we can love others the way God wants us to.