Glancing Back Before We Gaze Forward

Hey, most beloved blog community! As I finished my quiet time this morning, God moved you sweet things on my heart so strongly. I felt like the Lord was impressing on me to invite you along into a time of reflection before our faithful God today. If you’re like me, you take new beginnings pretty seriously. I’ve always needed them so badly. January 1st rarely rolls around that I am not sober before God about the next year and, because of His unfathomable grace, also hopeful. But as I closed up my journal for 2011 this morning, I thought about the profound significance of the final day of any given year. I turned back to the beginning of it and read the letter I wrote Him last January 1st and reflected on my state of mind and circumstances on that day. I sat with Jesus this morning for the next little while and deliberately looked back over 2011 and recalled the ups and downs of it and, oh Lord in Heaven, the CHANGES. Saying goodbye to my church of nearly 30 years and hello to a brand new church plant. Saying goodbye to my home of 27 years and embracing a new life out on a country road 6 miles from a town (and I don’t mean a city). And those are just the big things. Those are just the things I can tell in public. Grin.

I thought about how He had led me to accept something this year that, for years, I’d just found totally unacceptable. And how some strange measure of peace had come as a result. I hate to admit that this sanguine has, in her heart of hearts, always thought earthly peace was a little overrated. I was an idiot. I sometimes get tempted to negativity over that area of acceptance again (in human terms, it is worthy of negativity) but I sense the Lord saying something like this to my heart: “Do you really want to go back there?? Do you really want to have that particular thing then all that goes with it?” And the answer is no. It’s odd to me how God can use something that is so contrary to our desires to supply a different desire of our heart that maybe – just maybe – we wanted or needed even more. His ways are so far beyond ours. He is always right, however. And always faithful.

If any of you would like to participate, spend a little while today with Jesus being very intentional about your last year. The changes. The ups. The downs. The hopes. The disappointments. The inconceivable grace of God. Something He brought you through that you were sure you couldn’t survive. Or something that has yet to come to resolution and what He has done even in the midst of the wait. Philippians 1:6 says that God will complete the work He started in us when He first saved us. That means for our whole lives long, change will be part of the agenda. Are we still changing? Are we still growing? Is there any evidence of growth over our last year? These are important questions to ask ourselves before we get up tomorrow morning, put 2011 behind us (which is appropriate!) and embrace God’s goodness and grace toward 2012.

If you’re game, after spending those moments with God in reflection, write a comment to this post today using 3 words that have characterized 2011 for you. Tell us something that happened in your heart this year. I know that some of you have had a grueling 12 months and I don’t want you to have to fake it for our sakes but please consider and express ways God has also shown His faithfulness to you. He’s good even when a season has been anything but. Let’s be honest and authentic but let’s also try not to put a pall over the comments. There is so much to be depressed about out there. Let’s not let this community become just another place to feel discouraged. Our God has blessed us all in one way or another if we were willing to receive.

SO, this is an invitation to reflection. I’m going to let you go a little longer this time around in your comments because expression can be so incredibly therapeutic but still try to limit your writing to, let’s say, a maximum of three average-length paragraphs. Since you’re choosing three words that describe your year, maybe a paragraph a word is the best way to approach it. And don’t get too distracted in offering your 3 words in order of importance. Just throw them out there. If you get too fastidious and analytical, you probably won’t end up writing it.

I’ve already expressed most of the reasons for these choices, but in summation, I’ll go ahead and give my three words:

1. CHANGE. (I’m convinced to some degree that change is necessary to keep us from growing old and brittle inside. Flexibility and adaptability are subtle elements of youthfulness – not to the body that ages day by day  but – to the soul that’s being transformed from glory to glory. 2 Corinthians 3)

2. Acceptance. (Just in one basic area but it was a big one to me. I have a long way to go in acceptance as a general life rule!)

3. Surprise. (I just flat-out can’t figure Him out. And, most of the time, I’m glad.)

And what about you, my beloved Sister? What are three words that have characterized your year?

As we close 2011, please allow me to tell you again how deeply grateful I am for your faithful companionship. I love Jesus more as a direct result of this community. I am more in touch with people – astonishingly so! – because of this blog. And there is no doubt that I memorize Scripture more. You, ladies, are a GOOD FORCE in my pursuit of the Lord Jesus Christ. You bear fruit in my personal walk with Him and that is the highest measure of an earthly relationship. Thank you.

I love you dearly.



364 Responses to “Glancing Back Before We Gaze Forward”

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  1. 301
    Dawn says:

    Just seeing this post but wanted to participate even if a few days late.

    Weary – we have a 14 year old son who has been labeled with ODD – Oppositional Defiant Disorder – every day is a struggle and has been for most of his life.

    Desperate – understanding that God does not heal all situations but desperate for His word each day in this situation. Memorizing scripture this past year has been so helpful because when things seem like they are at their worst, God’s word comes back to me or a scripture I choose a few months ago will resurface as I am studying and just speak directly to the situation and to my heart!

    Hopeful – I know that we serve a big God who is so much bigger than a label, or a rough day or a future that looks bleak. The very last scripture I posted for 2011 was Hebrews 10:36 You need to persevere, so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.

    Looking forward to embracing those promises!

  2. 302
    Deborah Mott says:

    1 and 2 combo: PAIN and Inheritance: on 3/11/11 (during that week had been on the lesson of Inheritance where you taught “He preached the Gospel beforehand”… Abraham and offering of Issac)… our son called from Japan and was not sure if he would live through the day…the earthquake had hit but tsunami had not. It was a devastation to us. Yet Praise GOD he lived and we experienced the Gospel in a new way!
    3. Hope: all the horrible years of abuse and pain are being redeemed and God’s Inheritance is coming forth…Thank you LORD and thank you Beth and Living Proof!

  3. 303
    Kellye says:

    Year 2011
    Hope-for making changes in my life. Ranging from eliminating Diet Coke from my daily life to continuing to strengthen my relationship with God. Will conquer my fears/anxiety when it comes to relationship with a male.
    Risk-Extemely cautious by nature and life events; I developed a friendship with a male. I am divorced for many years and have so many friendships with girls that He has blessed me beyond words. Never, truly , in my entire life allowed a male into the sacred friendship category. Not a surprise that my 13 year old marriage failed, huh? Along with the friendship, my feelings grew for this individual , whom for a lot of reasons, did not reciprocate. I also experienced panic attacks during this year due to just having any type of relationship on a personal level. Talked to him daily for almost 2 years to nothing for weeks to now occasionally .
    Seeking- Understanding the lessons I am to learn from the events that took place, healing the heart that I forgot to guard. In retrospect, I was unaware my heart was so involved until I had panicked; thought I could spare myself from more hurt. Found out too late…believe me, letting someone in my heart is not something I ever imagined being able to do. My friend said, wow you have had your walls up for so long! My first response is to say, ” obviously , not long enough!” Seeking His forgiveness in any hurt or wrong doing that I may have caused others. It was this year that I finally forgave those who had betrayed me in the past.
    My 3 words for 2012-
    Loving — myself so I can love others to the full extent He intended. I have loved others more than myself. Believing that I am worthy of a loving relationship here on earth. I know God loves me. That amazes me still…but so, grateful.
    Wisdom-asking God for wisdom and discernment on a daily basis. To live day to day and for Him to guide me and speak to me on a daily basis to fulfill his purpose fir my life.For others to see Him in me.
    Faith-He is the only one that knows my fears, hopes, desires and hurts. I have faith that He is going to heal me from the inside out and according to his will heal/give me hope for a future of good things to come and believe in Him that he will continue to bless me with my desires if that is according to His plan. Please know that If I died today; He has already blessed me more than I deserve.
    Love, Wisdom and Faith~ my prayers fir 2012

    Beth~ I have read many of your books but ” So long to Insecurity” had/ has my name written all over it. I am thanking God for the gift that He has given you! I have to pull it out and re-read again and say the prayers again from time to time; but so grateful for you sharing His words! My gift is serving those with disabilities and say often, just like my students, sometimes I have read over several times, paraphrase, memorize, get hit over the head until. I finally get it! Continued blessings for you and your family. Please know that you are making a difference.

  4. 304
    Eva says:

    Disappointed – I have been praying for my daughters addiction since she was 14 and she is about to turn 30,change but not surrender.

    Steadfast- I WILL NOT GIVE UP! I know that my redeemer lives and He lives in my heart! Change is coming!

    Restoration – God promised me in 94′ that He would restore back to me that which the cankerworm has eaten! Through it all I love Him more!!

  5. 305
    KMSmom86 says:

    I am submitting my comments a few days late…

    LONELY – My husband died on November 29, 2011 as a result of a work-related accident the previous evening. He was a great godly man and I KNOW he is with Jesus. I miss him!!

    COMFORTED- The Lord is my strength and my salvation. He continues to comfort me through His Word and through many wonderful Christian friends.

    TRUSTING – I know that I cannot do any of this without Christ. I am trusting him for finances, help raising our three children (ages 19, 18, and 14), and for strength.

    Siestas, please remember our family in prayer. I so appreciate this community!

    M.J. in Lovington, NM

    • 305.1
      Lindsee says:

      I am so sorry to hear about your husband. May Christ himself make his presence known to you in the freshest way this year. You are loved, Sister!

  6. 306
    Melissa says:

    1. embracing grace
    2. embracing surrender
    3. embracing Gods relentless pursuit of me

  7. 307
    Jennifer T says:

    DAYS late, but this one made me think and pray and think and pray. 3 words:

    Unexpected: Decision to homeschool and the fact my husband is on-board. Answers to prayers for healing in family members… prayers prayed for years and years. Sadly, divorce of my sister-in-law and brother-in-law: very, very hard on my husband and his entire family.

    Delightful: I have three kids – ages 9 to 3. For all the chaos and exhaustion, you can’t keep them these ages forever and the things they say and do are delightful!

    Meaty: I think of the SSMT challenge and the heavy attacks my marriage and family have faced and are still battling. And I think of the fact that not only was I trying to memorize scripture but I also did read SLI and am in another excellent Bible study. It was not a ‘milk’ year but a ‘meat’ year. And the Lord has been my strength and my song through it all. HE KNEW my first SSMT had to happen this year and I bless His name for it. He is so good.

  8. 308
    Diana Selwyn says:

    I think 2011 has been the craziest year that three major ” occurrences ” I’ll call them rather than tragedies because God Has seen us for the most part thru them all and we are believing for a miracle on the third:)
    In Feb 2011 a intoxicated driver came through our yard and totaled two cars and damaged a third Thank God The cars were parked there because on the tight curve we live on which has been the cause of 12 mailboxes replaced and one other car totaled is our Master bedroom had it not been for the cars I may have been with Jesus already! The young driver is still trying to use the system to get out of her consequences therefore my word Trust that God is in charge and will make as whole as she was Under Insured and does not want to pay for damages!
    2) Grace
    In May shortly after the car incident our Home was set on Fire by arson. The part that I see Gods grace in is that I was up at an unusual hour, midnight doing something that could have waited but I felt “had” to be done so I stayed up and cleaned out an apt room that we rented out that I was showing to a potential renter! As I was cleaning at that hour I smelled the smoke no one was hurt and we all got out safely!
    3) patience
    This is the third thing that I am praying for a miracle that my youngest 12 year old son Jerry was diagnosed in oct with an arachnoid syst on his brain. I’m scared and we are praying for God’s direction as to either remove it or just monitor it:( the symptoms are headaches sometimes blurred vision with too much reading etc. not severe but annoying enough that he’s missed a fair amount of school this year! I am thankful it’s not a tumor but where it is by his brain stem is dangerous to remove and some neurologist say remove others say monitor growth! We are torn as what to do so need God to remove it completely or give us the right direction to do the right thing! Please pray for us to be led by God to them right surgeon or a miracle from God that is Gone!

  9. 309
    Melissa Wang says:

    Acceptance – A Huge word for me this past year. Accepting that I could no longer homeschool my cognitive impaired child. God had lead me to homeschool and we had a great few years but then He changed it on me again. Took me a 90 degree turn. Again. Learning to accept my child and grieving th heartache that this is not going to change but to find the joy in my son Matthew. That it is what it is and going with it on a daily bases.

    Faith- The Holy Spirit has been working greatly in this home. Trusting in Him daily to guide our paths and jumping when He says to. Having the faith to obey immedietly. Hard process and at times unbearable but we did through Him.

    Trust- Trusting that God has a plan for this child. That even the world scares me with His future that God will take care of Him. It is hard at times when the world can be so cruel to those who are different and weak but God keeps whispering to me not to worry and that he has it covered.

    I have had a few days of intense pain in my heart this past year that I just cry and grieve all day in my alone time in the house. I have grieved my son future and try to make new dreams. He is my only child and I dont know if that makes it harder or not. I have pleaded with God to heal Matthew. That I believe he can heal him whole heartly. But I sit and wait. Not sure if its in His plan. Not sure of the lessons that are to come out of this. At times questioning God as how he could use a child like this. But then I am ever so reminded of how great God is and how I cannot understand such things. Most certainly the word acceptance this past year.

  10. 310
    Carolyn Crow says:

    Just now reading this, but I just had to share my three words since 2011 was a year of healing and acceptance of God’s unconditional love for me!

    First would be “Forgiven”
    Second would be “Forgiven”
    Third would be “Loved”–God loves ME and I’m his Princess!

    Sure wish I could have figured this out earlier in my life, but I’ve learned to totally trust God’s timeline for my life!

  11. 311
    Michele says:

    I am so late to this post and to this blog, but I had to add my three words if that is okay:

    1. Upheaval: I separated from my husband in June 2011, and was catapulted into single parenthood in a shocking way. But God is faithful and He carries us.

    2. Trust: I have no choice but to trust because our Lord and Savior is all I have to carry me and my family through this period.

    3. Perseverance: I have to keep at it – keep renewing my faith; keep reading His word; keep praying; just keep at it.

    Thank you for allowing me to share.

  12. 312
    Kim Mote says:

    Last day of January…still reflecting on a long year.

    Exhausted- Im just now getting my old energy back. Walking my sister through the valley of the shadow of death took me out. Then trying to help with her two small children, my children grieving, my aging parents (one diagnosed with altzeimers)and dealing with my own hurt and grief I found myself getting up most mornings saying Lord, I can’t do today on my own strength. Here I am Lord, just do it. He did. Thank you Lord.

    Held – I’ve never known my God to be so close, breathing on me almost and holding me so tight. His breath reknews me. He is faithful. He has held me through high waters and I didn’t drown. He held me through fire and I do not even smell of a stinch of smoke. He held me as I cried buckets of tears. There are no arms like the arms of Christ. Thank you Jesus.

    Honored- I’ve never in my entire life ever felt as honored He chose ME to be my sisters sister and to get to be so up close and personal (front row seat) to witness His miracles and goodness, even in death. I’ve never been so honored He prepared me (of all people) to write and speak out for my sister telling of His faithfulness and His goodness in the face of trials. I’m so honored to be in my earthly family but most especially I’m honored to be chosen and adopted as my God’s daughter and Honored He pursues me and loves such a mess as me. Im humbled and I’m honored. Wow, God. Who am I?

    I have no idea if it matters…but it matters to me. I finished all the scriptures and I had all my cards. I can’t remember the 3 things you need. Im from Arkansas. You can add 1 more to the list! 🙂 I was disappointed I had to miss the celebration. Money. Gotta have it! And I know if that was where I was supposed to be the doors would have flown open by God for me to go. I’m glad so many were blessed to be there! I was blessed to just participate. The memorizing of scripture was my energy for the past year. I don’t often write on this blog. When I do…it’s too much. I’m sorry.

  13. 313

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