Hello again, my friends! Happy New Year!
December scooted on by without my posting a single blog article. I had such great intentions on getting ahead with scheduling, but life and work sprang up and got busy on me. I am trying to get on a good, solid schedule with blogging again this year, but as you can see, I already missed the first Monday.
How was Christmas for you?
Mine turned out to be really busy and delightful and special all at once. I praise God for the time I got to spend with my parents and sister and for the ways in which God blessed me throughout my Christmas break from work.
One of my favorite things is looking at Christmas lights to kick off our celebration of the year. This time, we went and explored some new neighborhoods not too far from the one to which we usually go. You wouldn’t believe how many nativity scenes these neighborhoods displayed! There had to be three or four dozen at least. It was the most delightful surprise and such a beautiful way to start the season that celebrates the birth of my Savior, Jesus Christ.
Through that evening and every time I thought about those nativities through the last couple of weeks, the Holy Spirit swelled up within me into such a buoyant, peace-filled hope that I felt renewed anticipation for the day Jesus will come back to take me home. I don’t have a clue when that day will be, but I know it’s going to be the best day of my life. That was the impression I got as I looked upon each new nativity scene.
Oh, what a glorious day it will be when we are reunited with our Heavenly Father!
I wasn’t going to do One Word this year.
A few years back, I did it. It didn’t seem to be a method that worked well for me, because I much prefer to follow as God leads throughout the year, and that often means learning multiple things about many aspects of my life, and that usually is through many words rather than only one.
However, a couple of weeks before Christmas, the word listen was pressed into me so firmly that it had to be from God.
I wanted to be totally, completely sure, and I thought of how Gideon had put out a fleece and asked God to show him specific things with this fleece to confirm what he was to do next.
I don’t have a fleece, but I felt that I was to ask for confirmation, so I asked God to give me three confirmations of the word before Christmas. That was twelve days away at that point. I tried my best to keep my mind open and on the watch for these confirmations.
Within four days, I had received all three confirmations.
- “Go somewhere alone. Ask God to speak to you. Sit still, be quiet, and listen.” ~ Say a Little Prayer by Joanne Redmond
- “She needs to listen closely enough to ask questions that open up an opportunity for you to share about that part of your life.” ~ The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip by Sara Brunsvold
- While shopping at Half Price Books, I saw the book that began the One Word movement: My One Word by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen. I’ve never before seen that book there.
I’m very grateful that God honored my request for confirmations, and so quickly! Clearly, this is the journey He wants me on for this calendar year. I’m eager and excited to see where He will lead as He teaches me to listen.
Using Bible Gateway, I searched the word “listen” and jotted notes on every time it showed up in the Bible. There are a few that stood out as the ones for me to begin focusing on for the year, but I haven’t really received a particular verse or ruled out very many in the list as ones that aren’t to be focused on. Now, there are quite a few, so narrowing it down is needed or my mind will be overwhelmed.
To start off with, there are a few select verses that will serve as theme verses of sorts for me. My listening will, of course, not be limited to just those verses. My goal is to listen throughout every day, whether that’s in my Bible study, work, daily life, writing, and everything in between.
These are the verses standing out to me right now and what they mean to me at this point.
Psalm 45:10a NKJ
“Listen, O daughter,
Consider and incline your ear;”
The first part of this verse felt like God was speaking directly to me, that this was His instruction for me this year, that I am to listen to His voice, to consider His words, and to incline my ear toward Him.
Psalm 81:13 NKJ
“Oh, that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel would walk in My ways!”
This verse has long been a favorite of mine, because I sense the urgent, desperate yearning that we humans would listen to God and heed His instruction in the paths we ought to walk. I want very much to obey God out of pure love for Him. So this is my prayer: that I would listen to Him and walk in His ways.
Proverbs 1:33 NKJ
“But whoever listens to me will dwell safely,
And will be secure, without fear of evil.”
This verse’s “me” is Wisdom, but for me, it’s also referencing God, because He is my Safe Haven. When I listen to Him, I dwell safely and have no fear of the evil of the world. That is what I want, to feel secure in the fact that my soul is safe with God, that I will live eternally with God, and because of that, I don’t have to fear anything evil in this world. I’ve seen lots of evil in the last three years, and honestly, I’m sick of it. It was good to be made aware, but letting it get to me was wearying beyond what I could handle. So I’ve laid it all at God’s feet and asked Him to take care of it as He sees fit and in His time. He wins; always has, always will. I’m holding on to this verse this year, because only with God will I find security and freedom from the evil that permeates the earth right now.
Isaiah 21:7b NKJ
“And he listened earnestly with great care.”
I’m not exactly sure how to do this yet, but when I read this verse in my studying up on “listen,” it struck me as something I need to learn this year. Listening “earnest” and “with great care” are interesting to think about, because “earnest” is similar to “eagerly” and “with great care” reminds me of tenderness. It will be neat to see how eager tenderness come into play with how a person listens.
Isaiah 32:3 NKJ
“The eyes of those who see will not be dim,
And the ears of those who hear will listen.”
Hearing and listening are two completely different things. Hearing is taking in the words, while listening is taking in their meaning. I want to learn this year how to better and more completely take in the meaning of the words God says to me. Not only that, but I also want to do the same for the people around me. I want to become a better listener in any conversation in which I take part.
Luke 2:46 NKJ
“Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.”
I want to learn directly from youthful Jesus here in how to listen. It’s learning from those who have learned more than you to this point, but it’s also asking questions to challenge them to teach you even more (but also to clarify things if you don’t fully understand what they say). Perhaps some of those questions can also teach the them as well, as I’m sure Jesus’s questions did for those teachers in the temple.
There have already been a few ways in these opening days of January that listening has come into play for me.
I’ve seen more book quotes about listening that have meant something to me. Whether it’s instructions as to how or results of a character’s listening well, they’ve touched my heart.
While working on stories lately, I’ve had whispered nudges toward a slightly different path for the stories. Sometimes it was a pretty big adjustment, but others were more subtle. Each, though, made a big impact.
During normal conversations, I’ve gained new ideas for future stories. Even in the midst of those conversations, even as I was still listening to the person talking, I made a few notes to follow God’s instruction on the new story ideas when they come up as a main project down the road. In taking those notes, I paused often to respond and better listen to the person I was conversing with. It is in this way that I am paying attention to both God and man when having simultaneous conversations with them. It can get tricky at times, yes, but God has blessed me with a gift of hearing Him while talking with the people in my life.
Each time these things come up, all I can think it, “Okay, God. I’m listening. Help me follow through.” And He does!
If you’re doing One Word this year, what is your word?
What do you hope to get out of the journey during 2023?
Shifting gears, let’s talk writing camp. Can you believe we’re already a week into the new year and the next Pint-Size Write In Faith Camp is just another week away?! Honestly, that blows my mind right there. Time is still zooming by so incredibly fast.
Registration for Pint-Size WIF Camp Winter 2023 begins today, Monday, January 9. It ends at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, January 13, 2023. Yep, only one work week to register this time around. If you don’t hear back from me within 48 hours of submitting your information, please let me know by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Camp dates will be January 16-28, with doors opening a day before and closing a day after.
All the information about camp and the registration form are located here. I will include the registration form below as well. You only need to fill out this form once in either place, but please don’t fill it out in both places. Thank you.
It is my prayer that this camp is a blessing in the writing journey for those who participate. Will you be one of those dear participants?
Question: What type of articles are you looking forward to reading here on Writing to Inspire this year?
Totally looking for input, friends. I love hearing from you and will implement as many article ideas as possible over the course of 2023. I still have some catch-up articles on 2022 to come in the next few weeks, but I’m eager to get started on creating some new content for you to enjoy at your leisure.
Please stay tuned in the coming weeks, friends. I’ve got some writing news to share, but I’m not at liberty to do so just yet. Soon! Very, very soon.
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