Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

Word of the Year for 2017!

January 1, 2017

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I love the NEW YEAR! A fresh start. A clean slate. Promises to take hold of are just within reach. I love soaking in the positivity and peace most people are expressing and pouring out in written and spoken word. It’s lovely while it lasts!

To get to my word of the year, I have to tell you a little bit about my THEME of the year! 2017 is a year that will contain a big milestone birthday for me: 40. Yep, the big “4-0”. I’ve never been one to be bothered by my age, and find it kind of interesting when I hear people talk about birthdays that “bother” them. My Mamaw always said, “Well, what’s the alternative?” But when I started thinking about turning 40 years old, I realized that what bothers me is not the number, but rather the things still left undone. Hopes not yet realized, places not yet visited, and goals not yet reached (or even written down for that matter). The sand in the hourglass seems to be falling more quickly, and it makes my heart race, and my brain send impulses frenetically that seem to be saying, “You need to complete a lifetime’s worth of stuff in 12 months. Got it?!” So rather than succumb to a midlife crisis, and throw all caution to the wind and suddenly move to an island with no job or home, I decided to be intentional in looking at this next year and creating a theme. Forty: Fearless, Fit, and Fabulous! I want to be FEARLESS in every area of my life. The spirit of fearlessfear and unbelief tend to hang out together. They’re buddies. And they’re two “frenemies” that I’ve decided to kick out of my circle. I have no place for them in my life anymore. I want to be FIT in every area of my life…body, soul, and spirit. I need to be intentional about self care. I’ve allowed neglect & abuse to rule the roost and that’s poor stewardship. And it’s absurd that I would choose the things I have when God says, “I want to give you ABUNDANT life, Leigh-Taylor. One that overflows!” So, that’s what I’m choosing….overflowing, abundance that saturates every realm of who I am. And then there’s FABULOUS! I want to do special things this year that make it truly fabulous, and a year that stands out from among the others in my memory. Because travel feeds my soul, I know it will include some fun getaways and trips, but I also want to find the fabulousness in the normal day to day living, too.

So, because of this great theme I’ve been excited about I thought FEARLESS would be my word. It seemed like a natural fit to me. But that’s just it….it’s what “I” thought it should be. I didn’t prayerfully receive it like I did my other words. On Christmas Eve, I was thinking through how I wanted the upcoming year to be different, and I invited God to speak into it. That’s when the word entered my mind in big, block letters: BE. I knew instantly that it was my word for 2017. Then, immediately following that picture i saw in my mind, the cover of our devotional book that we’re using at Gateway Church for our corporate fast popped up on the screen: Created to Be.

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This is the graphic I saw on the screen at Gateway Church!

I came home, and immediately started thinking about verses and two popped into my mind. The first one was Psalm 46:10, “BE still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” I thought, “This is ridiculous, Lord. I’m the one telling everyone I know about what You’ve done in my life through Shabbat, through REST! Don’t I have this whole “being still” thing down?” I paused instantly, and knew down deep in my spirit that I didn’t practice “being still” in ways that had brought about total refinement. My quick, haughty response was my first clue! So, I’ve decided this definitely was one of my verses for the year. I want to BE still and know that He is God….whether I know anything else, I don’t care. For me, that will be enough. Also, I want to see God BE exalted among the nations and BE exalted in the earth! I’ll see that done in new and fresh ways as I focus on BEing still.

joshua-1-9-imageThe other verse is from Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? BE strong and courageous! Do not be afraid.; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” So many “be’s” y’all!! While that does in fact make my heart happy, the verse came to mind because of that first BE. I did some studying and found that the Hebrew word chazak is the word used there and means “strength and courage” (& there are 3 repetitions of it in that section of Scripture). The Israelites would shout it while advancing into battle. It was their battle cry, their war hymn…their anthem! I want chazak…and that will come as I BE…and as I declare it to BE!

So there you have it, folks. My word of the year for 2017. As you can see, there’s much to unpack. There will be a lot of unnatural discipline required to just BE. But I am declaring that I’m up for the challenge! Chazak!

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Good Gifts

January 10, 2016

This morning I decided to go to church in my pajamas. But don’t worry! While my flannel pj’s ARE cute, I didn’t show up at a church building in them. No, instead, I stayed in bed and live streamed the service on my lap top. It was such a gift to enjoy the best of both worlds: Sabbath rest AND getting to hear the message about the PERSON of the Holy Spirit.

While I really enjoyed the whole message, and could probably write a blog post about several points made by Pastor Robert Morris, the one thing in particular he mentioned that got my attention was about how he asks God for a birthday gift every year.

I sat up and thought, “NO WAY! I thought I was the only one that did that!”

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Nearly four years ago now, my grandmother moved to heaven. I had a really special bond with my “Mamaw” as I was born on her 50th birthday. My first birthday without her was so painful. I missed her very much. I found myself on the floor beside my bed, that first year without her, crying and asking the Lord how that day could ever be special again. He said, “Leigh-Taylor, this day IS special. In fact, I have a birthday gift for you. Can I give it to you now?”

I choked back my sobs. God had a birthday gift for me??

“Sure, Lord…what is it?!?” I responded.

“Open your Bible,” He said.

And so I did. My Bible opened to Psalm 37 and immediately my eyes went to verses 5 & 6. It reads: “Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him, and he will do this; He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

What I didn’t mention before is that I was in a situation at the time where a major wrong was committed against me. While I had the support of many people around me, I felt like I needed affirmation from the Lord that He was my Defender, and that I could trust Him for true justice. On my birthday, this couldn’t have been a sweeter gift! Shortly after this promise was given to me, the Lord proved my case, and I was able to close that painful chapter in my life.

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Sea of Galilee

 

Well, my birthday this year was extra special. I got to spend it in ISRAEL! I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and couldn’t wait to spend time with God. I was staying in a kibbutz on the Sea of Galilee. I laughed and told God, “Hurry up! Make the sun rise!” *smile* It was the second time in my life I heard God laugh…and it was good. I found a quiet spot on a VERY LOW bench along the shore of the Galilee, and watched the sky lighten up over time while I listened quietly to praise and worship music.

At one point, I got up and made my way over to the water. There was a broken down “pier” of sorts. I decided to sit on the end of it. The mock pier was just high enough out of the water to where my pants wouldn’t get soaked from sitting on it, but I was basically sitting on a pallet in the water!

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Birthday Gift #1

I said to God, “Ok, what do You have for me this year? What’s my gift going to be?” I was so eager and expectant. I only waited a couple minutes before I heard, “Look down, and pick up that shell.” So, I looked down, reached my hand between the wooden slats of the pallet, and picked up a shell that had a plain brown outer covering but a beautiful inner lining that was revealed when I turned it over.

At that moment the Lord spoke again, and said, “Leigh-Taylor, today is going to be a day of gifts for you!”

My heart was full of joy, anticipation, and expectancy after hearing those words. I realized after a few minutes that my face hurt from smiling!

And it was true. It really was a day of GIFTS! I got a beautiful shell, was sung to by my traveling group, went to Beit She’an & saw incredible views of various mountain ranges, got baptized in the Jordan River where a rainbow appeared along with five white doves, and went into Jerusalem & saw the city for the first time!

All those things are gifts in and of themselves, but God always multiplies His gifts. There were treasure troves at each of those places, and nuggets of wisdom that He spoke to me along the way.

While I love the connection that Pastor Robert and I have made to asking the Lord for a birthday gift on our earthly birthdays, I know there are people out there who think or feel God may have a gift for them, but He doesn’t have one for me. I want to tell you that’s a lie! He DOES have a gift for you. It starts with Jesus, the ULTIMATE gift, and if you ask Him today for a gift and wait patiently before Him, I believe wholeheartedly there’s a unique special gift from God just for you!

So ask Him today. He’s the ultimate gift giver. And He always gives GOOD GIFTS!

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