Welcome to post number one in my Purpose & Pause series, a guide to planning an intentional and remarkable New Year!
I have always tried to live a purposeful life, I did Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People when I was a year out of college and developed a personal mission statement that still rings true today. Several years ago, I designed my own planner/diary called the Purpose & Pause Planner, which is centered around intentionally planning your year, month and days. I will be sharing more about that planner in the days to come.
Even though I try to live with foresight and intention, the tide of life has often carried me away. There have been several times when the circumstances of life have loomed over me like a giant wave sweeping me up in the current, precariously carrying me along so I could do nothing but take a deep breath and focus on staying upright until I could get my feet on the sand again. Over the past ten years, it seemed that just when I started heading back to the safety of the shore, another wave would carry me away again.
Last year one such wave, took me to a little island where I began a time of self-reflection and inner mind work. During this time, I dug into the practice of mindfulness, researched principles of brain science, and learned you can change your thinking and literally retrain your brain from old thought patterns that have dug deep neuropathways in your mind. This period of discovery also led me to discover the time-honored Christian practices of contemplation and renewing your mind through scripture (Romans 12:2).
I have been applying this learning to my life and look forward to sharing them with you. One thing I have learned is that no matter the conditions of the present, I can rest in the knowledge that I was created to live a remarkable life (Jeremiah 1:5) and crafting that life is in my hands. The first step?
Before we set our goals or make New Year’s resolutions, we need to seek first the Kingdom of God. You see God has plans for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11) and he wants us to live in his will instead of going our own way. Scripture tells us “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established,” Proverbs 19:21 (RSV). If I seek Him first, I will have laid a solid foundation for the remarkable life to which I was designed. But take note, remarkable does not mean perfect.
worthy of attention; striking.
“a remarkable coincidence”
synonyms: extraordinary, exceptional, amazing, astonishing, astounding, marvelous, wonderful, sensational, stunning, incredible, unbelievable, phenomenal, outstanding, momentous
So, as we are in the midst of Advent and waiting on the coming of our Savior, it is a natural time to prayerfully reflect on your plans and intentions for life and submit them to God. Ask him to guide you and renew your mind so that as you consider your direction for 2019 so that He who commands the seas will carry you.
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 1 Cor 2:9
A tool I am looking forward to using this coming year to help me seek God first daily is Sacred Questions, a transformative journey through the Bible, by Kelly Fabian. Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book to review. This book is a 365-day guide to a deeper spiritual practice. Setting aside about 20 minutes each day, the book leads you through a practice of prayer, a scripture passage, a reflection, a series of questions that draw you deeper into the scripture to make personal application. Your session ends with a guided prayer of response.
The practice of asking the sacred questions found in the reflections is meant to help you examine your attitudes, thoughts, actions, and beliefs. It is through this reflection that self-discovery is formed. We are all so busy but taking this time to grow and truly seek God through not just reading his word but reflecting on it with these scared questions will allow us to see the remarkable and extraordinary opportunities awaiting our lives.
The book is 484 pages and is divided into 14 sections, including a section for Christmas and Easter. There is also a topical guide in the back. The book has a hardcover with a reflective design in cream and gold. The pages are thin, reminding me of the inside of a missal. The font is also quite small, especially the daily scripture passage, so if you are over 40 you may need your readers for this one! Jammed pack with scripture, reflections, and prompts, there is no space for journaling within the book. I would recommend a companion journal to record your answers to the questions and other reflections. This is actually a benefit because you can return to the guide year over year or to a specific topic to guide your prayer and thinking when wrestling with a particular issue in your life. This spiritual guide would be appropriate for men or women of any age, as the reflections are focused on God’s Word and do not include personal commentary from the author.
If you are with me to plan a remarkable 2019, your assignment this week is Purpose & Pause Step One:
Take some time to put yourself in God’s presence this week and meditate on the truth that God designed us each individually with a plan and a purpose, for us to prosper and have a future of hope (Jeremiah 29:11) and ask God to reveal his plans and desires for you in the coming year.
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