Psalm 121:1-2

My Word for 2014—and a little searching…

I have a vivid imagination. Sometimes I project on others, too. So, without knowing many of you, I imagine each of you to be a little like me on a good day: thoughtful, intentionally thought-provoking, introspective, and generally “noodlers on various things.” Someday you’ll need to fill me in on who my audience really is! Promise me you’ll do that.  *grin*

Those who have been reading along for a while won’t be surprised when I say I’ve been thinking about this whole “word for the year” thing for a while. I think January’s feed was just chock-full of people declaring loudly and proudly that they had heard their word, or were sure of it, or figured they’d just tackle one. I really enjoyed reading all of those declarations, and I found myself wondering if this might be the “new resolution” for the fast-paced, resolution flunky of this generation. Maybe it is.

Or, maybe it’s more than that….

The story behind my word makes me chuckle a little bit. I have a lovely friend who has connected with me face-to-face, via Facebook, and in the blogosphere. You might like her musings, too, by the way. Check out Tracy’s place HERE. I enjoy what she shares.

Anyway, back to the main thing…

I was whining loudly about my 2014 Word woes, and my beautiful friend suggested perhaps my most frequently used word could be an indicator. For those who see my personal Facebook, that word just might be *Sigh* a noticeable percentage of the time. I’ve known this, and yet I’ve overlooked it—until my lovely friend pointed it out.

That started me thinking…

I ran the gamut as I prayed. Highly distractible person that I am, I began with breath, traipsed through breathe, investigated inhale and exhale…and came back to breathe. All my reading wasn’t for nothing, though. I loved what I found, and I wanted to share my journey with you.

So, breath was the first of my steps (since a good, old fashioned sigh is just a deep breath).

Then ADONAI, God, formed a person [Hebrew: adam] from the dust of the ground [Hebrew: adamah] and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, so that he became a living being. Genesis 2:7 CJB

Ah, I love that the first breath of life is from Abba, my God. Say what you want, CPR can only restart breath. We just don’t have creative power like in Genesis 2:7.  I’m reminded each of us is a unique, precious display of the amazing power of our Maker.

Then, there was breathe—

When they breathe their last, they return to dust; on that very day all their plans are gone. Psalm 146:4 CJB

This was an attention getter among the many references to breathe in the various translations. There is a time when each of us will breathe our last, and it’s an “Unfinished Symphony” for us all. I’m reminded I have no idea how many days I am given. Teach me to think seriously about my days, God (Job 14:5; Psalm 90:12).

The word inhale isn’t used in common translations, so I defaulted to gasp, and that got challenging fast. When I found this in The Message, I was reminded of something so important:

When I’m far from anywhere, down to my last gasp, I call out, “Guide me up High Rock Mountain!” Psalm 61:2

If you give a blogger a cup of coffee…

Then you end up here in Psalm 121:

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

I’m willing to grant that this isn’t the most sound method of study for lots of reasons. Sometimes I think I’m led along in order to discover where I should end, and this was a discovery process for me. So, you’re wondering how I take this and wrap it up with a pretty little bow by now, I suspect?

I am not just any person. None of us is ordinary, really. I am given the gift of the breath of life on this planet for a span, one which I cannot even guess the length of. How precious is a day when it could be my last? Which words (more puffs of air) would I choose to speak in light of that perspective? Knowing I am a unique expression of my Maker’s creative power, will I treasure me, my days, and the people in my life? When I am in trouble (and my days are full of trouble!), how will I use my gasps? Will I cry out to the one who can really help me?

You see, my life is out of my control. Pretty much all of it. While I do my best to draw near to the One who can help me, things will continue to be a struggle at times. That’s a given. That’s life. That’s my life! Maybe it’s yours, too.

Yeah, I just need to slow down and breathe this year, I’m thinkin’—

~Jennifer

Sharing is Caring:

If you had a word you felt led to focus on on 2014, what was it? I’m so curious!

If you’ve done this kind of thing before, what was your experience and benefit in focusing on a word for a year?

_________________________
Scripture from http://www.biblestudytools.com.
I also visited my favorite study site, http://www.blueletterbible.org.
Random thoughts are mine; any good ones, if there are any, are probably a blessing from God.

Pondering Grace: Psalm 121:1-2

Ps 121I’ve been resting my too-busy fingers for a few days while I mulled over some recent life lessons. My schedule became a little too frenetic, and the busyness encroached on my calm. I had to take time to beat it back into submission. I’m sure that’s not uncommon.

I read something today, and it started me thinking. I came across it at Cara Strickland’s blog here, but the idea originated at Addie’s blog here. Can we just talk about grace for a second in a real way?

Simply put, grace is necessary!

But, I don’t always want to admit I need grace. I try to find ways to manage life so I don’t need it. I catch myself trying to make things fit some kind of “just so” portrait. There’s an image in my mind that is close enough…good enough…at the edge of perfection enough. I just don’t want to go to the place where I need grace. That says I missed the mark somehow. I might have (gasp!) failed. I burn a lot of energy—and probably calories—trying to avoid grace.

Addie said,

I think about how hard I work to avoid needing grace.

I know it is the truest thing. The most beautiful thing. But I keep working myself to exhaustion, trying to somehow deserve it.

She worded it so well! I don’t know about you, but it made me feel both thankful to read something that spoke to my heart…and sad that it was my heart.

Reality check!

Grace is not earned, or else it is not grace! 

Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace. Romans 11:6

This truth absolutely has to settle deeply in my heart and mind. My little mustard seed needs extra TLC to grow, but it has got to grow. I want to trust, believe, and act in faith on this one, and there are two very important reasons why.

First, it’s impossible. What I am trying to accomplish is flat-out impossible. I am flawed. The minute I have some idea of perfection in my mind, I don’t have to look far to find someone who could raise the bar on my standard without any effort on their part. Honestly though, the best human effort still leaves room for improvement! I try to remind myself of that.

The other reason comes out of a question you ask when you’re getting honest about this kind of thing:

When I’m hoping to avoid needing grace—when I’m expending tremendous amounts of energy to escape grace—what does that say to or about the Giver of grace?

Maybe that’s the kind of question that will make you swallow hard or feel a big, hot tear roll down your cheek.

If any one of us doesn’t need grace….

The real question isn’t whether we need grace. The real question is if we recognize that we do—and whether we are humble enough to admit that and receive it.

We all have very real, difficult challenges, moments that fall in the category of “too difficult to stand.” That’s how I ponder grace and think about Psalm 121:1-2 at the same time. By grace, I am helped!

~Jennifer

*Check out the links to the blogs above. They inspire me, and maybe they’ll inspire you, too.
*Photo credit: jjmelberg (text was added).