Monday, January 29, 2018

Focus for February

If you are following along with A Fruitful Year, here is the focus for February. January was preparing both in setting goals and just getting ready for the year. February begins taking some time to focus on the fruit of the spirit. We will start at the beginning.

The basis for our love is God. I John 4:8 states, "God is love." Before we can think about how we love God and others we need to think about how God loves us. What words would you use to describe God's love?

  • Sacrificial
  • Eternal
  • Unconditional
  • Generous
  • Giving
  • Forgiving
  • Active
  • Life giving
  • and so much more

The goal this month is that you will love God more and love other more. The first and greatest command is to love God. Why do you think that is the first and greatest command?

In the month of February there will be journaling prompts to help you think about how you love God and other. There will be some devotional thoughts about love.

Think about God's love shown to us, what words would you add to the list above. Leave me a message in the comments telling me that word.


Saturday, January 27, 2018

My Goals for 2018 and My Word for the Year

I had a number of thoughts of things I wanted to do this year. I had things I want to finish, things to try. I wrote them down and it looked like a big "to do" list. Then I started to group them together. I thought I had a goal but not quite. As I worked through this, I decided on my word for the year.


Somehow the Word of the Year came easier than the goals but then I began to look at my lists and my word for the year and it all came together.

My goals for 2018 are all based on growing. When I looked up the definition of grow, I realised that things need to be nurtured to grow. So I need to nurture and focus on these goals. These goals should help to determine what I do this year.

1. Grow deeper in my relationship with God
Why? God is my loving heavenly father. He desires a relationship with me and I want to grow in knowing and serving him.
  • Reading through the Bible
  • In Depth studies
  • Memorising passages of scripture
2. Grow in health and strength
Why? I need to do this so that I am a good steward of my body. I want to glorify God in this way.
  • Lose weight - getting to my target weight
  • Run another 10K and get a new Personal Best
  • Get more haircuts than 2017 (I only got my hair cut once and really I need to do it more often.)
3. Grow in my relationships with others
Why? God has called us to live in community. We are to serve one another, love one another, pray for one another. In order to do that I need to be develop and grow in my relationships. This is going to be a challenge because it includes so many people -- immediate family, extended family, local friends, friends far away, supporters, and more.
  • Outings with family
  • Text and Skype
  • Coffee/Tea with friends
  • Hospitality
  • Letters and email
4. Grow in efficient and effective use of our home
Why? I desire for our home to be easy to maintain so I have time for other things. I want it to be easy to practice hospitality. 
  • Declutter
  • Organize
  • Use and enjoy things
5. Grow my blog
Why? I want to use my experience and the truth of God's Word to encourage others. 
  • Write regularly
  • Create a workbook for A Fruitful Year
  • Create journaling prompts
6. Grow and enjoy my hobbies
Why? This can bless my family and others. This gives me a creative outlet. 
  • Read 60 books (I have categories of books and types of books broken out.)
  • Sew 4-6 quilts (this is going to stretch me)
  • Keep scrapbooking caught up
  • Less Unfinished projects
I am sure some of the things under the goal might change but keeping the goal in mind will help know what are the important things to do to reach that goal.

2 Peter 3:18 fits with my goal for the year. To grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and to bring him glory in my life. I have been writing that in the margin of my planner each week so that I can keep the goal in front of me. 

What are your goals for 2018? Share some of them in the comments.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Jesus, the Fulfilment of our Desires

There are two scripture passages that are foundational for A Fruitful Year. One is John 15:1-17; this is the passage where Jesus says, "I am the vine." The other passage is Galatians 5:16-25 which is the passage with the fruit of the spirit. My plan is that once a month I will just focus a bit on either one of these passages giving encouragement from there to keep going.

Let's start this month with John 15:1-17. We are jumping in the middle of a book and so let's quick get some context. The author, John, was one of Jesus' 12 disciples. He refers to himself as "the one Jesus loved." He is writing from his own experience with Jesus, listening to him teach, seeing the miracles, and writing so that people might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:31).

This specific passage in John is part of a longer passage when Jesus knew he was about the die (John 13:1). This is part of that last teaching, the words that Jesus wants to leave with his disciples.

Jesus begins by saying, "I am the true vine." There are not many vines where I live in England but to the disciples listening to Jesus it was something that they understood. They walked through the country and saw vines. The disciples knew that vines were for growing fruit. That is the purpose of the vine. Even more then just that bit of gardening knowledge they had an understanding of the vine in the Old Testament. The desire of everyone in Israel was to have a house with a vine (I Kings 4:25). A bit like the house with a picket fence that we might dream of today. The disciple knew these references from the Old Testament.

When Jesus said those five words, he is telling the disciples that Jesus is the fulfilment of the desire for a vine. What they desire and long for can be found in Jesus. Jesus is the true vine.

What does a vine do? The vine is the source of life for the branches. Our source of life comes from Jesus. It is because of what Jesus has done that we have life. The nutrients for the branches come from the vine. The nutrients allow the branches to continue to grow.  The branches are nothing without the vine.

"I am the true vine," 

Do you see Jesus as the fulfilment of all your desires? Are you running and desiring other things? Can you find fulfilment in Jesus? As we begin this year, I challenge myself and you to find fulfilment in Jesus. Sent your priorities to finding fulfilment in Jesus and not in getting things done.


Monday, January 22, 2018

January Journaling

Journaling is the process of looking within and writing the feelings and emotions and then looking at those things from God's Word. This does require that you are being honest with yourself and that you are listening to God's Word and not all the voices around us. This type of journaling has been explained here.

January is a time of preparing. This is the time to set your goals but also and even more importantly a time to prepare yourself for the year ahead. This is a year of growth, a time to be and do all that God wants in your life.

With the thoughts of preparing here are some journaling questions for you for this month.

  • As you look at the new year and your goals, what fears do you have? What is causing those fears? How can you overcome your fears?
  • Looking at the fears you listed, what does God say about these fears? What truths of God can you cling to when those fears sneak in?
  • What do you think will tempt you or cause you to quit this year? If you have already written your goals you might want to think of this for each goal. 
  • What truth from God's Word can you claim to help you when you are tempted to quit?
  • What truths about God can you claim for this year? Why are those important to you at this time?

Take some time to think about these. These questions should help you to just think about some of the challenges that you will face this year and just be ready and prepared.

Each month I will give some journaling questions to just help you as you work through the focus of that month.

My desire is that you will grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour this year.

What are some of the things that might cause you to quit this year?


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Slow and Steady

I have decided that Friday will be a bit of a more personal post just so you have an opportunity to get to know me more and know a bit about me. I want it to be a time that I just share so you know. My goal is that this will help you as you follow along with A Fruitful Year.

I know it is Saturday and this just didn't happen on Friday. This morning I delivered newspapers for my son. The past few days have been snow and a bit of freezing temperatures. That meant that I had to go a bit slow. I did not want to slide down the hill.

As I was out for a longer walk than normal, I had time to think. I thought about how going slow at times can be good and the safe thing to do.

I have had a slow start in writing my goals this year. I had a number of ideas but just did not really get the time to think through things. I was taking it slow. I need some extra time this year. I decided that is fine, take your time but there does come a time that it needs to be finished. You have until the 31 of January to finish your goals for this year.

I had time yesterday and a bit more today and I think I have my goals for the year. I will share them with you next week.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Journaling, Writing for Growth

As you go through A Fruitful Year, a portion of each month's activities will be journaling. This is not just any journaling but rather spiritual journaling or journaling for growth. This means that you are looking within and writing to assist you in growing. You will be given prompts to help you think and learn about yourself. Let me define the type of journaling a bit with some examples to help you understand this. 

A diary is probably the simplest of the journals we are talking bout. This is where you write the events of the day. There is not much deep thinking. It is a statement of what happened that day. So, a simple diary entry might be: 

Journaling can include some of the elements of a diary but takes it further and begins to touch on feelings. Let’s look at the diary entry above and turn it a bit into a journal entry.

There is a bit of feeling in there, but it does not look at what is really happening or what God has to say about that. 

Journaling for Growth looks within looks at the heart and working to discover the deep roots of what we are doing. Journaling for Growth looks at what God says about the issue or might begin prayer asking for help. Let’s take the same example and look at it as a journaling for growth entry. What are the heart issues?

As we look within, we do see overspending but we see discontent, we see a love of pleasure. We see areas that God wants to change. 

Journaling for Growth requires:

1. Honesty with ourselves. You need to be willing to take the time to look at your own life and see what God sees.

2. Knowledge and God’s wisdom. Our thoughts and how we look at the things need to be done with God’s wisdom and God’s truths. We need to keep in line with God’s word.

3. That we be willing to change based on what we learn. You can be honest with yourself, you can know God’s truth but if you do not change you will not grow.

Journaling for Growth will take time to think, write, analyze what God says, and then change. This is not a quick fix. There might be layers that need to be worked through. As we work though this, our journal will help record growth and change.

I know journaling even in general can be hard. Take the time this year to grow and use a journal to help record that growth. 

Will you join me in Journaling for Growth this year? 


Monday, January 15, 2018

Necessary for Success - Accountability Partner

Why is it easier to do things with other people? Think about it for a minute. Do you find it easier to exercise with someone else? Maybe it is easier to have someone help you declutter. Why is it easier to do things with other people?

Last year I did a big walk. I did it with three friends. We began training in the cold, gray days of winter. Our long training walks were on Saturday morning. There were many mornings that I would have much rather stayed in my warm bed then get out and walk in the cold, rainy weather but I got up and went because I knew a someone else was expecting me to be there. I might have taken a shorter walk if I was alone but together we walked and talked. Doing it with friends was so much better.

An accountability partner is more than just someone to do things with. This is a person that knows you, can speak honestly, someone that you respect and will listen to, and someone that can point you to the truth.

An accountability partner that knows you will be able to help you look at yourself. They should be able to see the negative and the positives in your life. Sometimes we focus on the negative and need to be reminded of the positives. An accountability partner that knows you will also know your family, your house, and your schedule. You need someone that knows you.

A Fruitful Year is not just about getting things done. It is about abiding in Christ and bearing fruit. You need an accountability partner that can point you to God’s truth. There are so many voices around us but we need to be hearing God’s truth in our lives. Your accountability partner should be encouraging you to listen to God’s truth.

You need someone that you can be honest with. Someone that you trust will keep information confidential. As you work through the year, you might have difficult things to discuss and you need someone that you trust.

An accountability partner helps you to keep going. They speak encouraging words when you are ready to quit. An accountability partner might be able to come and help you get a project done.

Your accountability partner doesn’t need to be in the same location but it does need to be someone that you are communicating with regularly. Talk to that person about what you are doing. Give them information about A Fruitful Year. Share your goals. Let them know what you are expecting from them. Ask questions and get their input. Listen to them.

Daniel was faced with a difficult situation. He was taken as captive and then chosen to be taught the literature and language of the Chaldeans. Part of that learning time was following the king’s diet. Daniel knew that diet would defile himself and so he asked to be given a diet of vegetables. Daniel had friends joining him and following this with him. He also had God’s favour in his life. Daniel had others joining him in this.

Do you have an accountability partner? What is one thing that you will ask that person to help you with this coming year?


Friday, January 12, 2018

Logistics and Biblical Counselling - Combining Two Different Things

I thought I would pause in all the instructional information posts and just share a bit about me and my heart as to why I am writing A Fruitful Year. I am not sure that this is necessarily an easier topic to write about but it will give you a break from feeling like all I am doing is telling you what you need to do. I shared a bit of the story behind A Fruitful Year here. Go read that and hopefully I will not repeat myself.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea or just a glass of water. Coffee is my drink of choice.

I am a planner. I love having a plan.  I spent a number of years working in manufacturing logistics which included scheduling production and shipping finished goods to meet orders. I was a logistics manager. Most of that time I was working in an office in Asia. Part of my job was to consider capacity, lead-times, demand, all with the goal of getting a finished product to the retailer in a timely manner.

So that is a bit of my planning background. I love to do lists and being able to tick off the things as they are finished. Planning and goal setting is a big part of A Fruitful Year but the deeper part if our relationship with God.

It was while I was living and working in Asia that I took my first Biblical Counselling course. That was the beginning of my Biblical Counselling studies. I have since done further studies. The hardest part about that are the difficult things I learn about myself. The best part about that are the difficult things I learn about myself. Learning these things helped me to grow in the Lord. I want to encourage women to grow in the Lord.

I write from my experiences. I write from what I have learned about God. I write because I need this. I feel that A Fruitful Year brings those two things together.

My prayer is as you follow along this year you will be encouraged to grow and also get things done.

So if we were sitting having coffee, what questions would you ask me?



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