My Word for 2016

Once again this year, I have prayed about and chosen one word that will define my goals and focus for the year. The word for 2016 is “GROWTH,” and I am excited to see how God will bring growth in various areas of my life throughout the next 12 month!

Along with the word for the year, I also pray and ask for a verse to focus on. It usually goes along with the word, and this year is no different. The verses I got for this year are found in Isaiah 54:2-3. “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities.”

As I prayed into what this verse means for me this year, I was reminded of the verse that God gave me before I moved to Ireland: Psalm 18:19 says, “He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.” I felt like God told me when I came here that He would plant me in a “broad place” where I would have room to grow. It seems that the time for that growth has come…

Over the last few days of processing this word with God (and with friends/family), it has become clear to me that in order to really grow or expand my dwelling here, I have to put down roots. I have been calling this place “home” for nearly two years, and I feel as though I’ve already settled here, but I feel like God is saying to take it a step further. At the moment, putting down roots means looking into opening a bank account in Ireland, and perhaps more significantly, beginning to gather information and start saving toward getting my license to drive in Ireland.

I have a feeling that as I put down these roots, however insignificant they seem to me, God is going to bring growth that I haven’t even imagined yet. I don’t know what my life will look like at the end of the year. I hope there will be ministry growth, with more opportunities to teach and even a published book! I believe there will be continued growth in relationships here, and I am excited to see what God does with the people He is connecting me with here. I hope there will be growth in the area of health (which oddly enough, will mean the opposite of growth in some things…)

My hopes and sense of expectancy for what God is going to do this year are high. I will admit that some of my hopes and dreams for this year are terrifying. They seem so big I don’t see how they can be possible, and yet, when I turn my focus back to the One holding those dreams, they seem pretty small after all. I’m sure there will be growing pains along the way, but I’m equally sure they will be worth it to see the promises of God fulfilled in my life for His glory.

Do you have a word for 2016? I’d love to know… Please share in the comments.

A Place For Me

A few years ago, in a prayer meeting, a couple was praying for me and felt that God spoke a passage from Psalm 18 in the Message. The passage was several verses, but I don’t remember what they were. I have it written down somewhere in a journal that has long since been filled and put on the shelf.

What I do know is that the passage included verse 19, “He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!” In another translation it reads, “He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.” (NASB)

The reason I remember that verse is that God has been speaking it again lately. He has pointed me there repeatedly over the past few weeks, and I think, I hope, I know the reason why.

I’m sure there was something going on in my life at the time that the verse applied to. I’m pretty sure that the couple praying for me even highlighted that verse at the time. I’m equally sure though, that now is the time for the fullness of that promise to come about in my life.

I think I mentioned previously that the past few years have been tough. I’ve done some cool things, and I’m pretty sure God has used me in some great ways too. I hope so, anyway! However, even with those seasons of feeling somewhat fruitful, I’ve felt more often than not that I was floundering, not sure I was really doing all I was meant to.

As I prepared for this move to Ireland, God began speaking Psalm 18:19 again. I mentioned in the last post that He told me that HE would not only open the door, but carry me across the threshold into this new place He had for me. I wrote of the sermon regarding Jesus preparing a place for us, and the hope it gave me for this earthly place as well. That hope has only gotten stronger during this first week in Ireland. (Yes, I arrived safe and sound! Stay tuned for photos…)

I’m currently looking for a place to call “home”. The people I’m working with here have been so welcoming, and I’m so grateful for all of their help in getting set up to do life and ministry here. However, I’m still a guess in their home. I know it isn’t my residence here in Ireland yet, and so I still feel unsettled. I haven’t unpacked because I have no idea when I will find a place and need to move again.

There are websites to look for rooms that are available, and I’m sure there are other avenues available to search too. But I don’t feel the need to run after every lead that comes my way. My host and I had even set up a time to look at a place, and just as I was asking God to make it very clear whether that was the house for me, she received a text that the woman wanted to wait and find someone who would go home at the weekends. (There are a lot of students here, so it’s very likely she’ll find someone.) I was almost relieved not because it fell through, but because God made it clear even before I saw the place. I know that God has a place for me here, and I’m confident that He will set me down right where I need to be.

Several weeks ago, I wrote these words, which I believe God spoke, in my journal: “I am carving out a place that will fit like a glove, but also allow room for growth. As I said yesterday, I will set you in a broad place – not so broad that you feel lost or alone, but enough that you can stretch, grow, and expand the place of your tent, [see Isaiah 54:2], broad enough to dream new (or old), big dreams and not have them squashed. It will be a place of freedom, joy, adventure and light!”

Obviously, this is about more than a roof over my head. I believe that is part of it, because He has promised to take care of every detail of this journey, but it’s so much bigger than that. It’s ministry, community, purpose, relationships and more!

I don’t know what all God has for me in Ireland. I have dreams and hopes. I have ideas and goals. I also have an understanding that He has all of those things too, and His are WAY bigger than mine. And so, for now, I’ll rest in His arms, expectant, knowing that He will set me exactly where I need to be in order to receive all that He has in store.

Me at the beach

Enjoying my first visit to the beach.

I’ll also spend this time exploring this new land I am in and enjoying the beauty that surrounds me. Here are a couple of photos so you can enjoy it with me…

A visit to the coast the day after I arrived in Ireland. Gorgeous!

A visit to the coast the day after I arrived in Ireland. Gorgeous!

Park at Belcoo, Northern Ireland

A park in Belcoo, Northern Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day

River path

A path along the river in the town where I now live. So pretty! I’m sure there will be many walks along this path in my future…