New Year, New Word: Beautiful

About this time of the year I find myself in a rut.

I take down my Christmas tree. All the sparkly presents are unwrapped and put away. I sweep up the living room and sit down, mourning the loss of the twinkling lights.

It’s cold. It’s windy. And everything seems kind of boring if I’m honest.

Every year I know these grey days are going to come, so I choose a word for the coming year, giving the days an extra dose of creativity and focus. I ask myself sometime mid-summer, “What am I going to work on? What do I want to be different in my life? What could be improved? Where would I like to be more intentional, gain some clarity?”

Past year’s words have included:

Warm

Brave

Hope

Fearlessly wrong

Sometimes I cheat with two words. I don’t like rules. 😉

This year, nothing came to me, so I just let it set. And set. And set.

Still nothing.

How in the world was I going to get through the January rut when I already lacked inspiration in late summer?

Then, we got on a plane and headed to Spain.

One day, we drove up a mountain in fog so thick that I thought for sure we would be run off the road by a tiny little European coupe that wanted to come down the mountain using the same lane.

We saw some stuff, headed down the mountain, watched some Star Trek, and went to bed.

The next day, the fog lifted, and we made the decision to head back up the mountain. When we reached the top, we got out of the car and my jaw dropped.

It was beautiful.

Mountains all around us, trees, dew, sunshine – all in the same place we had missed it the night before, veiled from our eyes.

I realized that this is what I wanted to focus on: Beauty.

I wrote a book about it, so you would think the journey would be over. But that day on the mountain, I understood that this was just the beginning.

I wanted to see beautiful like this in my every day. I wanted to stop and enjoy it. To breath it in, rather than pass it by.

Laughing on the top of a mountain with our friends about fog adventures, guardrails, and the cross-cultural similarities in school field trips, I remembered things I think I had forgotten just a little bit:

Life is Beautiful.

Conversation is Beautiful.

This world is Beautiful.

I want to see those truths every day – not just in my rejoicing, but in my rut as well.

I want to see it through the violence, through the mess, through lonely, and through the mundane.

This year, my word for the year is beautiful.

I want to focus intentionally on all that God has made and done and saved and just how beautiful that is:

I am beautiful.
This world, with all its heartbreak and pain…is beautiful.
Relationship, in its complications and mess…is beautiful.
This day, rain, sun, or shadow…is beautiful.

Join me on this journey of seeing beautiful, fixing our perspective together on the One who truly makes everything, everything beautiful in His time. Where do you think we often miss beauty in this life? Tell us about them:

Name one, two, three, or more things that strike you as beautiful today and share them in the comments.

Download this Beautiful Reminders page.

List three things every day that are beautiful around you. These can be things of physical beauty, or ideas, people, experiences, anything.

Study with me! Journey through Altogether Beautiful with me. Preorder from Concordia Publishing House , Amazon  or wherever you like to get your books. There are samples at the Concordia link and look for free stuff details to come.

I can just feel it…

this year is going to be beautiful.

Entrepreneurial Ministry and Friendship that Inspires

People are my jam.

I love people. More than that I love friendship.

I love meeting people where they are and hearing their story.

This Fall we were invited to friendship and invited to hear a story of culture, and relationship, and ministry, first hand. We spent ten days in Spain, staying up too late, having meaningful conversation, watching copious amounts of Star Trek, eating at a plethora of cafes, exploring, and doing daily life with people, who happened to be missionaries, happened to love Jesus, and happened to also be all about inviting people in deeper, so much so that they designed their ministry around just that –

inviting people in.

Meraki Exchange Point is the dream child of the Holy Spirit, Nathanael, and Courtney Mosier Warren. It has come out of love and life in a culture very different from the ones they were raised in, far removed from traditional church life and ministry.

Nathanael and Courtney fell in love with the Basque people several years ago, and then fell into the warmth of these people and their culture in Northeastern Spain when they moved there. Their deepest desire is to share the Hope of Christ with the Basque around them, particularly in the small, but bustling town of Oñati, Spain.

In doing this, they discovered a need – two needs actually:

The desire of most locals to learn English and have their children learn English for business and educational purposes

The desire to converse, to ask deep questions, and build genuine relationships around a cup of café, in a low key, inviting environment

And so Meraki Exchange Point was born – an English language school and cafe, where people can learn, grow, ask questions, make relationships, and bring friends.

Nate and Courtney have been honest with their Basque friends sharing their own desire to plant a church there, but sometimes that’s not the first ministry step. Sometimes God has plans that look a little different than we first expect.

Hear Nate and Courtney’s story and more on entrepreneurial ministry in today’s podcast:

Written in Iron Ink:  Entrepreneurial Ministry

Connect with Nathanael and Courtney:

Meraki Ministry Concept Video

http://www.merakischools.com

https://www.facebook.com/merakiexchangepoint/

@merakiexchangepoint on Instagram

@Mexchangepoint on Twitter

Support the Meraki Exchange Point project!

Looking to Advent (Above All Names)

I have a special kind of love for a room lit by only twinkling Christmas lights.

The ambiance created by those lights just weeps with hope. Many of us connect it to fond family memories, a moment of peace and tranquility, and an eager anticipation for what’s to come.

That really sums up the whole season of Advent – eager expectation, hope, a little extra peace in this trouble-filled world.

This year we’d like to help you feed on that peace and hope that is only found in the One who came for each of us, to take a tiny moment each day to be satisfied with all that He is.

Above All Names includes very short devotions for each day for individual use, as a family, or use for your group or church. The entire series can be used electronically or can be printed.

  • Read the devotion on the blog or get it in your email inbox by subscribing to I Love My Shepherd. The subscription field is on the right side of the screen on desktop and near the bottom of the scrolling home screen on mobile.
  • Share each image, or just your favorites, on social media to add Hope to everyone’s newsfeed this Advent.
  • Print the Above All Names images and use as tree ornaments, a simple bunting to hang, reminders around the house or work or anywhere else, as notes to a friend, a Christmas card insert, etc.
  • Use the Above All Names Scripture Reading and/or Writing Plan if you’d like a little bit more to add to your Advent reflection time.

Here’s some ideas for using and sharing:

Here’s all the links you need:

Above All Names Advent Devotion PDF
Above All Names Printable Images
Above All Names Advent Reading and Writing Plan