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Your Theme for 2022

Today is the last day of 2021.

Today, everyone will make New Years’ resolutions and will break them by January 2.

A New Year, so what?

Theme. What is your theme for 2022?

First, you are wondering how and why you should create a theme for 2022.   A theme is different than a resolution.  A resolution is often something that is broken in a short amount of time.  A resolution is focused on the short term.  A theme will give you focus for the entire year.  A resolution is something that we put little thought into because it is obvious.  A theme is something that shapes the whole year and is sometimes something that is only revealed through prayer.

How does one develop a theme for 2022?

First and foremost, you want to start around Thanksgiving. Yes, it seems early; however it gives you time to not rush into your theme. Because you are not rushed, your heart and mind are not anxious and you are more open to hearing God’s voice. It is similar to using a Crock-Pot or the microwave for cooking meat. Which tastes better? The Crock-Pot. Slow and steady for developing your theme.

I get it. Today is New Year’s Eve and you are party planning. In your mind, it may be too late to plan for a theme for 2022. Wrong! Start the process now and give yourself about a month to hear from God. Don’t rush it! What you are praying for is a theme of one to two words. Don’t complicate it! And remember, you cannot do this solo…..

Next, you want to involve a trusted friend or two into this process. With these folks, you can explore how your theme is playing out throughout the year. Are you receptive to what God is doing in your life? Are you open to others who can help you with your theme and how it applies to your life? God cannot work with a closed heart.

Journal your progress throughout the year. Document the ups and downs that you encounter as you seek God in the year. This journey is about your progress in the Process. Jesus is never done refining you and molding you to be more Jesus.

Lastly, learn to breathe. This is a theme to guide you–not strict guidelines!

Here’s to a vision-filled 2022!

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End of the Year Wrap-Up: Goals

We continue our series on wrapping up the year; however, today we take a lighter approach. This short and sweet post will hit all areas of your life!

Goals are something we all have—or should have. Goals are what motivate you to get out of bed in the morning. Goals are why you go to that particular job or educational program. Goals get you to think, plan, and execute.

I encourage to look back over this last year. What goals did you have going into 2021? Did you meet these goals? Why or why not? If you met your goals, what (habits) or who (supportive people) aided you in meeting your goals? If you did not meet your goals, what barriers did you encounter that stopped you from meeting your goals?

After taking a look at 2021, we now have to plan for 2022. The Book of Proverbs says “the people will perish without vision”. That also applies to us personally. Our families and homes need a plan. Our churches and organizations need goals. And we have to have a plan with our finances or it all magically disappears into the spending abyss.

Here are some tips of planning for 2022:

  • Spiritual: Dive deeper into your faith on a daily basis. Don’t wait until Sunday at church to talk to Jesus.
  • Financial: Use a budget. Yes, it sounds old-school and like something your grandparents did but it works. Check out Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar app or his website. https://www.ramseysolutions.com/ramseyplus/everydollar/budget-with-everydollar
  • Social: Get a life. Get back into a hobby, read something new, and turn off the news!
  • Physical: Make your health a priority. Do more than dieting in the New Year. Change your habits and therefore change your life.
  • Mental: I am a firm believer that everyone struggles with something mentally like we do with medical health diagnoses. There is no shame in this. Check yourself on how you are “really doing” and lean in with a friend and/or professional.

Have a great day as you plan for 2022! While these are good steps, my next blog will share how to have an overall theme for the New Year. Stay tuned!

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End of the Year Wrap-Up: Trauma

As I continue to write about things we have encountered through 2021, I would be avoiding the obvious if I did not talk about trauma. Let me preface this blog post: I am NOT a licensed therapist or psychologist. I have mixed work experiences in ministry and mental health and have learned from trainings and very respectable colleagues. I am still learning about the impact of trauma on myself, those I love, and the people I pastor.

Trauma is best defined by the American Psychological Association: Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. While these feelings are normal, some people have difficulty moving on with their lives. Psychologists can help these individuals find constructive ways of managing their emotions. (https://www.apa.org/topics/trauma)

Why trauma? Let you ask you: why not? Can you name one person in your life who HAS NOT come out of 2021 (and 2020) with some wounds? 2020 was COVID-19. 2021 has been COVID-19 and everything else that came with it. Here’s the scary part: there are people that say these things did not impact them. “Nothing scares me but the fear of the Lord.” This is a good statement but it is lacking what happens when you live in community with others. You will experience pain and suffering.

There are two types of trauma: primary and secondary. Primary is what directly happens to you and it alters your life. Secondary trauma is something that you indirectly experience and it starts to stir your soul. We have experienced a lot of this in 2021. Between our own suffering and the suffering of others and being tied into the media Matrix (the news), the arrows flying at our hearts and minds are relentless.

Here are some tangible steps to evaluating what traumas you have experienced in 2021:

  • Stop. Breathe.
  • Pray throughout your day about your 2021. Ask Jesus to reveal your wounds from 2021.
  • At the end of the day, write down your wounds in two categories: primary and secondary trauma. Use pen and paper and chart this in a journal. Physically writing it down (not typing) will slow you down and make you think.
  • Get some help. Whether you need professional guidance or a friend, reach out. The Life with Jesus was never meant to be done solo.
  • Help someone else. There is something sacred about helping someone else in their suffering. Remember your own woundedness when helping others.
  • Identify your stressors. Does watching the news make you angry or anxious? Turn it off. Throw it out the window. Whatever you need to do. Do certain people (yes, even family) get under your skin. Do some work and learn the WHY.
  • Get a life. Go back to that hobby you avoid that brought you so much joy. Read something other than the news and Facebook news-feeds. Find JOY again.

As we experience healing, our open wounds will eventually heal. We will have scars from our experiences. However, behind every scar is a story of hope and redemption with God. May you find healing and lead others to healing–in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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End of the Year Wrap-Up: Surviving Politics

Good morning, friends. I am off this week and promising myself (and you) that I will blog more this week. My focus over the next week will be on reviewing the last year. Let’s start with surviving politics….

2021 taught us that everyone has an opinion about anything that is considered remotely political. The political machine has seeped into communities, schools, churches, and families. How do we address this beast without it dividing everyone and everything?

We pause. And we shut our lips. You didn’t like that exercise, did you?

If we took 5 minutes and slowed up on crafting a response to what the other person said (or DID NOT SAY); this would be a game-changer to our society. If you are reading this blog, you are most likely a Christian or inquiring about those of us who are Christians. The Gospels are clear: We are called to be in the world but not of the world. This equates to us being informed about the world and its happenings but not conformed to the world. A Christian’s response should be different than someone who is not a Christian.

Because we are slower to respond, this avoids the need to be right all of the time. Check this out: Jesus was not a Republican or a Democrat. In fact, he was not the political answer that many thought he would be when he came around. People thought he would build some type of high-kingdom and rule it all. Jesus came onto the scene and he did a reversal: the first shall be last, the outcasts have a seat at the table, the unclean have hope, sinners have a second chance, etc.

Your faith should impact your decisions in life–including your political views. It should not be the other way around. Friends, no politician is going to save your life. They are one person in a big machine of government. Learn to trust Jesus. I trust most political stuff like I trust gas station sushi–very little! Trust Jesus and remember the following…..

  • Seek to understand instead of seeking to be right.
  • Love one another.
  • Are you trusting the Good News or the mainstream news? Your words and actions will show it!

Stay well!!!