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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Graber

...and a Happy New Year!

Some people feel sad when Christmas ends, but to me, the end of Christmas signals the beginning of a new journey: the journey Christ made for my salvation. After Christmas, I start putting away the Christmas decorations and start looking forward to the next year of my life--the new year: new adventures, new experiences, new intentions.

A few years ago, a group of my friends got together and each chose a word to be intentional about through the year. My word that first round was path. Each year since, several of us have continued the tradition and selected a word representing our intention for the new year. This year, in 2023, my word was "focus."

Far better than a new year's resolution, the words I select each new year represent my intent. The word "intent" means to do something with purpose. A resolution is decision to do or not to do something. Unlike new year's resolutions that often get broken--like walking 5 miles everyday or fasting from sugar until Valentine's day--an intention is more like an aim or something that person wants to do or to work toward. Words matter; the meanings might be subtle here, but the differences lie in the definitiveness of "resolution" versus the progression of an aim or something I choose to do with meaning. Basically, I can fail or succeed at my intent and keep trying.

Part of looking ahead means reflecting on the past year. I already knew some things I wanted to work on going into 2023. One of these things was to focus on what God had in mind for my future and my purpose. In past years, I had learned that

  • when I don't let go and let God,

  • when I rely on my own understanding instead of listening to God's wisdom,

  • when I try to follow my own path instead of the plans God has made for me,

things don't work all.

My intent in 2023 was to to focus instead on listening to God and only saying "yes" to things God was calling me to do. Reflecting on 2023 was pretty spectacular, and I learned some things:

  • To listen when God speaks to me--directly and through others.

  • To say "yes" to God, and

  • To say "no" to things that didn't directly put me in a position to fulfill God's purpose.

  • To get in agreement with God's purpose for me.

When I did these things, God showed out even greater than I ever thought was possible!

Being a Christian is something I do with intention. I sometimes, fail at following the commands of Christ, but my aim is to be Christ-like and to fulfill God's plan for me. Here's a bit of a year in review:

  • I took a little time to re-evaluate my priorities and said "no" to some things that were becoming time-wasters and found my daily tasks were easier to manage; I could do more with purpose and with better results.

  • I "focused" on trying to be more Christ-like in the way I met challenges at work and had one of the best semesters I ever had with my students.

  • I said "yes" when Julie and I were asked to speak at 2 major events. We were blessed to share God's word to over 500 women. Amen!

These are just a few results I experienced by being intentional about keeping my focus on Christ.

Now, I'm not perfect. My year was not without challenges, but the bible says this in John 16:33 (NIV):

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Friends, as we approach the end of one new year and the beginning of another, be intentional about your faith! When you feel challenged, when you encounter troubles, remember that Jesus is with you in the boat. Stay focused on the light of the world--Jesus Christ who is God made flesh, who died and rose again to overcome the the sins of man.

Praying for many blessing and a happy new year for you! May your journey be one of faith and a legacy of Jesus.

Best, Michelle

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