my verse for 2020.

For the past few years, I’ve prayed and picked a verse that I would carry through each year as a sort of theme for my life. Each year as Advent arrives, I begin praying about the following year and what it may look like. My 2020 verse is Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG).

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

I want 2020 to be about God’s light–in me, through me, and reflected from me. That’s my prayer this year.

LOOKING FORWARD.

Friends! I’m pretty sure it’s unanimous… we can’t believe it’s 2020. My Dad told me when I graduated high school to enjoy every second because the older I got, the faster time would fly by, and there’s never been anything more true.

I’ve got some things up my sleeve for the blog this year and I can’t wait to see them unfold. But, I thought we could start my first post of 2020 with a list–a list of things I’ve found intriguing and am wanting to try this year.

I hope you are settling into a new year nicely. We’re grateful around here and I hope you are too!

A great reflection exercise as we venture into 2020 full speed ahead.

Adding this to our dinner rotation this month.

Reading through the Bible this year. Feel free to join.

I’ve been dreaming of doing this race for years. Maybe 2020 is the year!

Really want to take my wife camping in one of these this year.

Ashlynn and I are reading through this devotion this year. We’re 5 days in and we love it!

Speaking of… here’s a great interview with one of my favorite pastors, as well as one of my favorite authors.

Add this to your list of stops next time you’re in Nashville.

This record is carrying me boldly into the new year.

Working on the reading list for the first quarter. I’ve heard great things about this book.

A good read for anyone wanting to develop better eating habits this year (like myself).

Ready for this!

A Quote That Resonates as We Venture into 2019.

My absolute, without question, favorite book I read last year was Everybody Always by Bob Goff. I’ve been meaning to give it a proper review, because it opened my eyes to so much around me. I’ll get around to it one of these days, but I wanted to share one of my favorite quotes from the book that I’m taking with me well into 2019. Bob writes–

“What I’ve come to learn so far about my faith is Jesus never asked anyone to play it safe. We were born to be brave. There’s a difference between playing it safe and being safe. A lot of people think playing it safe and waiting for all the answers before they move forward is the opposite of dangerous. I disagree. If our life and our identity are found in Jesus, I think we can redefine safe as staying close to Him. Don’t get me wrong. Playing it safe and waiting for assurances in our lives isn’t necessarily bad; it just isn’t faith anymore. Playing it safe doesn’t move us forward or help us grow; it just finds us where we are and leaves us in the same condition it found us in.”

I hope this encourages you the way it did me. I played it safe for so long, and that’s just not the life for me.

My Word and Verse for 2019…

I usually don’t pick a single word for a year. I’ve actually never done it. Last year, around July, when I had yet another let-down in my career, I kept seeing the word “bold” over and over. So, to myself, I declared that word for the second half of the year. And in order for me to move forward in the direction I wanted to go, bold was definitely what I had to be.

I had originally decided I wouldn’t pick a word for 2019. I always pick a verse. Last year was Romans 12:1-2. This year is Micah 7:7. Then, for our New Year’s service, our pastor encouraged us to spend time reflecting and pick a word as an anchor to come back to for 2019, and that we would practice this as a church for the upcoming year. So, when Pastor Kev tells you do to something, you do it!

My word for 2019 is: BUILD.

My verse for 2019 is:

“But me, I’m not giving up.
    I’m sticking around to see what God will do.
I’m waiting for God to make things right.
    I’m counting on God to listen to me.

Micah 7:7

I want 2019 to not be about me, but what choices and decisions I am making as I build the things for the future–the future right in front of me, and the future for generations to come. What impact am I making today that will last through my children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, and beyond?

That’s what I want 2019 to be about. Am I planting roots so my family has a place to call home? Am I focusing on my health a little more than last year so that I can be present and active in the lives of my family? Am I saving, working, striving in such a way that will positively impact the success of my family for generations to come? Am I investing in the health of my marriage, building a solid foundation on which we stand?

That’s 2019 for me. We’re building something, God and Ashlynn and I. Our hands will get dirty. It’s going to be messy. It will be bitter and sweet, because we’re waiting, sticking around to see what God will do!

2018:

When I was younger, my dad gave me a piece of advice that I find to be absolutely true. He told me the older I get, the faster time will pass by. Truer words have never been spoken. Time is elusive to me. It’s something that I strive to hold on to. After all, if you’ve read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, my love language is quality time, so that would make perfect sense. I just don’t want to let it go. I know that seasons shift and when that happens, everything shifts along with it, so I try my hardest to cherish the joys of the season I’m in because I know I could wake up any day now, and it would all be over. I simply can’t believe that it’s 2019! As I’ve gotten older, just like my dad told me, time seems to pass in a flash. In many ways, it feels as though 2018 went by slow, but in others, it feels like a blur. So much happened in 2018. Even though it felt like it went by in a flash, it feels like three years were almost crammed into one.

2018 was quite the year. God changed me this year… In ways I wanted to be changed, and in ways that He had to work deeply within me from the inside out.

When 2018 began, I was coming off of what was, in some ways, the most challenging year I had faced as an adult. In 2017, my marriage had been challenged in ways it never had. I was forced to make a decision in my career that I didn’t want to make. I felt lost and was searching for something. The problem was I didn’t know what what I was looking for.

As 2018 began, I had an interview lined up for a position at Ole Miss, almost 4 hours south of where we had lived in Nashville. It was for a position well-aligned with my professional experience and how I wanted to take my next steps. The interview came and went. It was honestly the best interview that I had ever experienced. I conveyed my work ethic, my leadership goals and experiences, my humor and light-heartedness, and my love for Ole Miss. I was almost sure I had the job. All the while, I was praying, praying probably harder than I’ve ever prayed, and a verse kept appearing in random places over and over. It started in December 2017 soon after I received a call for the interview, and I saw it over and over again through the beginning of January. God knows me. He knows that I’m stubborn and hard-headed and just need things to be drilled in my head. I should really learn to be more receptive. It would probably make my life so much easier. So, there I was, staring at this verse:

“Be alert! Be present! I am about to do something brand new!” -Isaiah 43:19 (MSG)

I was for sure this was God’s sign to me that this was it! I even wrote down a timeline in my journal leading up to this very moment. I was ready for God to lead us to Ole Miss, to do something new within us. Little did I know that my idea of something brand new and God’s idea of something brand new were totally different.

I didn’t get the job. I was devastated. I mean, absolutely devastated. I felt like I was in some alternate universe. Had I missed something here? I felt completely betrayed by God. I felt like I had been teased, led along this path that turned out to be nothing short of a joke. I felt like it was all for nothing. All the hard work. All the time that I invested… it was all for nothing. I felt like everything I thought had been a sign from God was just completely coincidence–that God wasn’t even there. He wasn’t near me and He definitely wasn’t interested in helping me. This was probably the most angry I had ever been at God.

The next few months were brutal. I mean, absolutely brutal. I was angry, depressed, and defeated. I felt hopeless. Over the spring months into summer, I had two more job interviews. One was at Ole Miss and the other was in Nashville. They both didn’t work out. When I heard the news that the job in Nashville had not worked out, I hit what I called rock-bottom, although it honestly could have gotten much worse than that. To me, that was the final straw and I had nothing left to do, nothing left to control, and I was truly at the end of my rope.

That was my turning point. I always hear that you will find God at the end of your rope, and I really believe that. But, you see, I had never lost God. I always knew He was there, whether I was mad about the events unfolding or not. One thing I can honestly say is that through it all, I always felt God’s love. Even though I felt betrayed and was angry, underneath it all, I felt a nudge that I wasn’t alone. The issue was that I chose to ignore it for a while. During this time, I think I finally just gave everything to Him. I started living my life in such a way that it was His and I was going to do what He asked of me. I’ve always strived for that, but this time, it got to the point where I didn’t have a choice. I felt like God had broken down so many barriers to where all I had left inside of me was Him. I had given up on everything else. That day, it was like God removed the blindfold from my eyes. I could see God working over the course of 2017 and 2018. I didn’t fully understand everything and I still don’t, but I saw that where I thought God had abandoned me, he was actually showing me that He was working and moving in my life. I just didn’t realize it because I thought He should be doing a certain thing. And I was wrong.

That’s the beautiful thing. God loves us regardless of our shortcomings and what I’m learning is that when we feel the most hopeless, when it seems like God is sitting down on the job the most, that’s usually when He’s working in us the most. Shortly after I didn’t get the job in Nashville, I had two opportunities come up, completely unexpected. One was something that I had been suppressing for years, and the other was completely out of the blue. It was something I never expected. More on these things later though! If I could sum up 2018 into one statement, it would be this–

God is who He says He is whether He does what I want Him to or not.

It was a matter of pealing back layers to help me realize some tough things about myself. My pride. My selfishness. My ambition over His will. All I really want is to live an incredible life with the people I love serving a God that has never left me. And this year showed me so much in relation to that goal.

The picture above has become somewhat of a special place to me. It sits on top of a hill. This is where Ashlynn and I made the choice to stay, to weather the storm, and see what brand-new thing God was going through us. I’m so glad we did.