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But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

—Matthew 6:33

 

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are beingtransformedinto his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

—2 Corinthians 3:18

 

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We have this cute young lady who has been living with us for several months. My husband has dubbed her the Energizer Bunny. So it isn’t surprising that in her dialogues and answers she often uses an enthusiastic, snappy, staccato, “yep!”

 

So guess what I hear coming out of my mouth these days? Yep. Literally. And it’s probably not so cute coming out of an almost 52-year-old.

 

Then there’s my daughter. Her go-to phrase is, “That is so real.” So lately when I hear a statement that rings especially true, what do you think has been sliding off my tongue like a canoe down a waterfall?

 

Whether I like it or not, the people I hang around rub off on me. Like when I touched my hubby’s freshly-painted robins-egg blue walls. Marked.

 

And I am influenced by others’ actions as well. Which got me to thinking… Although who I hang with did not make my initial list for 2018 goals, I decided it was something I needed to add. Who do I want to influence me? Since I want to be like Jesus the most, it struck me that I need to hang around him a little more than I do.

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Our culture applauds what we can produce, what we can show, and what we can upload. But God notices us even when we are tucked away in hidden places. 

 

Click HERE to listen to the podcast of Jo's interview with Sara Hagerty on her book, Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World that Loves to be Noticed. 

 

Catch Jo live on Connecting Faith every Friday at 12:00 p.m. on Faith Radio Network / KTIS AM 900 or online at myfaithradio.com

 

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It’s growing more and more popular with the new year to choose a singular word to set the course over the next 12 months vs. making resolutions. 

 

I’ve done it myself—one year was “risk-taker”, another was “be”—and it’s a good, focused strategy that can really jumpstart people to become their better, created selves. Those years, I chose to bravely say yes to opportunities I may have otherwise passed up, and I was reminded to live in the moment instead of distracted by the buzz of my phone or the demands of tomorrow. 

 

But last Christmas, my mother-in-law gave me a Giving Key necklace with the word “believe” stamped on the gold vintage key, and I haven’t picked a word since. It seems this simple accessory has pointed out more than once that it’s time to believe in God’s promises, actually live like His power and grace is real, and rest in His presence when circumstances and evil pull me away. 

 

I’ve been tempted to choose something fresh with this mint new year, a new focus, a clean slate. But I can’t get myself to do it... because I realize I still haven’t mastered it. I can’t yet claim I’m strong in the whole believing category.

 

I still live in fear when I walk into a doctor appointment, instead of trusting that my times—and my babies’ times—are in His hands.  

 

I still am disappointed when bad news comes my way, instead of hoping and declaring that I will see the goodness in the land of the living and trusting that God is still moving behind the scenes. 

 

I still quiver over the possibilities of the future, when God calls me to be strong and courageous because He not only has already gone before me, but He promises to never leave me nor forsake me.  

 

And I still rely on my own strength and understanding to fix problems, lead in ministry, and generally live through my day, when God’s Word clearly says He is the vine, we are the branches, and apart from Him we can do nothing—but remain in Him, and we can do everything. 

 

These are the things that have already been written and spoken, and because my God is faithful, what He says will surely come to pass. Yet here I am, over a year later, growing but still struggling with believing. So, when I’ve thrown around other words to mark my year—like joy, giving, patience, family, and sacrifice—it all seems… less than. Because if I’m truly growing in my faith, studying His word, and claiming His promises, then everything else will follow suit. I don’t need to focus on myself; that’s always how God’s people got tripped up in the Bible anyways. I need to focus on my God, because when I do:

 

I’ll live with joy of the Lord as my strength.

I’ll give to the church and to those in need.

I’ll be patient in tribulation, and I’ll bear with one another in love.

I’ll love my family as I love myself.

I’ll walk confidently in this day the Lord has made, instead of worrying or fearing what’s around the corner.

And I’ll give myself to the God who gave up everything for me.

 

Quite simply, if I’m believing, if I’m growing in my faith of God, His Word, His character, and His plans, then I’ll become the person I’m created to be. So until my faith is perfected, which won’t be until the final day when I meet my Everything face to face, then I will not tire of this focus and of this calling. I will not change my course, and I will not turn my eyes back on myself. 

 

That is my prayer for us all. As God’s children and holy people, with every day and with every new year, may our believing grow stronger, more active, and more powerful as we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Champion who initiates and perfects our faith. He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Amen.

 

I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14

 

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When it comes to dealing with your "stuff," peace IS possible. 

 

Click HERE to listen to Jo's interview with Kathi Lipp. on her book, Clutter Free: Quick and Easy Steps to Simplifying your Space. 

 

Catch Jo live on Connecting Faith every Friday at 12:00 p.m. on Faith Radio Network / KTIS AM 900 or online at myfaithradio.com