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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Following God Into the New Year

doorway
“The New Year stands before me, like a doorway, waiting for me to enter. However, I want to sit still before it and ask God to go before me.
In the past I’ve raced through the doorway, ready to face the New Year with excitement. Other times I’ve walked through it, hesitant of the future due to current circumstances. And then I’ve crawled through the doorway, dreading the future because of the pain of the previous year.
So I sit, waiting, praying, and with a thankful heart because of this past year’s blessings. Can He do it again? Knock my socks off with His provisions, blessings, and love? It doesn’t matter, the important thing is that He goes before me.
No more racing, walking, or crawling. For He is My Good Shepherd, and where He leads I will follow. For He knows the plans He has for me, and it’s in Him that I’ll put my trust.”

I wrote this at the beginning of 2014—a year I’ll never forget. Three months after I wrote these words my husband had routine outpatient neck surgery and within thirty minutes of getting him home he had a heart attack.
After a ride in an ambulance, hours of waiting in the ER, 10 days in the hospital, a heart cath and then quadruple bypass surgery the day after Easter, we came home again and prepared for weeks of recovery.
            As I look at the New Year ahead I’m reminded that I don’t know what may happen in the months to come for our family, our church, or our ministry. However, I know the One who does know and I put my trust in Him. He was with me that difficult year in 2014, as well as the past three years and I know He will be with me in 2018.
            What about you? Are you moving into this year anxious, excited, expectant, or with dread? Take this month to remember how God has cared for you in the past, how He has showed up when you needed Him, and provided for you whether financially, physically, mentally, or spiritually. Are you seeking direction? Look to Him. Are you looking for answers? Take time to listen. Do you need rest? Be still and let Him carry you.
            Whatever this next year holds, we need to remember that God is already there and He is waiting on us. My prayer for you is that you will trust Him in all things.

            So, as for me and the upcoming year . . .

“I sit, waiting, praying, and with a thankful heart because of this past year’s blessings. Can He do it again? Knock my socks off with His provisions, blessings, and love? It doesn’t matter, the important thing is that He goes before me.
No more racing, walking, or crawling. For He is My Good Shepherd, and where He leads I will follow. For He knows the plans He has for me, and it’s in Him that I’ll put my trust.”


About the Author:

The hats I wear are many but with each one brings an opportunity to share heart, humor, and hope. My day job is with a ministry in Greenville, SC but my other hours I fill with writing, speaking, teaching Bible Studies, leading our women's ministry, designing landscape/gardens, rowing at Greenville Indoor Rowing and answering to Beth, mama, and grandmommy. Serving alongside my husband, who is a pastor, for over twenty years, I can say without a doubt that as difficult as it is at times, it's also a great honor. They say that with age comes wisdom, I'm not sure about the wisdom part, but I do know that with age comes the realization that no matter what I go through God is always there with His overwhelming love and grace. 



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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Enter the New Year Like a Queen


praying hands

On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace,
 in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance.* 

The orphan promoted to queen needed to speak with her husband, but she hadn’t heard from him for a month. King Xerxes’ law required the execution of anyone who appeared in his presence unbidden. Without an invitation, she was risking her life.

Since she was a daughter of Eve as we are, Esther likely carried some level of unease. Perhaps she dressed in a queenly outfit to remind Xerxes of her status or catch his masculine eye. We don’t know. What we do know is that, in spite of any hesitation or anxiety, Esther stood on the threshold of her destiny whatever it held.

Have you ever felt that way? As if you were standing on the edge of an unknown and uncertain future? Maybe, like me, you wonder where Esther found her courage.

She’d reached out to meet a simple need. The recipient, a trusted confidant, alerted her of a grave threat with instructions to take it to the king. When she explained her personal risk, he pointed out the responsibility of her position with a warning for her to act.

Her response was to call for three days of fasting and prayer among her closest supporters. In that intimate communion with her Faithful Provider and Guide, her security in His hands undoubtedly grew. The resulting confidence bore her to that dangerous doorway.

Xerxes saw her, and his extended scepter expressed his pleasure. The death threat cancelled, Esther touched the symbol of forgiveness, and stepped into her future. She advanced slowly, with purpose, into the role designed for her, for such a time as this.**
  
We can walk the path before us with the same confidence and courage.

1) Consider circumstances with prudence: sift human interpretation, your own as well as others, and resist outside pressure.

2) Meet with God in communion: welcome His presence, share details of the situation and your reaction, and ask for guidance.

3) Rest in His provision: accept His direction, pursue His plan by His grace, and trust His timing.

Similar to Esther, those who’ve received the offer of forgiveness from our King are released to pursue His purpose for our lives. We stand on the threshold of a new year with unknown twists, turns, and trials—an excellent opportunity to apply her approach. We may not save a nation from destruction or have a holiday established to honor our achievements. But we can step into our destiny with confidence and courage based on who God is and our relationship with Him as His children.

What uncertainties make you blink as you enter 2018?
How do they compare with the nature and character of God?

*Esther 5:1 NIV
**Esther 4:14 NIV

Brief Bio
Sandra Allen Lovelace is a continuing missionary, a pastor’s wife emeritus, and a homeschool pioneer. She’s an award-winning speaker and author, and a sought-after mentor. Sandra’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and her current manuscript is Wallflower Women: How We Got Stuck and Ways to Gain Our Freedom. She enjoys hiking with a camera in her hand, best done on an international adventure. Sandra and her husband Curt are transitioning to South Carolina.

Get to know Sandra at her website, http://sandraallenlovelace.com/
You can also connect with Sandra on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.







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