Happy New Year! Can you believe 2017 is over and we are entering 2018? I began 2017 with a focus – “Encouragement.”   A goal for my entire year. One word that embodied my theme for that year. I also had selected theme verses for the year – Isaiah 61:1-7. Isaiah 61:1-7 vividly explains how God restores hope. Last year I set out to loudly proclaim “the year of the Lord’s favor (Isaiah 61:2a NIV),” because God can: ”heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners…comfort all who mourn, rebuild the old ruins, raise a new city out of the wreckage (Isaiah 61:1-4 NIV).” I declared 2017 the year of hope; of God’s favor! I am still declaring that and set on encouraging others, but instead of it being limited to a single yearlong focus, I am intent on it being my lifelong focus.

To that end, I feel compelled to pick a new theme word for 2018. When I reflect upon where 2017 has taken me, what lies ahead of me in 2018 and my goals, the word “Fearless” comes to mind. To be without fear. To face whatever life throws at me with confidence. To not let my inhibitions or timidity hold me back. However, the word “Fearless” still focuses upon it’s root word “Fear.” That I do not want to take with me into 2018.

I had a discussion once with a friend who was reading a self-help book. He shared that he was learning from this book that so often we sabotage ourselves in setting goals by focusing on what we do not want to do. For instance, we set out to cut back on our sugar intake and we decide to cut out candy. Our goal becomes “No more candy.” It is a fine goal, but it keeps redirecting our focus onto what we were hoping to avoid – candy. The more we deny ourselves candy, the more we think about it. A healthier goal would be “Eat fruit when I crave something sweet.” Candy is nowhere to be found in that goal. The focus is not candy, nor denying ourselves candy. The focus is upon eating fruit when we crave sweetness. Picking a healthier option, not denial.

Applying that same logic to my theme word for 2018, means even if I set out to be “Fearless,” I am still focused upon fear. That is not what I want to do in 2018. I don’t want to just fear less, I want to be fearless! That is why I have arrived at a word that better embodies who I want to be and how I want to act in 2018 – “Bold.” Bold is a synonym of fearless, but the focus is not upon fear. The focus is upon being confident, taking risks, and being courageous.

2018 holds many challenges for me. Some of which I am not looking forward to and others for which I am anxious to tackle head-on. Regardless, of what I encounter in 2018, I want to approach it with boldness. I want to be confident. I know that I serve a big God who can do anything. A God who gives me the strength I need to do anything and face anything (Phil. 4:13). I know that regardless of what I am facing in my life – God is always good! That gives me confidence. I know that when I boldly step out in obedience, God goes with me. I am not facing this journey alone.

I feel compelled to not only pick a new theme word, but also a new theme verse. Praying and reflecting upon my word for 2018 kept bringing a particular passage to mind – Psalm 46, particularly verses 1-3:

God is our refuge and strength,

an ever-present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way

and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam

and the mountains quake with their surging (Psalm 46:1-3 NIV).

It may seem like an odd passage to focus upon, especially with my discussion of not focusing upon fear and the word fear is in this passage, but I feel confident it needs to be my focus for this year. As the year unfolds, I know this passage will continue to take on new meaning and hope for me. These verses strike me as a confident and bold declaration that we can face anything in life and our faith will remain unshakable.

What are you facing in 2018? For me I feel like I am standing at the base of a great mountain and I am about to have a front row seat to watch it crumble into the sea. However, I am confident that as this mountain crumbles it will be cleared not so that I can survey ruin, but so I can gaze at a new and breath-taking view. So I can have a new fresh perspective I would not have had otherwise.

Pardon the reference to a children’s movie, but being a mom of preschoolers I can’t help but go there – it’s my present reality. “The Croods” is a movie about a family of Cavemen who never leave their cave, until an earthquake flattens their cave and they are forced to step into the world beyond their cave. However, when their cave is flattened at the end of a desert canyon, it reveals a lush tropical forest on the other side teaming with life and beauty. The Croods had been scraping by in the deserted waste land of their home completely unaware of the beauty and life that laid just on the other side of those rock walls.

That is how I envision this moment in my life. I am staring at a giant rocky mountain that is starting to quake and crumble, but I am confident that beauty and life lie on the other side. The mountain isn’t crumbling so I can stare at devastation, but so that I can boldly step forward, cross through it and move beyond it. May you enter 2018 with Boldness! “Though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea (Psalm 46:2),” may you find refuge, strength and confidence in God! Today is a new day, step out in boldness today…

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