66 in 52 Challenge

Jeremiah – Week 24 and 25 {66 in 52 Challenge}

This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I am focusing in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will post a summary page with some thoughts about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey! Click here to see where we’ve been so far!

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Week 24 - Jeremiah 1-25

Week 25 - Jeremiah 26-52

The Big Picture of Jeremiah:

Jeremiah is another prophet who was called by God to be “a prophet to the nations” (1:5). Like many of us, he wasn’t so sure had the right guy, yet ended up following God not only in warning His people about potential exile but also sharing direction on how to live well in exile. In short, the people of Israel had broken God’s covenant and God was calling them back to obedience. The first 24 chapters outline the areas where the people and leaders are outside of the life God has for them. In chapter 25 we transition and Jeremiah prophesies that Babylon is coming to take the people captive for 70 years which happens later on in the book. In the middle though we see a few chapters filled with prophesies of hope reminding the people it won’t always be this way.

Outline of Jeremiah:

  • 1 – Jeremiah called to be prophet
  • 2-24 – Warnings to Judah
  • 25-29 – Foretelling the Babylonian Exile
  • 30-33 – Promises of Restoration
  • 34-35 – Historical Information
  • 36-38 – Jeremiah Suffers
  • 39-45 – The Fall of Jerusalem and the aftermath
  • 46-49 – Prophesies against other nations
  • 50-51 – Prophesies against Babylon
  • 51 – Historical Information

A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:

Some of us are planning to read through the whole book each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse. This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verse, pick any section of the book you want! These are just some ideas.

  • The Lord gave me this message: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:4-5)
    REFLECTION: God also knew YOU before you were born and set you apart for work in His Kingdom. Ask God what He made you for and spend some time listening to His response.
  • “‘For I know the plans I have you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not ot harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
    REFLECTION: While many know this verse, few know the context. Spend some time reading all of chapter 29. What new insight does this bring this verse put in the context of a people in exile for seventy years? How might that exile bring about the true hope and future God desires for His people?
  • “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)
    REFLECTION: What might it look like for you to call out to God this week? What answers do you hope He provides? What “great and unsearchable things has He been showing you recently?

God’s Grace in Jeremiah:

Exile as a response to the people’s disobedience doesn’t seem very graceful, but, as I’ve mentioned before, God’s heart is for his people. He will do whatever it takes to get His people back even if that involves some hard and painful things. He tries first to win them back with His love, but when that doesn’t happen as in this situation, sometimes He allows bad things to happen to draw them back. He is patiently pursuing his children who have wandered again and again and again. He still dreams big dreams for them even in their most rebellious places.  He brings justice against those who hurt them and restores them to their place as His children. Through it all He never disowns them, even when the turn away from Him. Again and again He says, “I will be their God and they will be my people. (31:33)”

Some Other Resources:

The Challenge:

So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse and settle in this week, or read through the whole book. If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!

66 in 52 Challenge

Isaiah (Part 1) – Week 21 {66 in 52 Challenge}

This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I am focusing in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will post a summary page with some thoughts about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey! Click here to see where we’ve been so far!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Week 22 - Isaiah 1-39

 

The Big Picture of Isaiah:

Isaiah is a book of prophecy. He was called to speak to God’s people and his message was one both of judgment and of hope. Many chapters of this book call the people to repent and return to God’s plan for their lives, and tell of the challenges they will face when they don’t. Ultimately, God tries to woo his people back with his kindness and grace, but when that doesn’t work, He’ll do whatever it takes to get his people back, even if that means letting them suffer at the hands of others for a while. Thankfully Isaiah’s prophecy isn’t all doom and gloom we also get beautiful and hopeful pictures throughout of the ultimate redemption that will come through a Savior. God keeps his covenant promises whether the people do or not and that is also clear in this book. While these themes are both throughout the whole book, we especially see the prophecies of the hard times in chapters 1-39, and the prophesies of the Messiah and hope in 40-66.

Timeline of Isaiah:

The content below was gathered from the She Reads Truth Bible and BibleHub.com and helps us see where the events of this book fit with some of the other books and events in history.

739/740 B.C. – Isaiah called as a Prophet (Isaiah 6)

722 B.C. – Israel invaded by Assyria, end of northern kingdom

715-686 B.C. – King Hezekiah in Judah

712 B.C.  – Hezekiah’s illness and healing (2 Kings 20, Isaiah 38)

701 B.C. – Sennacherib threatens Jerusalem (2 Kings 18, Isaiah 36)

696-642 B.C. – King Manasseh in Judah

681 B.C. – Isaiah’s Death

 

A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:

Some of us are planning to read through the whole book each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse. This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verse, pick any section of the book you want! These are just some ideas.

  • “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them white as wool.” (Isaiah 2:18)
    REFLECTION: Spend some time in confession this week admitting the ways that sin has infiltrated your life. Then picture all those sins, red like scarlet, being turned bright white, clean, forgiven!
  • “…Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give brith to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).” (Isaiah 7:14b)
    REFLECTION: Where do you  need God to be Immanuel, God With Us, in this week? Where have you seen His presence recently?
  • And so the Lord says, ‘These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.'” (Isaiah 29:13)
    REFLECTION: Have you ever found yourself in a season where you were saying all the right words but when you really stopped to think about your heart was far from God? Are there areas of your life where that is true right now? What helped you in the past, or might help you not to refocus your heart on Jesus? 

God’s Grace in Isaiah:

In a long book like this filled with some hard things to hear, it’s easy to focus our attention on some of the more well-known sections looking forward to the hope of the Messiah. However reading the full book gives us an even clearer view of how much we need a Savior and how Jesus really does fulfill each and every prophecy made about Him. We see in Isaiah that reality that sin keeps us from God, but that He was not okay with that reality and enacted a mission to save and redeem us all through Jesus!

Some Other Resources:

The Challenge:

So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse and settle in this week, or read through the whole book. If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!

66 in 52 Challenge

Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon – Week 21 {66 in 52 Challenge}

This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I am focusing in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will post a summary page with some thoughts about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey! Click here to see where we’ve been so far!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Week 21 - Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon

An apology:

First of all, for those following along with the 66 in 52 challenge, I apologize this post is a week late. The best explanation I can give is: Life Happens. I’m sure you all understand that reality and part of living in the joy and blessing of God is giving people, including ourselves some grace.  I knew that at some point in the year I wouldn’t be perfect about getting this up and that time came. 🙂 In any case, whether you read these books already (or are a little behind like me), I hope you enjoy some thoughts about Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon!

The Big Picture of Ecclesiastes and Song of Song of Solomon:

Solomon is typically credited as the author for both of these books and because of that are likely dated to somewhere around 971-931 B.C.

Along with Job and Proverbs, Ecclesiastes is considered part of the wisdom literature in Scripture. It includes some deep thoughts about the very existence of life itself. I love the way the She Reads Truth Bible describes this book and the benefit it can have in our lives:

“Ecclesiastes is a book that awakens us to our own mortality, begging us to seriously consider how we should live. It knocks away all the facades we use to disguise the fact that life is short and all our accomplishments will pass away. In this way, Ecclesiastes anticipates the NT teaching that only God’s grace, and not our zeal, saves us. … Ecclesiastes prompts us to do two simple but profound things: enjoy life and fear God.”

The Song of Solomon (also known as the Song of Songs) is mainly a celebration of romantic love. While this song mostly describes the intimacy between two human beings, the passionate pursuit in which the woman is sought after, adored, and responds to her lover can lead us to long for the God who passionately pursues us!

A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:

Some of us are planning to read through the whole book each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse. This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verse, pick any section of the book you want! These are just some ideas.

Ecclesiastes:

  • “The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow.” (Ecclesiastes 1:18)
    REFLECTION: Why do you think Solomon would say something like this? When have you experienced this to be true (or false)?
  • “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
    REFLECTION: What in life feels “not-yet-beautiful” right now? Where do you need God’s grace and patience to wait for the whole picture to come into view and make sense, to become beautiful? Where do you feel the longing for eternity planted deep within your heart?
  • Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless-like chasing the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 6:9)
    REFLECTION: What are five things you’re thankful for today? Besides gratitude, what are some other ways you can keep focused enjoying the blessings you already instead of centering your heart on what you don’t have?

Song of Solomon:

  • “I am my lover’s and he claims me as his own.” (Song of Solomon 7:10)
    REFLECTION: For those of you who are married, what beauty have you found in sharing a name with your spouse? For those that aren’t married and perhaps wish to have the kind of connection described in this book, what comfort can be found the truth of God calling us as his own? How might the book be reassurance that desring this kind of love is good and beautiful, something truly to long after?
  • “A huge torrent cannot extinguish love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.” (Song of Solomon 8:7)
    REFLECTION: What about love seems to make it truly above all else? In what ways do you feel created to love and be loved?

God’s Grace in Ecclesiastes:

At first glance, this book can seem kind of depressing. I didn’t count it up yet, but it sure says “Life is meaningless” enough times to make us wonder what life really is about anyway. However, if you pay careful attention, I think a more accurate understanding might be something like, “Life, as we’ve made it be, is meaningless.” The endless striving for fame, money, sex, etc. is meaningless. Life is meant to be enjoyed and certainly some of those things are enjoyable.  We see Solomon, the richest and wisest man in the world who had everything he could ever want, discover that having a lot or even achieving a lot doesn’t bring lasting fulfillment. In the end He discovers this as of most importance: “So, remember your Creator…” (12:1).  With that in view, the meaningless things fade away. I also found that sometimes God’s grace shows up in unexpected ways: “God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.” (5:20) Perhaps that’s key… God longs for us to enjoy life and remember Him.

God’s Grace in Song of Solomon:

I think we could all agree that sexuality has gotten twisted by the fall. If you need any prove just open your phone or pick up a newspaper and count the stories about sexual abuse, misconduct, gender inequality and more. When we read a book like Song of Solomon it can seem a bit over the top or unrealistic. However, I think God wants this passionate picture in Scripture as a reminder of his original plan and design. These insights from Kelley Nikondeha shared in the Jesus Centered Bible seem to describe this better than I could:

“… What if Eve never bit into the fruit? What if Adam never took the next bite and shared in that sweetness that opened the door to shame? Where would we be with not temptation or forbidden fruit, no broken relationship or expulsion from Eden? Can you imagine a world without a curse?

One possible way to understand the wisdom of Song of Songs is to see it as an extravagant dreamscape that gives us a glimpse into Eden. If we had lived in this perpetual garden of delight we would have developed into different people, far freer to explore our intimate relationships without shame. In a curse-free garden, hierarchy and sexual domination never enter the picture. … Women initiate with ease, men reciprocate without threat, and we both practice an unashamed boldness as we share our body with our beloved. …

We wake east of Eden, outside the gates and burdened by the vestiges of the curse. But Jesus enters into this world and plants a new dream in our hearts–setting things right and restoring what’s broken in humanity and creation. … Song of Songs helps us to dream about a mighty wholeness and connectedness. It whets our appetite for a world saturated in love, a worthy description of Jesus’ redemptive mission.”

Some Other Resources:

The Challenge:

So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse and settle in this week, or read through the whole book. If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!

Books

REST – Giving Away 5 Ebooks!

Rest.

It’s something God has been teaching me so much about the last few years.

We are designed to both work hard AND to rest well. When one of those is out of wack, WE are out of wack.

A while back I discovered that a 24-hour Sabbath period each week is not only what God commands but is a beautiful, needed gift. When I am intentional about “stepping away from the things that won’t step away from you” (as Ann Voskamp says) I remember who I really am. I am energized to live that out the other 6 days of the week.

More than perhaps anything, this quote from Mark Buchanan led me into this pursuit of resting in God on a regular basis. It reminds me that even in the busiest of times, this is crucial.

“Get this straight: The rest of God – the rest God gladly gives so that we might discover that part of God we’re missing – is not reward for finishing. It’s not a bonus for work well done. It’s sheer gift. It’s a stop-work order in the midst of work that’s never complete, never polished. Sabbath is not the break we’re allotted at the tail end of completing all our tasks and chores, the fulfilment of our obligations. It’s the rest we take smack-dab in the middle of them, without apology, without guilt, and for no better reason than God told us we could.”

When I noticed that the kindle ebook version of The Rest of God (where this quote came from) was on sale today, I knew I wanted to give some away. Five copies actually!

All you have to do is leave a comment on the blog with one way you enjoy the rest of Sabbath (or wish that you would make time to enjoy). Five comments with be randomly selected tomorrow morning. Entries end at midnight (Eastern time).

Praying you get some true, soul-refreshing rest this weekend!

66 in 52 Challenge

Proverbs – Week 20 {66 in 52 Challenge}

This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I am focusing in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will post a summary page with some thoughts about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey! Click here to see where we’ve been so far!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Week 20 - Proverbs

The Big Picture of Proverbs:

Proverbs is one of three books we consider part of the “wisdom literature” in the Bible, along with Job and Ecclesiastes. Solomon who we met earlier in Scripture is the author of most of them. Having been known as the wisest man on earth, it seems he might have some wise ideas for how we as humans can best live in this world. Throughout the book we often see a contrast given between a wise life and a fool’s life. The first nine chapters give somewhat of an introduction to the book and the rest are filled with short phrases or poems that help us understand and live life well.

Themes in Proverbs:

One study Bible I own has does a great job of laying out some main themes throughout the book of Proverbs in a way that I found helpful. It uses 5 main themes and then gives examples of sub-themes within them. Here are a few examples for each that might be helpful.

God

  • The Commands of God (4:1-4, 6:20-23, 29:18, 30:5)
  • How God sees man (5:21, 16:2,7, 20:24)
  • What God loves (11:1, 15:9, 16:11, 14:31)

Man

  • Adversity (3:25-26, 17:17, 18:14, 24:16)
  • Happiness (3:13, 15:23, 24:17, 29:18)
  • Humility vs Pride (11:2, 15:33, 22:4, 27:1-2)
  • Spiritual and Physical Health (4:20-22, 14:30, 18:14, 25:25)

Relationships

  • Friendship (17:9, 18:24, 19:6, 27:6)
  • Parents and Children (14:26, 19:18, 22:6, 15)
  • Quarrels (3:30-31, 10:12, 17:14, 25:8-9)

Wealth

  • Envy (6:34, 14:30, 21:25-26, 28:16)
  • Generosity and Greed (3:9, 3:27-28, 19:17, 21:26)
  • Security (1:33, 3:9-10, 4:13, 13:6)
  • Wealth vs Poverty (6:10-11, 11:4, 20:21, 22:1-2, 4)

World

  • Faithfulness (11:13, 20:6, 25:13,19, 28:20)
  • Hope and Mercy (13:23, 18:13,17, 21:15, 22:28)
  • Justice (12:17-22, 13:5, 16:6, 20:17)
  • Good vs Evil (1:10-19, 11:3-5, 14:14, 25:21-22)

A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:

Some of us are planning to read through the whole book each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse. Since Psalms is so long we’re dividing it up over three weeks. This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verse, pick any section of the book you want! These are just some ideas.

  • “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:33)
    REFLECTION: What do you need to put in God’s hands today?
  • “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)
    REFLECTION: Where have you been using less-than-gracious words lately and maybe need to ask for forgiveness? How can you speak life into those around you this week?
  • Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. (Proverbs 9:9)
    REFLECTION: What is one way you can continue to grow and learn this week even in something you’re already pretty good at?
  • “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline. (Proverbs 1:7)
    REFLECTION: How can you go throughout this week in awe and reverence of our God?

Some Other Resources:

The Challenge:

So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse and settle in this week, or read through the whole book. If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!

Bekah's Heart, Devotional

Vibrant. Wilted. Shattered.

Image 1: Green and Vibrant

I walked out my front door this morning and the first thing that crossed my mind was: “Wow! When did that happen?!?”

I was caught off guard and pleasantly surprised by the way the world turned green, seemingly overnight. Grass is growing, the tree filling with leaves.

Not long ago I thought winter would never end in Buffalo. The wall of green outside my door was a great reminder for life:

In the darkest and coldest of winters, when it feels like the hard season will never end, slowly change occurs, often undetected. One day we will wake up and exclaim, “Wow! When did that happen!?!” Hope will return and new life will be vividly on display.


Image 2: Wilted and Dying

On the way to campus today I stopped by Trader Joe’s. While paying, a manager walked up, handed me some potted flowers, and told me to enjoy! Oh how this felt like such a gift, a beautiful reminder of God’s abundant grace; I think I smiled the whole way to campus. I didn’t have a chance to stop back at work or home and despite my concern for the flowers on this hot summer-like day I had no choice but to leave them in the car. I hoped that since these flowers survive just fine out in the heat when planted in gardens the same would be true in the pot.

Unfortunately, that was not the case. I returned to the car to find them discolored, wilted, dead.

Also unfortunately, it kind of mimicked how I felt at the end of my day. Nothing particular was hard about this day and lots of amazing things actually happened. Yet, I felt like these flowers were a perfect representation of my wilted spirit.

As I drove home processing it all, a comment from the Trader Joe’s cashier popped into my head: “Oh, and if you plant them, they’ll come back again.”

That’s it! Often when our hopes and dreams wilt or even die, we throw them away as useless. But, if we put in a bit more effort, aren’t afraid of getting a little dirty, and plant those dreams, perhaps they’ll bloom again.


Image 3: Broken and Shattered

Each Wednesday this month some other young adults gather in my home to explore faith and life together. We’re currently studying Psalm 31 and talking about committing everything to Jesus. Tonight our conversation centers around brokenness.

The speaker describes a mirror that shattered in the house he shared with his friends back in college. In this story, some guys just left the mess, laughing about the way in which it was broken. For those that did help clean, some of the pieces of mirror were swept under the couch, others were rearranged into a collage with super glue, others were ignored and left alone.

When life shatters do we hide our brokenness? Rearrange it to try to make it look better? Ignore it? Laugh at it? Or do we let Someone, Jesus, come in and heal the broken places with hope?


What does your life look like right now?

Green and vibrant?

Wilted and dying?

Broken and shattered?

Three images. One message: Hope.

Spring is coming.

Dead dreams can bloom again.

Shattered lives can be healed.

Jesus is enough!

Bekah's Heart

Choosing Failure

The title of this blog post alone is enough to send some of our hearts racing and palms sweating (mine included). We live in a “Failure is not an option!” world, but I’m starting to think maybe it is. Even more, I sometimes wonder if it might be the BEST option.

We live in a go-go-go, get it all done, add one more thing culture. Success is often oddly defined by who got the least amount of sleep, pushed the hardest, and checked the most boxes. Failure then becomes anything less than perfect. But maybe there is something better than perfect.

A few days ago a woman at my church randomly mentioned a book she was reading in passing. We don’t talk much and I’m not sure what prompted her to stop and tell me about this book but it was just the reminder I needed. The title, “Present Over Perfect” is one example of why sometimes choosing “failure” might just be the best way to live life. Do I want to spend all my time time and energy perfecting this this life or actually living it?

This month is crazy busy for me. I knew that heading into it and, at first, had a mindset to “buckle down and get through it.” As I thought about it more, that just sounded exhausting and joyless. In praying about that a few days ago, my prayer shifted to ask God to help me actually enjoy this month. Most events will stay on the calendar and the to-do list is still long, but my mindset has shifted to one that desires to be present this month. Some of that will happen by choosing failure.

At a conference in February I heard a woman speak about being “in the clear” and “out of the woods”. Normally, we feel we must be out of the woods before we can be in the clear. Her proposal was that we don’t have to exchange one for the other. What would it look like to be mentally “in the clear” even if we’re not “out of the woods” yet?

One of her talking points was: “Failure is completely inevitable, but fear doesn’t have to be.” Long, long story short, I’ve realized that failure really is inevitable (or at least something short of perfect). Failure will come, but perhaps by choosing it, I don’t have to live in fear. So as I head into this month, a month in which I know the boxes won’t all get checked, expectations won’t be met, and people will likely be disappointed, I’m intentionally choosing some things to “fail” at in order to succeed at the most important things.

I know I need to pass off some things at work or even just cross them off the list completely. I want those things to happen. Other people want those things to happen. But there are some tasks that are just more important to make sure happen.

As I prepare for surgery at the end of the month, it is important for me to take care of my body and soul. If I have to choose, I want to succeed at eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep even if that means failing at keeping a clean house. (I’m pretty sure paper plates were made ‘for such a time as this’, right!?!)

On Saturday morning, I planned to spend 2 hours working toward a writing deadline. When that time came it was so obvious that the biggest need was to rest. So, I made the hard, but good, choice and probably will not meet that deadline.

Do I want to let people down? No.

Do I enjoy not following through on a commitment to myself or others? Of course not!

Do I use “failure is inevitable” as an excuse to slack off or just give up? Never.

But sometimes, a well-placed “no” or “not right now” leads us to a deeper, more fulfilling life than we could ever imagine. Not to mention potentially freeing others to do the same.

In the book I mentioned above, author Shauna Neiquist says: “People called me tough. And capable. And they said I was someone they could count on. Those are all nice things. Kind of. But they’re not the same as loving, or kind, or joyful.

I choose joy.

I choose love.

I choose a spirit that is kind to those around me.

And, at least in this season of life, that means choosing a little failure.