Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Friday, January 1, 2016

The New Year Dawns Bright ~ And My One Word for Sweet '16 {2016}

"Seek the LORD and his strength;
seek his presence continually!"

We had a green Christmas, but the new year dawned with a fresh covering of white in our world. The year ended with a silent night and we woke to sweet '16 full of promise, expectancy, hope. Many of us are ready for a fresh start.

I spent the last few days working on an old, tired credenza that I picked up at the local second hand store, 'Alliston's Attic', years ago with every intention to refinish it. It sat in its worn, original state in our front hall and was a useful piece of furniture, but not at all pleasant on the eyes. 

Last winter, I could also call it the Long Winter, I spent much time recovering from open-heart surgery surrounded by dark, depressing brown walls in the living room and I longed to be able to get rid of all the dark and depressing and let the light in.

So, as the year was getting tucked in for its final days, we drove down to the paint store to get some paint to make things brighter and, simply, whiter. And right there in the store was a display for Cottage Paint—no sanding, no dust, just brush on the paint and 'antique' your boring furniture. I grabbed a quart of 'cloudy white', some matte sealer, a new brush and was all set to begin the project that had been waiting for me for as long as I had been it's rightful owner.

We've covered all the dark and now the bright light pours in and simply reflects off all the white, like the sunlight on the freshly fallen snow. The light always shines brighter and overcomes the dark.

This new year, 2016, is pregnant with good intentions, plans, purposes. There's no better time than the start of a new year to dream up resolutions, goals, and commitments. Except, I've never really been good at keeping New Year's Resolutions and found something that works better for me—naming my year with 'One Word'.

Jon named it, 'Endurance', for me last year. The year before that, the year Dr. David agreed to take my broken, hardened, calcified heart and restore it as best he could, the year I clung ever so dear to the precious truth that God is with me, my One Word, was 'With'.

It's been a handful of years now that I've been naming naming them and this year the One Word seemed obvious.

As we painted away for a few days—my husband and daughter working on the dark walls, me on the dungy wood cabinet—we had hours of sharing things burdening our hearts and on our minds. When I mentioned to Jon that I was thinking about what I might name the coming year, he told me what he thought it should be and it was exactly what I had been mulling over.


He reminded me the doctors told me that my recovery was going to be at least two years and the second year was going to be one for gaining strength.

Last year brought us so far along and this year I'm looking ahead with so much more excitement of what is to come.

As I look back at the wonderful deeds of the Lord, I am anticipating that God, in His faithfulness, sovereignty, love and wisdom, will do many great things this coming year.

I am trusting that as I seek Him more He will increase my faith and strengthen me.

Here is another exciting thing: this is the year I turn 40!

Many dread that year, but when you have lived through childhood cancer, lifelong health struggles, multiple surgeries, and face severe heart failure in your late 30's and undergo high-risk open-heart surgery and 'beat the odds' many times over, turning 40 is a time to give thanks to God and celebrate!

Each of our days are numbered and each one we have here we need to surrender to the Lord, trusting in Him in the days of adversity and in the days of ease and in all the days in between. Look at the birds of the air—the ravens, the sparrows, the bold cardinals, the little dark-eyed juncos that flit about—even these your heavenly Father feeds them and not one falls to the ground without Him knowing. 

It would be great to say that I have been fully healed, but that simply is not the case. I will always face difficult health struggles and not one persons knows what lies ahead.

When I look ahead this year, fear is not my constant companion, but weakness is. I have improved greatly, but when I wonder about what might be in store, I know that I can not accomplish anything on my own. 

I also know that my strength will come from the power of God, through seeking Him in His Word and in prayer.

For now, I can laugh at the days to come, eagerly anticipating God to work all things out for His glory. 

You only turn 40 once and I hope to be purposeful in living this year out as full as possible, strengthen by the Lord. I've been thinking about 40 things, a bucket list of sorts, to accomplish before I turn 40: My 40 Things Before 40.

There are some small as well as some pretty major things I am dreaming up and scratching down that may or may not come to fruition . . . memorize 40 Bible verses, read at least one book a month, refinish a piece of furniture, read through the Bible, share what God has done/is doing in my heart/life, review a book, paint a picture, pray for 40 people who don't know the Lord, see the ocean, make a family photo book, hike, blog at least 5 times a month, take a pottery wheel class, pray with others more consistently, work through a photography book, get-away with my sisters, write…

And I can dream up a plan, and purpose to make it happen, but it is in God's will and purpose that I ultimately place my trust. 

In my weakness, I look forward to seeing how God will strengthen me. Like Paul, who called himself the least of all the Apostles, God's grace is sufficient for me for his power is made perfect in my weakness.

His grace falls down, grace upon grace, covering me, always a fresh start, and His mercy is new every morning.

Let us sit in the silence, the stillness of a new year, wait on the Lord, earnestly seek God, surrender all our weakness, rebellion, anxiety and He will grant us His power and be our strength.

Oh, it is not only a mere covering that is here today and gone tomorrow or an outward display of morals, good intentions and our abilities that we are in desperate need of this year but that Christ may dwell in our hearts and that we could know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge and be filled with all the fullness of God.

Seek the Lord and His strength this new year. Seek His presence continually. There is your hope, your joy, your strength.
"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 
that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, 
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." 
{Ephesians 3:14-19}

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, 
according to the power at work within us, 
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, 
forever and ever. Amen." 
{Ephesians 3:20-21}

{PDF free printable for anyone else turning 40!!!}


  1. Rebekah - you've just inspired me to start a 60 before 60 list. I've got just over 3 years to accomplish my list - or give it my best shot! I turn 57 February 25th. Thanks for such a wonderful and inspiring post.

  2. Rebekah, so many good thoughts in this post. So many wonderful moments, so many things to rejoice in. I cannot begin to understand what you've been through, and will continue to go through, but your faith is an inspiring testimony to me of God's faithfulness. Thank you for sharing your journey, and your heart.

    Strength - a good word, a powerful word, a word that perfectly sums up God's continuing work in your life. I can't wait to see how He unfolds it for you...


    (P.S. Love the new changes - letting the *light* in!!)

  3. Rebekah,
    How inspired I am by reading your post and how you live with courage and hope while recovering and looking ahead. I also love the furniture painting and photos of the sweet birds -- the dresser turned out great! Here's to 2016 and as you approach the landmark year of 40 (once you get past the first year, the 40s are actually a pretty good decade! :)) and I hope God brings you a renewed spirit of strength for all that's ahead to enjoy!

  4. I am praising the Lord to see your sweet face on Holley's link up! I have tears in my eyes as I read this and feel your strength through the words, Rebekah! For all that you have been through, and all that you are, and all that your family is, I praise the Lord with all of my heart.
    Your room and credenza look lovely. You word is powerful.
    I am caring through Christ, ~ linda

  5. Rebekah,
    I always enjoy reading your posts. What a veteran of suffering you are. I like your word. Seems fitting to me. I've been pondering my word too. Thank you for the further inspiration!

  6. Beautiful post - in both word & photos. May God continue to bring you strength. This post spoke so deeply to my heart of how the Lord restores and makes all things new. Just the way you took the old credenza & brought to it a new purpose, may our God bring beauty & purpose out of all you have gone through. This post is powerful & lovely and I am grateful to have stopped here this morning. Blessings!


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