Monday, January 3, 2011

Embracing Change

Welcome to 2011. A brand new year. A new beginning. A blank canvas. An opportunity to consider the possibilities that lie ahead. And embrace change in areas where growth is needed. I have to admit that I’m a creature of habit. Change doesn’t come easily for me. But as I’ve reflected on the past year, I’ve seen the hand of God most clearly when He has coaxed me out of my comfort zone.

Early last year, as we enjoyed a leisurely dinner, I remember sharing an idea for a devotional series with my husband. He was very supportive and gave me some excellent things to consider. Hmmmm. Once I had put my dream out there, I realized that I needed to follow through with the project. How to get started? I was already spending several hours a week blogging, and now I needed to begin writing this series.

Several months went by and my devotional idea remained just that, an idea. I thought I knew what the Lord wanted me to write, but the words just wouldn’t come. I had determined to illustrate the fruit of the Spirit with short entries written in traditional devotional format. My timeline was structured so I would finish one of the books in the series before I attended my first writer’s conference. As I began writing, the Lord began to stretch my vision. Instead of a simple devotional, He showed me a different plan, one that included an interactive Bible study. Oh, wow! This would require much more research and time. Was I willing to face the challenge?

As I contemplated this change in plans, I thought about the familiar words of Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” (KJV). “Ok, Lord,” I prayed, “if You want me to change the format of this series, You’re going to have to help me!” Things started coming together. I joined a critique group and found the accountability I needed. Slowly, lessons were written and valuable feedback was given. I saw the importance of taking one step at a time.

As I continue to work on my series this year, I’m convinced that the Lord will continue to guide me each step of the way. David’s words ring true, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” (Psalm 119:105). God’s word gives me plenty of light to navigate today’s road successfully, while keeping me focused on Him for tomorrow’s needs.

Where do you need to embrace change and experience growth this year? Accept the Psalmist’s challenge, “Trust in the Lord, and do good…delight thyself also in the Lord…commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass,” (Psalm 37:3a,4a,5). This year, step out in faith and experience the mighty hand of God in your life!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You so much for an opportunity to live for You. What a privilege You’ve given me to experience Your miraculous presence. Help me to tune in to Your still, small voice, so I'll recognize those areas where I need to grow. Allow me to be used for You this year. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


  1. What a great year this will be for you Maria! And how exciting to work on a project like this. Personally it really, really helped me to read John C. Maxwell's book "Putting your dream to the test". I highly recommend it!

  2. II really enjoyed reading about this today. I can't wait to see how God uses your time this year:)
    I've got some major decisions to make this year in my personal life so your verse is perfect!

  3. Just what I needed to hear. I have led Bible studies in the past but did not this last year...yet believe I am hearing God to do one in Feb. So, this hit home for me. Thanks for posting. Enjoy writing. :)

  4. Oooh. My idea of embracing change is like hugging a porcupine! OUCH. Not comfortable at all! :) But oh, so very important! We can't "take that mountain" if we never set foot in the right direction. You're doing the right thing by taking it one step at a time, allowing His Lamp to be your Guide! Will pray for you, as you seek to lift Him up, and minister to others' hearts in this new year.

  5. How exciting for you! Thank you for sharing your journey! ...He shall bring it to pass...I love Ps 37!

    He shall! Can't wait to see it!

  6. Thanks for sharing your precious thoughts! He will direct your paths as promised.

  7. Marja - Happy New Year! Thank you for your encouraging words and for the book recommendation! Sounds like one I'll need to add to my reading list. Praying for you as you continue to work on your non-profit!! God bless you, my friend! :)

    Terri - It's so good to see you! I always miss blogging when I'm unplugged. I'll be praying for you as you seek God's clear direction for the decisions in your personal life! Continuing to pray for the right jobs for you and your husband! Hugs & blessings!

    Elaine - Great to see you! It's always exciting to see the Lord work! So good to know that you're listening to God's voice! I look forward to hearing about your Bible study! Have a blessed day! :)

  8. Kristen - Thanks for the words of encouragement! It's neat to know that when God calls us to do something, He also equips us! Have a beautiful day trusting Him! :)

    Tammi - Thanks so much for your honesty! My reaction to change is very similar to yours! Your word picture is SO accurate!! I can't tell you how much your prayers mean to me! Let me know how I can pray for you this year. Looking forward to seeing how God uses each one of us! Hugs & Blessings!

    Kathy - Thanks for the positive feedback! Psalm 37 is one of my favorites, too! Looking forward to getting by your site today! Blessings for a beautiful new year! :)

    Diana - Always good to see you! Happy new year! Thanks for the reminder of God's faithfulness to direct my paths! Have a wonderful day, my friend!

  9. Maria, I wish you well as you work on your devotional series. What a blessing that you have such a supportive husband and great critique partners.

  10. Keli - Thanks so much for your words of encouragement! I am blessed with an amazing husband and a great critique group. Looking forward to getting to know you this year! Have a blessed day!

    *I had the opportunity to meet with Jody Hedlund over the Christmas holidays! She lives in my hometown. What a sweet,inspiring author!

  11. How wonderful that you and Jody live in the same town and are able to get together, Maria. What a blessing. I wish I could meet you two for lunch sometime. Alas, I'm out in California. =(

  12. Keli - Oops! Guess my comment was a bit confusing - I grew up in Midland, but I live in GA now. Where are you located in CA? We actually travel to CA ocassionally, so lunch sometime may be possible! :)

  13. Maria, I got it now. You said "hometown" meaning one thing, and I read it another way. Comes from moving every year or two during my childhood, I think. My hubby and I have lived in our historic Gold Rush town in the beautiful Sierra Foothills of California since 1993, so I consider this my first real hometown. I love the area, the people, and the sense of belonging I feel.

    If you're ever out my way, I'd love to do lunch.

  14. I look forward to hearing about your progress on this project.

    Months ago I started working on a similar project and haven't gotten very far, probably because the Lord needs to do some work on me first!

  15. Deb - So good to see you! I'd love to hear about your project! Mine continues to be a work in progress. I've only completed a handful of lessons, but so far, the journey has been worth every step! Each of us is being shaped by the hand of the Master, so I'd encourage you to continue writing. Looking forward to seeing how the Lord uses you this year! God bless!

  16. How encouraging! Thanks for sharing your experience of faith, Maria. May the Lord reward your efforts,

  17. You have such a gift for explaining Bible passages--I'm thrilled you're listening to God's call!

  18. i feel blessed that i came across this blog! thanks for posting this. For this year i need to embrace alot of changes in my life. This is truly a new year with new opportunities. I also need to increase my faith in God, and i know that can be done!

  19. Oh wow! That's wonderful. I don't doubt you will gain all the support and guidance you'll need to get this done. Wow!

  20. Jen - Looking forward to growing in the Lord this year! His adventures are always exciting! Have a wonderful week. Hugs & blessings to you! :)

    Jill - So good to see your smiling face! Thanks for your sweet words & encouragement to continue following God's leading. You're an encouragement to me, my friend! Blessings on your week!

    KC - Nice to see you!! Happy new year to you! Glad this post could be an encouragement to you. Change can definitely be good. Embracing the Lord and His Word is the best thing you can do! I'll be praying that the Lord will give you clear purpose and direction for this new year. Hugs & blessings! :)

    Lynda - Thanks for the encouragement! We serve a BIG God, and you're right that He is willing to give all the support and guidance we need. Praise His name! Have a blessed week and God bless you bunches!

  21. Thank you for visiting Grow Up! - I'm excited to read more on your blog and get to know you a little better!
    May God continue to richly bless you in this new year He has given us.
    ~ Heather Joy

  22. Hi Maria -

    Isn't God good? If He gave us the entire plan in one giant lump, we'd run away screaming. (I know I would!) He gives us info on a need-to- know basis.

    This post gave me much to ponder. A friend and I were discussing my writing the other night. She said something that echoed your thoughts.

    Susan :)

  23. Amen. There's a quote I came across recently that says "Life lived inside the comfort zone is life lived outside of God's will." So true. We gotta get out of our comfort zones, for that is where true growth occurs most.

  24. Double Amen. If we think of physical growth, it involves stretching and appearance changes. It involves old clothing not fitting right, etc. It can also make us uncomfortable and self-conscious. I think it helpful to think of emotional and spiritual growth the same way. When we grow emotionally or spiritually, we are stretched beyond our comfort zones into an area that may be a better fit for the people we wish to become. It may be scary and produce self-doubt, but it is always ultimately worth the plunge. Such growth also helps us assess whether our "old clothes," or old ways, still fit into the new persons we've changed into.

  25. It is so incredible, isn't it, how God is constantly stretching us and pushing us to grow! I know that for me personally, the simple accountability of blogging on a regular basis seemed at first to be the most monumental task in the world, but it has brought me places that I never would have imagined and launched me into other projects that I never would have attempted without this foundation!

    I can't wait to hear the next update on your bible study, and I am looking forward to what God is going to do through you for all of us here in blogland in 2011!

    God bless!

  26. Maria,
    I've been thinking about this post more than a few times lately, so I linked to it. Hope you don't mind the sharing. And, thank you for sharing with me.
    To 2011!!