Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Clean Slate

Have you gotten used to the idea of a brand new year? There’s something invigorating about a blank canvas – a clean slate with countless options. It can also be a bit intimidating. A couple weeks ago, I was challenged with some opportunities that promise to make 2012 very exciting. What will I do with these opportunities?

Rearranging my schedule to include time for new things will be challenging. It’s so much easier just to continue on with what has become ‘comfortable.’ But growth requires change and hard work. I’m not sure what the end result will be, but prayer and encouragement have brought me to this crossroads. Will I step out in faith?

Reminds me of a parable shared long ago. Jesus told his disciples the story of a man who was travelling to a country some distance away. Before he left, he gave each servant a specific amount of money to manage while he was on his trip. What would they do with the treasure he had left them?

I can only imagine the hours of planning and research done by these servants. No doubt careful thought was given to how the money should be invested. How would their employer invest the money? What would bring the biggest return on investment? Each servant had to make a decision.

Armed with the knowledge he’d gained, the first servant went out and managed to double what he had been given. The second servant did the same – doubling what he’d originally been given. The third servant, however, didn’t see the value of what he’d been given. Maybe he didn’t want to devote the time to studying or planning. Maybe he was so focused on his own agenda that he didn’t make time to take care of the gift he’d been given. Maybe he was undisciplined and gave in to the temptation to be lazy. Whatever his reason, he was responsible for his choice, “But he that had received one (talent) went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money,” (Matthew 25:18; KJV; word in italics mine).

When the master returned from his journey, he was very interested in what the servants had done with the treasure he’d given them. The first two servants were commended for their diligence, and received words of praise, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord,” (Matthew 25:21,23).

The third servant was full of excuses, “Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine,” (Matthew 25:24-25). His master was upset, and with good reason. He chastised the servant, and rebuked him for misusing what he’d been given.

The lesson? How am I using the ‘talents’ (time, abilities, money, etc.) the Lord has given me? When He opens doors and gives me opportunities, am I quick to follow Him? Am I willing to devote the time necessary to accomplish His purposes? As the new year unfolds, my prayer is to step out in faith as He leads and guides me!

What opportunities do you have this year? Will you determine to step out in faith and fulfill God’s will for your life?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for the opportunities You’ve given me. Help me to step out in faith this year, and embrace what You have for me. I want to be like the good and faithful servants in the parable. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

*I've added a weekly video segment to go along with my post. I'd love to know what you think!


  1. "He didn't see the value of what he had been given."

    So often we look at what others have and wish that we had the same. We depreciate what God has gifted us with. In the end we are losers but so is the rest of the world that might have benefited from our faithful stewardship.

  2. How exciting, Maria! It's wonderful to see you "in person"!

  3. I love it! :) It's great to be able to be "with" you a little more, and I'm so glad you "went first." ;) I'm planning on adding some videos this year, but I'm really dragging my feet. Love what you shared.

  4. A blessed New Year Maria!! I love the video! Great idea. Hope all well with you my friend.
    Hugs and blessings.

  5. As usual, you have touched me with your words! This year is definitely going to be a year of stepping out, more like leaping into faith for me. I too like the idea of a blank canvas, I believe that each day presents a new opportunity, so does a new year. I don't like the word "resolution" but more see the it as life goals. This year, I have the opportunity to grow, to learn more and to take better care of myself. This is going to be a year of not only faith, but acceptance and patience. Happy New Year to you!

  6. Every day for me is a step of faith. I love your comment about hard work and stepping out, not staying in the comfort zone. I'm working more on that this year.

    I love your vlog. Your pictures are beautiful but seeing you on TV (lol)...you're just gorgeous! I'm still debating vlogs. Maybe I should step out...:)

  7. This is one that I think about fairly often--am I using and making the most of what God gave me? You put it so well... maybe he wasn't willing to put forth the effort--I think that's me sometimes.

    Thanks for this--excellent for this week. I want to step out. In faith.

    Loved the vlog!! Seeing you and hearing you was fantastic and a special treat! =]

  8. Love the new video segment!! How fun. I look forward to the next installment.

    Thanks for the reminder of questions to ask as we enter this new year. Here's to a great 2012!!
    Have a wonderful day!

  9. What a blessing, Maria! Keep the videos coming. It's so good to see you as you share your heart. You are such a humble servant. <3

  10. Lynda - Happy New Year! I have to admit, I've been guilty of wishing I had someone else's gifts more than a time or two! And you're right - it's depreciating the gift(s) God has given us. Instead of spending time focusing on other's talents, I want to be a good steward of what the Lord has given me this year! Thanks for sharing your wisdom, my friend!

  11. Karen - Happy New Year! I'm glad you like the addition! I love teaching and am passionate about sharing God's truth, so it seemed like a logical 'next step.' Looking forward to hosting you and Susan in just a few weeks! God bless!

  12. Julie - Awesome to hear from you! A family friend who is well-versed in video suggested I add the video segment. My husband did a fabulous job with setting and lighting, and getting everything uploaded to u-tube. Thanks for your sweet, encouraging words! Looking forward to your video posts this year! God bless and Happy New Year! :)

  13. Linda! So glad you were finally able to break through and leave a comment! Programs can be so temperamental. Glad you enjoyed the video segment. Are you planning a visit to the states this year? Have a wonderful 2012 & God bless! :)

  14. KC - What a FUN picture beside your comment! Did you travel to someplace fun over the holidays? A very happy new year to you and I'm so thrilled you stopped in and enjoyed the new blog addition! Stepping out in faith is a daily decision for me. I think it's a great goal for 2012 and beyond! Patience and acceptance are wonderful fruit of the Spirit that can always use some honing, right?! Love your candid comments, KC! Looking forward to much growth in the new year! God bless!

  15. Jess - Happy New Year! Isn't it strange that new opportunities can be fun and exciting, yet demand so much time and attention? Yes, being obedient with what God's given us can often be lots of hard work!

    So glad you liked the video addition! You're way too sweet! And I think you should go for it - looking forward to your vlog, my friend!! :)

  16. Patty - Great to see you! Many times I find myself responding like that third servant. Sometimes I can be very lazy. And other times, I feel like my 'talent' just isn't that important - so I don't even try to develop it. I like what you said about this being "a year of stepping out in faith, holding tight to His hand, and being a good steward of what He's given me!" With that kind of attitude, the Lord will richly bless you, Patty! (And thanks for your kind words about the video addition!)

  17. Kristen - Thanks for stopping by and a very happy New Year to you!

    I have to ask myself those same questions fairly often. A new year makes me pretty reflective, but in order to make the most of opportunities, I have to take time on a daily basis to develop what God's given me. Have a great day filled with God's blessings! :)

  18. Stef - Happy New Year! Thoroughly enjoyed seeing you guys at Christmas!

    I always appreciate your sweet words of encouragement, and I'm glad you liked the video addition! Thanks for the retweet! Steve did a fabulous job with the setting and lighting. He also did all the video/music mixing - in addition to loading everything on YouTube. What a guy!! Have a fantastic day & God bless! :)

  19. Hi Maria -

    Yay for the video! Now, I know what your voice sounds like. :)

    I've been praying about what the Lord wants me to do next regarding my book and several other areas of my life.

    You brought up some good points. Am I willing to step out of my comfort zone? Am I willing to put in the necessary time to accomplish my goals?

    Thanks, my friend,
    Susan :)

  20. Susan - Happy New Year! So glad you liked the video addition! It's always fun actually hearing someone's voice when you've only read their writing. Just watched a couple vlogs today and enjoyed putting a voice with a face!

    I know the Lord will give you clear direction for your book and all the other things He has for you this year! Have a blessed evening! Hugs! :)

  21. "Growth requires change and hard work" - ohhhh so true! Beautiful encouragement, Maria. Love that you're stepping out in faith, and I can't wait to see what God's going to do.

  22. I can never get enough of this parable. It applies to all areas of life. And one I need to meditate on when choices are to be made. Thank you for bringing it to my attention again. The video looks great!

  23. Maria, I absolutely LOVE that video idea. Great for people who have trouble reading or concentrating on a large amount of text. Very well done, I admire you for doing a new thing already! Have a blessed and inspirational new year.

  24. HAPPY NEW YEAR to you dear sister! LOVE your post here and LOVE your video! WOW you are an amazing speaker!!! LOVE IT! Praying God abundantly blesses you this year!!! I'm so blessed to know you sweet friend!
    Love, hugs, and prayers,

  25. Happy New Year, Maria! I think your vlog is a great addition! Definitely keep it :-)

    I am encouraged by your post today. As a writer, it is tempting to give into the notion that we will work when the inspiration or creativity comes. However, your post is a beautiful reminder that God has given us our talents and we are to use them for His glory, not just when the mood strikes. Having talent also requires having discipline, or it is ineffective.

  26. Loved the video! And such a timely post! I liked how you mentioned the research the servants did to make sure they were making the most of their talents. That's something I need to do, for sure! Make sure I take the time to evaluate what's best for me to do at each moment. Thanks for the encouraging reminder!

  27. Happy New Year, Maria!

    I read this post first, and then watched your video segment. Please *do* keep your video segments, if possible. This was a treat to see and hear you.

    As for this new year, I only have a few resolutions. The very first one, however, is to step out boldly into areas I've felt the tug toward for some time, but have been taking only baby steps toward.

    Here's hoping for a blessed and successful 2012!